State spending cuts to public education are hurting Pennsylvania’s public schools.
The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials released survey results last week that show many state school districts have fewer teachers and larger classes this year, while several programs including full-day kindergarten tutoring and summer school have been cut or scaled back.
Of the school districts surveyed 5,106 school employees, including 1,686 teachers, were laid off and another 3,259 positions were eliminated or left vacant.
The data shows that 70 percent of the districts surveyed increased their average class sizes above last year’s level, and 44 percent reduced elective courses not required for graduation, including foreign languages, music and physical education.
Some school districts also had to eliminate full-day kindergarten or reduced or eliminated pre-kindergarten programs.
According to the survey, 41 percent of the district delayed the purchase of new textbooks and 58 percent delayed the purchase of computers and other technology. Nearly one third reduced or eliminated extracurricular activities for students, including sports.
The survey results were based on responses from the Philadelphia school district and 293 other districts, or 59 percent, of the state’s 500 school districts.
The survey confirms that the state spending cuts have hurt many public schools.
Yet Gov. Tom Corbett seeks to deny that drastic spending cuts to public education that he proposed and approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature resulted in fewer teachers, larger class sizes and fewer educational programs.
Corbett say he regretted any layoffs but said those decisions were made by local school boards not his administration. He suggested that local school districts should have budgeted more conservatively.
How can the governor say this? How can he deny his responsibility for putting student achievement at many Pennsylvania public schools at risk?
When Corbett and the Republican-controlled state legislature slashed public education by about $900 million, or more than 10 percent this summer local school districts had no choice but to layoff teachers, increase class sizes and reduce programs.
The governor’s shortsighted budget has had a negative impact on public schools.