Stephen P. Linebaugh, President Judge of the 19th Judicial District of Pennsylvania ruled that the state may go ahead with takeover of York Schools. York is one step closer to being the first district in the state converted straight to full charter takeover and the only all-charter currently operating in the nation.
Why is York’s school problem?
Money. York is an exceptionally poor district, and under Tom Corbett, poor schools took an enormous hit. In Pennsylvania, public schools depend a great degree on local funding. PA schools took a one-two punch over the past six or seven years. First, previous Governor Ed Rendell (D) took the stimulus money and used it to fund schools. Second, when Corbett arrived and the stimulus money left, he did not replace it. The biggest cuts of state funding happened in the poorest districts. In 2012, York had 15% of its budget– $8.4 million– cut by the state.
So why is the state taking over?
While the state’s proposed receiver is making noises about improving student test scores and the district’s standing in the state, academics are not what got the state involved in the first place. This is about the benjamins. Have your state government cut education budgets, then have the same government take over the school district because it is too financially strapped (because the state cut their budget).
Why do they want to upgrade to receivership? Because recoveryship isn’t working? Because the teachers aren’t cooperating? Because PA will have a new governor at the end of the month? Pick your favorite.
Nobody wants this
Virtually every sector of the York community has spoken out against this move. That includes the elected school board, the teachers union, various members of the taxpaying public– and it includes York’s most prominent native son, the governor-elect of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf. Do you suppose it means anything that we’ve been trying to ram this through in the last weeks before Wolf takes office? I would like to think it does, but the Receiver is an old friend of Wolf’s, and his charter sell-out plan didn’t get a squawk from candidate Wolf until journalist Colleen Kennedy stirred up some noise.
We’re not done yet
I assume that the state teachers’ union had their appeal already written with a finger on the “send” key before the ink was even dry on today’s ruling.
In the meantime, Pennsylvania has a really lousy but quite active cyber-schooling sector. A bad upholding of this lousy decision could touch off a head-to-head battle between charters, as angry parents pull their students to get online instead.
But make no mistake– this is not good news. If it becomes this easy, this simple for a state to simply hand a school district to a for-profit charter, then in the long run, nobody is safe.
If you care about public education, you may not know much about York, PA, but I’ll bet that before too long, you’ll know plenty about the decisions that are made there.