APEDF and community partners in Philadelphia hold press conference to stop school closings and end disparities


On Thursday, March 14, 2013 the African People's Education & Defense Fund (APEDF), Uhuru Furniture Philadelphia, the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), Uhuru Solidarity Movement and other community partners held a press conference at Uhuru Furniture in Center City Philadelphia to put forth the African community's demand for the city of Philadelphia to stop the closing of 23 public schools and end the achievement gap and disparities in education, health and economic development for the African community.
 
 
Uhuru Furniture Business Campaign Manager Tina Mouzone MC'd the press conference.
 
Other presenters included Alison Hoehne, Manager of Uhuru Furniture in Philadelphia speaking on behalf of APEDF; Kianga Danielle of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement; Philadelphia public schools parent and community activist Denita Bates and Uhuru Solidarity Movement Philadelphia chair Harris Daniels. Healing practitioner Ajua Hawkins and the Bush Medicine Partnership also sent statements (see below).
 
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Kianga Danielle, International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement
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Denita Bates, Philadelphia Public Schools parent and community activist
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Harris Daniels, Uhuru Solidarity Movement
 

African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF) Statement

 
The African People’s Education & Defense Fund (APEDF), Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles and community partners call on the city of Philadelphia to stop the closing of 23 public schools in Philadelphia and end the achievement gap.

All 23 schools the School Reform Commission is closing are in the African community. This will disrupt the education of 14,000 students and negatively affect their families and communities.

The city is closing over 10% of public schools in the district!

 
This has been determined despite the outcry from students, parents and teachers. This can only intensify the huge achievement gap that already exists for African children in Philadelphia.
 
City attempts to solve budget problems at the expense of the black community
 
The school district claims the school closings are unavoidable because the district is broke.
 
However, we call on the city to get the resources needed to fund our public schools by collecting delinquent property taxes from thousands of developers and investors who dodge taxes and flip houses for profit, who have deprived city hall and the cash-strapped school district of $298 million a year, according to a recent investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
 
According to this investigation, well over half of the tax-delinquent properties in Philadelphia – at least 57,500 – are owned by investors, not occupants.
 
These suburban-based property-owners are 44,500 years in arrears on their city real estate taxes!
 
Yet while the city lets these investors get away with avoiding paying property taxes, it relentlessly raises the taxes of the most impoverished sectors of our city’s residents, causing hundreds of families to lose their homes!
 
We call on the city government to implement public policies that promote genuine economic development to end the poverty of African communities and address the real disparities in the conditions in the African community – from poor housing and education to high rates of unemployment, hunger and imprisonment.
 
Currently, the city’s public policies don’t even acknowledge these conditions. Rather, we see the peoples’ resources spent on public policies that promote heavy-handed policing and massive imprisonment of black youth.
 
In 2013 the city allocated 33 percent of its entire budget to police, courts and prisons and only six percent to health and social services!
 
The crime rate is down, but prison is a financial growth industry that provides thousands of jobs to Philadelphians.
 
Eighty percent of the people incarcerated in the city’s prisons – including children in the Youth Study Center – are African. The majority of people in prison in Pennsylvania are black men from Philadelphia.
 
Philadelphia has the third highest poverty rate of all U.S. cities. Thirty-one percent of black families, and 47 percent of those headed by single women, live below the poverty level.
 
Food prices are rising and child hunger in Philadelphia is among the highest in the country!
 
North and Southwest Philadelphia are termed “food deserts” without sufficient access to large grocery stores.
 
Low-income residents are almost twice as likely to experience poor health.
 
Aging and degenerating housing stock also puts low-income residents at risk of poor health
 
Big banks and speculators reaped huge profits through subprime mortgages and underpaying for houses.
 
Gentrification is pushing out longstanding black communities to make low-cost, quality housing and neighborhoods available to incoming students and young homeowners.
 
Many people find it more economical to live in Philadelphia and commute to their jobs in New York rather than live in New York City.
             
Philadelphia has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the U.S.
 
A Daily News article on May 31, 2011 stated that unemployed black men in Philadelphia in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s “will most likely never work again.”
             
The African People’s Education & Defense Fund calls on the city and all residents to honestly look at the real conditions of the African community that experiences the injustices of an economically depressed city attempting to solve its budget problems at the expense of the black community.
 
APEDF calls on everyone to support the African community’s right to the same peace, health, happiness and prosperous life that all people desire. We know there can be no real peace and unity in our city where such dire conditions and disparities exist.
 
We call on all communities to partner with APEDF to create real solutions to these unsustainable conditions.
 
This is the way forward to overcome the problems and bridge the divisions in our city!
 
APEDF is building dynamic, grassroots, self-reliance programs addressing the disparities in health, education and economic development in the African community!
 
  • Join us in building the Second Annual Uhuru Health Fest and Flea Market on Saturday April 20 in Clark Park, at 43rd and Chester Ave, in West Philadelphia.
  • Support the free APEDF African Health in African Hands programs.
  • Shop, donate and volunteer at Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles, an economic development project of the African People’s Education & Defense Fund.
  • Participate in the Uhuru Flea Market volunteer veam.
  • Join the APEDF volunteer team open meetings every Wednesday from 7:00pm-8:30pm.
 
Uhuru!
 

Statement by Ajua Hawkins, health professional, owner of ajualuv

 
Unfortunately our society values perpetual war and capitalism over teaching our youth anything of substance so that they can reach their God-given potential such as who they truly are, how to think critically and the way in which this global economy is really run.
 
It is my dream that we would all wake up to the urgent issue that we are destroying the greatest force for positive change in this world – our children.
 

Statement by Bush Medicine Partnership

 
The Bush Medicine Partnership unites with the African People’s Education and Defense Fund in the call to stop the closure of 23 public schools in Philadelphia.
 
Closing schools does not improve education in any way; rather it destabilizes a system that is already stressed by lack of resources.

Closing schools increases the disparities that exist in our city by making it more difficult and dangerous for children and teens living in impoverished regions in the city to obtain an education that is on par with the most affluent.
 
It is well known that academic success is a predictor for the well being of youth and their subsequent adult health.
 
Closing schools, which inevitably leads to poorer attendance and performance, puts our children at risk for poor health outcomes. It disconnects them with vital health programs that aim to decrease hunger, violence, abuse, unsafe sex practices and obesity.
 
This perpetuates the cycle of poverty in our city, which inevitably leads to health problems, violence and imprisonment among those with the lowest resources.
 
Because we care, we stand together in opposition of these school closings to support healthy, safe futures for our children.
 
Natalie Beaty, M.S., Board of Directors, Bush Medicine Partnership
beaty.natalie@gmail.com
www.bushmedicinepartnership.org
 
About the Bush Medicine Partnership:
 
The Bush Medicine Partnership is an independent humanitarian initiative that provides free medical consultation and supplies to under-served and hard-to-reach populations worldwide with a primary focus on preventive healthcare, maternity care, and nutrition.
 
We send medical volunteers and supplies to communities around the globe to partner with local doctors who lack adequate resources to meet basic health needs. Our mission is to provide medical supplies and equipment requested by the local doctors, and then assemble a team to hand deliver the supplies and aid the doctors in addressing acute and chronic health care issues in the doctors’ local area.
 
Bush Medicine Partnership Inc. is a Connecticut Non-stock, nonprofit corporation organized in January 2010 for the purpose of providing medical and educational services and supplies to people in need. The organization meets the requirements of IRS section 501(c)(3). Its EIN is 27-1630597.
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