Protesters lined up outside Governor Tom Corbett's Philadelphia office on Broad Street Monday, the first day of school, to condemn the ongoing underfunding of the Philadelphia public schools. Credit: Charles Mostoller Protesters lined up outside Governor Tom Corbett's Philadelphia office on Broad Street Monday, the first day of school, to condemn the ongoing underfunding of the Philadelphia public schools. Credit: Charles Mostoller

First you hear them, and then you see them: groups with megaphones and hand-painted signs screaming for "fair school funding" and "education reform."

But do you walk on by or stop and listen?

Sure, some stop, but many bury their faces in their phones and act oblivious to residents exercising their rights to challenge authority.

 

So, why keep protesting?

"We're trying to create a context for people to engage in this issue [of a lack of education funding]," said Ron Whitehorne, whose group PCAPShas protests scheduled all this week in an attempt to get Gov. Tom Corbett's attention.

"And we have an election coming up," Whitehorne added. "People need to be aware that one of the central issues in this election is the future of public education in our city."

On Monday, the first day of school for city public school students, nonprofit and education advocacy groups across the city demonstrated and protested in the name of fair funding and budget cuts.

"A lot of what we're trying to do is make the point that the kind of problems we faced last year can't be the new normal," Whitehorne said. "We want to make the point that as the students go back to class we have to go back on the streets and continue this fight."

The message they're bringing to the streets is new revenue for public education and creative ways to generate it.

"We're tying to highlight the message that passing the cigarette tax isn't really enough," Whitehorne added. "All that does is get us to a point that's actually not even as good as last year."

The cigarette tax, which would generate about $49 million for city schools, is awaiting the state legislators signatures — possible next week.

Also next week, the Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), who protested outside Corbett's Philly office Monday, will visit Harrisburg and continue to push for a fair-funding formula.

The goal is to convince the Republican-controlled state legislature that Philadelphia schools need new revenue.

"You'll still have legislators who are dead set against it," PCCY's Anthony Hopkins said. "It's why we keep going back."

Follow Tommy Rowan on Twitter: @tommyrowan