Primary Results Mixed for Education

The primary results are in and it’s a mixed bag for public education. Starting on the other side of the state:

  • Rep. James Roebuck, the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, managed to hold onto his seat in a hot race against an opponent heavily financed by Betsy DeVos’ American Federation for Children (AFC). As we reported earlier this week, DeVos and other mega-billionaires have been funneling money into the Students First PAC (and several others) in an effort to oust Roebuck, who has been a vocal foe of Corbett’s voucher legislation.
  • Incumbent Senator Pat Vance, who also voted against the voucher bill back in December, prevailed despite a media-blitz funded by DeVos’ AFC and the Students First PAC, which had channeled their money through the Citizens Alliance for Pennsylvania PAC. [See Keystone State Education Coalition blog for details.]

In contested elections locally:

  • Erin Molchany handily beat out incumbent Martin Schmotzer in the 22nd District, where, as we reported last week, public education had become a key issue. A Democrat, Molchany will face Republican Chris Cratsley in the fall, a moderate who believes the state should restore funding to education and opposes vouchers. Should be an interesting race!
  • On the other hand, in the 39th District, running on a pro-education platform, Republican Shauna D’Alessandro lost her bid to unseat incumbent Rick Saccone, a staunch ally of Gov. Corbet and his efforts to privatize public education.

In the South Hills, State Senator John Pippy – a Republican from Moon and known ALEC member – did not seek re-election. Businessman D. Raja won the Republican nomination, though if he wins in the fall, he may not be in office long as the congressional redistricting may exclude his hometown of Mt. Lebanon once the new lines are settled on. However, considering the high likelihood of his gaining a seat in Harrisburg for at least the next couple years, folks from Raja’s district may want to start talking to him now about his support for public education.

I would be asking him where he stands on vouchers, whether or not he intends to accept membership in ALEC, and how he will ensure an equitable and reasonable state budget next year for our schools. The fact that Mt. Lebanon just announced it will have to raise local property taxes by another half mill should help. Homeowners are not happy with increased taxes, and families can’t be pleased to see one of the most successful school districts in the country cutting staff and programs to close a $1.9 million budget gap. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 19, 2012]

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