Monthly Archives: March 2011

When did Tom Corbett lose faith in *public* education?

Thanks and kudos to WCU student Kevin Mann for this catch:

As a candidate, Tom Corbett wrote a position paper about education policy posted at the very useful site Vote Smart.  There’s not really anything in it you wouldn’t expect from a Republican gubernatorial candidate–lots of talk about accountability, making sure money is spent wisely, rewarding quality teaching and ousting bad teachers, all the usual suspects.

Interestingly, however, there’s a passage in his statement that jumped out at Kevin, and me:

Tom Corbett believes in Pennsylvania’s public school system and will make funding our schools a top priority. Putting students first means ensuring the resources intended to support their education make it to the schools and classrooms they attend.

The second half of that is standard issue conservative education-reform-speak.  But notice in the first sentence the commitment to public education.

At the bottom of the page is a link to then-candidate Corbett’s own campaign website, on which you’d find a somewhat shorter, lightly edited version of the same statement.  I’ll point you specifically to the most interesting, uh, edit.

Tom Corbett believes in Pennsylvania’s education system and will make funding our schools a top priority. Putting students first means ensuring the resources intended to support their education make it to the schools and classrooms they attend.

See what’s missing?  Tom Corbett doesn’t care about public education anymore!

And I can’t even begin to prove what I’m about to posit, but I’m going to posit it anyway.  Sue me.

According to Follow the Money, one of the largest individual contributors to the Corbett for Governor campaign is a fella named Vahan Gureghian, CEO of Charter School Management Corporation.  I’ve written about this relationship elsewhere and won’t (don’t need to?) rehash it here; the short version is that it’s awfully difficult to believe that Corbett’s, um, turn away from support for public education isn’t connected, at least in some way, with huge amounts of money appearing in his campaign coffers from somebody who stands to profit massively from cuts to the public education system.

Gee.  What a surprise.  The Governor supported public education, until he didn’t.  He supported publication, more likely, until a rich charter-school “entrepeneur” persuaded (!) him not to.  And here we are today.

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Filed under Follow the Money, K-12 Education, Tom Corbett,

Information on Monday’s Protest in H’burg

A couple of links, and then info on joining the WCU contingent–

From the State APSCUF blog, announcing the rally and the line-up of speakers

One of the coolest actions I’ve seen anybody undertake yet as part of this campaign: members of Lock Haven’t track team are running to the rally.  From Lock Haven.  To Harrisburg.

I know I’m cajoling you, but for goodness sakes, people.  If 30 track team members from Lock Haven can put together a 100-mile relay run, we can find 20 people to ride a bus to Harrisburg.

Go!  If you want to be on the bus, be in the parking lot behind Swope @ 8:15 Monday morning.  You’ll be back in town by 5 pm at the latest.  Lunch provided, no expense.  Go join fellow students from across PA to let the Legislature know they can’t do this!

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Links, Lock Haven University, PASSHE, Rally, Student activism, Tom Corbett, West Chester University

Reason to hope, but we MUST KEEP WORKING

As coverage of the Chancellor’s testimony to the Senate Budget Committee continues to roll in, the picture sounds pretty clear.  Very few legislators are on board with the Governor’s proposal to slash PASSHE’s budget by 50%.


A couple of reminders before we all get swept in the rush towards finals, our looming summer plans, and so on–

1.  If you’ve followed events in Wisconsin and Ohio, in particular, throughout February and into March, then you know how often the public employee unions there thought that they were making real progress in getting Governors Scott Walker and John Kasich to back off their preposterous proposals.  We all thought, in Wisconsin especially, that the Republican state senators were realizing how absurd the whole situation was and that they’d do the right thing.

They didn’t.  Not a damn one of ’em.  Acting (maybe even believing themselves) *today* as if they’re on our side doesn’t mean they will be when the votes actually count.

2.  One reason the PA Senate Budget Committee can afford to be so vocally supportive of our system is our work.  They know we’re out here.  They know we’re watching.  They know we’ll support people who support us, and we’re doggedly oppose people who don’t.  They know thousands of students, faculty, staff, and administrators/managers are actively protesting the cuts, and our work both demands their efforts and emboldens them.

So, take the first round of good news for what it’s worth–a validation that what we’re doing to fight the cuts is right.  But don’t take it for more than it’s worth–we haven’t won anything yet.

Next step:

Monday, in Harrisburg–a rally at the Capitol @ 11:30 am.

If you’re a WCU student interested in going, contact Seth <> and let me know.


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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Communities, PASSHE, Rally, Student activism, Tom Corbett

A Guide to the Governor’s Proposed Budget Cuts

Reposted from our friends at the KUXchange, APSCUF-KU’s chapter blog:

The library folks at KU’s Rohrback Library have put together this site, the Guide to the Governor’s Proposed Budget Cuts.  I’ve only poked around with it for a couple of minutes, but at a glance it’s both detailed and navigator-friendly!  As the contributor who wrote the KUXchange entry, Christina Steffy, says–

Also remember that, in a time when there is an information overload and everyone wants to “just Google it,” there are information professionals you can turn to who are better than  Google and who know where to find information that Google can’t find (yes, it’s true! Google can’t find everything). The information professionals at KU are proof of this (and let’s give credit to Tim Ballingall, the grad assistant who got this out there), so please don’t forget that as we fight for education we must also fight for libraries. Where else will you get free access to knowledge and people who are more than happy to help you on your quest for knowledge?

And just as importantly:

The Governor may not care about having an educated populace, but the Rohrbach Library does.

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Kutztown University, PASSHE, Tom Corbett

An Open Letter to PA University Students

[Professor Amy Walters from Slippery Rock U shared this letter with me this morning, with an invitation to distribute it far and wide.  The letter is an Open Letter from the PA chapter of the AAUP (American Association of University Professors).  Feel free to distribute it farther and wider!  –Seth]


To Pennsylvania Students:

Last week, your Governor, Tom Corbett, proposed his first budget. Despite the fact that Governor Corbett pledged to place a high priority on jobs and the economy, his budget assures that Pennsylvania will be a competitive disadvantage economically.  He warned that his budget would be painful, and it was.  If passed, this budget will likely ensure that yours will be the first generation to have a lower standard of living than that of your parents.  You will confront massive challenges in your lifetime. There will be increased competition from within the US and abroad, where men and women are better educated than ever before. The best educated will develop the most significant advances in technology.  Opportunities will still exist; and education will remain critical to your surviving and thriving.  Unfortunately, you will have less help from the state government than any generation since World War II.

As a society, we face tough choices.  We are facing a deep recession; many people are hurting. Although there is wealth in our society, this budget does not ask the appropriate sacrifice from those who are more fortunate, nor from those in the financial sector who have brought this calamity upon us. Rather, this budget asks you and your families to sacrifice.

As the representatives of tens of thousands of college and university faculty throughout the Commonwealth, we wanted to write our objections to this proposal and to encourage the Governor and legislature to reconsider the drastic and devastating cuts proposed last week.  The proposed budget will result in higher costs and fewer loans for students; it will result in fewer faculty and more crowded classrooms; as a consequence, it will result in a less educated and less competitive Pennsylvania.

Just to summarize, the budget proposed last week cut state funding to the state owned institutions 54%, down to 1983 levels.  It is hard to see how PSSHE (Millersville, Slippery Rock, etc) will cope with those cuts without cutting faculty and staff (secretaries, maintenance workers, etc.), without cancelling classes and important programs.  Instead of your finishing your education in four years, it will likely take you five or six.

The state-related institutions (Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln) took similar cuts in the proposed budgets.  Penn State’s President, Graham Spanier, is predicting tuition increases of 10-20%, at what is already the most expensive public institution in the country.  In addition to firing faculty, he predicts closing some branch campuses.

PHEAA, which funds loans for both public and private college students, was cut by almost 3% and, for private schools, the cuts may reach 7 %.  Thus student aid will go down as tuition goes up.  Likewise,  community colleges will cut classes and faculty, making it harder for citizens to start or restart their education.

Pennsylvania faces a large budget deficit of approximately $4 billion; there are no easy fixes. However, you all know that no economy thrives for long without a middle class. Cutting higher education means cutting the opportunity for many to move into or remain in the middle class. So, cutting money spent on education is akin to eating your seed corn.

Students did not cause this economic crisis; neither did their parents.  Faculty did not. University staff did not.  The middle class did not; but now we are being asked to pay for it.

As leaders of the Commonwealth, the governor and legislature have an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of millions of Pennsylvanians.  The budget proposed last week was only a first step, and you should take the opportunity not only to get justification of funding from the universities cut, but to think about your priorities and those of the state.  In the end, we think you will realize the wise thing to do is to restore the funding for higher education. We think that, eventually, they   will recognize the need to plant the seeds of education, so the Commonwealth will reap the benefits.

This is not a time for silence. As educators and as citizens we need to step up and be heard on this matter. Clicking on this will take you to the Pennsylvania legislature’s website, which contains contact information for the state House of Representatives and Senate. We encourage you to use this resource to contact your local representative and or state senator to voice your opinion on this proposal.  Let them know that that the budget proposal is a bad deal for all Pennsylvanians.



Executive Board of the PA-AAUP.




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Filed under AAUP, Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, PASSHE, Penn State University, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, University of Pittsburgh

6ABC: Proposed cuts spark campus protests

Thanks to everyone who attended & spoke & helped us get this solid coverage.

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Filed under Uncategorized

APSCUF rally at WCU: United we stand, underfunded we fail!

Lots to say about today’s rally, too tired to say any of it right now except a very, very serious thanks to everybody who came to the event, spoke, listened, talked, chanted, waved a sign, read a sign, filled out a postcard, or took a factsheet.

I wanted to get this video from the event, produced by Dr. Mike Boyle in Communication Studies, out ASAP.

Excellent work!  More to come as we get links to press coverage.  WCU-TV was also there, as was somebody from the state APSCUF office.


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Filed under APSCUF, Budget, PASSHE, Rally, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Uncategorized, West Chester University