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Public schools simply aren't properly funded

A bill that would put Delaware County's Chester Upland and three other poor school districts in Pennsylvania under state oversight is a Band-Aid that won't cure the larger problem of inadequate state funding for all public schools. School districts across the state are suffering to various degrees from Gov. Corbett's first budget, which ultimately resulted in an $860 million reduction in funding compared with what they received last year. The situation will only get worse under his budget proposal for next year, with its essentially flat funding for schools and elimination of a $100 million program that funds full-day kindergarten.

MARGARET SCOTT
MARGARET SCOTTRead more

A bill that would put Delaware County's Chester Upland and three other poor school districts in Pennsylvania under state oversight is a Band-Aid that won't cure the larger problem of inadequate state funding for all public schools.

School districts across the state are suffering to various degrees from Gov. Corbett's first budget, which ultimately resulted in an $860 million reduction in funding compared with what they received last year. The situation will only get worse under his budget proposal for next year, with its essentially flat funding for schools and elimination of a $100 million program that funds full-day kindergarten.

The bill passed by the Senate Education Committee would give state-appointed recovery officers broad powers in the Chester Upland, Harrisburg, York City, and Duquesne districts. Schools could be converted to charters or turned over to education management organizations. Union contracts could be renegotiated, salaries unilaterally cut, and teachers barred from striking. Budgets could be reopened and property taxes increased.

State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R., Dauphin), who chairs the Education Committee, said up to 25 other districts in distressed financial condition were also being considered for similar state takeovers, including Allentown, Reading, Erie, and Altoona.

That so many districts are struggling should be sending Corbett and the legislature a strong signal that there is a problem in the financial infrastructure of the state's public school system that they are not adequately addressing.

How does it make sense to give districts interest-free loans, as it is proposed, if they can't be repaid? Or to give tax breaks to industries in pursuit of jobs while eviscerating the school system that is supposed to produce workers?