Activists rally for education and environment | News
Two events over the weekend highlighted educational and environmental concerns impacting residents in Chester and beyond.
On Saturday, Delco Resists joined a couple dozen others from districts throughout Pennsylvania in gathering at the State Capitol in Harrisburg to rally for equitable education funding while Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living held a caravan and march to the Covanta incinerator, opposing its operations.
In addition to parents from Chester, the Harrisburg event was attended by people from Chichester, Pottstown, Norristown, Lancaster, Wilkes Barre, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Philadelphia, Coatesville, Upper Darby, William Penn, St. Austin, Harrisburg and Southeast Delco. State Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-4 of Royersford, and Norristown Area School District Assistant Superintendent Yolanda Williams were also on site.
“This was a collective effort that was put together so all children will receive the quality rights education,” Carol Kazeem of Delco Resists, and one of the organizers of the Harrisburg event, said. “There’s no difference. We the people failed our children and our education system is ridiculous. That’s where the fix is needed.”
This comes prior to the Chester Upland School Board meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, May 6, in which the proposals for the potential outsourcing of the district’s schools will be presented. The meeting will be held in the Chester High School auditorium at 232 W. Ninth St. in Chester and will also be live-streamed on Facebook and available on Zoom. In-person attendance will be limited because of COVID concerns.
Three bidders have offered proposals – Chester Community Charter School, which already operates schools in the district; the Friendship Education Foundation out of Washington, D.C., and Arkansas; and Global Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.
Kendell Simmons of Delco Resists, who was at the Harrisburg rally, said it’s important to unearth the other forms of racism, in addition to the more overt ones such as police brutality
“A lot of where we are now is because of the way education has been handled so poorly in our country,” he said, adding that they’re fighting to get proper funding for education and to help equalize it among districts..
“It’s just to increase the conversation to get people talking about the issue,” he said of the rally. “Things aren’t OK because people walked 60 years ago and everything is over. Martin Luther King was shot and killed, he didn’t retire.”
Kazeem said equitable funding would allow districts to provide career pathways to students as they graduate, more mental health resources and additional support staff.
She said with the funding and parents, city officials, teachers and other community members focused on the needs of the children, crimes in these communities would be significantly reduced.
Kazeem said similar actions to Saturday’s Harrisburg rally are in the works.
“The system itself needs to be changed,” she said. “It really is bad. Us coming together was to hold all of them accountable.”
Ashley Dolceamore of Delco Resists underscored the importance of a good education.
“Kids are the future,” she said. “For the world to become a better place, it starts with the children … (with) kids understanding that they’re worth something, that they have value.”
She encouraged those interested to connect with Delco Resists on their Facebook page or Twitter.
“We’re going to keep fighting but we need more people to understand what’s going on.”
Also on Saturday, the Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living held an Environmental Justice Day by hosting a march and caravan from Chester City Hall to the Covanta incinerator. Organizers said about 150 attended.
“It is no secret that Chester residents suffer from poor air quality that affects our health and quality of living,” Zulene Mayfield,…