You may have been under the impression that Tom Corbett was working around the clock to destroy public education in Pennsylvania with his funding cuts and his staunch support for charter schools, vouchers, and a politically loaded scholarship program called EITC.
But FreedomWorks, the Tea Party-flavored group that has been heavily funded by the same Koch brothers who just paid millions to keep their pal Scott Walker as Wisconsin governor, thinks he could be doing so much more:
Conservative PAC FreedomWorks is launching an intensive ad campaign costing between $500,000 and $1 million and aimed to "pressure state lawmakers … to pass a school choice bill" this June.
FreedomWorks says they want to "turn up the heat" on Gov. Corbett as well, even though he is the one who created the bill.
Feeling that Corbett failed to put in the effort needed to ensure the bill passes, the PAC is taking advertising into their own hands. "We don't feel like he has really led on this issue. He needs to spend the political capital to get a robust school choice bill done this session. We believe we have the votes if he will just lead and make calls and personal visits to House legislators," said spokesman Brendan Steinhauser.
The reality is that if Corbett's brain hasn't been completely cracked on ethane yet, he'll run from vouchers (or "choice" as advocates call it, stealing another idea from liberals) as fast as he can. Louisiana and Corbett's fellow GOP governor Bobby Jindal have been out front on this one, and Diane Ravitch -- the education guru who was for vouchers before she was against them -- has chronicled an unmitigated train wreck down on the bayou -- with few spots for the state-subsidized kids in top private schools but, citing Reuters, many openings like this:
"The school willing to accept the most voucher students — 314 — is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.
"The Upperroom Bible Church Academy in New Orleans, a bunker-like building with no windows or playground, also has plenty of slots open. It seeks to bring in 214 voucher students, worth up to $1.8 million in state funding.
At Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, pastor-turned-principal Marie Carrier hopes to secure extra space to enroll 135 voucher students, though she now has room for just a few dozen. Her first- through eighth-grade students sit in cubicles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Christian workbooks, such as a beginning science text that explains "what God made" on each of the six days of creation. They are not exposed to the theory of evolution.
"We try to stay away from all those things that might confuse our children," Carrier said.
In other words, to be blunt, public dollars are creating the Republican voters of tomorrow. No wonder vouchers are so popular with the likes of Jindal, Corbett and the Koch brothers. I know what you're thinking, that Pennsylvania is a different kettle of fish than Louisiana. Yes and no. True, many Catholic schools here in the Philadelphia region are quite good. But there's plenty of classrooms out in the "T" that also don't want to confuse kids with modern science.
And that may not be good enough to get a job when the ethane cracker finally opens.