Teamsters Local 502/Commonwealth Association of School Administrators (CASA) members joined with political, community and labor leaders today to call on Comcast to provide reliable, high-speed internet access to thousands of students at the School District of Philadelphia who cannot participate in distance learning.
Wearing masks and holding signs that read “Equity Through Connectivity,” principals, administrators, teachers, building engineers and climate managers for the school district, who are represented by Teamsters Local 502/CASA, joined with parents and students outside the Comcast Center, calling on the country’s largest cable provider to make a greater investment in the community.
“If you look at PEW Research Center, Black and Brown families are at a disadvantage when it comes to internet access; many only have access through a mobile device. Large corporations like Comcast and Verizon do not run the newest equipment in high poverty and rural areas. This is not just an urban issue. The lack of high-speed internet in these communities puts our students at a disadvantage,” said John W. Spencer, a School District of Philadelphia Principal and member of Local 502/CASA. “In order for virtual learning to work, students need reliable internet that allows access to video, audio and other interactive media. We are calling on Comcast to make a bigger investment in the community and our children.”
In late July, it was announced that Philadelphia public school students will not return to classrooms until November at the earliest and that students will continue distance learning until schools reopen.
“It is unacceptable to deny any student an education. Education is a right, and we have a moral obligation to stand up for our children in Philadelphia and their families. This shouldn’t be about dollars and cents; it’s about taking collective responsibility to do what is morally right. What’s right is for Comcast to remove any barriers to reliable, high-speed internet access. The end justifies the means,” said Dr. Robin Cooper, President of Local 502/CASA.
Cooper and Spencer were joined by Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan, State Representative Brian Sims, State Senator Sharif Street, Councilwoman Helen Gym, Councilwoman Kendra Brooks, Philadelphia Home and School Council President Shakeda Gaines and Dana Carter, Policy Advisor for the Racial Justice Organizing Committee.
Teamsters Local 502/CASA represents approximately 700 school administrators who work in the School District of Philadelphia as principals, assistant principals, facilities area coordinators, climate managers and school police, food service supervisors, early childhood supervisors, leadership coaches and curriculum specialists.
“Following the rally, the Deputy Mayor of Philadelphia reached out to share that Comcast will soon announce it is providing internet access for the 35,000 kids with the most need, which is a good start,” said Bill Hamilton, President of the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters.