(New York, NY)— Education for a Better America (EBA) and National Action Network (NAN) will partner with the City of Philadelphia and Community College of Philadelphia to host a Higher Education Awareness, Dropout Prevention, and Health Initiative on September 14th from 10:30am to 4:00pm in the Great Hall on the campus of the Community College of Philadelphia. Rev. Sharpton will speak at 2:00 p.m. The event will feature workshops on college and career readiness, health and wellness, and breaking down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as well as remarks from National Action Network President Reverend Al Sharpton, U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and School District of Superintendent Dr. William Hite among others. There will also be a talent showcase and fashion show hosted by Sharpton Entertainment.
According to EBA Board President Dominique Sharpton: “the event in Philadelphia is part of a nationwide effort to increase the pursuit of post-secondary education, increase civic engagement, prevent school dropouts, and promote health and wellness across the country. We want to help bring the community together to deal with the current education crisis. The city has great programs like ‘Get Healthy Philly’ and ‘Philly Goes to College’ that need to be maximized at a time like this.”
The event is especially critical in Philadelphia given that many schools opened on September 9th with no guidance counselors or staff to support dropout prevention or the college admissions and financial aid process. This is troubling given that a high school dropout out is twice as likely to be unemployed and the majority of new jobs that will be created over the next decade will require some type of post-secondary education. EBA’s Higher Education, Dropout Prevention, and Health Initiative, which will go to Washington, DC on September 22nd, and Compton, California, on September 28th, serves as an opportunity to rise above politics and bolster the connection between communities, schools systems, and colleges in order to help close the opportunity gap in the United States.
The public education crisis in the city of Philadelphia is concerning to community members and educators and due to the school district’s 304 million dollar deficit, the School Reform Commission in Pennsylvania voted in March to close 23 schools in Philadelphia. Additionally, nearly 4,000 district employees including guidance counselors, teachers, assistant principals and other school-based staff were given layoff notices. Adding insult to injury, the U.S. House of Representatives slashed $961 million from the education budget this Spring.
School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite initially asked for the state for $60 million, the city for $120 million, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers for $133 million in the form of various concessions in order to fill the $304 million shortfall. After months of intense negotiations and battles over the deficit, the city of Philadelphia recently announced that it would borrow an additional $50 million just to be able to open the schools at a bare minimum level of operation.
According to EBA, the school district should not have to go to drastic measures just to meet bare minimum needs but the focus should be on closing the achievement gap, graduating college and career ready students, and attacking the city’s dropout crisis.