Open letter from Randi Weingarten, Jerry Jordan and Ted Kirsch to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett
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.
President, American Federation of Teachers
President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
President, AFT Pennsylvania
William Hite, Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia
William Green, Chair, School Reform Commission
Feather Houstoun, Member, School Reform Commission
Farah Jimenez, Member, School Reform Commission
Wendell Pritchett, Member, School Reform Commission
Sylvia Simms, Member, School Reform Commission