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Author Topic: Corbett's Budget Message to Teachers  (Read 1783 times)

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The EETicket Arachnid

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Corbett's Budget Message to Teachers
« on: March 11, 2011, 06:12:11 PM »
Corbett's Budget Message to Teachers
11 March 2011, 2:48 pm

(News-Herald, March 10) My kids hate it when I write about politics. But Governor Corbett’s budget address this week hits too close to home for me to ignore.

Much of his speech I applaud. The Commonwealth has been cobbling together odd patches of federal handouts and stimulus money tacked onto one of the worst business and corporate tax structures in the country. PA taxes have managed to be both oppressive and ineffective, squeezing the blood out of some enterprises while other major corporations manage to profit from the pockets of Pennsylvania consumers without returning a single cent to running the state.

Pennsylvania needs to live within its means, and has needed to for a while. It also needs to stop nickel and diming its people into oblivion with new hair-brained schemes like turning I-80 into a toll road.

Some of his speech reads like same old, same old politics. A lot of the money doled out to various local projects has been cut and compressed, the wide and varied plethora of granting bodies trimmed down. Corbett says under the new system, “Instead of individual favors we're trying a market approach. Economic development agencies and providers will compete for taxpayer dollars. If you have a winning idea -- you'll win our backing.”

To which I say, “Um, yes, right, sure. ‘Winning idea’ is a completely objective measure, and I’m sure it will be judged on a completely level playing field. I’m sure places like Venango County will have just as good a shot as Philadelphia.” Corbett’s budget talk did not at all address the balance between rural Pennsylvania and the Big Two, the process by which Pittsburgh and Philadelphia regularly suck the blood from the rest of us. That was a little discouraging.

But nothing was as discouraging as Corbett’s prolonged swipe at teachers. I’m not exactly sure when in the past few weeks that teacher-hatred became the flavor of month; I’m pretty sure that only Charlie Sheen has kept it from the very top of the news cycle.

I absolutely agree that teachers should not be exempt from the sacrifices faced by most Americans (that is, those that are not filthy rich bankers and CEOs). But the sacrifices proposed for education are not on that order; they are proposals for gutting teaching as a profession and with it, public education.

The bill currently making its way through Harrisburg (HB 855) proposes the end of tenure and seniority. Under this proposal, school districts may declare themselves financially strapped. They don’t have to prove it, and they don’t have to make any other efforts to trim their budgets—just have a public meeting at which they declare their financial distress. Then they may fire whichever teachers they wish to fire.

Under these rules, people considering a teaching career face one of two possible trajectories. Either they will work for a few years and then be fired out of the profession, or they can work a full career at wage levels that won’t support a family. How many people qualified to do anything else will choose teaching as a career if it is, as budget mavens like to say, unsustainable? It is theoretically possible that school districts will say, “Damn the cost—we want to compete for the best teaching staff around,” but I wouldn’t bet my career on it.

Yes, others are struggling. But making more people struggle doesn’t build prosperity.

Corbett says the school system’s obligation is to child, parent and teacher—in that order. His answer is correct but incomplete. Once again, we’re discussing public education as if the public are not stakeholders. But even people without school age children have a need to live surrounded by, working with, and dealing with well-educated people. Public education is not a public-funded private school system run for parents; its benefits are as widespread and universal as roads. Corbett would like to see vouchers, further guaranteeing non-parents no educational voice.

Why the selective application of sound economic principles? Corbett is right to believe that businessmen and corporations will not do what they do if the state makes it economically useless and difficult to do it. How is that different for teachers? Teaching remains one of the best jobs in the world. If I won the lottery this weekend, I would still be in my classroom on Monday, but you can’t feed and clothe a family with job satisfaction. I hope that one day I’ll be replaced by someone who would also like to make it his life. It will be sad if nobody with real passion or ability can afford to do that.

Source: Venangoland



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Re: Corbett's Budget Message to Teachers
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2011, 08:14:56 PM »
Corbett says the school system’s obligation is to child, parent and teacher—in that order. His answer is correct but incomplete.
What corbett implies is that teachers are not important in fulfilling that obligation to parents and children, as if any drone making minimum wage could accomplish the task.
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