Philly Schools Unifying Neighborhoods
Traditional public schools in Black, Brown and poor communities are under attack. In Philadelphia, the unelected School Reform Commission is dismantling public education. Our schools are under-resourced, given over to private hands or closed altogether. In the past several years, we have worked with students, parents, school staff and community members across our city, who sacrifice their own time, energy and resources in order to fill the gaps in our public schools, but are not in the spaces where decisions are made about their lives and the lives of their families.
We fight for long-term education justice across the city of Philadelphia. We believe this justice is only possible through the direct participation of students, parents, school staff and community members on both the school and city wide levels. We work with leaders in school communities to build parent cores that are transparent, self-reliant, inclusive and transformative. We look to these leaders to build Community Control at the school and city-wide levels that consistently respond to the needs and changes of the school communities they represent. We can not talk about what’s happening in our schools without conversations about other parts of our lives such as housing, work, and transportation. We believe this process will build lasting transformation for our schools as neighborhood hubs where communities come together to share concerns, resources, ideas, solutions and their visions for the future of OUR schools OUR communities and OUR city.
WHAT WE DO:
We are currently building a network of parents, students, school staff, community members and community partners in West & Southwest Philly. Prior to our meetings we ask participants to share with us their successes, challenges and questions. This is how we decide our agendas. Philly SUN Community Meetings are a strategy to pull people out of isolation and support their leadership in and around their schools. We are a part of the Community Schools Taskforce, that is providing Community Engagement Trainings Citywide.
To connect with us email firstname.lastname@example.org or join our Facebook Group.
WHO WE ARE:
Zakia Royster-Morris is an ambitious wife and mother of two beautiful girls. Born and raised in Philadelphia and a product of the Philadelphia School District, Zakia knows the ins and outs of Philly’s education system. Zakia has always displayed a natural talent for public speaking and demanding justice for those whom have been overlooked. Back in 2008, during her 10th grade Spanish class, Zakia found her calling to fight for equality in education and became a member of the Philadelphia Student Union. During her time in PSU, Zakia learned that social justice is a universal fight. That every struggle of the oppressed is connected, that each connection starts with educating the people. After high school, Zakia went on to study at a local HBCU, Cheyney University, where she majored in Political Science. Now, years later with a family of her own, Zakia still finds time to continue to demand a critical and social change in Philadelphia. Sticking to her love for education and grassroots movement, Zakia now primary works with the organization PhillySUN as a School Organizer.
Ben started volunteering with MMP’s Voices From Our Public Schools in the summer of 2015. He grew up in a cement town in the Lehigh Valley and got his own education in the public schools there. Afterward, he studied literature and Russian culture at Hampshire College in Massachusetts and in Russia. Ben believes that our story-telling can bring us to read the world more critically. He worked with the oral history archive at the Civic Media Center in Florida, and he has actively participated in intersectional movements with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and anti-prison organizing in Philadelphia. In the spring of 2016, he was a part of MMP’s Media Fellows Program and helped to produce this video calling for community control in Philadelphia public schools. A book containing his translations of Russian poets in the Leningrad Siege was published in 2016. He is currently enrolled in the M.A. Education program at Goddard College.
Pep Marie is a proud Philly native (Germantown!) and alumnae of the Philadelphia School District. In 2006, while attending the High School for Creative & Performing Arts, Pep Marie became a member of the Philadelphia Student Union and was first introduced to the importance of marginalized voices in social justice work. Pep Marie went on to attend Oberlin College and majored in Sociology with concentrations in both Africana and Urban Studies. The student organizing Pep Marie took part in (during both secondary and higher education) in the fight for education as a human right affirmed for Pep Marie that those most directly impacted must take the lead in the movement. This commitment to building leaders in and around our schools to lead the work is what excites Pep Marie most about this project and working with the Media Mobilizing Project.
Julia is a recent college grad and Philly adoptee that is a happy newcomer to the PhillySUN team. Julia grew up in Burbank, California (just outside of Los Angeles) and is a proud product of public schooling before she pursued higher education. Julia cites the personal stories she was exposed to through extensive reading, supportive teachers, and intercultural communities within the greater Los Angeles area as the foundation of her lifelong commitment to social justice work and building critical consciousness.
During undergrad, Julia was deeply involved in civic engagement and gender justice organizing on campus and began to immerse herself in the educational landscape of her new home of Philadelphia. At Penn, she studied English and Urban Education Policy, Research, and Practice. Julia believes that empowering, critical, empathetic, and equitable education is the heart of all societal transformation and is excited to be a part of a movement with that vision. Julia will pursue a masters in Education, Culture and Society at Penn graduate school of education in 2017.
This project was made possible with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as well as Media Mobilizing Project’s growing base of grassroots donors.