[from a Pittsburgh Colfax parent, published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 4, 2012]
Public education matters. Our state representatives were right not to rush Gov. Tom Corbett’s voucher pilot program through the House last month ( “Corbett’s Austerity Gets Mixed Reviews,” Jan. 1). Vouchers are expensive, not supported by research and, worse, take money away from schools that are already trying to deal with budget cuts.
As an educator and mother of two in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, I am seeing the draconian results of those state cuts, including bigger classes and loss of important programs such as music, library and gifted education. Yet our kids’ school (Pittsburgh Colfax K-8) is still a magnificent place of learning and a community asset. If state legislators want to help struggling schools and communities, they should focus on improvements that benefit all our children, not just some.
As a historian of Pittsburgh’s industrial past, I can tell you that our public schools were beacons of hope for generations of workers and pillars of strength in our neighborhoods. Public education helped build Pittsburgh just as surely as the steel mills. And public education continues to be our best investment in an ethical, just and fiscally responsible future.