Since 2015, Parents United for Public Education has been working towards ensuring Philadelphia’s schools buildings are safe, warm, and inviting for students, staff, and communities. We helped to expose the serious facility and health issues existing in our schools with Inside Philadelphia’s filthy schools aired on Aljazeera America.
We joined the Philly Healthy School Initiative (PHSI) in May 2017, to fortify our efforts with many of the largest labor unions: Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), AFL-CIO, AFSCME districts 33 and 47, and Teamsters Local 502, representing the city’s public school principals; as well as parent/community organizations such as the Friends of Neighborhood Education (FONE); environmental health groups like Penn Environment and Physicians for Social Responsibility, and national school facility organizations such as 21st Century Fund.
The PHSI’s mission is to take immediate, ongoing, and much needed action to address the threat of dangerous conditions in Philadelphia’s public school buildings and grounds. We know that working together, we can make sure that all of Philadelphia’s schools are healthy and safe places.
The plan includes:
- Improve the Public’s Right to Know by requiring greater information and data transparency about environmental health threats from the School District of Philadelphia to parents, teachers, and community members. District officials have thousands of Indoor Environmental Quality reports, site inspections and other environmental health-related data that is not easily available, or even known, to the public.
- Establish “Adequate Building Conditions” that will set minimally acceptable environmental health standards that should be met by every school building in Philadelphia and Best Practices Standards to significantly improve school conditions.
- Identify and address the most critical environmental health threats in our schools—and develop an action plan to remediate them in the fastest ways possible.
- Develop a districtwide “Comprehensive Educational Facilities Master Plan” (CEFMP). While most large school districts across the country have a Facilities Master Plan to prioritize and ensure schools are healthy and safe, no such plan exists for the School District of Philadelphia.
- Create an official Educational Facilities Environmental Health Task Forcecomprised of parents, teachers, unions, public and private advocates and other community stakeholders that can provide input and recommendations to the School District and help develop the CEFMP.
- Advocate for Increased funding to finance these and other critical initiatives to address environmental health risks in our school buildings.
We have learned an incredible amount of information about the state of Philadelphia’s school building and the processes to address facility issues. We look forward to sharing information to parents and school communities. It is very clear that a lot more needs to be done to create the school facilities that can truly nurture and educate our children. Keep an eye here for updates. If you have concerns about your child’s school building conditions, email us.
Learn more about Philly Healthy Schools Initiative.