What is the Future of PA Schools?

With all the recent moves by state governement to "break" Pennsylvania's educational system I wonder what the future holds. Recently I was reading an interesting report on the history of public schools published by the Pa History & Museum Commission document. Covering the period from 1682 to 1969 the report highlisghts Pennsylvanias history of being progressive with new and widespread education initiatives. It is available on line, www.phmc.state.pa.us....then on left side, select Historic Preservation, then School Preservation or Architecture (I forget)...under the poster for historic schools, there is a PDF to select about the context of Historic Educational Resources of PA... Rather than progressiveness the current era is focused upon funding. The solution being proposed by the state is to cut funding to local school districts (in particular rural poor districts) in an effort to force them to become more efficient. However, the issues impacting public school costs can really be tracked to health care costs, underfunded state retirements system, and unfunded mandates all of which are outside the control of the local school boards. Indeed they are within the control for the most part of the legislature. Coupled with the limitations imposed by the "slots for tots" program (the rerouting of gambling profits to reduce local property taxes) adopted in 2006 - the local boards are being forced to dismantle their educational programs. Breaking the system up is not a solution. In working with over 70 PA School Districts during the past 28 years I have yet to encounter a Board that was looking to overspend on education - in fact, most Boards (especially in the rural areas that have been specifically targeted by the current PA Goverment for specific punishment) tend to underspend. Regardless, the existing system has been self correcting - Boards that overspend in the minds of the local taxpayers are replaced in the next one or two election cycles. What will the history books say about PA education in the 2010 - 2020 decade? Increasingly it appears to be the decade where the first 300 years of progress were undone.

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