So, how are things going? Does everything make sense? Do you believe your opinion matters? Is the governor listening?
Pollsters ask these questions, and polls reveal that Gov. Tom Corbett is not listening and that not only aren't things going well, but your opinion does not count.
Last spring, the governor cut $860 million from the public schools. The budget cuts included a 50 percent reduction in the Accountability Block Grant program which has funded early childhood education programs like full-day kindergarten since 2003. A Terry Madonna Opinion Research poll shows that 65 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose the education budget cuts! Is the governor listening? No.
An Associated Press story published Aug. 7 reported that "Cutbacks in state aid for public schools hit Pennsylvania's poorer school districts the hardest, slashing nearly three times as many dollars in aid per student compared with wealthier districts."
The same Opinion Research Poll also indicates that 89 percent of Pennsylvanians support funding public education programs that provide individualized student attention and tutoring, that 88 percent support reduced class sizes, that 85 percent support safety initiatives, and that 83 percent of Pennsylvanians support full-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten programs. Is the governor listening? No. Does your opinion count? Sadly, again, the answer is no.
A recent study conducted by the school boards and school business officials' associations shows that 70 percent of public schools have increased class sizes, and 35 percent have eliminated tutoring programs. Is the governor listening? Are things going well? Once again, the answer is no.
Clearly, Gov.Corbett does not believe his constituents, the people, count. His form of government is not "by the people," nor is it "for the people."
Tuition voucher/education reform hides facts from the taxpayers
The governor has created an education "reform" plan that misleads the public.
This plan includes a tuition voucher program that would give tax dollars to students to attend private schools.
A public opinion poll shows that 69 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose tuition voucher plans. When people realize who is paying for tuition vouchers, about two out of three voters oppose school voucher proposals. Again, Gov. Corbett is not listening, and again, your opinion does not count.
His plan is on the wrong track. The only track record for tuition vouchers is a track record of failure. Tuition voucher programs that have been attempted in other states have not succeeded in increasing student achievement. Research in Milwaukee and Cleveland found no evidence that vouchers improve student achievement. Here are the facts according to a schoolboardblog March 10, entitled "Top Ten Reasons Why PA Senate Bill 1 Is a Terrible Idea" located at the Voices of Central Pennsylvania website.
A voucher program would:
* Cost taxpayers over $50 million in the first year
* Cost taxpayers approximately $150 million in the second year
* Cost taxpayers $1.22 billion in the third year and later
* Remember, there is already a $4 billion hole in the state budget
* Violate the State Constitution which states that there is a Constitutional obligation to provide a "free and appropriate" education to every child in Pennsylvania, regardless of economic status