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Letter from Randi Weingarten to PA Governor Tom Corbett


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

October 11, 2013

Dear Governor Corbett,

I know we haven’t agreed on much, but that’s not what this letter is about. This letter is about a tragedy, a loss of life. It’s about Laporshia Massey, a 12-year-old who died from asthma complications. We’ll never know if having a school nurse on site could have spared Laporshia’s life, but we do know that school nurses are trained to detect symptoms of asthma attacks. We know that 1 in 11 children nationwide have asthma. And we know that in Philadelphia, the statistic is closer to 1 in 5.

I’m an asthmatic myself. Although I am never without an inhaler and have great medical care, I’ve been rushed to the hospital during an asthma attack and have experienced that fear of not being able to breathe. Still, I can’t imagine the terror this precious child must have endured in her final moments.

Mr. Governor, we can do better, and we must. The $45 million of federal funding owed to these children should be released right now, with no strings attached. With that money, we can come one step closer to making Philadelphia neighborhood public schools safe and healthy.

We don’t know if a school nurse could have saved Laporshia. But Philadelphians—particularly parents and educators—would sleep easier knowing their children’s schools had enough school nurses, guidance counselors, safety personnel and support staff so that a tragedy like this would not befall another child.

Philadelphia children deserve better. On this much, we should be able to agree.


Randi Weingarten
President, American Federation of Teachers



Jerry Jordan, President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
Ted Kirsch, President, AFT Pennsylvania
William Hite, Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia
Pedro Ramos, Chairman, School Reform Commission
Joseph Dworetzky, Member, School Reform Commission
Feather Houstoun, Member, School Reform Commission
Wendell Pritchett, Member, School Reform Commission
Sylvia Simms, Member, School Reform Commission