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Gov. Corbett unleashes on teachers union

He responded to a letter from union, critizing the call for full funding of schools after the death last week of a Philly student.

GOV. CORBETT let national and local teachers-union leaders have it, accusing them in a letter of using last week's death of a student at South Philadelphia's Jackson Elementary as an opportunity "to grandstand and make a political statement," the letter says.

The May 23 correspondence was directed to Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan, American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania president Ted Kirsch and national AFT president Randi Weingarten.

"I am deeply troubled that the union leadership of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers - and by extension the American Federation of Teachers - would use the recent tragedy at Andrew Jackson Elementary School as an opportunity to make a political statement and to further your self-serving agenda," Corbett wrote.

Sebastian Gerena, 7, a first-grader at Jackson, died suddenly Wednesday at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia after falling ill at the school. An autopsy revealed the cause of death was a rare congenital heart defect.

No nurse was on duty at the time. A nurse works at the school on Thursdays and every other Friday.

The union leaders sent the governor an open letter May 22 stating that they didn't know whether a nurse on duty could have saved the child, "but we do know every child deserves a full-time nurse in his or her school."

They said Corbett has cut statewide school funding by $1 billion since he took office.

"You have the power to fix what you have broken. Restore full and fair funding to all Pennsylvania schools. And do it now," the trio wrote to the governor.

Corbett countered, "There is an appropriate time and place to call for education policy discussions." He added that thoughts should be with the child's family and school community.

Corbett also found time to refer to the ongoing PFT negotiations.

"It's inexcusable that you decided to use this as yet another opportunity to grandstand and make a political statement when you, as the union leaders, continue to fail to engage in meaningful negotiations," he wrote.