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The repercussions of the Jerry Sandusky crimes keep adding up.

  • Thankfully, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty and will never be free to rape children again.

  • The Freeh Report revealed the culpability of the leadership at Penn State where some have lost their jobs and others are facing criminal prosecution for their roles in the cover-up.

  • Earlier this week the Penn State football program received unprecedented penalties by the NCAA.

We can argue the appropriateness of the level of punishment, but at least people are finally being held accountable for their roles in the Sandusky rapes and cover-up.

But one person has not held accountable—Tom Corbett. In both his role as Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and as Governor, Corbett apparently had numerous opportunities to stop Sandusky that he didn’t take. I say apparently, because he refuses to answer questions about what he did or didn’t do. When a reporter has the audacity to raise questions, Corbett indignantly blusters and threateningly chastises the questioner.

That is probably why no one has called for an investigation into Corbett’s role—until now.

Since Corbett has not been forthcoming, Keystone Progress is requesting that PA Attorney General Linda Kelly, Senate President Pro tem Joseph Scarnati and Speaker of the House Samuel Smith begin a formal investigation into Corbett’s role in the Sandusky scandal.

The major question that needs to be answered is why did Corbett wait years to get Sandusky off the street? I’ve talked to four prosecutors and asked them when they would have arrested Sandusky. Each of them said they would have arrested him immediately after hearing the testimony of an eye witness. Each of them said the first priority is to stop the rape of children by getting him off the street. The investigation can continue after he’s locked up. None of them could understand why Corbett waited years to have Sandusky arrested.

That still begs the question. Why did Corbett wait so long?

Chris Freind, one of the most conservative columnists in Pennsylvania, summarizes it this way:

“One of two things seems to be true, as there is no third option. Either A) you were an incompetent attorney general, which virtually no one believes, or B) the investigation was deliberately understaffed and drawn out because you did not wish to be the gubernatorial candidate who took down fabled Penn State - with its massive and intensely loyal alumni network - and the beloved Joe Paterno. Since doing so would have presented difficult campaign challenges, many are asking if politics was placed above children’s safety.”[i]

Friend is right. Those are the only two options. If Corbett is simply a bumbling Governor and Attorney General, the people will take care of that in 2014.

If, however, Corbett intentionally kept a child rapist on the street to further his political career, it is morally reprehensible and probably criminal.

That’s why we’re calling on Pennsylvania’s law enforcement and legislative leaders to conduct an independent investigation into Corbett’s role as Attorney General and Governor.

We are under no illusions about asking Republicans to investigate Corbett. There’s not much chance they will put politics aside and do the right thing. But we have to hope that they will do just that. In a state dominated by one party we have no other choice. If they don’t respond, we’ll try other avenues.

Please sign our petition by clicking here. Then spread the word to friends and family.

It’s time to get answers and only public pressure can get them.

Michael Morrill

Executive Director, Keystone Progress


Groups rally nationwide to support upping minimum wage


Corbett faces budget attack



By Karen Langley

Published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


HARRISBURG -- State attorneys defending the new voter ID law at a hearing beginning Wednesday will present no evidence that in-person electoral fraud is likely to occur this November without the law, according to a document signed earlier this month.

The state and the parties challenging the law agreed in the court document that neither side knows of cases of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

Backers of the requirement that most voters show an approved form of photo identification at the polls have said the law will prevent fraud and assure residents of the integrity of elections.

A coalition of groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania is suing to stop the law from taking effect for the general election this fall. They argue it will disenfranchise legitimate voters who lack acceptable identification.

Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the attorney general, declined to comment on the July 12 stipulation. Jennifer Clarke, executive director of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, one of the parties contesting the law, said that by agreeing there is no evidence of in-person voter fraud, the parties can forgo calling witnesses to testify on that point.

The law also faces a review by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, which on Monday sought documents related to voter registration and driver license rolls. The department informed Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele in the letter that it is examining whether the law complies with the Voting Rights Act.

Read more:

New Pa. voter ID law criticized as inconsistent

Foes of state voter ID requirement rally


Gov. Corbett angrily rebuked a reporter who asked whether he could have moved faster on the nearly three-year investigation of child abuser Jerry Sandusky. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Gov. Corbett angrily rebuked a reporter who asked whether he could have moved faster on the nearly three-year investigation of child abuser Jerry Sandusky. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

By George Parry (former state and federal prosecutor practicing law in Philadelphia)

Published in


Following the recent release of Louis Freeh's report on the Penn State scandal, Gov. Corbett took questions from the media about the investigation of serial child molester Jerry Sandusky, which began when Corbett was attorney general. When asked if he could have expedited the three-year investigation and taken the former assistant coach off the streets earlier, Corbett pounded the lectern and angrily insisted, "We do not hold up investigations for anything." He added that the question was "out of line" because it supposedly disparaged the rank-and-file investigators and prosecutors who worked the case.

Corbett's apoplectic reaction was strange indeed. As he must have known, no one was questioning the excellent work of the law enforcement personnel who brought Sandusky to justice. The questions concerned Corbett's leadership and allocation of resources to the investigation while he was heading the Attorney General's Office and running for governor.

Corbett initially assigned one or possibly two investigators to the Sandusky case, according to reports. This puny allocation of personnel continued for the remainder of his term as attorney general, during which time he ran successfully for governor.

On taking over for Corbett in 2011, his successor as attorney general, Linda L. Kelly, promptly ramped up the investigation and increased its staffing, which led to Sandusky's highly publicized arrest and conviction.

So why did Corbett take such a relatively lackadaisical approach to what promised to be a high-profile case? It is more than fair to ask whether the then-gubernatorial candidate had concerns about alienating the vast Penn State community of voters and potential donors by arresting Sandusky, an icon of the university's football program, before the election. The question is especially pertinent given that Corbett's campaign reportedly accepted more than $640,000 in donations from people associated with Sandusky's charity, the Second Mile.

In addition, after he became governor, Corbett approved a $3 million state grant to the Second Mile. He did this knowing that a child molestation case was being built that could destroy Sandusky and discredit his charity.

Corbett claims that he had to approve the grant because to do otherwise would have revealed that Sandusky was under scrutiny. Seriously? Was there no way to defer action on the grant? Was it really a choice between approval or rejection? Of course not. There are many ways Corbett could have punted on the funding without alerting the world to the Sandusky investigation.

As governor, Corbett is an ex-officio trustee of Penn State. According to the Freeh report, when the board met to decide the fate of Joe Paterno and others, Corbett admonished his fellow trustees to "remember the children."

That was good advice. But we must ask whether the former attorney general followed it when he was in charge of pursuing a predator who remained free to molest more children.

Gov. Corbett doth protest too much




More from Pennsylvania Working Families



grand theft education_cuts.gif

Unless Congress acts, dramatic cuts to education and other critical programs will go into effect on January 2, 2013. Last year’s Budget Control Act requires Congress to find $1.2 trillion in savings toward deficit reduction. If Congress fails to meet this goal, automatic “sequestration” cuts will go into effect in January. Under these across-the-board cuts, education funding will fall off a cliff, dropping to levels not seen since before 2003. America’s elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools have added 5.4 million students since 2003, and costs associated with K-12 services have increased 25 percent since 2003.

The sequester cut would dramatically impact 9.35 million students by eliminating services, cutting financial aid, and increasing class sizes. As many as 80,500 jobs could be lost in early education, K-12 and postsecondary education. Since July 2008, the country has lost 312,700 public education jobs. This means there are roughly as many public school jobs today as in December 2004. Yet, there will be 847,000 more pre k-12 public school students this coming school year than in the fall of 2004.

National Education Association is calling on Congress to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction –including closing corporate tax loopholes and ensuring the top two percent of all earners -- those most able to do so -- pay their fair share. Education programs cannot continue to be the source for deficit reduction while millionaires and corporations benefit from tax cuts and loopholes!

Take Action Today:

  • Tell Congress to take a balanced approach to deficit reduction and reject more cuts to education.

  • See state-by-state data data and charts on what the sequestration cuts would mean for students, schools, and education jobs where you live.



HARRISBURG, PA--The natural gas industry and related trade groups have now given nearly $8 million to Pennsylvania state candidates and political committees since 2000, according to new research by Common Cause Pennsylvania and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. Top recipients of industry money given between 2000 and April 2012 were Governor Tom Corbett (R) with $1,813,205.59, Senate President Joseph Scarnati (R-25) with $359,145.72, Rep. Dave Reed (R-62) with $137,532.33, House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai (R-28) with $98,600, and Sen. Don White (R-41) with $94,150.

Total contributions from natural gas interests between 2000 and 2012: $8 million

Total lobbying expenditures by natural gas interests between 2007 and 2012: $15.7 million

After reaching an all-time annual high of $1.6 million in 2010, the new study found that contributions declined to $560,800 in 2011. Lobbying expenditures surged during this same period, however, with $5 million being spent in 2011, an increase of $1 million from 2010. An additional $1.8 million was spent in the first three months of 2012, bringing the total since Q1 2007 to $15.7 million.

“The industry has largely had its way in Pennsylvania and has spent millions to put their friends in the state legislature and the Governor’s mansion,” said James Browning, Regional Director of State Operations for Common Cause. “The industry’s focus now is on protecting these investments and maintaining access to key elected officials.”

“Pennsylvania politicians sold gas companies the right to pollute Pennsylvania’s land, air, and water for bargain basement prices,” said Josh McNeil, Executive Director of Conservation Voters of PA. “For their $23 million political investment, gas companies avoided hundreds of millions in taxes that could have paid for thousands of teachers, roads and desperately needed environmental protections.”

Pennsylvania continues to be one of just 11 states that fail to limit campaign contributions, and the state’s failure to require electronic filing of campaign finance reports has resulted in delays by the Pennsylvania Department of State in making these reports available on its website. According to Common Cause, less than half of the reports due to be filed by all candidates at the end of last March were available on the DOS website as of April 20, just four days before the April 24 primary. is a collaboration of Common Cause PA and the Conversation Voters of PA

View the data online or download the data sheet from

Read more:

Report - Natural Gas Industry Has Spent More Than 23 Million to Influence PA Elected Officials


Finally - the truth! State Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, told the Republican State Committee on June 23, 2012, that the new state voter ID law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Republicans have previously touted the measure as a way of stopping voter fraud.

Read the article from Capitolwire:

Turzai tells state GOP that voter ID law boosts party in prez race


(A version of the following letter was published in the Patch series of Internet newspapers starting on 7/11/12)

Hey, Taxpayer,

While you were out trying to avoid heatstroke this summer, your state government actually did something.

The Pennsylvania legislature passed another one of those pesky budgets determining exactly what your taxes have bought you this year.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind paying taxes if I get a good return on my investment. And what better investment than our children, our future? I’m speaking, of course, about public education.

So was this a good return? Let’s see:


  • PA. BUDGET PASSED HIGHER THAN GOVERNOR WANTED: Last year, the legislature cut $818 million from public schools - especially the poorest ones. This year, Governor Corbett wanted $94 million in additional cuts, but instead the legislature voted to cut no more. In fact, the General Assembly appropriated $150 million more than the governor requested for education. In short, the House and Senate appropriated $100 million for the Accountability Block Grant keeping it flat funded with this year's budget. This money goes to helping districts pay for full-day kindergarten classes. The governor wanted to eliminate it. The legislature also appropriated an additional $50 million line item for "financially distressed" schools. The only two districts in Allegheny County that qualify are Steel Valley and Sto-rox.

Why Did Any Democrats Vote for GOP Budget?

Budget enacted - A mixed bag of spending meets the deadline

Local legislators take party line on state budget

State Budget a Step in the Right Direction For Public School Funding

  • CHARTER SCHOOL EXPANSION FAILED: The governor failed in a last-ditch attempt to win support for provisions to smooth the road to opening more privately run, taxpayer-funded charter schools. In short he didn’t want the decision on whether a charter school can open in your district to rest in the hands of your locally elected school board. He just doesn’t trust you enough. Instead, he wanted the decision in the hands of an appointed state board - I’m no Republican but that sure sounds like an expansion of Big Government to me. Anyway, the legislature wouldn’t go with him on it. It's a victory for local control over government mandates. However, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, said he is confident it will pass in the fall.

  • PENSION FUNDING BEGINS: The state has been under-funding the public employees pension system for twenty years, despite numerous warnings, through Democratic and Republican administrations alike. This year, they finally added $300 million to the budget to pay for state mandated contribution to teachers pensions. Pensions are paid by the employee, the district and the state. While the former two entities have been keeping up their side of the bargain, the state has not. Yes, the hole previous administrations have dug will only continue to worsen, but it’s admirable this legislature and governor haven’t turned a blind eye to the problem. However, one note of warning - some Republican legislators have tried to use this pension payment to spread lies about education funding. They claim the pension contribution should be called education funding and, thus, they can claim education funding has been increased this year. However, paying pensions is paying a bill we’ve already earned. It does nothing to help students in the classroom today. That would be like paying a late auto-body bill on your car and then boasting that you have more gas money. You may have put 2 gallons in the tank but it sure ain’t gonna’ get you to the promised land!


  • PA. BUDGET PASSED INSTITUTIONALIZING SERVICE CUTS: Yes, the legislature voted to cut no more education funding this year. Yeah! The government isn’t going to be less supportive of public schools this year! It’s just going to institutionalize the almost $1 billion in budget cuts from last year. If you think that’s a victory, tell that to the toddlers who’ve lost the chance to attend full-day kindergarten. Tell that to the students who won’t have music lessons, won’t learn a foreign language, won’t take computer courses. Tell that to our students packed together in ever-expanding classes with an ever-shrinking pool of teachers left standing after the furlough axe is through. Some people will say that’s just last year’s problem. Not true. Schools that had massive furloughs and program curtailment last year probably won’t change much this year. They’ll still be offering less. However, schools that survived last year’s famine did so by digging into their fund balances. Most of them won’t be able to do so again this year. So you can expect another round of downsizing our kids educations this year. Either that or a local tax hike. (Just an aside - do you think they’re doing this in China? Japan? Denmark? Finland? Do you think the rest of the world is letting its children fall behind, too?)

Why Did Any Democrats Vote for GOP Budget?

Kortz - Budget fails Pa. children, students, working families

Brewster critical of new state spend plan

Local legislators take party line on state budget

Budget enacted - A mixed bag of spending meets the deadline

  • DISTRESSED SCHOOLS BILL: If your school can’t survive on the new normal in lower state funding, the legislature just voted to take it over and sell it off. HB 1307 amends the state Public School Code to allow for financially distressed school districts to be taken over by the state. The bill empowers the Secretary of Education to appoint a Chief Recovery Officer to distressed school districts. The politically appointed Chief Recovery Officer is then given broad powers to recommend converting public schools to charters, handing them over to education management organizations. In short, if your tax base isn’t enough to support your local district, the state will sell it to a for-profit company. There is no proof this will improve your children’s education - in fact, there is a growing mountain of evidence proving just the opposite. But this measure sure does help line lawmakers’ pockets with campaign contributions from those same for-profit companies. Ca-Ching!

Gergely takes issue with new education law

  • SHELL OIL TAX EXEMPTION PASSED:Pa. legislature passed a bill to give Shell Oil Co. $1.675 BILLION of our taxpayer dollars to do business in Pennsylvania. [Post-Gazette, 6-4-12] Everyone wants more jobs, but are we really profiting when we have to give more than $1 billion in tax breaks to get them? Will the number of permanent jobs created by such a measure outweigh the number of jobs we’ll lose by bankrupting the state and providing even less to our citizens and their children? That shiny new Shell plant is estimated to employ up to 10,000 people with several hundred full-time employees eventually operating the factory. [Post-Gazette, 6-4-12] Sounds nice until you consider that Pennsylvania schools eliminated or left vacant over 14,000 jobs last year alone, with thousands more teachers receiving pink slips now that the budget's been passed. [PASA & PASBO Sept. 2011 report]Perhaps this seems like a good deal to the legislature because it benefits the fracking business. The natural gas industry has contributed $1.6 million to the governor’s campaign coffers. From 2009 to 2010, Shell Oil donated more than $300,000 to Gov. Corbett. A $300,000 investment for more than $1.5 billion in tax breaks - now that’s a good deal. [For excellent data on Big Oil campaign contributions, see]

  • EITC TAX GIVEAWAY EXPANDED AGAIN: It’s hard to believe the crocodile tears of legislators bemoaning the necessity of education cuts due to a lack of tax revenue when the next thing they do is take measures to reduce that same tax revenue. Why? So businesses can get more tax credits for funding private schools. It’s voucher-lite! A proposal to expand the Educational Improvement Tax Credit, a program for businesses that donate to private-school scholarships, also won approval after the House inserted it into the tax code. The measure will make $100 million in tax credits available each year, up from $75 million, while creating a related program with $50 million in credits targeted at students whose local school is among the state's 15 percent lowest-performing institutions. EISC will re-direct dollars away from revenue collections, therefore reducing the amount of revenue the Commonwealth has to use for programs and services. In addition, the proposal calls for an increase in the current EITC program from $75 million to $100 million next fiscal year and $200 million for subsequent years. That’s $450 million in tax credits over the next three years that will be taken out of our coffers, and directed to private schools, even as we cut current funding for our public schools, which serve the vast majority of our children. (Learn more about EISC **HERE**.)

So, in short, this budget season the legislature could have done a much better job for our children. However, they could NOT have done much better for the corporations, campaign contributors and special interests they truly serve.

What’s their final grade? That depends on you.

This November, tell the Republican-controlled legislature that you’re sick of the same sad story of selling out our children for their bottom line. Nothing could be more patriotic than putting the needs of our children, our future first.

Steven Singer

T.E.A.C.H. Co-founder

Read the letter and post comments in the following Patch Internet Newspapers:


Chartiers Valley


North Hills




HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, released the following statement regarding the passage of the 2012-13 state budget. Kortz voted against the bill, which passed the state House and is expected to be signed by the governor before the weekend.

"Governor Corbett and the Republican-controlled General Assembly again have ganged up against the public school system. For the last several years, I've watched as education funding has dwindled, shortchanging – most notably – the funds for the West Mifflin, East Allegheny, Duquesne, McKeesport, South Allegheny, Baldwin-Whitehall, Thomas Jefferson, Steel Valley and Clairton school districts.

"This budget will further cripple public education. It does so with complete inequity as the richest school districts will see smaller cuts, and those districts most in need are slashed by nearly seven times the amount-per-student," Kortz said.

Kortz cited Upper St. Clair School District, which is the richest school district in Allegheny County, with a funding cut of $20 per student in the 2012-13 budget and just $1,975 per classroom. Conversely, Duquesne School District saw a $1,521 cut-per-student and a total of $38,000 per classroom.

"Meanwhile, the state Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis plans to transfer 7th and 8th grade students from Duquesne to West Mifflin and East Allegheny school districts without any public input or official notice or announcement to the public on his plan to further shut down parts of the school," Kortz said. "Because of these Republican-controlled cuts, many school programs are being cut, teachers laid off, class sizes increased and property taxes increased, all the while millions of taxpayer dollars are hoarded by this governor.

Read more:

Kortz - Budget fails Pa. children, students, working families


State Sen. James R. Brewster, D-McKeesport, is not a happy man as he and his fellow lawmakers return home for a recess until Sept. 24.

Brewster said in an interview last week that he is not criticizing Gov. Tom Corbett personally, but said Corbett needs to take responsibility for the impact of the 2012-13 state budget on local communities and school districts.

"I think we all needed to cut spending and do it responsibly," Brewster said. "I'm not sure it was done responsibly."

In a statement, Brewster said he was pleased there was no tax increase in the 2012-13 state budget, but voted against the budget because "it fails to use the state's resources responsibly and needlessly hurts too many people."

In remarks made after issuing that statement, the 45th District senator pointed to cuts in spending for public education and the waivers that allowed 199 of the state's 500 school districts to raise taxes.

"In effect the governor is raising taxes," Brewster said.

He also decried the failure of the Republican-controlled General Assembly to find ways to take advantage of "new revenue" from the state's gas fields, but settle instead for an impact fee.

"They left $300 million on the table by not instituting a 5 percent severance tax on Marcellus shale as my bill would have done," Brewster said. "We settled for less than 2 percent. We need to ask why."

Brewster proposed what would have been a 7 percent tax with tax credits of up to 2 percent. He said half of the proceeds would have been earmarked for education, with 25 percent each going toward environmental programs and local government services.

Read more:

Brewster critical of new state spend plan



The Pennsylvania legislature voted in June to approve a state budget that institutionalizes almost $1 billion in unnecessary cuts to public education for 2012-13. Almost across the board, Republicans championed the spending plan and Democrats criticized it. However, while most Democrats voted against the budget, a handful voted in favor of it along with the Republicans. Why?

The House passed the budget by a 120-81 vote. All Republicans voted for the measure, but this also includes 12 Democrats.

By a 32-17 vote, the state Senate ratified changes in the budget made by the House, and sent the finished bill to Gov. Tom Corbett. A handful of Democrats voted for it here, too.

Since Democrats were across the board critical of this budget, why did any of them vote for it?

Answers need to be sought on a case-by-case basis, but this much is certain. The budget approved by the legislature includes $100 million more to education than Gov. Corbett wanted. It also included an additional $50 million for financially distressed school districts such as Steel Valley and Sto-rox. It is doubtful these measures could have been achieved without at least a token of Democratic votes - especially Democrats from areas most benefited by these restorations.

The sad fact is that the Corbett administration is not going to return the almost $1 billion it stole from our public schools - at least not while Republicans remain in control of both the house and senate as well as the governor's mansion. Nothing the Democrats can do will change that. At best, they can reduce the cuts; not stop them.

Only sweeping change at the polls can stop Gov. Corbett and his Republican administration from continuing to cheat our children out of a fair education.

Only you can solve this problem.

Please remember this in November and save our schools!



Why Did Any Democrats Vote for GOP Budget?



  • U.S. SUPREME COURT UPHELD HEALTHCARE LAW:Children were the big winners in this week’s Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the landmark Affordable Care Act. The 5-4 decision green-lights plans to expand coverage to 32 million Americans and ends the worst insurance company abuses, including discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions.

    Health care reform is really is an education reform issue. Educators around the country know that students without health care coverage and regular medical treatment are more likely to fall behind in school—and ultimately this contributes to gaps in student learning and achievement. Now, with the health care reform law intact:

    • Dependents up to age 26 can rest easy knowing that their education or early working lives won’t be disrupted by a lack of coverage.

    • Children will no longer face the threat of being denied coverage by a health plan because of a pre-existing condition such as diabetes or asthma.

    • Retirees and people with disabilities can also breathe easier, knowing that improvements to Medicare, including better benefits such as free annual wellness visits and preventive services, cheaper prescription drugs, and provisions to strengthen the Medicare program, will remain intact.

    The law still faces challenges, and opponents have vowed to seek congressional repeal. Take action today. Tell Congress you support the Supreme Court decision and oppose any efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

  • STUDENT LOAN DEBT HIKE AVERTED:With just days to go before the final deadline, the U.S. House and Senate passed a bill on Friday, June 29, 2012, to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling. The rates had been set to double on July 1, further overburdening millions of students who already incur massive debt to pay for college. The deal extends the current interest rate for one year.

    The bill will save college students $22 billion. Congress just avoided a huge catastrophe. But they didn't do it out of the goodness of their hearts. They did it because hundreds of thousands of people stood up and made them do it. WE made them do it.



HARRISBURG -- In a repeat performance, Gov. Tom Corbett signed another no-tax-hike state budget into law minutes before the fiscal year expired, leaving unresolved a charter school proposal that pushed negotiations to the deadline.

The final $27.66 billion budget package includes several significant victories for the Corbett administration, including a tax incentive aimed at luring a Shell Oil Co. plant to Beaver County, a measure to alter how teachers are evaluated, and a proposal to tame rising prison costs through targeted sentencing.

Mr. Corbett signed the general appropriations bill at 11:45 p.m., beating last year's mark by two minutes. He waited for legislative leaders to join him before thanking them for delivering the budget.

"Hopefully we're developing a habit, and I think the Pennsylvania citizens will appreciate that habit of on time," Mr. Corbett said.

State lawmakers scrambled Saturday night in an effort to duplicate last year's on-time budget, spending a rare weekend session debating bills needed to enact the spending plan that was already waiting on the governor's desk

The governor, however, failed in a last-ditch attempt to win support for provisions to smooth the road to opening up more privately run, taxpayer-funded charter schools by putting the decision in the hands of an appointed state board, rather than locally elected school boards.

Disagreement among the majority Republicans on the oversight of charter schools took up critical midday hours, as the House and Senate passed slightly differing versions of reforms that had loomed large in budget negotiations. As the two chambers maneuvered their charter plans, it appeared that and another education proposal -- an effort to create a commission on special education funding -- would not be resolved before the summer recess.

But votes on state aid for the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State and two other Pennsylvania universities were completed in the final hour of debate.

A proposal to base teacher evaluations in part on student performance also headed to the governor as part of a schools omnibus bill, and another to expand a program of tax credits for businesses that donate to private-school scholarships was approved in late-night votes.

Why Did Any Democrats Vote for GOP Budget?

Kortz - Budget fails Pa. children, students, working families

Brewster critical of new state spend plan

Governor Corbett signs new state budget

Local legislators take party line on state budget

Budget enacted - A mixed bag of spending meets the deadline


Finally - the truth! State Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, told the Republican State Committee on June 23, 2012, that the new state voter ID law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Republicans have previously touted the measure as a way of stopping voter fraud.

Read the article from Capitolwire:

Turzai tells state GOP that voter ID law boosts party in prez race



Urge legislators to oppose untested charter school expansion

Gov. Tom Corbett is STILL pushing a bill that would create a state authorizing entity for charter schools.

His proposal would give political appointees power to create charter schools in our communities. It would remove local school boards and parents from the process - but it would stick local taxpayers with the bill.

Last year, Gov. Corbett eliminated the state funding that helped local school districts pay their charter school bills. Now, he wants to take away local control, too.

Contact your state legislators NOW, urging them to oppose this proposal for unaccountable charter school expansion.

external image takeaction_button.jpg

One week left

Gov. Corbett only has until June 30 to pass his untested charter school "reform" proposal - and the clock is ticking.

Remember, your action makes a difference. Your phone calls and emails STOPPED his attacks on collective bargaining. They STOPPED school vouchers.

You've stopped him before. Now, you need to do it AGAIN.

It's time to do it again. TODAY.

Thank you.


Pa. state Rep. Bill Kortz passionately speaks to hundreds of parents and students at a Capitol rally to oppose Governor Corbett's deep funding cuts for education that are forcing school property tax hikes and drastic layoffs and disrupting the education of thousands of children.


Gov. Corbett and Republicans have agreed on a budget but won't release details.


(From Yinzercation)

Yesterday’s summer solstice gave Governor Corbett and Republican leaders the extra daytime they apparently needed to agree on a budget. Only they aren’t letting the details see the light of the sun. After the longest day of the year, Gov. Corbett announced Pennsylvania would have a $27.66 billion state budget saying, “We can put money back into some programs, we're just not going to go into the details.” [Post-Gazette, 6-21-12] Why keep us in the dark?

The figure announced yesterday matches the one approved by the Senate, which included a $50 million cut to public education. While Governor Corbett originally proposed cutting $100 million back in February, we would obviously prefer to see the plan approved by the House a few weeks ago, which had no further cuts for K-12 schools still reeling from last year’s massive budget gutting. (See “Time’s Not Up, But Revenue Is.”)

Legislators feel they have a little more wiggle room in the budget with the state now anticipating $100 million more in June revenues than previously predicted. [Post-Gazette, 6-21-12] Yet they are poised to hand that – and far more – to Shell Oil Co. next week in a tax credit plan for a Beaver County petrochemical plant. That revenue-giveaway will cost us taxpayers $1.7 BILLION over 25 years. (See “Can Shell Educate Our Kids?”) While the final numbers may vary slightly, the big smiles on the faces of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Gov. Corbett as they stood for press photos yesterday suggest that it’s a done deal. [Post-Gazette, 6-20-12]

So why keep us waiting for those budget details? Governor Corbett is trying to shove through some last minute legislation, and he’s got his eye squarely on vouchers. According to a “ranking Republican senator,” the Post-Gazette reports that “a policy discussed in negotiations [is] on its way forward.” That will most likely be Governor Corbett’s attempt to create a commission to study funding for charter and cyber charter schools (as well as special education).

Right now there are also several bills in play dealing with charter “reform.” Unfortunately, as Executive Director of Education Voters PA Susan Gobreski points out, this is “charter reform (without the reform).” Last week, Rep. Christiana, from here in Southwest Pennsylvania, proposed giving away $200 million to private schools by increasing the current EITC program, while creating a new Education Improvement Scholarship Credit (EISC) program. (See “We Have $200 Million?” for details.) This is HB 2468 and is scheduled to be voted on this coming Monday, June 25, 2012.

An alternative bill (HB 2364) sounds better: it would fund charter schools based on what they actually cost. Meanwhile, another local legislator, Rep. Jake Wheatley, a Democrat from Allegheny County, wants to introduce yet a different bill that will increase EITC funding and create a new Keystone Scholarship Tax Credit (KSTC) program. Various proposals also include a statewide “authorizer” that would “take away local authority and input.” [Education Voters legislative update, 6-20-12]

Christiana and Wheatley’s proposals are actually vouchers in disguise and should never see the light of day. But on the longest day of the year, Gov. Corbett declared, “I feel very confident that we're going to have a very productive week next week.” [Post-Gazette, 6-20-12] Real charter reform would be a ray of sunshine, fixing the way charter schools are funded, increasing accountability, and maintaining local authority.


Ed Voters PA is hosting a "virtual phone bank" today from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. You can volunteer to make calls to voters in key legislative districts and patch them through directly to their representative's office. You can make the calls from the comfort of your own home and all you need is a phone and a computer. To help, please contact Ian Moran <> for details.

Pitt, Penn State and Temple funding would be restored to this year's level in agreement being negotiated



On Monday, the House Education Committee will meet to review HB 2468, proposed legislation that would create a new Education Improvement Scholarship Credit (EISC). EISC would re-direct dollars away from revenue collections, therefore reducing the amount of revenue the Commonwealth has to use for programs and services. In addition, the proposal calls for an increase in the current EITC program from $75 million to $100 million next fiscal year and $200 million for subsequent years. That’s $450 million in tax credits over the next three years that would be taken out of our coffers, and directed to private schools, even as we cut current funding for our public schools, which serve the vast majority of our children. (Learn more about EISC **HERE**.)

**__Contact your legislator NOW! How can they divert more taxpayer dollars to private education when school districts are cutting out kindergarten? It is their constitutional obligation to provide every child in public school with a “thorough and efficient education”!__**

Also being negotiated with the budget is a bill focusing on “charter reform” (without the reform). It’s imperative that any charter reform bill includes actual reform to how charters are funded, increases accountability and DOES NOT include a statewide authorizer that will take away local authority and input.

**__TAKE ACTION NOW: Call and/or email your legislator and urge them to OPPOSE a statewide authorizer. We need REAL charter reform that can save money for our struggling school districts and also provide accountability for our tax dollars.__**

We need people to know what is happening and encourage them to contact their legislators. If you can volunteer one hour tomorrow evening to call other voters, please **__SIGN UP HERE__**.

We have less than two weeks until the June 30th budget deadline and a lot is happening on the topic of education. **__CLICK HERE__** for a legislative update.

Susan Gobreski

Executive Director

Education Voters of Pennsylvania




(From Yinzercation)

We love competition in this country. From early on, we are taught that competition in the capitalist marketplace allows the best ideas to emerge, the best-run companies to rise to the top, the best products to reach consumers. That’s a lovely thought, although the U.S. has never practiced pure capitalism (we decided long ago some government regulations were a good idea) and the rise of the 99% has highlighted the staggering problems of income inequality produced by our current system. Yet we love the idea of competition and continue to believe in its simplicity as a guiding principle. It’s part of our pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps American narrative of individualism; part of our moral fiber.

But the concept of competition does not apply equally to all things. Take public K-12 education. Those promoting privatization efforts such as vouchers and charter schools love to say that public schools will benefit from competition. Monica Allison, the Philadelphia based president of PA Families for Public Cyber Schools, wrote in a letter-to-the-editor today that, “Schools need to be competitive. Choice in education is very good and it breeds competition. Competition in education makes every school step up and provide a quality education.” [Post-Gazette, 6-20-12] Oh if only that were true.

We need only look at charter school performance to see the fallacy of “competition.” Only two of Pennsylvania’s 12 cyber charter schools achieved Adequate Yearly Progress status last year, and seven have never made AYP at all. (For details on charter school performance, see “Dueling Rallies.”) The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that students in every single Pennsylvania cyber charter school performed “significantly worse” in reading and math than their peers in conventional public schools. [Stanford/CREDO report summary, 2011] That’s a 100% failure rate. Pennsylvania introduced charter schools back in the 1990s – if competition was so good for them, would we not be seeing positive results by now?

The point is that competition as a philosophy doesn’t work when you are talking about our public goods. Let’s consider our public park system as an analogy. Would anyone suggest that we hand half of our public parks over to private corporations to run them as good little capitalist enterprises (think Budwesier signs on the fountain at the Point, oil derricks in North Park, casinos in Gettysburg); then siphon off state funding meant for the parks and hand the money over to those companies; and then tell the remaining public parks they need to manage with fewer resources and “compete” in order to attract visitors?

Actually, some people have suggested just this. But most people realize that our beautiful natural resources are not about increasing someone’s bottom line. They are not even necessarily about attracting visitors (we value remote wilderness for reasons other than its ability to pack in a crowd). We ask our government to own and manage green spaces for us because those places belong to all of us – they exist for the public good – whereas private companies are legally obligated to answer to their shareholders.

Public schools exist for the public good. They benefit not only individual students, but also society as a whole, which requires an educated citizenry in order to function. They are mandated to educate every child in every corner of the state and with every learning need. We are right to insist that our public schools deliver a quality education and work to fix problems where they exist. But the problem is not that our public schools lack competition. It’s that they are being systematically starved of funding.

Last week, Pittsburgh Public Schools announced they would start their own cyber charter school. The district figures its per pupil cost will be $3,500 compared to the nearly $14,000 on average that it is forced (by state law) to send to other cyber charter school operators. Since Governor Corbett cut reimbursements to districts for their charter school payments, right now Pittsburgh is losing $45 million per year for the 3,125 students it must pay to send to those schools. That includes $11 million for 798 students in cyber charter schools. [Post-Gazette, 6-13-12]

In a district with about 25,000 students, charter schools have sucked away a small percentage of overall enrollment, but a very large chunk of cash. It is the equivalent of having one or two students leave a classroom of 25, yet the district still has to pay all the costs of educating those remaining 23 kids, with the same teacher’s salary and the same light bill.

Ms. Allison of the PA Families for Public Cyber Schools claims that, “districts need to look at where they can do better and compete for students.” [Post-Gazette, 6-20-12] We always want our public schools looking at what they can do better, but asking them to compete for students will not make them better. In fact, competition is the wrong guiding principle for public education.

We need to adequately, equitably, and sustainably resource our public schools so they can meet the needs of all our students. Because good public schools are a public good. They benefit all of us.



After this morning’s budget meeting, House GOP leaders and Gov. Tom Corbett’s staff intensified negotiations and work on a proposed education reform plan.

The hope is to have the language of that plan at least in an advanced draft form, for review by key groups and Senate Republicans within a day or two, negotiators said.

But a top Senate leader expressed a growing level of frustration with the House and the governor’s office and the progress of the talks.

“I would anticipate that if we don’t have a revenue figure in the next 24 hours, the prospects of getting legislation and the budget done by June 30 are going to fade a bit,” said Senate Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson. “We need a spend number soon.”

“There’s really not a goddamn thing we agreed on. Everything’s the same as earlier,” he added.

As negotiations continue toward a resolution of the more than $250 million gap on state spending between GOP legislative leaders and the governor, a number of legislative issues figure in that resolution, negotiators said.

So the agreement by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, to actively negotiate a plan on charter school reform, teacher evaluation and perhaps EITC 2.0 vouchers, which could pass the House, finally took place a week after several negotiators thought it should have, several negotiators said.

“With all of these things, the education reform plan, the [ethane cracker] tax credit, we need to know what it is, what’s in it, before we can commit to passing this piece of legislation or that piece of legislation,” said State Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman, R-Centre. “So the groups responsible for writing both of those obviously have to get that done so we can move along on all of these issues."

“Because at this stage, everything you talk about is linked to you doing one thing and somebody else doing something,” Corman said.

Read the full article from Capitolwire:

Senate GOP impatient with House progress on education reform

The celebratory mood of the graduation of the class of 2012 was in stark contrast to the feeling that public education was under attack . In the graduation of the class of 2012 of Taylor Allderdice, an inner city public high school with an amazing track record of excellence, one valedictorian addressed the issue sincerely and directly.



external image corbettsucklingcorporategreed.jpg?w=300&h=184


(From Yinzercation and Pittsburgh City Paper)

Governor Corbett’s approval rating has tanked, in no small part because of what he is doing to education. A new poll out this week shows him at his lowest rating yet, with only 36% of voters happy with his performance. Meanwhile, over half of those surveyed disapproved of the way Gov. Corbett is handling the state budget. [Quinnipiac poll, 6-12-12]

No small wonder that Mr. Unpopular has garnered national attention for his appalling track record of decimating public education. Last week named Corbett to its list of ten worst governors, saying “His attacks on public education alone make him worthy of our Hall of Shame, but coupled with a massive tax break for Shell Oil--$1.7 billion in subsidies for the oil giant—his comments about taking responsibility for future generations ring awfully hollow.” [, 6-9-12]

Local mom and OnePittsburgh activist Debbie Srogi took Gov. Corbett to task for the same thing in an excellent OpEd piece in today’s Post-Gazette. And Pittsburgh’s City Paper skewered the Governor’s support for Big Oil at the expense of essential public services on its cover this week, playing on the now-famous Time magazine breastfeeding cover. The cartoon, which spread quickly through social media, shows Governor Corbett suckling corporate greed and asks, “Are You Gov Enough?”

Even the New York Times wrote a scathing editorial about Corbett’s cuts to public education, pointing to Reading, PA as the poster-child for the consequences of defunding schools. That city, which is considered the nation’s poorest, just laid off 110 teachers and is making drastic cuts to educational programs. The editors criticized Gov. Corbett for failing to replace federal stimulus dollars in the education budget, which the state had committed itself to several years ago, and said, “Instead he further drained his public coffers by cutting business taxes by $250 million this year.” [New York Times, 6-13-12]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, 70 percent of Pennsylvania companies do not pay any corporate income taxes, while another 10 percent pay $1,000 or less per year. A major reason is that Pennsylvania is one of the few states that allows wealthy corporations like Comcast, Hershey and Sheetz to dodge state income taxes by claiming to be incorporated in another state, particularly Delaware. Just closing the so-called Delaware loophole would generate $500 million per year -- half of Mr. Corbett's education cuts -- but so far the governor has refused.

Over the last three years, at least 700,000 state and local government employees have lost their jobs, including teachers, sanitation workers and public safety personnel, contributing a full percentage point to the unemployment rate.

There have been at least 100,000 education employees laid off nationwide in the last three years; the White House puts the figure at 250,000. California has lost 32,000 teacher jobs — 11 percent of the work force. Pennsylvania laid off nearly 9,000 teachers and other school workers last year, largely because of Governor Corbett’s cuts.



(Reported by the McKeesport Daily News)

Several dozen East Allegheny Education Association members attended Monday's East Allegheny school board meeting, wearing "TEACH" (Tell Everyone All Cuts Hurt) T-shirts.

None spoke, but others in a standing-room-only crowd did, on topics ranging from the hiring of a high school assistant principal to the board's refusal to move the meeting to larger quarters.

"Is there anywhere else we can sit where we can be comfortable?" resident Tom Barbarino asked, suggesting that the crowded board room might violate fire code restrictions.

Board president Gerri McCullough said residents could stand out in the hall, but otherwise rejected Barbarino's request.

One parent suggested she may pull her children out of East Allegheny schools depending on the outcome of contract talks with "the people who hold my children's future in their hand."

Logan Middle School PTO president Dawn Richardson-Frank referred to the 128 EAEA members, who again accepted state fact-finder Robert C. Gifford's recommendations while the board again rejected them.

"I am on the side of my children," Richardson-Frank declared, calling "very uncomfortable the tone and tenor of the talks so far."

She questioned whether district officials were making sacrifices demanded of the teachers. District officials told another speaker that administrators had taken a pay freeze.

Resident Rick Stevenson asked if a post was created for superintendent Roger A. D'Emidio's daughter.

"It wasn't created for my daughter," D'Emidio said about last month's naming of Bethel Park district teacher Betsy D'Emidio as an assistant to high school principal Donald MacFann.

"She went through the process and qualified for it," the elder D'Emidio said.

Resident Mysty Conway said she reviews various websites including the district's own and did not see the assistant principal posting. The superintendent said the job was posted in all district buildings.

"If you want a job, you come," Roger D'Emidio said. "If someone wants a job that bad, they'll come to the buildings."

Read about it in the McKeesport Daily News:

East Allegheny board rejects fact-finder’s report, approves budget with no tax hike

East Allegheny Education Association members protest


(From Yinzercation)

It’s like an old spaghetti Western movie in Harrisburg these days. Lots of targets, lots of shooting, just not as many horses. So here’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in our state budget negotiations.

The Good.

Top Republicans met with Governor Corbett Tuesday evening in a closed door session and word is they talked about “restoring” the $100 million in block grants. [Post-Gazette, 6-6-12] That’s the money that most school districts use for Kindergarten programs and that the governor had proposed eliminating in his February budget. However, calling it a “restoration” of those funds is a bit unfair – it’s more like blocking Gov. Corbett’s proposed cuts – especially since districts are still reeling from the $1 billion he succeeded in slashing last year. But saving that $100 million from the chopping block would indeed be a good thing. A great thing!

The Bad.

However, the current proposal to rescue the $100 million did not ride in on a white horse. This one arrived in an amendment from Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph, a Republican from Delaware County, and passed with a mostly party-line vote. [Post-Gazette, 6-6-12] The problem? The plan shifts money from basic education to cover the block grants. Representative Mike Gerber said it was “robbing Peter to pay Paul” and called it a “shell game,” urging his colleagues not to support the proposal. [Rep. Gerber House testimony, 6-5-12]

The Ugly.

And while our legislators ride around shooting at each other, the biggest bad guy of all just snuck into town. Funded by the ultra-conservative Koch brothers, the PAC FreedomWorks is launching an ad campaign designed to get a new voucher bill passed this month. [, news blog, 6-6-12] The radio spots actually take aim at Governor Corbett, accusing him of not moving swiftly enough to reintroduce his voucher legislation, which passed in the Senate but failed in the House late last year.

Residents in six key PA House districts will hear the ads that repeat the national conservative narrative of “failing public schools” from which families must be rescued by “school choice.” The spot claims that Gov. Corbett promised “to reform the failing education system in Pennsylvania,” and that, “Despite spending over $13,000 per student per year, Pennsylvania’s schools continue to fail.” The ad continues, “Children across the state remain trapped in failing schools,” and warns that this is a “growing problem” and that “time is running out.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 6-6-12]

This is truly an ugly attempt to portray all our schools as failures and our students as captive victims. (See “What I Told the White House.”) The reality is that most of our public schools are doing a good job educating students. Where there are problems, we should obviously fix them; but this gripping tale of supposed failure has captured the popular imagination contrary to the actual evidence. For example, Pennsylvania’s reading and math scores have both been going up and rank among the nation’s best (see comparative state school data on Save Pennsylvania’s Schools):

  • Our students rank 5th (out of 50 states) in fourth grade reading and 8th in eighth grade reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

  • Our students rank 4th in fourth grade math and 12th in eighth grade math on the NAEP.

  • Pennsylvania has among the best Advanced Placement (AP) scores in the nation, ranking 15th in the percentage of public high school students who score high enough on AP exams to qualify for college credit.

  • Pennsylvania is a national leader in “AP Honor Roll” school districts, with 28 districts receiving this distinguished designation.

Right now, this movie needs Clint Eastwood to shoot a few holes in the flawed logic of “public school failure,” touted by the deep pockets of conservative super-PACS. Meanwhile, our legislators have the chance to be real heroes: they can save public education without playing political shell games, and then ride off into the sunset while the credits roll.


lawrence strike
lawrence strike


“Don't email me again, all is lost, there is no God, there is no love in this country only hate for their fellow man.”

That’s the first email I opened this morning after the devastating recall loss in Wisconsin.

Then I saw a Tom Barrett supporter on TV break down in tears, saying, “This is the end of democracy. After Citizens United, there’s no way we can ever have a fair election in this country again.

I understand the reaction. I really do. Last night’s Wisconsin results were like a hard right in the gut. The pain of this loss is overwhelming.

And it can feel like all of our efforts are in vain. Why even try, when the GOP and its corporate allies will outspend us by 3, 4, 5, or 10 to one margins?

Here’s why we can’t give up:

  • Women still earn only 73.8 cents for every dollar a man earns.

  • Forming a union in the United States is almost impossible, making union membership in the US (12%) the lowest among industrialized nations.

  • LGBT civil rights are incomplete. And those we’ve already won are under attack.

  • Climate change is real. And without real efforts to change things our children and grandchildren will inherit what kind of a world.

  • Our economy is in shambles, with the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer and the middle class being eradicated.

  • And the list can go on for pages.

So here are your options.

1) Give up. Let the wealthy run everything and hope they leave us enough crumbs.

2) Fight like hell! Take our online actions. Work for progressive candidates. Vote.

I promise you that there are still a lot of good people out there fighting for what's right.

History is on our side. The only question is, will we win in our lifetime, or will it take centuries? As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”

I don’t want to wait. I want to win this year. Join us as we fight like hell for victories in 2012.

(Adapted from an email by Michael Morrill, Executive Director of Keystone Progress)

rog 120615.gif

Big Money Wins in Wisconsin: Walker Spent 88% of the Money to Get 53% of the Vote




(From Yinzercation)

Talk about hypocrisy. Governor Corbett has been running around the state telling everyone who will listen that Pennsylvania is broke. About our schools staggering under historic budget cuts he says, “we can’t give them money we don’t have.” And he asks, “So if I’m going to propose increasing money for education, who do we take it from?” [Delco Times, 5-30-12] Turns out he had that backwards. Now the governor is proposing to take money from education and give it to Big Oil.

Yesterday we learned that Governor Corbett intends to give Shell Oil Co. $1.675 BILLION of our taxpayer dollars to do business in Pennsylvania. [Post-Gazette, 6-4-12] He proposes handing out $67 million a year for twenty-five years starting in 2017, ensuring that our children and grandchildren will be paying this boondoggle for years to come. This is the man who cut $1 BILLION from our schools, claiming we don’t have money, but now finds he can hand out almost twice that much to his buddies in the fracking business. Does Gov. Corbett have no shame?

The natural gas industry has contributed $1.6 million to the governor’s campaign coffers. From 2009 to 2010, Shell Oil donated more than $300,000 to Gov. Corbett. [For excellent data on Big Oil campaign contributions, see] That’s a pretty big payback: put in a few hundred thousand up front, get over a billion back. If only our kids had that kind of money to donate to political campaigns to buy their own schooling. The cruel irony here is that education is the one place where a little up front investment really does pay off in a big way, for both the individual student and society as a whole.

Now the issue is not so much that the governor sweetened a deal to get a company to build a factory in our state. That’s what governors do all the time. But we’re talking about handing away our children’s future so that Shell will build a petrochemical facility here in Southwest Pennsylvania to process the natural gas that will be extracted – from here in Southwest Pennsylvania. Are we really to believe that Shell needed an extra $1.6 BILLION to be convinced that they ought to process the stuff coming out of the ground in a nearby plant?

Even taxpayers who are not horrified by the fracking process should be livid at what that $1.6 BILLION will actually buy us. That shiny new Shell plant is estimated to employ up to 10,000 people with several hundred full-time employees eventually operating the factory. [Post-Gazette, 6-4-12] Sounds nice until you consider that Pennsylvania schools eliminated or left vacant over 14,000 jobs last year alone, with thousands more teachers receiving pink slips this spring. [PASA & PASBO Sept. 2011 report]

Seems to me we could have kept our money in our public school system and kept real people employed right now. These are well-educated professionals, key members of our communities, and critical people in the lives of our children. Governor Corbett has slashed these valuable jobs that benefit our students and society now, in favor of potentially creating fewer jobs in the future, at enormous public expense.

That’s not fiscally conservative or protecting Pennsylvania’s best interests. The only one benefiting here appears to be Big Oil. As Governor Corbett continues to de-fund public schools, is he planning to have Shell educate our children?

Corbett seeking $1.675 billion tax break deal for Shell

Corbett faces budget attack




"You got me! I'm cutting education funding!"

Capitolwire Bureau Chief Peter DeCoursey points out in a recent article, “For a guy who ran for governor saying school districts were over-funded and could and should do more with less money, Gov. Corbett sure does everything he can now to hide the fact that he is governing as he promised in his campaign…. Why is he trying to hide this clear policy goal now?... it is about his only declared policy on which he shilly-shallies about what he did.”

Read More



School funding cuts clear with new online calculator

Please Contact your legislators now. Tell them to oppose Gov. Corbett's proposal and give our students and schools the funding they need.

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This is a video produced by students in the Racial Justice Through Humans Rights Group who are participating in the Youth Media Advocacy Project, sponsored by Carlow University (

Students were asked to produce a video concerning a human rights issue that they felt were common to all students in the group (which consists of students from both public and private high schools, in both high income and low income sections of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They chose the issue of education equality because the recent budget cuts in Pennsylvania has exasperated what the students felt, was already a disparate situation. They hope this piece will raise awareness in the general public to the issue of education inequality throughout the state of Pennsylvania.




Within three years, nearly half of school district officials responding to a statewide survey expect their districts will become financially distressed if federal and state funding doesn't improve.

The latest survey -- by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials -- said that schools across the state are making cuts on top of cuts they already made this school year.

The survey found among the respondents:

• 74 percent plan to lay off staff or leave vacant positions unfilled.

• 61 percent plan to increase class size.

• 58 percent plan to reduce elective courses, such as world languages, art, music, technology as well as some electives in various academic disciplines.

• 46 percent plan to reduce or eliminate extracurricular activities.

• 46 percent plan to reduce or eliminate student field trips.

In 2011-12, state and federal education funding statewide was cut by about $900 million.

Gov. Corbett requested an additional $100 million funding cut in his proposed 2012-13 budget.

Pa. school districts brace for more fiscal cuts


Gov. Corbett: I caused this crisis by taking away your funding, and I'll solve it by taking away your rights.


On Tuesday, May 22, the state Senate Education Committee rammed through legislation that strips collective bargaining rights for school employees in financially distressed districts.Specifically, the Senate Education Committee amended provisions of Senate Bill 1450 into House Bill 1307. The bill will now come before the full senate for a vote.If adopted, Districts that would be immediately affected are Duquesne, Harrisburg City, Chester Upland and York. However, the Pennsylvania State Education Association estimates that a significant number of school districts – urban, rural, and suburban – could fall into financial distress in the next one to two years, if current conditions do not change.

A growing number of public school districts are facing financial distress, primarily because of Governor Tom Corbett's nearly $1 billion in school funding cuts. But instead of addressing the real needs of our struggling school districts, Governor Corbett and some state Senators want to solve it by eliminating collective bargaining rights and putting state-appointed bureaucrats in charge of school districts.

Make no mistake, this is a manufactured crisis that Tom Corbett is using to chip away at workers' rights.

Corbett’s proposal to "help" these districts is to violate the state constitution by canceling teachers' contracts. It would also empower districts to close schools and eliminate jobs. But it would not provide any new funding or resources. The proposal also would permit public school districts to be turned over to for-profit management companies and charter operators with no financial or academic accountability.

Enough is enough! We can't allow lawmakers to blame educators for the crisis in these distressed districts. Teachers didn't cause it. But our schools, our students, and our teachers will all suffer for it if this Corbett proposal is enacted.

Please contact your state Senator TODAY. Tell him or her to oppose this wrong-headed policy for financially distressed school districts and instead, work to find real solutions to this crisis.

Read the Summary of HB 1307:

Pa. Senate panel offers recovery plan for troubled school districts

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Please call your state senator today. Feel free to use the following phone script and senate phone book.

Phone Script:

Hello, can I speak with Senator __?

My name is and I am a _ in the __ school district.

I’m calling to ask that you oppose the financially distressed legislation under consideration in the Education Committee.

Struggling schools need help, but placing districts under state control, and then allowing for-profit companies to manage districts, open unaccountable charter schools and negate current contracts is neither a workable solution and is possibly unconstitutional.

Please oppose the financially distressed legislation being considered by the Education Committee.

Thank you.


Senate Phone Book

Here are the Senators that represent your school districts and the phone numbers to their Harrisburg offices. If you would like to find the contact information for your Senator, please click here:

School District
Harrisburg Office #
Harrisburg Office #
Harrisburg Office #



(717) 787-3076



(717) 787-1349



(717) 787-5490



(717) 787-1349


(717) 787-4236

Bristol Township


(717) 787-5072

Chester Upland


(717) 787-4712



(717) 787-5580



(717) 787-4712


(717) 787-5709


(717) 787-1398



(717) 787-5580

Easton Area


(717) 787-4236


(717) 787-3110



(717) 787-8927



(717) 787-1322

Greater Johnstown


(717) 787-5400



(717) 787-6801



(717) 787-6535



(717) 787-5708

McKeesport Area


(717) 787-5580

Norristown Area


(717) 787-5544


(717) 787-1398

Penn Hills


(717) 787-7683

Pocono Mt


(717) 787-7105


(717) 787-6481


(717) 787-2637



(717) 787-8925

Steel Valley


(717) 787-7683



(717) 787-6801



(717) 787-5300



(717) 787-1349


(717) 787-4236

Upper Darby


(717) 787-1350

Wilkes Barre Area


(717) 787-7105


(717) 787-6481



(717) 787-6123

William Penn


(717) 787-5970


(717) 787-3110


(717) 787-1350

Williamsport Area


(717) 787-3280

Woodland Hills


(717) 787-7683


(717) 787-5580



(717) 787-3817


Kevin White, in the middle with his fist in the air, yells during the protest.

Eleven people were arrested Downtown this morning after blocking traffic at Fifth Avenue and Wood Street while protesting proposed cuts to public education funding near Gov. Tom Corbett's Pittsburgh office.

The 11 were among a crowd of about 200 demonstrators protesting proposed cuts to education funding, first at the United Steelworkers Building on the Boulevard of the Allies and then peacefully on foot to Mr. Corbett's office on Fifth.

The demonstrators hoped to present Mr. Corbett with a giant pencil bearing some of their signatures and the words "Stand for children. Stand for public schools."

"We can't afford to stand by and watch public education eroded," said the Rev. David Thornton, pastor of Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church in the Hill District.

"We're going to send a strong message to Governor Tom Corporate, excuse me, Corbett. He needs to understand that we are in this fight for the long haul because we care about our children and quality public education for all children," he said.

After protesters were refused admittance to the building housing the governor's office, 11 people walked into the street and sat down, blocking traffic.

Pittsburgh police officers called to the intersection warned them for several minutes that failure to leave the street would result in their arrest. When they didn't move, police loaded them into a wagon.

11 arrested in Pittsburgh protesting Gov. Corbett's planned education cuts


"Nooooo! I don't want your letters."

This morning, some Pittsburgh Public School students and their parents took time out of their school and work days to travel to Governor Corbett's downtown office in order to deliver the hand-drawn art posters, banners, and letters they'd made as an expression of how much they love their public schools. We also had with us hundreds of signatures from western Pennsylvanians who have signed petitions in support of public education compiled by Education Voters Pennsylvania, Western Pennsylvania Writing Project and T.E.A.C.H. - Tell Everyone All Cuts Hurt.

Unfortunately, we were summarily refused entrance to the Governor's office. The staff person forbid us from coming up to the office, and refused to come down to the lobby. We explained to her that we just wanted to hand over the materials and didn't need to meet with anyone, and that the students were looking forward to the experience of visiting their governor's office. She made some repeated references to making an appointment, and we said we understood the need for an appointment in order to meet with someone, and was happy to just have the kids drop off their artwork without a meeting. She again (even more angrily this time) refused to let us come into the office even for a moment to hand over the letters, and would under no circumstances come down to meet us. We asked if we could meet somewhere in between; perhaps in the hallway outside of the office upstairs, but she would not. At that point we asked her for a statement so that I could let the media know what happened, and she abruptly hung up the phone on us, saying "that's it, this conversation is over."

The parents who went to the office this morning allowed their kids an hour out of school to soak in the rich experience of dropping off materials they'd made at their Governor's office. It was a tough lesson for them, and one of which I thought you should all be aware.

Read more:



Since the 2010 elections, when Republicans took control of many states, there has been an explosion of legislation advancing privatization of public schools and stripping teachers of job protections and collective bargaining rights. Even some Democratic governors, seeing the strong rightward drift of our politics, have jumped on the right-wing bandwagon, seeking to remove any protection for academic freedom from public school teachers.

This outburst of anti-public school, anti-teacher legislation is no accident. It is the work of a shadowy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Founded in 1973, ALEC is an organization of nearly 2,000 conservative state legislators. Its hallmark is promotion of privatization and corporate interests in every sphere, not only education, but healthcare, the environment, the economy, voting laws, public safety, etc. It drafts model legislation that conservative legislators take back to their states and introduce as their own "reform" ideas. ALEC is the guiding force behind state-level efforts to privatize public education and to turn teachers into at-will employees who may be fired for any reason. The ALEC agenda is today the "reform" agenda for education.

ALEC operated largely in the dark for years, but gained notoriety because of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida. It turns out that ALEC crafted the "Stand Your Ground" legislation that empowered George Zimmerman to kill an unarmed teenager with the defense that he (the shooter) felt threatened.

28 PA legislators have publicly stated that they are not members of ALEC, including 5 former members!

Sen. John Pippy (R), Rep. Mark Mustio (R), Rep. Sandra Major (R), Rep. Kate Harper (R) and Rep. Harry Readshaw(D)—all former ALEC members—are now saying they are not members. (Pippy is the former PA Chair of ALEC!)

Please take a moment to check our list of legislators who are still members of ALEC here.

There’s only one Democratic legislator who refuses to quit ALEC- Rep. Nick Kotik. Please write to him and the other PA ALEC members and tell them it’s time to drop ALEC!

Dozens of your PA legislators and corporations like Pepsi, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Coke, Kraft and Intel have already quit ALEC.

It’s time for legislators of conscience to join this growing list. Act now to urge the remaining PA ALEC members to quit.

More information:

What You Need To Know About ALEC


Where do presidential candidates stand on issues? Get the facts directly from the candidates' public statements:

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama: "We've all faced some stark choices over the past several years, but that is no excuse to lose sight of what matters most, and the fact is that too many states are making cuts to education that I believe are simply too big... Nothing more clearly signals what you value as a state than the decisions you make about where to invest. Budgets are about choices, so today I'm calling on all of you: invest more in education, invest more in our children and in our future."

Remarks to the National Governors Association (Source: CNN)

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney: "I'm extraordinarily proud to earn [Tom Corbett's] support. Tom has been a wonderful leader for Pennsylvania and shares my values of spurring economic security through scaling back the size of government and promoting pro-growth policies. There is no doubt that Pennsylvania will be a crucial state in November. With Tom’s help, I know that I will be able to share my vision of restoring American greatness to Pennsylvania voters."

(Source: CBS 21 News)

Learn more

Visit NEA's Education Votes website for more information about the Race for the White House, and find information about how to sign up to become an Educator for Obama.

Senate GOP Proposes Budget Restoring Almost All Education Cuts


Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman, R-Centre, previewed a budget package the panel will consider Tuesday and the Senate could vote upon Wednesday.

It hikes Gov. Tom Corbett’s $27.15 billion proposed budget to $27.65 billion. It also restores $245 million in funds for higher education, putting back 97 percent of the $253 million cut by Gov. Tom Corbett.

“It is a good step forward. It restores $500 million in cuts and we are encouraged by how our Senate Republican colleagues have worked with us to move towards our Senate Democratic budget priorities we laid out in February. There is more work to do, but this is a very positive step,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny.

House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said: "We are working with the Senate crafting a budget. If there's any sustainable revenues, we believe those monies should go to education first, Basic K-12, then Higher Education."

The Senate GOP plan also does not propose block-granting most education funds and county welfare funds, despite Gov. Corbett’s plans to enact both ideas in this year’s budget, Corman said.

“We break those lines out, as we did in the past, into separate lines, like last year’s,” said Corman. “We fund those line times at basically the same level as last year. So that discussion will go on.

“We are not saying no to block granting the entire education formula and major subsidies, but it’s not in that proposal.”

Of the Corbett proposal to block-grant that funding, Corman said: “There’s a lot of people opposed to it, we have to sit back and get a feel from school districts as to what they want to do with it.”

But the Senate GOP budget does propose to fund education accountability block grants, which Corbett has proposed to delete two years in a row, at $50 million. That program was $250 million before Corbett took office. Last year lawmakers insisted on adding $100 million for that program to be spent this year, but funded it with a last-minute boost to the previous year’s budget.

Sources said the House GOP will now have about $80 million to restore either the remaining $50 million for the education block grant or $80 million for the county human services funding.

So of the $800 million in revenues above those predicted by Corbett by the Independent Fiscal Office, the Senate plan will use about $500 million of the surplus for spending restorations.

The Senate GOP restored $14 million cut by Corbett from early childhood education.

Read more:

The Pennsylvania Senate voted 39-8 to pass its $27.65 billion budget proposal

Senate GOP proposes 27.65 billion budget, restores almost all higher ed cuts

Pictures from the Harrisburg Mock Bake Sale on 4/9/12:




Gov. Corbett takes some time to write to his constituents.

If you've sent a letter to Gov. Corbett expressing your disappointment in his education budget cuts, you've probably received the following letter. It's full of double talk, half truths and downright lies. We decided to debunk it and show you what the truth is behind his politically-motivated falsehoods:

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Governor's Office

Thank you for contacting my office regarding the allocation of Basic Education Funding in my budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2012-2013. I appreciate you taking the time to convey your thoughts on this matter.

Okay. If you say so.

As you know, Pennsylvania is facing another challenging fiscal year. Though our economy is continuing its recovery, we must once again confront a projected revenue shortfall.

Revenue shortfall? Just because your office declared it expects $700 million less in revenue this year than last year, doesn't make it so. In 2011, you projected a $4 billion revenue shortfall. In reality we had a $500 million revenue surplus!

You can't expect people to fall for this manufactured revenue crisis again, especially when you won't do anything to increase revenue such as eliminate the $500 million annual Delaware Tax Loophole or putting a reasonable tax on our state's abundant Marcellus Shale like all other states in the United States.

Pennsylvania records second-straight month of above-estimate tax revenue collections

However, recognizing the importance of K-12 education, I have proposed an increase in funding for basic education, which would represent the largest appropriation of state education funding in the history of the commonwealth.

Wow! That' a whopper! You've proposed cutting basic education by $94 million in 2012-13. That's $94 million that went to educate children this year that won't do so next year if legislators pass your budget proposal.

You did, however, propose a $300 million increase in teacher pension contributions this year. If you add that money into the mix (as your Website does), you can claim an INCREASE. However, that's very misleading. You've eliminated long-standing state programs to support the public schools, including the charter school reimbursement program, accountability block grant program, education assistance tutoring program, and dual enrollment program. Yet you say you've increased education because you're paying more for retired teachers benefits.

Moreover, this increase in pensions is long overdue. It's just the state paying its outstanding debt. Teachers pay into their pensions every year since they're hired. But for over a decade, Pennsylvania has paid almost nothing. If repaying your debts is increasing funding, motorists increase support for insurance companies every time they pay their auto insurance.

And that's on top of almost $1 billion in education cuts in the 2011-12 budget! It really takes some gall to claim that as an education INCREASE!

My proposal also significantly transforms the commonwealth's investment in basic education by providing greater flexibility in funding to school districts and creating the ability to focus that funding on students and student achievement.

You've lumped all Basic Education funding into one line item. This way schools can spend it however they want. So districts are less accountable to spend their money wisely and it's less clear that this brand new pot is smaller than all the little ones last year. Congrats!

Complementing this new funding approach is an investment in systems to provide real-time student reporting so that school funding is more closely aligned with the actual number of students being served.

So if a district has 1,000 kids in March, and 999 in April, the district will get less money. This way you can funnel more money to for-profit charter schools siphoning students away from the poorest school districts. Congrats!

Finally, my proposal contains investments in student, teacher and administrator assessments, which will support improved student achievement.

Of course! There's no money to actually teach students, but there's money for more standardized tests and making sure teachers can do little more than drill students on filling in bubbles with a number 2 pencil. And if those students test scores get left behind, can the teachers. It's just the kind of thing someone who couldn't handle teaching, himself, and left after a few years (i.e. you) would think is a good idea.

Thank you once again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any future questions or concerns related to state government.

I'll be sure to do that.






Not for long...



Contact the Governor, yourself:

Governor's Office

225 Main Capitol Building

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120

Phone: (717) 787-2500

Fax: (717) 772-8284

Email the Governor.



State Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R- New Cumberland)

Here’s an encouraging sign of a spring thaw among Pennsylvania’s Republican legislators: Speaking earlier this week at the New Cumberland Republican Women’s breakfast, Rep. Sheryl Delozier said both the House and Senate want “to keep the level of funding where it is this year.” (Capitolwire, April 3, 2012) That would mean taking the proposed $100 MILLION in cuts off the table, likely by restoring the block grants that many districts use to fund full-day Kindergarten.

Rep. Delozier admitted that groups like T.E.A.C.H. “are still saying they want last year’s cuts back. There isn’t enough money to do that. But it looks like there will be enough to keep the funding the same as it is this year. And I think it is clear we will do that.” This is actually what happened last year during the budget negotiation process when legislators succeeded in restoring block grants, despite an overall devastating cut of $1 BILLION to public education.

Delozier said that the House leadership is not willing to publicly state their support for restoring the block grants, but “it is pretty clear that is a priority.” She revealed that the House Republican caucus has “pretty much agreed … with the leaders and the members, and I believe with the Senate … to level-fund education, give it the same as it got this year.” Capitolwire reports, “Other members confirmed that House GOP leaders have made that commitment to the caucus if, as expected, revenues come in about $200 million higher than predicted.”

Take this as another sign that our pressure is working – and that we need to keep it up. Right now we particularly need to reach out to our Republican legislators and let them know their constituents care about public education. It’s been an early spring, so let’s get that $100 MILLION restored and then see what else we can defrost.

Delozier says GOP leaders will push to restore 100 million in K-12 education block grants


Corporate tax loopholes are costing our schools and communities resources that would help the next generation achieve the American Dream. At a time when middle class Americans and small businesses are suffering, large, multi-national corporations are earning record profits and paying little to no money in taxes that are intended to support the communities where they do business.

Instead of robbing children of opportunities and services they need to succeed, corporations must invest in future generations by paying their fair share.

  • At the federal level, support revenue positive corporate tax reform by closing the seven largest corporate tax loopholes, which would provide an estimated $1.487 trillion in additional revenues over the next ten-years.

  • At the state level, support legislation that keeps corporations from shifting profits to low-tax burden states and require full disclosure of state and local incentives to corporations to ensure they pay their fair share to the states and communities where they do business.




The President tells it like it is. He tears apart the radical Republican budget point by point, and makes it crystal clear how devastating their Millionaires over Medicare plan would be for our country.

Here’s some of what President Obama had to say:

"This Congressional Republican budget is something different altogether. It is a Trojan Horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled Social Darwinism. It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who's willing to work for it; a place where prosperity doesn't trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class. And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that's built to last -- education and training, research and development, our infrastructure -- it is a prescription for decline."

Stand with President Obama and sign the petition: ****



Gov. Corbett: We're increasing education funding - except where we aren't.

Is the Corbett administration cutting education funding or increasing it?

Depends on who you ask.

Educators say the state has cut almost $1 billion from public education since Corbett took power.

Corbett says he's increased education funding to historic highs.

What's the truth?

FACT: School districts across the state are increasing class sizes and cutting programs that work for students.

Would that be happening if the administration were raising funding?

FACT: Corbett has eliminated $500 million or more in long-standing state programs to support the public schools, including the charter school reimbursement program, accountability block grant program, education assistance tutoring program, and dual enrollment program.

How can that possibly be a historic increase in education funding?

BAIT AND SWITCH: State Education Secretary Ron Tomalis explains that the Corbett administration's claim of boosting education includes $300 million in teacher pension contributions this year. That is the only real increase in education spending this year.

SOLUTION: So when a Republican apologist says Corbett has increased education funding, what he means is that the administration has increased it's obligation to retired employees but cut its support for current students.

Would you call that an education increase?

It's your call.

Enough with the Spreadsheet Debates

Pa. teachers union calls for funding from taxes, drilling

Is the Corbett administration proposing education cuts or increases?

The Devil’s in the Details

Corbett adds pension money to K-12 total, to combat critics of his cuts

PDE Launches Website to Counter Funding Concerns

Education pension increases outpace state funding cuts in Corbett budgets

Tomalis testimony ignores impact of nearly 1 billion in public school cuts

Tomalis, lawmakers debate whether state is cutting or hiking education funding