November 17, 2020
PHILADELPHIA— In response to the University of Pennsylvania’s announcement of a $100M pledge to remediate District facilities issues, PFT President Jerry Jordan issued the following statement:
“This is an extraordinary day for our schoolchildren and educators. Because of University of Pennsylvania’s $100 Million pledge, students and staff will be safer and healthier in their school buildings, and that’s exactly why we do the work we do each day.
“The PFT established the Fund Our Facilities Coalition to identify real solutions to the enormous facilities issues in our schools. For years, we have identified and defined the problems–toxic asbestos and lead, mold, and other hazards–and we have identified the resources needed to ensure that our schools are safe and healthy. We know what $100M will do: massively overhaul the toxic conditions in so many of our schools.
“This is a day borne out of years of organizing and groundwork: rallies, marches, testimony, reporting, mobilizing, and political action. But it is also a day borne out of tragedy. For Chris Trakimas, who lost his life in a boiler explosion at FS Edmonds School. For Dean Pagan, who will live the rest of his life with the effects of being poisoned by lead paint at Comly Elementary. For Lea DiRusso, forced into early retirement by a devastating mesothelioma diagnosis after teaching her entire career in schools with known, damaged asbestos. These are the faces, the human beings that we are fighting for each day.
“I’m truly grateful for this investment, and I want to commend President Gutmann for prioritizing this urgent investment.
“2020 has been a truly challenging year, but we have never lost our deep and unwavering commitment to fighting for our students, educators, and communities. The work continues. On behalf of the PFT and the Fund Our Facilities Coalition, I am truly thankful today, because our children and educators will be safer tomorrow.”