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Harrisburg rally challenges Philadelphia school cutbacks

By David Hungerford

Crowd at the Harrisburg rally.

Harrisburg, PA – A rally here, June 25, protested school layoffs and closings in Philadelphia. Teachers, safety workers, librarians and others are affected. Arts instruction is especially targeted. Layoffs have reached 3783 and counting. A contingent of school employees has gone on a water-only fast in the capitol rotunda.

The main turnout came from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Dozens of high school students came, including a solid contingent from the self-organized Newark Student Union, of Newark, New Jersey.

AFT President Randi Weingarten told the crowd of more than 500, speaking of an arrest threat against those fasting, that “the people who should be arrested are the supporters of [Pennsylvania] Governor Corbett. On a day when the Supreme Court has thrown out voting rights they are attacking people whose job it is assuring that the next generation gets a fair shot at life.”

Her remarks reflected the rising discontent of vast numbers of middle-income people like teachers. With half the country living in poverty or close to it, the middle-income stratum that is increasingly a political battleground. This attack is particularly concentrated on middle-income African-Americans. Given Black people’s tradition of struggle, that will only add fuel to the fire.

Youth United for Change at June 25 rally.

Fasting against the cuts.

Participants in the June 25 rally.

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