Morning Must Reads: The Governor's Math Requires Fewer Math Teachers

PA Job Growth Slowed in 2011Pennsylvania’s 2011-12 General Fund budget made deep cuts to education and health care while leaving unspent $620 million from a revenue surplus last year and other unused funds.

We have estimated the failure to spend that revenue will by itself translate into the loss of 17,714 jobs (including private jobs lost due to the ripple effects of public job cuts) over the course of the 2011-12 fiscal year.

So it is no surprise that Pennsylvania's job growth slowed in 2011 compared to 2010 and when compared to most other states.

On Wednesday, Governor Tom Corbett resumed his business tour to pitch his 2012-13 budget, which offers another round of budget cuts for the coming fiscal year.

A Caernarvon Township vinyl window manufacturer is a perfect example of a business that managed to survive the recession by living within its means, Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday after a tour of the facility...

The governor said the state has only two options for balancing its budget: raising taxes or cutting expenses...

"That's why I'm trying to control the costs," he said. "It's not easy. I don't want to make these tough decisions, but you elected me to make tough decisions. We expect everyone to live within their means. You had to do it here."

Late Wednesday, officials in the Pocono Mountain and Stroudsburg School District discussed the implications of the Governor’s "tough decisions" aimed at controlling costs, which include laying off more math teachers.

The long-term competitiveness of the Pennsylvania economy depends critically on the education and training of our workforce. Our wages are substantially higher than wages in Mississippi, Tijuana, Mexico or Longhua, Shenzhen in China. Our only hope of maintaining our current standard of living is rising productivity growth, which hinges on the quality of our workforce.

Laying off math teachers isn't a tough decision; it is a very bad decision that risks harming our long-term economic growth. In other words, the success now of a vinyl window manufacturer in Caernarvon Township depends on decades of investment in education and training made by taxpayers in the past. The Governor's math-challenged vision of toughness risks leaving future Governors no factories in which to hold political rallies.

District administration released the latest version of the budget Wednesday, proposing cuts of more than 160 teachers, 108 support staff employees, 16 security officers and various supervisory and administrative positions....

Math teachers take the biggest hit in the proposal, losing more than 43 positions. Special education is next, losing 38 positions.

In the support staff, the district plans to cut 34 custodians, 25 bus drivers, 20 non-teaching assistants and 16 administrative assistants.

Class size in the West Junior High School is projected to jump to either 28 or 30 students...

The situation could get worse. The district still is $4.7 million short of a no-tax-increase budget, a goal of some board members...

It would be the second year of heavy cuts in the district. During last year's budget process, the district furloughed about 160 employees, more than half of them teachers.

Last month, district officials presented a list of more than 30 cost-saving measures to help close a projected $10 million deficit in their 2012-13 budget.

The list included proposals to eliminate certain foreign language classes, all-day kindergarten, extracurricular activities and athletics, increasing elementary and secondary class sizes, as well as eliminating 25 paraprofessional staff and nearly 100 teachers.

The cuts would save an estimated $13 million.


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