Philadelphia Student Union
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The Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) is a non-profit organization led by youth that builds power among Philadelphia high school students to demand a high quality education. The organization has existed since 1996 and aims to address problems of school funding, teacher quality, school climate, and other barriers to education that are experienced by Philadelphia students, taking the position that if the public schools are going to move forward, young people have to be active leaders in the process.
According to the organization's website, their official mission statement is: "The Philadelphia Student Union exists to build the power of young people to demand a high quality education in the Philadelphia public school system. We are a youth led organization and we make positive changes in the short term by learning how to organize to build power. We also work toward becoming life-long learners and leaders who can bring diverse groups of people together to address the problems that our communities face."
The Philadelphia Student Union was a leading force in the fight to prevent large scale privatization of schools in the district following the state takeover in 2001. Youth organizers staged protests, and engaged in civil disobedience to prevent the School District from handing over control of the central administration to Edison Corporation, a for-profit educational management organization. Youth leaders were ultimately successful in preventing a takeover of the central office, and also prevented the take-over of any high schools by for-profit companies. Some elementary and middle schools were privatized, however.
Among other organizing successes include designing and implementing Student Success Centers in 10 public high schools, which combine enhanced academic resources such as access to computers with social workers and other supports for students. There is a current campaign at West Philadelphia High School to secure a new building for the creation of a community-centered school. Other school-based chapters are located at Overbrook High School, Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts(CAPA), Bodine High School for International Affairs, William L. Sayre High School and Julia R. Masterman High School