Teachers’ union releases pleading open letter to Corbett after boy’s death in school

School District of Philadelphia headquarters on North Broad Street. Credit: Wiki Commons.
School District of Philadelphia headquarters on North Broad Street. Credit: Wiki Commons.

After a 7-year-old child died at Andrew Jackson Elementary School Wednesday afternoon, where no nurse was assigned, teachers’ union officials have released an open letter sent to the governor’s office seeking more funding to potentially prevent such disasters from occurring in the future.

Issued by Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten and AFT Pennsylvania chapter president Ted Kirsch, the letter accuses of Corbett of slashing education funding by $1 billion and pleads, “You have the power to fix what you have broken.”

Read the full text of the letter below:

The Honorable Tom Corbett
Office of the Governor
Main Capitol Building, Room 225
Harrisburg, PA 17120

May 22, 2014

Dear Governor Corbett:

The last time we wrote, the Philadelphia community was grieving the loss of Laporshia Massey, a 12-year-old who died from asthma complications that started at school. Today, tragically, we grieve once more. Again, a child has been stolen from us much too soon—this time a 7-year-old from Jackson Elementary School. Again, there was no school nurse on site.

Five years ago at Jackson Elementary, there was a full-time school nurse. Today, the dedicated nurse who has served the Jackson community for 15 years only visits on Thursdays and every other Friday.

Since you took office in 2011, you slashed school funding by $1 billion and turned down Medicaid funding that could have helped many of Philadelphia’s children. The number of school nurses in Philadelphia has fallen from 289 to 179. Now, instead of focusing on the health needs of students at one school, nurses in Philadelphia’s public schools cover five or six schools, sometimes visiting each school only once every other week.

We don’t know if a school nurse could have saved this young boy. But we do know every child deserves a full-time nurse in his or her school. We do know all parents deserve to know that their child will be safe and his or her most basic needs will be tended to at school. We do know that all Philadelphia children deserve better.

Mr. Governor, we cannot tolerate one more life lost, one more dream snatched from our children. You have the power to fix what you have broken. Restore full and fair funding to all Pennsylvania schools. And do it now.

Sincerely,

Randi Weingarten

Jerry Jordan
President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

Ted Kirsch
President, AFT Pennsylvania

The letter was also sent to Superintendent William Hite and the members of the School Reform Commission, including chair Bill Green.

Gov. Corbett has previously responded that the $1 billion reduction in school funding came from the termination of a federal grant beyond his control.

It wasn’t made clear immediately if Mayor Michael Nutter or Philadelphia City Council had received the letter as well.



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