Comcast Employee and SRC Member Taunts Children at a Comcast Sponsored Movie Screening

Commissioner Simms yelling at children during last night's sit-in. Photo via Raging Chicken Press

Commissioner Simms yelling at children during last night’s sit-in. Photo via Raging Chicken Press

By Kenneth Lipp

Last night at a screening of the film “Won’t Back Down” at the School District headquarters in Philadelphia, members of the Philadelphia Student Union sat-in to demonstrate against what they say is propaganda for the School Reform Commission’s (SRC) subversion of the teacher’s union. Raging Chicken Press reported, per tweets from students attending the protest, that a member of the SRC, Sylvia P. Simms, taunted the youth, saying “You must go to failing schools” and “You belong in jail.”

Raging Chicken Press also reported a response from a parent of one of the berated students, who was aghast and disgusted with Commissioner Simms’ behavior.

Suzanne Anderson told the Press:

I am appalled and ashamed at the behavior of Sylvia Simms, and some of the other adults, at this gathering. They shamefully menaced the same school children they are sworn to protect and serve, insulted and shamed them because they dared to challenge the authority of the SRC. They specifically denigrated and belittled my kid, who is incredibly successful, by anyone’s measure.

Ms. Simms was appointed to the Commission by Mayor Nutter in early 2013 and hailed widely at the time as a “fresh perspective.”

Simms’ profile on the SRC website says she now “works for the Comcast Corporation and the Urban Affairs Coalition as Outreach Project Coordinator for Broadband Adoption.” She is also a former district school bus attendant.

The screening was sponsored by Comcast Internet Essentials, GPS, and E.A.R.T.H.S.

UPDATE – Video from last night’s screening

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq7jL0E8d-U]

UPDATE II – Police Advisory Commission’s Kelvyn Anderson weighs in on Sylvia Simms’ comments to his daughter, Ruby Anderson, and other student protesters:

I think the scene at the SRC movie screening on Wednesday night was sadly indicative of just how far over the cliff these folks have fallen,” he told The Declaration this afternoon. “It’s not enough to spend public dollars on anti-union propaganda and fake protesters. [They have to] insult a group of young people expressing their views, the very people you’re supposed to be working for!

A few mutual acquaintances have suggested this outburst is not characteristic of Ms. Simms, and I see tweets from her asking to meet with the Student Union. Whether this is sincere or damage control, she owes our kids a public apology.”
Ruby Anderson, a student at Science Leadership Academy, told The Inquirer‘s Susan Snyder today:

“I thought it was pretty inappropriate for a public official to yell at people she’s supposed to be representing,” said Anderson, who was among about 20 students staging the sit-in. “I also thought it was really inappropriate for her to assert that the school we went to, if it were failing, meant we had no right to dissent.”

Simms also chimed in, telling The Inquirer in a telephone interview that the students mischaracterized her remarks.

“It wasn’t like that,” she said.

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About Kenneth Lipp

Kenneth is a writer and researcher. He’s from Alabama, and will not apologize for it. He moved to Pennsylvania in 2012, but has been in love with Philadelphia since a late-night stroll down Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum in July of 2011 with the love of his life. He is interested in telling Philadelphia’s dynamic and absolutely unique stories with the zeal of a constantly enamored newcomer. Kenneth is also passionate about government transparency and protection of whistleblowers, most notably PFC Chelsea Manning. His research and reporting on law enforcement and surveillance have been featured in various publications, including Rolling Stone (Meet the Private Companies Helping Cops Spy on Protesters) and Popular Science (Boston Tested Crowd-Watching Software That Catalogues People's Skin Color). His training is in both genetics and history and he likes the joke about being a helicase and unzipping your “genes.” He’s driven to know, and thinks you can handle, the truth. Follow him on Twitter @kennethlipp.

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