Our Road to Building Student Power for Stronger Public Schools
1996: 2,000 students organize a city-wide “walk-out” to demand the Philadelphia City Council increase public school funding by $15 million.
2002-03: Philadelphia Student Union members led a campaign that resulted in doubling the number of school counselors Philadelphia public high schools.
2003-2004: Philadelphia Student Union designed and implement a new Student Success Center (SSC) program. The SSC model has been replicated in New York City.
2004-2006: Philadelphia Student Union members at Bartram High School organized and won a formal process for students and staff to air their grievances and build meaningful relationships in a supportive environment.
2004-2007: Philadelphia Student Union raised awareness about the inequitable distribution of qualified and experienced teachers throughout the school district. We organized and won teacher incentive grants to attract and retain qualified and experienced teachers at hard to staff schools.
2007-2010: Philadelphia Student Union worked with West Philadelphia school leadership to use Restorative Practices and decreased violent incidents by 70% in three years.
2008-2009: Philadelphia Student Union was the major youth voice in a historic campaign that resulted in a new education funding formula that increased funds to public schools throughout Pennsylvania.
2009: Philadelphia Student Union members conceived and built the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools (CNS). CNS is now a city-wide collaborative effort with 10 youth leadership organizations aimed at improving school climate and safety without pushing students into the criminal justice system.
April 2009: Philadelphia Student Union members at Sayre High School won the right to be involved in training their School Police Officers – the first student-led model to build communication, trust, and political understanding between students and school police in the nation.
2008-Present: Philadelphia Student Union became a founding member of the Alliance for Educational Justice, a national alliance of youth and parent organizing groups working on the national level to impact federal educational policy.
2008-2010: Philadelphia Student Union members organized with teachers during union contract negotiations resulting in site selection in all high-needs schools and stronger coaching and supports for new teachers.
2009-2010: Dr. Ackerman, Philadelphia Schools Superintendent, expanded Student Success Centers to all high-needs high schools in the city.
2010-2011: Philadelphia Student Union led student trainings of over 50 school police officers, which overwhelmingly changed the officers’ views on young people, their interactions with students and stereotypes.
2010-2012: Philadelphia Student Union members at Furness High School PSU members worked collaboratively with the principal to improve student attendance and climate, resulting in five percent increase, a 50% reduction in serious incidents, a 30-point increase in math proficiency and a 10-point increase in reading proficiency.
2010-2012: After a violent incident against Asian immigrant students erupted at South Philadelphia High School, Philadelphia Student Union members organized monthly meetings between Black and White (American-born) students and Asian immigrant students (some Mandarin and Vietnamese speaking) at South Philly High, building unity for the first time in the school’s history. By Fall 2012, South Philly HS was removed from the persistently dangerous schools list.
2012: The Campaign for Nonviolent Schools won changes to the Code of Conduct. Students in partnership with the ACLU and the Education Law center created a “dicipline matrix” that reduced the number of suspendable offenses down to 12 from 24.
2013: The Campaign for Nonviolent Schools won a pilot program to use restorative justice models in 10 Philadelphia high schools in the School District of Philadelphia.
May 2013: 2,000 students walked out of school to protest the impact that deeper budget cuts would have on their education.
2014: Philadelphia Student Union members produced three short films on the topics of School Closures, the School-to-Prison Pipeline and Standardized Testing.
Dec 2014: Philadelphia Student Union members organized a die-in along with Asian Americans United and Boat People SOS to protest violence in all forms in support of #BlackLivesMatter. It became a national day of action for Alliance for Educational Justice.