Home > Uncategorized > Districts in PA May Trust in God… But NOT in the Legislature’s Ability to Fund Their Schools

Districts in PA May Trust in God… But NOT in the Legislature’s Ability to Fund Their Schools

May 10, 2016

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board accurately observes, the PA legislature is about to pass legislation that would serve as an enormous distraction to the fundamental problems with schools. While the budget for the coming year remains unresolved, the legislature HAS passed a bill that would empower school districts to display the motto “In God We Trust” on their campuses. The Post-Gazette editors see through this and accurately predict the outcome:

If signed into law, the legislation potentially would spark debates about posting the motto in 500 school districts across the state. Just what the education system needs: a community-by-community fight over an abstraction unrelated to learning. 

Of course the pious Republicans who refuse to provide equitable funding for the neediest districts in the state see it differently:

Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, one supporter of the… bill, contends that posting the motto in schools would be a good influence on children living in a society that glorifies “all the negative things … vulgarity, pornography, every type of lawlessness.”

But Post-Gazette editors see through this and offer a scalding rebuke:

Frankly, that sounds a lot like the culture our state leaders have created in Harrisburg. Much vulgarity was spewed during the months-long partisan budget standoff. An email porn scandal has forced the ouster of two state Supreme Court justices since October. As for lawlessness, more than a dozen state legislators have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to various crimes over the past 15 years.

How about this? Instead of passing Mr. Dush’s bill, the Legislature should clean up its act and set a positive example for young people. It also should resolve to pass an annual budget that is on time and properly funds schools and social-service agencies. Lawmakers supporting the Dush legislation  may have good intentions, but the bill does nothing whatsoever for schoolchildren.

Immaterial legislation like this sheds a light on other distractions public education has faced over the past years: school “report cards”, standardized tests, the need for school uniforms, single-sex schools, and charter schools to name a few. Each of these distracts the public from the underlying issues that create inequality: racism and poverty. Until we stop distracting ourselves with pointless but volatile legislative and “reform” initiatives and face our real problems we will continue to see the economic divide continue.

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