The letter wars continue on the editorial pages of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Today’s letter-to-the-editor is a spot-on rebuttal to two of the most commonly repeated, and false, claims about the budget cuts to public education. But it is also an excellent example of how Yinzer Nation is growing through our personal networks — and how this most basic strategy of networking is working.
Here’s how: upset by the disparity in the last round of state cuts to public schools, one Mt. Lebanon mom with personal connections in Pittsburgh’s East End got involved in conversations that launched Yinzercation. Through her networks, groups of concerned parents and community members have been meeting in the South Hills to talk about the effects of the budget cuts: they have hosted house parties in Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair, urged their friends to write letters to their legislators, participated in the state-wide call-in days, and set up personal meetings with their legislators. And through those ever-expanding personal networks, they reached out to Katherine Luniewski, author of today’s letter-to-the-editor, who lives in Peters Township, Washington County.
This is exactly why we must each continue talking to our friends, family, and colleagues about these budget cuts. It is the only way to build our grassroots movement — and the most powerful weapon we have. So please keep networking, and encourage your friends to stay connected through Yinzercation.
And now for Katherine’s letter …
I would like to provide insight into two of Gov. Tom Corbett’s defenses for “defunding” public education (see Bob Gold’s letter “The Funding Facts,” Feb. 14).
First, the administration states that monies lost were a result of the withdrawal of federal funds provided by the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act. True, the ARRA funding ended, but it was always presented as temporary. The ARRA funds were used to plug existing holes in the budget, but these were dollars that the state had slated to spend on public education as part of a new equitable funding formula approved by the General Assembly in 2008. Now that the federal funds have ended, the state has gone back to the old funding formula and left local school districts (and taxpayers) to make up the funding difference.
The second defense is that this administration has increased funding to “basic education.” This is a deception. The Corbett administration collapsed four budget lines (basic education subsidy funding, pupil transportation, nonpublic and charter school public transportation, and school employees’ Social Security) into one: basic education.
Basic education now has a higher funding amount but increases in Social Security require all of that funding increase and more. The governor’s proposed budget also reduces or eliminates other funding lines so the overall education funding is less. The administration claims the “collapse” allows school districts to allocate monies as they see fit. But making it fit will be to the detriment of student learning.
The allegations that Pennsylvania funding of public education has been reduced are not false.