Reverend Al Sharpton was in Philadelphia Saturday to speak at an education conference and took the time to draw attention to the ongoing budget crisis in the Philadelphia School District.
The National Action Network founder joined U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, during a “Higher Education Awareness, Dropout Prevention and Health Initiative” at The Community College of Philadelphia.
“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,” said Dominique Sharpton, president of Education for Better America.
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During his keynote speech, Sharpton spoke on the connection with public education and the civil rights movement, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"You got money, Corbett, for jails, but no money for schools," Sharpton said. "And you ask what's wrong with the kids? I come to ask, ' What's wrong with you? Bible says that you reap what you sow. Well, if you invest in jails and cut the budget on schools, you're investing in incarceration rather than education."
Sharpton also visited the Thankful Baptist Church in North Philadelphia on Sunday to help celebrate the church's 90th anniversary.
About 190,000 students (including charter school students) headed back to class last Monday. The city's struggling public schools opened the new term with larger classes and smaller staffs, leaving many to wonder how the nearly broke district will fare over the coming year.
Earlier this year, the cash-strapped system laid off nearly 3,800 workers - from assistant principals to secretaries - as rising labor costs, cuts in state aid and charter school growth helped create a $304 million spending gap.
The district later recouped about $33 million in costs and, with the mayor's promise last month of an extra $50 million, was able to rehire about 1,650 employees. Even so, students will only get music and sports programs for the fall semester