(Jul 31) Op-Ed: Despite claims, state budget still shortchanges public schools

(July 31, 2013)

The day after he signed the 2013-14 state budget into law, Gov. Tom Corbett and his political allies practically dislocated their shoulders as they patted themselves on the back for providing Pennsylvania’s public schools with what they described as increases in state funding.

They even proudly proclaimed that Pennsylvania is providing more state funding to our public schools than ever before.

If only their press releases and newsletters contained something more than political spin and accounting gimmicks. In reality, the new budget:

• Restores less than 13% of the $961 million that was cut from public school funding in 2011.

• Fails to cover additional state-mandated costs, so our schools will once again be forced to either increase local taxes or cut programs.

• Counts expenses such as pension payments for teachers who haven’t been in a school in 20 years as “education funding” for our children’s classrooms in an attempt to make it appear that the state is providing more funding to our public schools than ever before.

Instead of ensuring that our schools received adequate funding, they used accounting gimmicks to hide these cuts in state dollars and claimed that the entire $961 million our schools lost was disappearing federal stimulus funds.

Furthermore, when stimulus money that was used to fund prison costs went away, Gov. Corbett and his allies maintained the spending level, so no funding was lost to that area.

To add insult to injury, Gov. Corbett eliminated the fair, transparent, and accurate formula that was once used to allocate state tax dollars for public schools. Now Harrisburg politicians make deals behind closed doors and pick school districts that will receive more funding than others.


Find the full article,  here: “Despite claims, state budget still shortchanges public schools: Susan Spicka” Patriot-News Op-Ed,  7/25/13

Susan Spicka writes from Shippensburg. She is a co-founder of the activist group Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley.

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