PHILADELPHIA--"Time and again, we see the very real consequences of a failure to invest in our young people and their right to a thorough and efficient system of public education. The ongoing facilities crisis, which would never be tolerated in a wealthier, whiter school district, is a searing example of the impact of decades of disinvestment.
"The closure of CW Henry-- the fourth District school to close due to damaged asbestos in just the past two months--is upsetting, disturbing, and emblematic of the urgent need to resolve this facilities crisis.
"These closures, while necessary in the wake of the discovery of toxic damaged asbestos, are deeply disruptive. Students, families, and educators are left to pick up the pieces of a system of disinvestment. Parents have to make arrangements quickly, and staff have to figure out how and where they will be teaching while work takes place.
"For years, the PFT has championed the fight for healthy schools, and we have worked tirelessly to advocate for safe facilities for students and staff. Our advocacy has led to major policy changes and increased awareness to this crisis. We have consistently been at the forefront of the push for transparency and swift action.
"I greatly appreciate the new administration's commitment to transparency and to taking swift action as problems are uncovered-a marked difference from the prior administration. But we need a clear action plan for moving forward. Additionally, it is essential that the state legislature move forward with substantive plans to invest in public education, including facilities investments. This includes spending funding from its growing 'rainy day fund' when it's quite literally raining in our schools.
"We cannot sit idly by while dangerous conditions are discovered at school after school-- we can and must have a clear action plan to ensure that we have tangible steps towards securing what is, in fact, a basic human right: a safe building in which to learn and work."