From the time he took office in early 2011, it’s clear that Tom Corbett had a very different plan for public education that matched the extreme agenda set forth by the Tea Party: starve public education, break teacher unions, kill state pensions, and privatize our schools with a voucher system.
Recognizing that equal education opportunity for all is only possible through a strong public school system, the drafters of the Pennsylvania State Constitution (Article III, Section 12) included a specific mandate requiring the state to provide a “thorough and efficient” public school system. In order to ensure that all are educated equally, it also prohibits funds from being provided to sectarian schools or other schools outside of state control.
One can debate the amount of public education funds cut by the governor and his Republican legislature, but not that school districts have had to or plan to raise property taxes, that 27,000 educators have been laid off, and that tuition at state-related universities has increased dramatically from reduced funding.
Corbett and the Republicans’ Plan for Destroying Public Education
Want to know Tom Corbett’s Plans for Public Education?
- Surrounded himself with charter and private school advocates
- Cut about $860 million from public education in his first budget rather than tax the state’s booming natural-gas industry as every other state has done
- Said in 2009 that public schools had to “suffer during the recession the same as other industries”, while giving $450 M in tax breaks to businesses
- Directly supported the most aggressive school privatization campaign ever – the “Blueprint for Transformation”
- Cut funding for public schools while expanding Pennsylvania’s “voucher lite” programs, which provide corporations with major tax credits in exchange for donations for private-school tuition, although these schools don’t have to follow state mandates or accept challenged children; this also violates the state constitution that prohibits using taxpayer money for non-public education
- Mandated the ridiculous Keystone Exams, which add unfunded costs to public schools and don’t serve students
Democrats, who care about students, parents and teachers, say NO to these strategies!
Corbett to Legislature: “Cut Public University funding in half!”
Tom Corbett proposed reducing state funding for state-owned and -related universities by 50% in the 2011-2012 budget; he signed into law an 18% cut. The next year he proposed a 20% to 30% cut, and proposed flat-funding them in 2013-2014, despite the growing costs of higher education. Added to this is the Republicans’ refusal at the national level to lower college federal loan rates, which currently earn a huge profit ($51B in 2013, greater than Apple or Exxon Mobil) for the government, while adding overwhelming long-term debt to students.
Democrats, who recognize that higher education is the best ticket to the middle class, and that it drives innovation and keeps the USA competitive, understand that our state colleges and universities deserve more from our governor and legislature.
Keystone Exams – Tom Corbett’s Unfunded Mandate to Public Schools and Taxpayers: WE DON’T WANT IT!
Chester County public schools and school boards are united in opposition to Governor Corbett and his appointed state Board of Education’s requirement that all public high school seniors take three one-size-fits-all exams (initially literature, biology and algebra, with others added later) to qualify to graduate. Despite the high academic achievement of our area public schools, there are financial, academic and social consequences:
- School districts will need to pay (without state funding support) to implement the exams
- They will also need to cover costs for remedial courses for students who do not score proficient in the exams needed to graduate
- Students required to take remedial courses will have severely curbed access to elective courses that so often serve as the spark for future careers
- Test preparation robs schools of time and energy that should be focused on classroom instruction; in some districts, the number of calendar days devoted to high-stakes testing will jump 3X to 120; some students take biology in 8th grade, but will need to remember content five years later
- Some students who would otherwise graduate with a good education are just bad test takers – a single test score does not reflect a student’s knowledge, ability or potential
Even with the graduation requirement, school superintendents can “waive” out up to 10% of students, rendering the exams meaningless (although still required). And private and parochial schools are exempt – is this an attempt to boost vouchers for private schools???
Tom Corbett, with his twisted logic and unconstitutional plans for public education, must go – vote NO to Tom Corbett, November 4th!