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This article is part of our new feature "State of Education" where we hear what is going on in each state around the country, from an educator in that state. If you would like to write about your state, contact us at email@example.com!
1 - What are 2-3 of the big educational issues in your state?
The former has caused quite a calamity as our common assessment, and should be replaced by the new Keystone Exam in rolling fashion. Students will have to pass multiple Keystones in each subject area to graduate.
The pension crisis is the top issue right now for not just education, but the state. During the 90’s and 2000’s, Govs. Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell contributed nearly nothing to our growing retirement plan (that’s very effectively run), thinking it would satisfy itself with its own growth market. When the economy tanked in 2007-08, so did our pension program, since it had been unfunded by the government for the past 6 years or so, depending on whom one talks to. Current Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposals are very high-risk, high-reward for him politically, and currently he’s fighting an upward battle.
2 - How do your elected officials view education?
Overall, our state values education. Depending on your poll, we’re either 5th or 6th in educational achievement in the nation. Our governor’s first job was as a teacher (albeit for 1 year) and our state union overwhelmingly voted for the sitting Republican (52% of PSEA ballots cast were in his favor), but he’s fallen out of favor since with the pension issue, 14,000 Pennsylvania teachers losing their jobs, and his attempt to shore up $1 billion in funding for education by selling off the state’s liquor stores on similar empty promises that were made with gambling about 8 years ago.
3 - How would you view the public's view of your state's education?
Very high and positive in the suburbs, very low and negative in the cities. Reading, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, York, Chester, Duquesne, and some less populated rural schools are in serious achievement and financial struggles. Harrisburg and York teachers were actually required to vote on 20% and 40% reductions in pay this week.
4 - What would teachers say about your state's education?
Teachers are very proud of Pennsylvania’s history and future. However, there are many question marks going forward for young Pennsylvania teachers, as though we have one of the greatest output of teachers in the Northeast, there currently are many teachers fighting to find a job.