Posted In: Education Funding, Election 2014, Florida, Kids Not Cuts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Uncategorized

Radical GOP governors attempt about-face on school funding

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By Amanda Litvinov / all images by Donkey Hotey

Several radical conservative governors are desperately attempting to improve their records on education funding. It’s no coincidence that they all face re-election later this year. Their tactics range from rewriting history (“I did increase education spending—no really, I did!”) to proposing new funding with major strings attached.

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Gov.  Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania educators, students and families have been reeling since 2011 when education funding plummeted by $1.1 billion under Gov. Corbett. College students were burdened with even greater costs, while public schools were forced to operate with $860 million less.

CorbettIt got even yuckier: Those K-12 cuts were deepest in Pennsylvania’s 50 poorest districts, where the average funding cut was four times greater ($532 per student) than in the state’s wealthiest districts ($113 per student).

This week, Gov. Corbett introduced his budget plan, touting his increased investment in education. However, the budget increases are more about helping his unpopular image rather than helping Pennsylvania students, according to W. Gerard Oleksiak, special education teacher and Pennsylvania State Education Association vice president.

“Instead of making Pennsylvania’s students and their hardworking families a real priority, this budget is full of election year gimmicks and illusions,” said Oleksiak in a press release. “Pennsylvania’s students and taxpayers need a real budget, one that reverses the nearly $1 billion in school funding cuts that have thrown our public schools into crisis.”

Oleksiak pointed out that instead of reversing historic funding cuts, the governor’s school funding plan proposes $241 million in a new block grant program for use on a short list of state-prescribed initiatives, while proposing no increase in the basic education subsidy, the primary mechanism through which public schools receive state funding.

“Teachers know what works in their classrooms, and where state money would help,” Oleksiak said. “They need it to restore programs that school districts have been forced to cut over the past three years, like full-day kindergarten, tutoring programs, art, music, library services, and extracurricular activities.”

“It’s time to reverse the funding cuts that are driving our schools into crisis.”

Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan

Public school advocates were dismayed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s recent claims that he has increased K-12 spending during his tenure, and that his new plan will help public schools.

SnyderLet’s review the facts: Snyder cut $1 billion from education while installing tax cuts worth $1.8 billion for big corporations.

In the budget he unveiled last week, Snyder proposes boosting education spending by $200 million—but that’s only 20 percent of the $1 billion he cut from education spending his first year in office.

“Putting a fraction of that $1 billion back into schools doesn’t fix the problems that such a massive cut caused last year,” said Michigan Education Association President Steven Cook, who served as a paraprofessional for 15 years in Lansing Public Schools. “It only continues to enrich the corporate special interests who benefited from the $1.8 billion tax cut that the education cuts enabled.”

And under Snyder’s proposal new money for schools won’t be a per pupil increase—districts are forced to compete based on student performance on standardized tests, or to agree to provisions such as charter schools.

It amounts to a “massive state takeover of public education,” said MEA President Cook. “This unproven plan continues to dismantle our local public schools, put more power with Lansing bureaucrats and force taxpayers to foot the bill for more corporate-run, for-profit charter and cyber schools.”

 Gov. Rick Scott, Florida

Educators and parents have fought long and hard for education funding while Gov. Scott has been in office. Florida currently ranks 50th out of 50 states in per capita funding for K-12 public education, according to the most recent Census data.

ScottEarlier this week, Scott declared that his budget includes record levels of education funding—but the truth is that his proposal leaves the state’s per pupil spending lower than in the 2007-08 school year, while district needs have only risen.

It will take a much greater commitment to reverse the damage done by the massive cuts he made upon taking office in 2011.

“We are appreciative for any increase in funding but hope that the new money comes with equally modest policy prescriptions tied to the funding,” said Florida Education Association President Andy Ford. “The FEA believes the existing statutory policy mandates that involve Florida’s accountability system, its standards, its state and local assessments, implementation schedules, performance pay, material needs, technology and technology infrastructure will absorb this increase and much more.”

Ford noted that this increase would put the state’s per-pupil spending near the level it was at when Scott took office and still below the levels in the 2007-08 school year, before many of these state-ordered mandates were in place.

Meanwhile, the state’s students have greater needs today after the Great Recession of 2008-09, with more families living in poverty and becoming homeless.

“The needs of Florida students continue to grow and the mandates passed down from elected leaders continue to multiply,” Ford said.

Reader Comments

  1. retiredteacher1

    Someone already said it: Republican governors are wrecking public education. It started with the Bush brothers in
    Florida and Texas. Jeb is a big charter fan, and so is current GOV.Scott. Rick Perry in Texas, Corbett, Pence, Pat Roberts, Christie, Walker, etc. have all cut education $$ and opened their arms wide to charters. It’s about the money that can be made by the wealthy on the backs of poor urban kids.

    It’s disgraceful, and anyone who votes to reelect these charlatans should be ashamed. If you had any doubt about
    where the interests of these people lie, remind yourselves of the sorry crop of governors elected in 2010.

  2. terrie keck

    Hey, Oklahoma is right there too! It’s amazing how each state government say it’s a new idea that “WE” brought up. New idea….
    sure! AlEC and the Koch brothers are everywhere. It’s not new… it’s a national agenda.

  3. Jan Hershey

    Governor Christie of NJ stole 5.1 billion dollars from education and is using thwe same ALEC/Koch Brothers playbook in NJ. Not only stealing 5.1 from education, he is also having children humiliated who can’t afford to pay for their lunch, and having their lunches dumped and making the children go hungry. The USA is not a third world country (but it seems that for the working poor and middle class, the GOP RepubliCONS are trying to make it one!!) I am OUTRAGED that children are being starved and humiliated in the name of our very rich and thieving Governor being allowed to steal from the US taxpayer and give our money to the rich companies and croonies that back them!! DUMP the GOP in 2014! They are ruining this country for everyne but the very rich, and stealing from us to do so!

  4. Maria Celia Hernandez

    Parents fighting and waiting and begging,to help their children receive the education for the children and not been heard or given the right attention and action need it is time to end that. The only way to get the attention is not giving a nother Vote but replacing the Republican starting from governors up to the senate.Those Representatives Republicans who are against everything that can help the children and the people. Prents that have to beg to give education to the children who the pay back for those funds will become from the preparation for good careers for the work force that will pay their loans back to the government for the education they accomplished and will pay back in the taxes when they will pay taxes every year plus the good job they give on their services to the communities and some who prepare them selves to work for the government.It makes no sense not to give the education that help this country economy; in the end the children today will be the best career prepare workers for tomoroow. So not giving back those seats to those who have not comply with the needs of tomorrows workers and educated citizens will give the change to choose and have responsible representatives with good interest and action to help the children today for the educated force workers of tomoroow. Stand for what is really important for your children , take those republicans representatives out of their seat . because the truth is they are just seating and receiving their pay check with doing nothing but making the life of the America’s people i9n every state hard without any chance of changing their minds.They will not give America what America needs to have a better future even if the people work and you have seen what they have done still today they will keep making more problems for all even to those who have voted for them.Not fare for anyone in any place of the US.Do not give any more chances. Democrats is a sure way for cnanges.United standing for what is right for the children today and chosing what is right for their future it really makes sense.The future of America depends also in the education the children receive; and when adults, they be well prepared.
    MCH. 2-2-2014

  5. Brice Horton

    WOW! I’m shocked! I’m graduating as a Middle School Science and SS teacher in May from UNC-Wilmington and have been looking at school statistics there. The last one I read showed that Florida was in the top 5 for teacher satisfaction??? I was planning to apply with Volusia County when their new application goes live in a couple days. Anyone from Florida on here that’s a teacher? What is your opinion of the system?

  6. Susan Krsnich

    Thank you so much, Jennifer and Ken! I can’t believe how many times Kansas ( SO OBVIOUS!) is the elephant in the room that goes unmentioned!!! SO VERY FRUSTRATING!!!!!!! Especially when this is the state from which so much of these problems originate!!!!!!!!!

  7. Pam Hume-Engle

    Indiana leads the way with 2 Republican governors, Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence destroying public schools. They are so deceitful that they have cheated on scores of their precious charter schools to compare them to public schools! Tony Bennet past Public School Superintendent changed the score of their model charter school from F to A!
    Since Charter school, receiving tax payers dollars, have not scored well recently on the state wide test a bill was sponsored by republicans to EXEMPT CHARTER SCHOOLS FROM TAKING ISTEP, state wide test to measure and grade schools.!!!!
    Proving that these voucher supported schools, operated by out of state companies for profit, are not better than public schools!!! In fact it has been proven that public schools are better! So republicans had to change the rules for charter schools.

    When we this farce stop? When will the public say enough and vote or impeach these crooks out of office? They want to impeach our president, but support these thieves. The are stealing money from public schools, not to mention the injustices they have placed on public teachers.

    Please, tell the public what to do so we can save our children’s schools!

  8. Jennifer

    Don’t forget the “fly-over” states! These governors are just like the one that’s ruining my state, Kansas. They must all be drinking the same Koch because Sam Brownback is coming up with erroneous facts about how much he has increased government spending on public education when indeed he has cut it to the bone. Oh, and it’s an election year and all of a sudden he is a proponent of full-day Kindergarten. It’s amazing how all of a sudden he wants to do something that will help people who aren’t lining his pockets! And don’t even get me started on how he and the legislature are threatening to go ballistic when the state Supreme Court upholds a ruling that says the legislature is not spending enough on education. I just want more people to get out and vote in elections other than presidential ones because the state legislature and governor have done so much harm to our public programs.

    • Ken Curtis

      Right on Jennifer. I am a Missourian(retired teacher) but have an interest in Kansas because some of our loony lawmakers in Missouri are wanting us to follow the practice of Kansas with draconian tax cuts, primarily effecting education. Gov. Brownback paid $75,000 for advice from Arthur Lafer, who has strong ties to ALEC, when Brownback was putting together his “tax reform” measures with a view toward crippling education. The more public schools we can label as failures the more likely will ALEC achieve its goal of making the public more amenable to privatizing. Too bad Brownback didn’t ask Kansans what they wanted. One Kansas Republican says that ALEC doesn’t send lobbyists to Topeka to push for legislation. ALEC doesn’t have to. ALEC has its lobbyists IN THE LEGISLATURE MAKING THE LAWS. ALEC’s legislative members are wined and dined resort style at scheduled meetings where ALEC lackeys pick up model legislation to take home and promote.


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