As a retired Philadelphia public school teacher and also a former Temple supervisor of student teachers who practiced in many different district buildings, I read with great interest Tom Beck’s report on a plan to fix hazardous schools (“Fiedler unveils plan to repair hazardous public schools in PA,” Feb. 24).
The testimony in front of City Council by PFT President Jerry Jordan was of special interest to me. After my retirement, I learned sadly of the tragic asbestos-caused mesothelioma diagnosis of teacher Lea Di Russo, whom Jordan named. It concerned me especially because I once taught for five years at the Meredith Elementary School in South Philly, one of the buildings where she also worked. That school and others had been flagged by the school district for asbestos removal. I wonder how far they got with that or with the removal of lead paint chips that can poison children like the little first-grader, Dean Pagan, also mentioned by Jordan.
Pennsylvania already has a reputation for having the worst school funding formula and charter school law in the nation. You have to live in a wealthier school district to make up for the insufficient funding. Reform is long overdue.
So bravo to state Rep. Elizabeth Feidler and state Sen. Vincent Hughes for proposing new plans to address the many health hazards that put students and staff at risk, especially now with the added danger from coronavirus infection. It is way past time for the Pennsylvania state legislature to put the safety of our school communities above any other political consideration.
Gloria C. Endres