It’s Friday and we could all use some good news, so here is a wrap-up of positive public education budget items from around the state:
- Three former members of ALEC in our state legislature have renounced their membership! Keystone Progress, which has been tracking the legislation written by corporations and introduced into our state, reports that Republicans Sen. John Pippy and Rep. Mark Mustio (both from Southwest Pennsylvania) and Democrat Rep. Harry Readshaw are now saying they are not members. [Read why “There is Nothing Smart About ALEC”]
- Last night, parents and community members in the Upper Darby school district outside of Philadelphia met with state Representative Nick Micozzie about the budget cuts forcing their district to eliminate elementary art, music, library, and physical education. They have become an active group with their own website, but are particularly focused on the state budget. The Delco Times reports that Micozzie, a Republican from the 163rd District, “has battled for years for a better way to fund public education in this state and … clearly is not wild about the governor’s spending plans.” He has vowed to ask the Governor to come to the Upper Darby to discuss the cuts to public education.
- Two legislators – one Republican and one Democrat – were recognized last night for being outstanding champions for public education: Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17) and Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-29) received awards from the Pennsylvania School Board Association for their work in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware counties.
- On Wednesday, Lehigh Valley hosted a community forum to discuss the state budget cuts. Richard Snisack, Superintendent of the Parkland School District explained, “It’s not an expenditure issue, it’s a revenue issue,” and stated that he feels our democracy is at risk. [WFMZ-TV, April 26, 2012]
- A group like ours, the Chester County Coalition for Public Education, is hosting a Rally at the Chester County Courthouse next week. State Senator Andy Dinniman (D-19), the minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, will be there and issued a strong statement this week saying:
- “Cutting support for early childhood and basic education and slashing funds for higher education will be disastrous for students at all levels and even more devastating in the years to come. … We know that cuts to basic and early education mean increased local property taxes, larger class sizes, teacher layoffs and less individualized attention and specialized programs. We know that cuts to higher education mean significantly increased tuition and fees, greater student borrowing and debt and more people on the unemployment rolls. Altogether these cuts will set Pennsylvania back decades and undermine all of our efforts for long-term economic growth and prosperity. This is an issue that affects every Pennsylvanian – from current students and their families, to teachers and professors, to high school seniors and prospective college students.”
We need more legislators issuing statements such as these. And we need more of our representatives publicly declaring they are free of ties to ALEC. We still need more community forums and rallies. And we especially need more of our Republican legislators, like Rep. Micozzie, standing up for public education and asking Governor Corbett to explain his proposed budget cuts. But all in all, these are positive signs as we move into the final two months of the budget negotiation. Chins up!