Tom Wolf takes over as governor next week, and he’ll replace a man who presided over substantial budget cuts to state education from elementary schools all the way to colleges. The total amount of money for public education in Pennsylvania fell by $1 billion during Tom Corbett’s tenure.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s education crisis is particularly acute, with shortfall after shortfall the last several years and the closing of over 30 schools since 2012. In 2014, weeks before the gubernatorial election, the government-appointed School Reform Commission canceled its contract with Philly teachers, ending their health care plans. Teachers and students responded with protests in Philly and Harrisburg.
Wolf has said he wants to abolish the SRC and wants a fair-funding formula that would increase state aid to schools from 32 percent to 50 percent of their budgets, but mainly battered Corbett’s education cuts during his campaign.
What will the future hold? What will Wolf do? Billy Penn talked to several area teachers and gathered a wish list for the new governor’s consideration.
Larissa Pahomov, Science Leadership Academy, wants autonomy for Philly schools
Philadelphia schools have neither the funding nor the autonomy they deserve. As a result, the district is in turmoil, and the manufactured financial crisis is used as an excuse for divisive reforms and forced concessions. Educators are doing everything they can to keep their schools from falling to pieces, while state politicians refuse to restore the funding we had just a decade ago. We need state funding that approaches 50 percent of our total budget, instead of the 35 percent we get now. Also, Act 46 (which gave the state more financial control over Philadelphia schools) needs to be repealed posthaste. Philadelphia deserves control over its own school board, and educators deserve a contract that cannot be summarily canceled by our employer.