Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tomalis testimony ignores impact of nearly $1 billion in public school cuts

HARRISBURG (Mar. 5, 2012) – The president of the state’s largest school employee union said that Education Secretary Ron Tomalis’ testimony before the House Appropriations Committee today ignored the fact that school districts across Pennsylvania are cutting programs that work for their students because of nearly $1 billion in state funding cuts.

Mike Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, pointed out that school districts across the state are increasing class sizes and cutting programs that work for students in response to Gov. Tom Corbett’s unprecedented public school funding cuts, a reality that stands in stark contrast to the Corbett administration’s claim that these cuts are really historic increases.

“It is time to stop ignoring the problem and start fixing it,” Crossey said. “How can you say that the state increased funding for Pennsylvania’s students when school districts are being forced to eliminate programs left and right? It just doesn’t add up.

“Pennsylvanians are seeing through the rhetoric. They know what’s happening in their schools and they know why.”

To help Pennsylvanians understand how these cuts impact the school districts where they live, PSEA launched an online School Funding Cuts Calculator on Feb. 15. The calculator is available at www.savepaschools.org andwww.psea.org/schoolcuts.

“Instead of admitting that there is a funding crisis in the public schools, the secretary seems to want to cover it up,” Crossey said. “His shell game isn’t working. All you need to do to find out the truth is pick up your local newspaper. I read about more cuts every day.”

Crossey pointed out that Gov. Corbett has eliminated a menu of long-standing state programs to support the public schools, including the charter school reimbursement program, accountability block grant program, education assistance tutoring program, and dual enrollment program. 

“These programs were created to help students learn,” Crossey said. “They’re gone now, and students are the ones paying the price. This budget is a shell game for public education. We can do better.”

Crossey pointed out how critical it is to focus on providing the funding schools need to pay for programs that are proven to work for their students, like those outlined in PSEA’s Solutions That Work proposal. These Solutions That Work include early childhood education, smaller class sizes, additional learning time for struggling students, and parental involvement.

Learn more about Solutions That Work at www.solutionsthatworkpa.org.

“These program cuts are real, and the impact they are having on students is real,” Crossey said. “Pennsylvania can do better. We can resolve this crisis if we all work together as the adults in the room.”

Crossey is a special education teacher in the Keystone Oaks School District. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents more than 193,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.

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