We stand with our AAPI comrades in their time of sorrow and rage at another of countless examples of anti-Asian racism and hate in this terrible, imperialist country. We remain committed to fighting and ending white supremacy.
School Reopening: A Crisis in the Making
For the past two months, teachers have shared heartbreaking stories of feeling unsafe and photos of inadequate conditions in school buildings on an Instagram page. New committees of concerned teachers and parents have popped up to advocate for more transparency. Rallies and actions were also organized by teachers and parents to push back against the decision, like the February 8 action.
“I don’t think they truly speak with teachers,” Katherine Riley said. “[Philadelphia Federation of Teachers] President Jerry Jordan had to tell teachers not to go back. That to me indicates how little the school district has involved stakeholders.”
The anti-democratic orientation inside the school district is deep-seated. After the school reopening announcement, Hite announced in an interview that the district would be opening for summer school only to later clarify that it is optional.
“The dysfunction has been the norm, only this time the stakes are higher for everyone,” said Max Rosen-Long, an SDP teacher and member of the PFT’s Working Educators Caucus. “The school district would rather put out a terrible plan then back up when people push back, than do it right in the first place.” (Read more here)
- Lilac General Meeting: Online on Thursday, March 25th at 6:00 PM. Check the Facebook event for details on how to join.
- *Watch Party* Board of Education meeting: Online on Thursday, March 25th at 5:00 PM.
- Philly Bail Fund Call-a-thons: Every other Wednesday from 6:00 - 7:30 PM. The next one is on Wednesday, March 24th.
- Hope Against Hope Reading Group: Online on Wednesday, March 24th at 7:00 PM.
- Socialist Trivia: This week’s theme is James Bond Sucks! Thursday April 1st from 6:00 - 7:30.
- Working Group Meetings: We have a bunch coming up. Check the link to see when you can join.
Local News Summaries and Links
- City Council passed a bill renewing and expanding paid sick leave for essential workers as long as the coronavirus public health emergency is in effect. The bill, introduced by council person Kendra Brooks, restores the mandatory two weeks of Covid-related paid sick leave and newly allows workers to use the time to get vaccinated, recover from vaccine side effects, and more. The bill is going through legal analysis before being sent to the Mayor.
- Using the Philadelphia Police Department’s (PPD) attack on protestors as its primary example, the UN has censured the US for racist policing and the use of excessive force during this past summer’s George Floyd protests. Almost 300 claims have been filed against PPD because of its violent response to demonstrations against police brutality.
- While the FEMA site that opened early in the month has doubled the rate of vaccinations, the gap between white and black residents has also nearly doubled. About 3 in 10 residents of wealthy neighborhoods have been vaccinated, while only 3 in 50 from poorer and predominantly black and latinx neighborhoods have. Rite Aid, the second largest distributor of vaccines in the city, gave 87% of its doses to white residents in a city that is only 33% white. Lack of outreach, limited language options, complicated signups, significantly higher rates of vaccination for suburban zip codes, and other systematic shortcomings have been highlighted by activists as reasons for the discrepancy.
- Two Philadelphia baristas took Starbucks to court over illegally firing them for trying to organize a union. Emails and other discovery from the case offer a rare insight into union busting activities at a mega corporation like Starbucks. As Danielle Gross, another former employee who brought a case against Starbucks describes, cases like this “open up the curtain on… the spying, the disruption, the incredible misdirection that goes into one of these efforts.” The case will likely not be decided for months.
- Jefferson Health has gotten approval for acquisition of Einstein Health in North Philadelphia. This will mark the rapidly growing monopoly’s 18th hospital acquisition since 2015. It’s also a big milestone in Jefferson’s fight against Independence Blue Cross for control of the healthcare market in Philadelphia.
- All 53 waterways in PA tested by PennEnvironment, including the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, contain microplastics. Microplastics enter and harm the bodies of animals, and the chemicals contained within them gather in high concentrations at the top of the food chain.