Livetweeting the SRC - March 21

The 19 people arrested for protesting school closings on March 7 speak after their court appearance. L-R: district graduate Azeem Hill, national teachers' union president Randi Weingarten, Juntos director Erika Almiron and retired teacher Ron Whitehorne. (Kristen Graham/staff)

Happy School Reform Commission day, all!  The meeting is scheduled to get underway at about 5:30.  The SRC was supposed to adopt its preliminary 2013-14 lump sum budget, but that's been pulled until next week's meeting.  Lots of resolutions, and a whopping 58 speakers. 

A fair amount of speakers are signed up to talk about school closings.  The SRC voted on March 7 to shut 23 schools; it must will vote on two closings, but those votes have not yet been scheduled.

Earlier today, the 19 people arrested at that March 7 meeting - among them, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten - had their first court appearance.  The 19 were arrested on disorderly conduct charges; they had attempted to physically block the SRC's entrance to the meeting.  They will stand trial in May.

"We're not giving up the fight against school closings," retired teacher Ron Whitehorne vowed outside the city's Criminal Justice Center at 13th and Filbert. 

Weingarten, in town just for her court appearance, said that the large-scale closings were part of a larger plan for public schools.

"It is clear to us that this massive plan to close schools has nothing to do with the education of the children of Philadelphia," Weingarten said.  That plan is to further weaken and ultimately undermine public education, she said.

Erika Almiron, head of Juntos, a group that aids and organizes immigrant families, was also among the 19 arrested.  She and others strongly object to the closing of district schools while "we have failing charters in this city that aren't being held accountable."

She and the rest of the group are still pressing for a moratorium on closings, although the SRC has already made up its mind on the 23.

After their court appearance, the group delivered a large cardboard box to Mayor Nutter's office with a petition signed by over 9,000 people.  The petition demands school closings be halted.

Stay tuned for the meeting - I'll be livetweeting! You can also stream the meeting on your computer.

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