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June 21, 2024 29 mins
Pennsylvania’s courts declared that our school funding system is unconstitutional because the quality of students’ education is determined by their zip code. This year lawmakers have a chance to end the underfunding via a proposed $1.8 billion increase for public schools and a long-term commitment to close the entire funding gap.  I’m joined by students who are part of Children First’s Justice in Education Program who are advocates for equitable education funding.  They are: Gwen Shapiro, Tyrese Gordon,  Agnes Kane, Hannah Levere, Jaelyn Walker, Dell Salm, Talia Flavin and Regina Yajah.

First, I speak to Dr. Camille Ragin, former Chair Minority In Cancer Research Council  for the American Association for Cancer Research.   Dr. Ragin is also  professor in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center-Temple University Health System in Philadelphia and  Associate Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Fox Chase. The AACR is a recipient of a portion of the proceeds from the recent "Sista Strut" Breast Cancer Walk sponsored by WDAS FM, Power 99 and Rumba 1061.  Dr. Ragin, discuses the latest information on the health disparities for Black women when it comes to breast cancer.  
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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Good morning, Welcome to Insight,I show about empowering our community. I'm
Lorraine Balladmorrow. This is tyrese Aswe come here. You know from different
places, in different experience that wehave that bring us all here together for
the same calls, and that's fearfunding the schools. Tyres is one of
a group of young people who arepart of Children Firsts Justice and Education program,

which offers a platform for students togrow into passionate advocates for educational equality.
First well, I hope you wereone of the thousands of women who
came with us to the twenty twentyfour Breast Cancer Walk, which is Sister
Straut sponsored by WDASFM, Power ninetynine FM and Rumbo one oh six one.

The reason why we got all thesestations together is because we are very
interested in raising awareness, particularly amongcommunities of color, related to cancer and
breast cancer specifically. I'm delighted tosay that a portion of the funds from
that walk go to the American isSociation for Cancer Research, which is the

premier organization dedicated to the advancement ofcancer research and the dissemination of knowledge to
conquer cancer. It is an extraordinaryorganization which we are very delighted to be
associated with. Joining us right nowis doctor Camille Riggan. She is former
chair of the Minority in Cancer ResearchCouncil at the AACR. She's also Professor

in the Cancer Prevention and Control Programat Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple University
Health System in Philadelphia, and AssociateDirector of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion over
at Fox Chase. So thank youso much for joining us once again.
One of the things we've been reiteratingtime and time again is what the cancer

landscape looks like for people of colorin particular, and as I'm sure you
will share with us in greater detail, there is a higher percentage of people
of color who die from cancer.And I wonder if you can briefly summarize
the state of the state and perhapssome of the reasons why thank you so
much for having me a Loraine.I would say that there is a lot

of good news, but also alot of not so good news as it
relates to cancer specifically for populations ofcolor. We have over the years seen
a very nice decline in cancer mortalityrate and an increase in cancer survivorship.
So those numbers are real We havehad so many advancements in cancer research that

has really helped help us to treatcancers better. But I think unfortunately,
while these stats are very promising,when it comes to other population groups and
that does include people of color,we see that some of these benefits and
advantages that we have been able toobserve have not really benefited those populations.

So there are still a lot ofdisparities that exist for many cancers. In
terms of the mortality rate, weknow that for black populations they actually carry
still the highest mortality rates for cancercompared to other population groups. And there
are also other population groups as wellthat bear the burden of this disease.

And so there's still a lot ofwork that needs to be done in this
area to ensure that we have equityfor all doctor reg And let's talk about
some of the reasons why those numbersare so high, and some of it
is sort of built into the waythat the medical profession has related to communities
of color, and that is thedisparity in communicating information that so often if

you have a black patient, theremay not be as easily or quickly informed
about clinical trials, for instance,So I wonder if we can talk about
some of the disparities in terms oftreatment black patients patients of color in general.
Yes, there are lots of reasonsthat contribute to the disparities that we
see in patients of color. Asyou've mentioned, a lot of it is

systemic, some of it is discriminationand racism, and we also have access
related concerns as well with regard toaccess to equitable care, access to screening.
It's a very complex relationship when youlook at the different causes in terms
of treatment. I think one ofthe things that we always need to be

mindful of and perhaps work a littlebit more in this area is to really
ensure that we have physicians that aretreating populations of color with cultural sensitivity and
cultural humility. Being able to presentyourself as someone that is trustworthy, which

really allows the patient to be morecomfortable in asking questions and ensuring that they're
q since are being answered because thishelps with decision making, and it also
helps with hearing from the patient whattheir needs are, what their barriers are,
what their challenges are, and allof that fills in and plays a

very important contribution to how they receivetheir care and also identifying what types of
strategies need to be made to ensurethat they receive quality care right. And
also let's talk about some of theenvironmental factors that might contribute to these higher
rates of cancer. I read inthe New York Times very recently that there
now is a long term, largestudy where they examined black women who had

used hair straighteners, and they foundthat the percentage of those women who had
triple negative breast cancer was higher thanthe general population. So, and hair
straightening certainly is something that's very aggressivelymarketed to black women in particular, Let's
talk about some of the environmental factorsthat might come to play. Yes,

certainly, that is a groundbreaking studythat has really released this discovery. And
I think it's what is really criticalhere is for us to continue to promote
awareness of this work and also tocontinue in these investigations to really understand how
these environmental exposures contribute to cancer risk, especially among populations of color, where

some of these environmental exposures perhaps areat a much more higher frequency. As
you've mentioned, we know that asblack women, we have always known from
a younger age how delighted it isperhaps to have your hair straightened, So
we've all gone through that process right, more so than other populations, and

specifically as it relates to this typeof environmental exposure, this is certainly something
that as black women, we needto be aware of and informed in how
we make our decisions regarding these typesof exposure and the potential risks that may
come to bear down the road whenwe get older. I think it also

comes down to how very very importantit is for all of us to be
well informed and to be proactive whenit comes to interacting with a medical profession.
So often, and I've said thistime and time again, you go
into a doctor's office and you're alreadyautomatically intimidated by sitting in that doctor's office,
and may forget the questions that youmeant to ask, or maybe you

think of them after you've left thedoctor's office, or maybe you assume that
the doctor knows absolutely everything and isone hundred percent right, which is not
always the case. And that sometimeswe ignore our own innate physical wisdom when
we know something's wrong and maybe adoctor doesn't see it right away, and

maybe by doing that and not acknowledgingthat, we get a little bit gaslighted.
It's so important for us to reallytake control, isn't it? And
so how do we do that?What do we need to do? What
is your guidance for us? Yes, what I would encourage everyone, and
this is whether you are being inconsultation regarding cancer risk or anything in fact

related to health, before you evengo into the appointment, get a little
notepad and just write your questions down. That's one way to really ensure that.
Number one, you're not forgetting toask important thoughts that you may have
that you'd like to raise with thephysician, and really engaging with a physician

is very critical. As you've said, we have to take control of our
health and we have to make surethat the information that we're receiving that we
do understand, and that if wedon't, then we need to say it
and request for verification. Because atthe end of the day, it's all
about us, right. We haveto make sure that the decisions that are

being made will be made in away that's going to benefit us, and
we have to be a part ofit. Making sure that you have your
questions in advance is a good idea. If you are concerned about the conversation
and not sure whether or not youwould be comfortable having that conversation. Bring
along a family member with you andhave them help you remember the questions.

Having someone else there to help youask the questions to your clinician may also
help to allow you to be ableto understand all of the things that need
to be done and will help withthe decision making in the end. But
that relationship between the clinician and thepatient is so critical, and we have
to demand that. We have tomake sure that we are being listened to

and that all of our questions arebeing answered. Yes, I can't tell
you how many people I know whowere misdiagnosed a number of times, gone
to different doctors who told them thesame thing, that nothing was wrong,
and then by the time they didget a proper diagnosis, it was at
stage four. Fortunately, this particularperson who I was given the option of

a clinical trial, and as aresult of the treatment that she received,
she is thriving and doing well.And that just also speaks to the other
thing is that if there is aclinical trial, your doctor may not automatically
suggest it, but you should justbring it up anyway. If you're in
this position to need to know whetheror not there is something that's appropriate,

right, absolutely, absolutely, thatquestion should always be asked. Oftentimes we
find that some doctors don't offer oreven raise that question as part of the
discussion. Many times there are assumptionsmade by some physicians that perhaps the patient
may not be interested or whatever otherreasons. So I think it's really important

as the patient to make sure thatthat question is being asked to find out
if there is that option available,to really ensure that you are taking advantage
of every possible positive option that willbe able to help to improve your health
well. The American Association for CancerResearch, which is a recipient of part

of the funds from Sister Strut,is a wonderful resource for not only the
researchers doing the great work that they'redoing making all the fantastic breakthroughs that have
occurred over the last decades, butit also is a really good source of
information for anyone who's going through acancer journey themselves. I've noticed that one

size does not fit all, andthere's so many different types of cancer.
When you say cancer, sometimes peoplejust think, oh, cancer, but
in fact it's like a multitude ofdifferent really diseases and they're all very distinct.
So if people want more information aboutthe American Association for Cancer Research and
the great resources available, and alsoif they want to know more about the

Foxchase Cancer Center, where do theygo? The ACR has it's on its
website, tons of resources and soin terms of resources that ACR has to
offer THEIRS, the Cancer Disparities ProgressReport and many other pieces of information,
you can go to www dot AACRdot org and then of course at Foxchasecancer

Center, our website is www dotFoxchase dot org. All right, fantastic.
Doctor Camille Reagan, former Chair theMinority in Cancer Research Council for the
American Association for Cancer Research. Sheis a professor in the Cancer Prevention and
Control Program at Foxchase Cancer Center inPhiladelphia. Also Associate Directive Diversity, Equity

and Inclusion over at Foxchasecancer Center.Thank you for all the great work that
you're doing to raise awareness and todo the good work to narrow the disparities
that are currently occurring in communities ofcolor regarding cancer. So thank you,
thank you so much for having meon my thong helps on their names A

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org slash resources slash math. You'relistening to insight. Access to quality public

education is a fundamental right for studentsin Pennsylvania Pennsylvania's courts declared that our school
funding system is unci institutional because thequality of students' education is determined by their
zip code. This year, lawmakershave a chance to end the underfunding via
proposed one point eight billion dollar increasefor public schools and a long term commitment

to close the entire funding gap.I'm joined by students who are part of
Children First, Justice and Education program, which is offering a platform for students
to grow into vital members of theirstatewide advisory efforts. They are activists and
I am so delighted to have themhere today. And before we get into

what you are, let's just saywho you are. So we're going to
go down the line. We'll startwith Gwenn. My name is Gwen Schapiro.
I'm a rising senior at Lower MarionHigh School in the Lower Marian School
District from Montgomery County. My nameis Tarvis Goren. I'm sixteen and I
come from the Philadelphia County. Myname is Agnes Kine. I am sixteen.

I am currently a rising junior atCentral Box High School South, as
well as a student at Metal BoxInstitute of Technology. HI. My name
is Hannah Leavie. I'm eighteen today. I graduated last Friday and I'm from
Philadelphia County. Hi. I'm JalenWalker. I'm seventeen years old and I
attend the Gerard Academic Music Program andI live in Philadelphia County. HI.

My name is del Salmon. I'mtwenty years old and I go to CCP
Community College of Philadelphia. Hi.My name's Talia Flavin. I'm from Bucks
County, PA, and I'm nineteen. I'm currently a rising junior at University
of Delaware. HI. My nameis Reggie Nayaja and I'm originally from West
Africa, Sierlion and I'm representing PhiladelphiaCounty. I'm eighteen years old and I'll

be attending Dregsteldis four. Lovely,Lovely, lovely. Okay, so let's
begin by talking about what's its organization. Justice and Education program is all about
who wants to tell us about it? This is Tallia. So we are
a group of motivat youth who haveseen the major issues with funding and education,
and we're here to help younger studentslearn how to advocate for themselves and

speak to representatives and make their voicesheard. That's wonderful. What is it
about this particular issue that excites youto be involved and active? This is
Handa speaking, And what excites meabout this issue is that I really feel
as though children deserve a better qualityeducation, no matter what their skin cone

is, no matter where they comefrom, what is thet they come from.
They just all deserve quality education nomatter where they're from. Okay,
who else wants to speak on this? This is Agnes. What excites me
about this issue is that I,because of my gender identity and sexual orientation,
I am discriminated daily at my school. And the teachers frankly, do

not have the proper training at administration. They don't have the proper training to
handle all this, to handle studentswho come from different ethnicities, different religions,
and even current political conflicts. Theydon't know how to handle that.
Our teachers need trainings on how tohandle situations relating to diverse students, and

with funding, we can get teachersthe proper training they need so there are
students who are not left out.This is Regina. So as a student
international student coming from Africa, sueleone, when I first came and the
school I was putting was based onthe zip code I lived in, even

though it wasn't a good school,and I ambitioned a more better education and
I wanted to go to another school, but I said, because I stay
in this neighborhood, I can't dreamof a better place or like a better
education. I have to go tomy community school. Based on my progress.
I've experienced different school districts, likefrom New Jersey to feel like they're

thirteen now, which is present.I got to see how the education system
as a whole is not adequating theAmerican students, but also international migrating students
from different countries. They are notable to like be able to have the
education they dreamed of coming to America. We are not like maybe the funding

is less in the school so uscoming from different countries, the language barrier,
which is really a hard issue,and there is no funding for teachers
to take extra time to provide studentsto what they need, but also the
disregard of our education back home.We come here and like we are maybe
put back. We were maybe excellentstudents, but education from Africa is considered

invalued and we are set back withother students which we are higher than we
are like maybe put in a fifthgrade level when we're like that, you
need to have more culturally competent andsensitive training for teachers so that they can
accommodate students from other countries. Yes, this is Talia. So when we
all first met on Zoom, wehad a moment where we all just shared

our experiences. And I am comingfrom New Hope Stilbury School District was like
bug eye listening to some of thestudents from Philadelphia County share their experiences.
I mean, I was like,oh, we had sushi Fridays and we
had a student teacher ratio of liketwelve to one or something. And then
the other students were saying that theythere was water dripping down into a bucket

and they didn't have air conditioning.And it was like such a powerful,
full moment where we really realized howmuch of a disparity there is. Yeah,
that's really vivid. Thank you somuch. Yes, this is Tyrese
speaking on that in Philadelphia as areal crisis because there's a lot of violence
that impact know, the school systemsand stuff like that, and with water

dripping down if you go to aprivate school or like a religion school,
you can't pay for the tuition.And when you can't pay for the tuition,
you have to do financial aid,and we do financial aid. You
can't pay for lunches, you can'tpay for uniforms. It's different. It's
different from like Bucks County Entaliti isfrom you know, and you have to
saying that, Okay, this iswhat we can do to fight that by

having funding, you know, tofund the arts program, atletic program and
different things in the school to helpit better. Yeah. I love that.
This is Jalen, And for me, coming from a private school to
a public school was kind of hardand I feel as if though there weren't
enough resources to help me balance likethe new world, from having everything handed

to me in a way to havingto solve everything for myself and having to
basically become an adult within my freshmanyear. So that was really hard,
and I feel like there should bemore or support for people who go to
a private or Catholic school where everythingis basically set out for them and transforming
to a public school where kind ofon your own a lot more. Yeah,

well we'll take one more person.Then I have another question. Go
ahead, this is del and Ijust want to pinpoint on like some things
in my school too. I wentto public schools, and there's been like
some things like probably like having properair conditioning or heating, I know personally
for my elementary and middle school.There was one time when I was in

third grade, they were protesting tohave saying save our school so if like
the school was in endanger of notbeing stayed up and everything. But there
was also like a moment too,like when I was in fourth grade,
didn't have like enough teachers or staffsjust having enough because there was a moment

for my fourth grade year we hadto get split up and our dirt grade
teacher had to teach both fourth andthird grade until they had to the middle
of the year or like close tolater fall. We had another teacher,
right, so there was a shortageof teachers. So that probably meant you
had a pretty big class. Yeahyeah, wow, All right, let's
talk about what you would like tosee. What is your message to the

state legislators. This is Hannah speaking, And what I would like to see
is definitely obviously more funding within theschool districts, but not only more funding,
more teacher education. More education sothat teachers can really connect with their
students both physically and mentally emotionally becauseteachers, they are also in a tough

place, not only as being teachersor educators. There is not enough education
going on within the teacher community.So teacher training, yes, yeah,
they keep up. Yes, who'snext? This is Regina, So following
up with Anna, like, morefunding is needed. So with the more
funding we can provide a with Butlike nutrition's food because even though the School

of Philadelphia tries to be more diversewith food, less funding makes it like
a punishment to go to school.Every day you go to school, they
have a restriction. Okay, ifit's past six am or like seven am
at my school, you can getbreakfast. So you basically have to go
through classes hungry. You can likeeat in class. Some teachers have restrictions

of not eating in class. Sohow are you supposed to learn if you
don't have food or you don't havewhat you need to learn. But also
the food quality sometimes it's really likefreezing food, Like all right, who's
next. Yeah, I'm Agnes,I'm from Box. And one experience I
had is that I was actually meetingwith one of our local lawmakers and I

was telling him a story about howmy second block teacher who taught me math,
I asked for her to borrow apencil and she was like, I'm
sorry, I do not have apencil because I did not go out and
buy pencils for our classroom. Andin my opinion, that should be supplied.

Teachers should not be buying stuff fortheir classroom, which is very common
for teachers to pull out of theirown pockets. Yeah, the average Tucher
spends over five hundred dollars out oftheir own pocket on classroom supplies. And
this lawmaker told me I've never heardof that, which is crazy in my
opinion. And really, these lawmotemakers just need to open up their eyes

and see the current issues that arebeing faced in our community. All right,
so call to action. What isyour call to action for these legislators?
What do you want to see happen? And what do you want us
to do as citizens who care?This is Talia. We're calling for fair
funding. Well, Gwen is kindof our expert on the technical aspects of

funding. All of these issues aresolved by money, and that's what we're
asking for. There should not beone person in this room who's had a
wonderful experience, and then the resthave had not any of the funding or
the support that they needed. Thisis Tyre's basically what the citizens should do
is think about a different perspectives thatwe all have because we're not from the

same place, from different counties anddifferent ZIP calls and different nationalities. As
we come here, you know,from different places and different experience that we
have that bring us all here togetherand for the same cause, and that's
fair funding and schools. It's forthe future generation because you'll probably be out
of school by now. But whenyou know our kids, our grandkids at
such for coming down the line,they say, oh they could come back

and look that people that's the sameage as them, that look like them
for it for the same thing thatthey want, and that's funding for school.
That's so inspiring. I just lovethat. Yeah, this is Jalen
And a few things I would sayyou can do is call, text,
email, go visit your state senatorsbecause that's really where we need the action

to happen in this moment. Butwhatever you do, like, we really
need senators to pass this bill forfair funding in our school district so that
everybody can have a fair opportunity.Okay, who gets the final word?
This is Gwen Jalen reference to bill. I just wanted to say. The
bill that she's talking about is HBtwenty three seventy. It's in the Senate

right now. It just got passedby the House, and it is a
bill that would say that the legislatureneeds to pass a budget and the next
seven years of budget in order tofund education in accordance with the way that
the Basic Education Funding Commission recommended.Just for context, if people would like

more information about Children First and theJustice and Education program, how do they
find out more? How do theyfind out more about you guys? How
to more young people well equally asimpassioned and as inspiring as you guys?
How can they join you in whatyou're doing? So on the Children's First

website, there's a bunch of contactinformation are amazing leader, Miss Diana Coleman
is a great point of contact.But there's emails Children's First, Justice and
Education and you'll get all the infothere. Fantastic And you all had this
cheer that you all did together.What was that? Go ahead? So
on three we're gonna say Justice andEducation on three one two three auction Fundard

School. Yes, I love it, I love it, I love it.
These are young people who are partof Children FIRSTS Justice and Education program,
which offers a platform for students togrow into vital active members of their
statewide advisory efforts. They are makinga difference, they are making asking for
change, and they are informing ourlegislators exactly what it means to have equal

funding for all students. Gwen Shapiro, Tyres, Gordon Agnes Kine, Hannah
Leavie, Jalen Walker, Del Som, Talia Flavin, and Regina Yaja.
Thank you all, thank you,thank you, thank you, Hi,
thank you. Here you can listento all of today's interviews by going to

our station website and typing in KeywordCommunity. You can also listen on the
iHeartRadio app Heyword's Philadelphia Community Podcast.Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at Lorraine
Ballard. I'm Lorraine Ballard MOREL andI stand for service to our community and
media that empowers. What will youstand for? You've been listening to Insight
and thank you
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