PHILADELPHIA–“The heart-breaking story of veteran teacher Lea DiRusso featured in today’s Inquirer and this morning’s powerful Good Morning America feature on asbestos in our schools shine the brightest light yet on the danger and injustice that greet Philly’s schoolchildren every day.
“But for years, too many elected officials, particularly Republican majorities in Harrisburg, have allowed lead, asbestos and other hazardous conditions to persist school buildings in cities like Philadelphia. Instead of passing legislation to fund PLANCON or support our call for $170 million in emergency repair funding, the General Assembly has willfully ignored the conditions in our schools. They have instead focused on spending public education dollars on charter school expansion and private school vouchers schemes that siphon already limited resources from our district.
“This level of disregard, disinvestment, and neglect doesn’t happen in more affluent, whiter school districts. These conditions would never be tolerated in schools located just minutes from Philadelphia. As Senator Vincent Hughes noted on a recent tour of A. Phillip Randolph, ‘if this was happening in the suburbs, they would shut the building down.’ Next year, the Commonwealth Court of PA will hear arguments from parents and school districts that are suing the state over this very issue. The PFT is hopeful that this lawsuit and today’s stories will help spur more dialog around education equity in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
“The PFT is tremendously proud of Lea DiRusso. We thank her for the courage she displays during her ordeal, and thank her for bringing much-needed national attention to these terrible conditions. The PFT will be there for Lea and her family through this terrible time. Lea is the embodiment of so many dedicated educators who have been able to create amazing learning environments for their students, in spite of deep, systemic underfunding of our schools.
“The PFT is determined to ensure that something positive comes out of this tragic situation. We will never stop fighting for more resources, and better teaching and learning conditions in our schools.”
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