Media Mobilizing Project recently announced the launch of PublicSchoolVoices.com, a growing collection of videos and testimonials from the parents, teachers, and students that are the core stakeholders in Philadelphia’s public schools.
For the project, MMP has partnered with over 11 school communities to gather stories that reflect all those who are invested in public schools and to demonstrate the things they do daily that demonstrate their commitment to providing high quality education.
Media Mobilizing Project also surveyed 100 parents of school-aged children citywide, asking a broad range of questions about the challenges they see facing their schools, what resources they feel their schools need most, and about the working and living conditions that their communities face.
“I am proud and excited to be a part of this project. Collecting these stories has given me an insight to the real things, people, and experiences that exist in our schools. This project gives us the platform to combat the negative messaging coming from people who have not ever stepped foot in our public schools,” said Robin Roberts, Philadelphia Public School Parent and member of Parents United for Public Education. “They do not have meaningful conversation with our parents and students. We can tell our stories, we have a voice.”
While surveyors received a wide variety of responses, the majority of parents they surveyed responded in a similar way to two questions: When asked what kinds of resources and programs are most important for our schools, most parents said the greatest needs in their schools were more staffing—nurses, counselors, teachers, noon-time aides, and safety staff. When asked about their greatest joys as a parent, most parents said it was seeing their children do well in school.
“There is a growing understanding across the state that Pennsylvania needs a new funding formula that accounts for poverty, English Language learners, special education students, and many other [factors] that impact the future of our kids,” said Rebekah Phillips, co-executive director at Media Mobilizing Project. “We feel strongly that our decision makers need to do a better job listening to the people who know best about public schools.”
A new partnership in New Jersey
Media Mobilizing Project also recently produced a short film, Building a Sandcastle: A Broken Promise to Atlantic City, which tells the stories of the casino workers who remain after the wave of casino closures and layoffs in 2014.
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“As an organization based in Philadelphia, but very much keyed into…the importance of understanding the interconnectedness of the entire region, we felt that it was critical to get to know the people being affected by the casino closings in Atlantic City,” wrote Phillips in an email. “We wanted to understand not just the toll these closings were taking on laid off workers, their families, neighborhoods and on the region as a whole, but also to hear the stories of resilience, community and family togetherness, hope, fight and transformation.”
The film was produced as part of a collaboration with the newly formed NJSpark project out of Rutgers University, which was launched by Todd Wolfson, with support from the Dodge Foundation. Phillips said Media Mobilizing Project’s role in the collaboration has been to help train future journalists in its approach to media making and to co-produce the short film.
In the future, MMP said it’ll be telling more stories from NJ as it works with communities throughout the state to build independent media and create new ties to journalists as a part of a new collaboration with Dodge Foundation, Free Press, Rutgers University and others.
Image via Media Mobilizing Project-30-
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