Top 10 Education Reasons to Vote Corbett Out

Tomorrow is the day! We have the chance to make history and vote Gov. Corbett out of office. After four long years of hurting our children, Corbett’s time could be up – if enough people show up at the polls. With the race tightening between Tom Wolf and Tom Corbett, we not only need to cast our own votes on Tuesday, we need to make sure everyone we know heads to the polls, too. Here is a list you can share with your friends of the top 10 education reasons Gov. Corbett needs to go:

1.  Slashed almost $1 billion from public education. Gov. Corbett continues to claim that he has increased funding for our schools, which would be funny if it weren’t so painfully untrue. He actually eliminated multiple education line items and collapsed several others into the “basic education” line item, and then boasts that he increased “basic education” funding. He even admitted on record that, “We have reduced education funding if you look at it as a whole.” [See “The Governor’s Bad Week”] He also likes to claim that the cuts were really the result of the expiring federal stimulus program, but Corbett has taken state funding for our schools back to pre-2008 levels, lower than before Pennsylvania even accepted federal stimulus dollars. [See “The Truth About the Numbers”]

2.  Eliminated our modern, fair funding formula. For reasons I still cannot fathom, Gov. Corbett eliminated the state’s equitable funding formula, so that the poorest students and most struggling schools get the least support. [See “Hurting the Poor”] He made Pennsylvania one of only three states in the nation without a modern formula that would take into account things such as the actual number of families living in poverty or the true number of students with special education needs. [See “A Shameful Betrayal”] Instead, we have a system that allows politically connected legislators to hand pick their favorite pet school districts to hand them extra cash. [Newsworks, 7-11-13]

3.  Caused students to lose 27,000 of their teachers and educators. Corbett has tried to downplay this astonishing figure arguing that not all of the jobs lost were teachers – they include guidance counselors, nurses, librarians, and classroom aids (as if students don’t need these professionals in their schools). [PA Fact Finder, 10-1-14] Not only are our children missing thousands of trusted adults in their schools, the cuts have dramatically increased class size. The latest data shows that over 90% of PA school districts have cut staff, and 64% have increased class sizes since Corbett’s historic budget cuts in 2010-11, with the elementary grades hit the hardest. [See “From Bad to Worst”]

4.  Wiped out music, art, library, tutoring, athletics, Kindergarten, and more. Over half of Pennsylvania school districts will eliminate or reduce academic programs this year. Most cuts will come from field trips (51% schools will eliminate); summer school (37%); world languages (34%); music and theater (31%); and physical education (24%). In over a third of districts, students are also losing extra-curricular and athletic programs, or have to pay a fee to participate. And those cuts are on top of massive cuts made the past two years. [See “From Bad to Worst”]

5.  Forced over 75% of PA school districts to raise local property taxes. In nearly every part of the state, districts are relying on local revenue from property taxes to pay for a growing majority of school budgets. Over three-quarters of school districts will increase property taxes this year – more than any in the past five years. [See “From Bad to Worst”] Pennsylvania is now one of the stingiest states in the entire country in terms of the proportion of school funding provided at the state level: we rank #45. [Census Bureau data summarized in PA School Funding Project]

6.  Promoted vouchers and tax credit programs to send public dollars to private and religious schools. While Corbett failed to pass voucher legislation, his #1 education priority, he instead expanded the EITC tax credit programs. Essentially “vouchers lite,” these programs cost us $150 million per year by funneling corporate tax money that should have gone to the state for our budget needs into the hands of private and religious schools instead, with zero accountability to the public. [See “EITC No Credit to PA”; Keystone Research Center, “No Accountability,” 4-7-11]

7.  Cut public higher-education by 20%. Historic, truly enormous cuts to public colleges and universities have forced those institutions to pass along costs to students and their families. For instance, Corbett cut $67 million from the University of Pittsburgh three years ago, and then locked those cuts in for the past two years: Pitt’s state aid is at its lowest level since it affiliated with the state system in the 1960s. [See “Rolling in Dough or Debt”] And Pennsylvania college students are now the 3rd most indebted in the entire nation. [Post-Gazette, 6-1-14]

8.  Tried to eliminate local control and accountability from elected school boards. In the fall of 2012, Corbett attempted to ram through a statewide authorizer bill, which would have permitted only a state commission of political appointees the right to open new charter schools and to supervise them. This end-run around locally elected representatives would have removed fiscal and academic accountability from those tasked with protecting taxpayers and their communities. [See “Real Charter Reform” and “Now That’s More Like It” for details.]

9.  Expanded high-stakes testing. Gov. Corbett has subjected Pennsylvania students to a dramatically increased number of standardized tests – and has jacked up the stakes, as well. For instance, in opposing the new Keystone graduation exams, which will prevent many students from graduating from high school, the NAACP called them a “present day form of Eugenics” and a “human rights violation.” [Public School Shakedown, 2-2-14] The tests are also an unfunded mandate on local school districts that cost millions. For example, the new School Performance Profile system, largely based on student test scores, cost us taxpayers $2.7 million to develop over the past three years and it will cost an estimated $838,000 every year to maintain. [Post-Gazette, 10-5-13] This does not include the $201.1 million contract Pennsylvania made with Data Recognition Corporation to administer high-stakes-tests to our students. [, 12-1-11] And all this testing is not actually helping students learn. [See “High Stakes Testing”]

10.  Practiced cronyism instead of protecting students. Corbett tried to pass a bill exempting charter school operators – his top campaign donors – from Pennsylvania’s Right to Know “sunshine” law. [See “Where are the Real Republicans?” and “Charters are Cash Cows”] Then he appointed his friend Ron Tomalis, who had been the PA Secretary of Education, to a $140,000 ghost position where an investigative report found he did no work. However, in that capacity Tomalis did advise private equity investors in New York City on how to make money by selling products to school districts. [Post-Gazette, 9-14-14]

One thought on “Top 10 Education Reasons to Vote Corbett Out

  1. You keep referring to Gov. Corbett’s 20% cut to higher education but this was a compromise figure. Corbett originally wanted a 50% cut! Even the Republican state legislature couldn’t stomach that.

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