PSEA-Retired members speak up for public schools
When Gov. Corbett went to the Lincoln Edison Charter School in York to unveil a set of education "reform" ideas that would divert even more money from the public schools, PSEA-Retired President Sue Jones and a group of PSEA-Retired members were there to meet him.
Carrying "Save Pennsylvania's Schools" signs and wearing "Stop Tuition Voucher" stickers, Jones and her colleagues were eager to stand up for the public schools.
"We need to restore money to the public schools and forget about this voucher thing," said Jones.
The Governor's "reform" initiatives, which include a tuition voucher program, expansion of charter schools, and growth of the education improvement tax credit program, come on the heels of an unprecedented $860 million in state funding cuts to the public schools.
The effectiveness of the Governor's proposals is questionable at best. In addition, a recent public opinion poll showed that 65 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose vouchers. However, the same poll showed that 80 percent or more of those surveyed support initiatives like tutoring programs, pre-kindergarten, full-day kindergarten, and smaller class sizes.
These are the kinds of programs that school districts across the Commonwealth were forced to cut or scale back in the wake of the Governor's budget cuts.
Sandra Kulp, who joined Jones' team for the Governor's announcement in York, taught at Lincoln Elementary school before it was converted into Lincoln Edison Charter School.
"The York public schools do an excellent job," Kulp said. "It's unfortunate that charter schools only accept top students. We should be focused on educating all the children."
Kulp also pointed out that charter schools' academic performance is, in most cases, not as good as the public schools.
In fact, a study published by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes concluded that charter schools in Pennsylvania perform worse on average than traditional public schools.
Jones made it clear that PSEA members must become advocates in order to oppose bad policies like the ones the Governor proposed and support proven, popular initiatives like those in PSEA's Solutions That Work.
"It's so important for us to speak up," Jones said. "People need to know why we're opposing these things. If we don't stand up and speak out, people won't understand what is best for the kids."
Pictured: PSEA-Retired members joined by Education Matters volunteers at Lincoln Elementary on October 11, 2011.