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West Philadelphia Students Protest Plans To Force Out Half The Staff

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia school district is promising big gains at 18 schools drafted into its turn-around program, but students from at least one of the schools are skeptical.

West Philadelphia High students staged a walk-out Friday to protest the changes.

Dozens of students walked out and issued a list of demands, including changes in security and discipline procedures and stability in the teaching staff. The district has named West Philadelphia a “Promise” school, which brings extra resources, but also calls for getting rid of half the staff.

Junior D’Atoine Iban Emmanuel says the students fear chaos, “I believe that they should keep the staff because we have bonds with the staff, and not only that but we know the quality of the teachers that are there.”

District spokeswoman Shana Kemp dismissed his concerns. “Those are students; they don’t know all the data that we have here. We certainly can’t take the word of students over the adults here.”

But some adults agree with students. The teachers’ union president, Jerry Jordan, says he feels betrayed by the district’s heavy handed approach to school reform.

“What we take from this is that from the mouths of babes comes a whole lot of wisdom.”

Parents, too, have expressed reservations about the plan.

Reported By Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio.

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