14 arrested at Center City education rally

Action News was at the Philadelphia School District headquarters on Wednesday as union workers protested what they call a shift from public education to charter schools.

May 23, 2012 3:47:23 PM PDT
As an act of civil disobedience, 14 protesters were arrested after sitting down at Broad and Race.

Their mission was to condemn what they see as a plot to privatize Philadelphia's public schools.

This was the final act of a much larger rally and march today organized by the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union.

It has 2700 members in the Philadelphia School District.

For these public sector union members, the villains in this story are the School Reform Commission and Governor Tom Corbett.

These protesters see Corbett's bare bone education funding, and refusal to consider raising taxes as a one two punch against unionized public systems like Philadelphia's.

"They've starved the system in order to no dismantle the system, so we're standing here today to protest against that," Gabe Morgan of the SEIU said.

The fear here is as traditional schools are shuttered because of finances and charter schools grow, union jobs and wages will disappear.

"The public schools are being shut. Everything's being privatized and people are losing their jobs," Shannon Lane of the SEIU said.

The protesters marched north from the Municipal Services Building up Broad Street to the School District Headquarters there they condemned the reorganization plan put forth by the SRC.

"We cannot allow this district to be privatized, your jobs are too important," Jerry Jordan, the President of the Federation of Teachers, said at the rally.

After an attempt to enter the building was rebuffed, union leaders announced they would go to City Hall to appeal to the mayor, but along the route opted instead to be among the 14 who sat down at Race Street and were arrested.