Philadelphia students die-in for fallen 6th grader
On Dec. 18, outside the Philadelphia School District where a School Reform Commission was preparing to announce another multi-million dollar shortfall in school funding, students from Philadelphia Student Union (PSU), Boat People SOS and Asian Americans United staged a die-in. But rather than laying on the ground for four and a half minutes to represent the long hours that passed as Michael Brown’s body lay in the streets of Ferguson, students paused for six minutes to represent the brief span of 6th grader Laporshia Massey’s life in Philadelphia public schools.
— Youth United 4Change (@YUCphilly) December 18, 2014
Massey, who suffers from asthma, reported trouble breathing in class. She was driven home by an aide early, and died later as her father took her to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
A school nurse wasn’t present that day, as budget cuts had prompted schools to scale back on full-time school nurses, counselors and other staff. After the cuts, just 82 of the district’s 214 schools had full-time nurses, leaving untrained teachers and aides to administer medications and make judgment calls during health crises.
Massey’s father sued the district in September, arguing that if a nurse had been present or school staff had responded in time, his daughter may still be alive.
“Cuts to education spending in Pennsylvania affect Black students the most as do decisions from the school district, such as cuts to staff and school closures,” said PSU member Ruby Anderson, a senior at Science Leadership Academy. “So we are dying-in to say that Black lives matter.”
— GlobalActionProject (@gapyouthmedia) December 19, 2014