Students give elected officials Guatemalan 'worry dolls'
Philadelphia students continue to protest education cuts and underfunding, passing along their worries to elected officials with the power to change the situation.
Philadelphia city council members know what it's like to be chased down by press. But today they were chased down by children.
As council members glided past a 'fund-our-schools quilt' and more than a dozen students on their way to this morning's hearing, they were stopped to receive a package — a folder with a student-made Guatemalan-style 'worry doll' that represented the stress weighing on schools and children due to underfunding.
Tanya Davis, an eighth-grader at Andrew Jackson Elementary School, handed her doll to Councilman Curtis Jones, explaining the need to fund art and music programs in schools.
"It's really important to us," Davis said afterwards. "Art can take us to think different things. We can learn about different people."
Students from Powel Elementary School in Powelton, Andrew Jackson Elementary School in South Philadelphia and Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School in Manayunk gathered outside of City Council chambers and Governor Corbett's Philadelphia office, waiting to pass hand-made "worry dolls" that represent the students' anxiety about education cuts to those with the power to increase funding. The students planned to march from City Hall to the governor's office to present more dolls and the quilt.
In Guatemala, "worry dolls," or muñecas quitapenas, are often made by children and placed under pillows to take on children's anxieties as they sleep. The dolls are sometimes gone by the morning (if parents take them away in the night), supposedly carrying children's worries away.
In this case, the dolls were meant to transport the students' worries to elected officials.
Even though City Council has approved a 1 percent sales tax that would provide $120 million, the district's budget still falls short by $75 million. Last year, thousands of educators and support staff were laid off after a multimillion dollar funding shortfall, leaving schools "empty shells," according to Superintendent William Hite, who has said that if the $75 million is not restored before the coming school year, schools would lose even more staff and programs.