A Vote for Tom Corbett Is a Vote For a Corporate Takeover of PA’s Public Schools

Picture this: Out-of-state charter corporations are attempting to take over an entire city’s public school system. Every single one of the city’s public schools would be Message in Front of MPS Central Office by Light Brigadingrun by for-profit charter corporations; essentially, school boards would be “selling” the students to private corporations. This is exactly what could occur in York City, Pennsylvania, if the school board approves a takeover in November.

Two out-of-state corporations are competing to take over the city’s public schools. As the board reviews proposals from Charter Schools USA and Mosaica Education, parents, teachers, and York community members are urging York City School Board members to reject the bids. Before the board held its meeting September 17, protest marches occurred outside the administration building, with participants then attending the meeting.

In a news report by Melanie Orlins, York City School Board President Margie Orr said she welcomed the people who turned out to share their concerns because the community needs to let the board know how they feel. According to Orr, “the district is revisiting the option to go all-charter because it can’t come to a contract agreement with the teacher’s union.”

Teachers and union members, however, pointed out that the state’s education cuts harmed the students and the district and put their jobs in jeopardy. York City is just one of the districts affected by Tom Corbett’s education cuts during his tenure as governor. In fact, according to a post on Diane Ravitch’s blog, “the corporate takeover experiment is being pushed by the York City School District’s chief recovery officer, an appointee of Gov. Tom Corbett, who falsely claims this is the district’s only hope in the face of financial challenges.”

Teacher and York City Education Association member Clovis Gallon explained, “Governor Corbett has starved York’s public schools of needed resources, and now his appointed chief recovery officer is blaming the city’s schools for not providing children with a rich enough educational diet. What York schools really need is for state lawmakers to reverse the Corbett funding cuts.” Gallon went on to say, “Local taxpayers and elected officials should be making decisions about the education of York’s children – not an out-of-state corporation with its eye on the bottom line.”

The district is looking for an increase in academic performance, but the protesters don’t believe charters are the answer. A member of the York City Education Association, Janice Laird pointed out a problem with the charter takeover: “If a for-profit charter like Mosaica comes in like they did in Muskgon, Michigan, and comes in and walks away after 2 years from a 5 year contract, where does that leave our community, our kids?”

Another rally is planned for Wednesday, September 24 at the Hannah Penn K-8 School, as the school board will hear more information from the charter schools at the Charter School Presentation for the Community Education Council. The march will take place from 5:30 – 6:30pm, with the meeting beginning at 6:30pm. For more information, contact Clovis Gallon (clo95@hotmail.com) or Lauri Rakoff (lrakoff@psea.org).

With all of the hubbub on the political scene as Tom Corbett desperately attempts to win back voters before the November election, it is important to view the ads put out by Corbett’s camp with a critical eye. Governor Corbett has not been a friend to public education since he took office nearly four years ago. Now, he is claiming in television ads that he is not to blame for the education cuts and that he in fact has raised education funding “to the highest level ever.” Really? There clearly is a trend in Corbett’s education cuts over the past three years:

  • “Corbett takes ax to education spending: public schools face 8 percent cut and teachers would see pay freeze, with future raises tied to performance” – The Morning Call, 3.8.11
  • “Corbett cuts deep into education: Governor’s first budget chops $1 billion for schools, money for colleges by half” – Pocono Record, 3.9.11
  • “Nearly 70 percent of Pa. school districts increased class sizes, survey shows” – PennLive, 9.16.11
  • “Corbett’s Education Cuts Define the State of His State” – Democratic Governors Association, 2.3.14
  • “Survey of School Districts Says Property Taxes Likely to Keep Rising” – TribLive, 6.5.14
  • “Tepid Job Growth” – Intelligencer Journal/New Era, 9.1.14 (this article points to the loss of teachers since Corbett took office: “education cuts led to the loss of 27,000 jobs)

We have seen increased class sizes. We have seen schools cutting positions. We have seen teachers taking pay freezes. We have seen cuts to physical education, Stop School Budget Cuts by John Stavelyart, and music classes. We have seen schools combining administrative positions, leaving buildings without leaders on a consistent basis. We have seen school libraries darken their doors as librarians and library assistants are shared between several buildings or have been cut all together. We have seen these things in districts all across Pennsylvania since Governor Corbett took office.

Sadly, now we see one of the most damaging effects of the Corbett administration: a potential takeover of York City Public Schools by private corporations intending to profit from the education of York schoolchildren.

We’ve seen enough, Governor Corbett. We know better than to vote for you this November.

Images via Flickr by Light Brigading and John Stavely

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