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Shortchanging school

October 2, 2013 Letters to the Editor

I am a professor at Slippery Rock University, where I have taught for over 25 years. I feel fortunate to have been associated with a university for most of my professional career that has always put students first and always believed in demonstrating excellence. I also have two school-aged children.

Due to unprecedented budget cuts by Gov. Tom Corbett, the quality of education in Pennsylvania in both K-12 and the State System of Higher Education is being severely compromised. In many educational institutions, we have seen programs cut, teachers furloughed and retrenched, and class sizes increased.

These practices certainly do not have grade school or college students’ best interests at heart, or the taxpayers who support public education and families who sacrifice so much to pay for a college education.

We know that budget cuts are a reality of our time, and Slippery Rock University has done better than most universities in the State System at belt-tightening and increasing efficiency. However, have our legislators done all that they can to grow revenue for our state?

While our educational systems are imploding, it seems that all possible and additional sources of revenue must be utilized, possibly beginning with taxing the natural gas industry the same way that every other state taxes the industry, and has resulted in millions of dollars in revenue for those states.

When we have state universities cutting essential faculty and staff and discontinuing important programs, and we have local elementary schools with overcrowded classrooms forced to put gas wells 700 feet from school children in order to generate revenue, the citizens of Pennsylvania must insist that all legislators make funding education a priority.

By all accounts, funding for education in many other states is on the upswing. Pennsylvania cannot afford to lag behind. Our students and their families deserve better.