Philly student’s march to D.C. highlights schools’ fears over proposed budget cuts

    To protest budget cuts, many Philadelphia public school students have hoisted signs and marched in support of their schools. Guillermo Allen Santos has gone the extra mile, or rather the extra 150 miles, and marched to Washington, D.C., to bring news of his school’s plight to the highest in the land.

    The Moffet School fourth grader left Kensington on May 18 accompanied by his mother and members of the Poor People Economic Human Rights Campaign. He arrived at the gates of the White House on May 23, carrying letters for President Obama written by his school mates. What did the letters say?

    “That they want music and aids and that [politicians] should take away the money from wars instead of schools,” said Santos, who attempted to deliver the letters, “but they wouldn’t let us in without an appointment.”

    Santos blogged about his experience and the students’ letters are posted on the Save Moffet School website. The slight and bespectacled 10-year-old blogged about the grueling journey, his triumphant arrival and his ultimate disappointment. He also lightened things up with a riddle of the day.

    Under the district’s proposed budget cuts, Moffet School will lose its instrumental music program, its Arabic drumming program, all after-school programs, a bilingual secretary and lunch aids, according to Principal Carmen Navarro, reciting a litany of losses that is common to schools throughout Philadelphia.

    Santos’ mother, Cheri Honkala, is active in Parents of Moffet and has organized protests at the school. She said that these cuts will have a disproportionate effect on low income families that depend on educational support services.

    “No after school programs probably means kids are going to be left home alone,” said Honkala, who ran for vice president with the Green Party during the last national election. “They say they want to stop the school-to-prison pipeline and then they do this. This just cannot happen.”

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