In an article released Wednesday, Governor Corbett blames local tax increases on local school boards and states “taxpayers need to help themselves.”
For two decades, the state has ignored its responsibility to fund education and has transferred that burden on to local taxpayers. Currently, Pennsylvania ranks 4th in the Nation in our dependence on local property taxes to fund education and ranks the 8th highest in cuts to education.
Last year, facing a statewide budget cut of over $900 million, school boards were faced with hard decisions of raising taxes or eliminating programs, such as full-day kindergarten and music class, or forcing students to pay to play in sports. In a PASA report released last year, it was reported that in Pennsylvania, 14,178 public school jobs were shed (which includes teachers, administrators and other employees), 70% of school districts increased class sizes, 44% reduced elective course offerings, 35% reduced or eliminated programs such as tutoring and 20% eliminated summer school programs. With additional cuts proposed for the upcoming budget, what else is there to cut?
In the article, Corbett also states, “I would love to see taxpayers speaking up at the school board meetings.” This week I attended a school board meeting in southern central PA and a town hall meeting in northern central PA and both meetings were packed with concerned community members. In addition, parents and community members throughout the state are gathering locally to protest these cuts by hosting mock bake sale to stress the message that “There aren’t enough cookies in PA to close this budget gap.” Parents are concerned and upset with the quality of education their children are receiving and the direction this state is heading and are bringing these concerns to the people who make these decisions: the General Assembly and the Governor.
Perhaps the Governor should start trying to understand the needs and concerns of the residents of Pennsylvania and start accepting the responsibilities that came with the office of Governor.
How do you feel about Corbett’s comments?