It's About the Kids

You might recall that as part of Gov. Corbett's original budget proposal he asked school teachers and administrators to take a voluntary, one-year pay freeze.

Such action, said the Guv, could save $400 million to preserve academic programs and help avoid teacher layoffs in a tough budget cycle with deep cuts to public education.

Since "it's about the kids" when it comes to public schools, even the state's largest teachers' union, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, urged its members to "seriously consider" Corbett's request.

That was then. After what I assume was some serious consideration, we're now seeing the results.

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association has collected a statewide list of districts in which teachers, administrators and staff agreed to a freeze. An association spokesman yesterday explained to me that this is likely an incomplete list since there's no requirement to report such action to the state.

Nor are districts required to tell the association about freezes. Still, through voluntary disclosure and a search of statewide newspaper articles, a list was compiled.

But state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis says the department made some follow-up calls to districts and found that many of the "freezes" carry caveats that make them something less than freezes.

When I spoke with the secretary yesterday, he said that out of 500 school districts in the state, maybe 30 agreed to the one-year freeze.


Out of 500.

Not Philly, of course. In fact, only three districts in the whole southeast -- Abington in Montco, Coatesville and West Chester in Chester County -- are on the list for teachers and staff.

On one hand, that tells you something about priorities in public education that doesn't reflect well on teachers or administrators. On the other hand, the effort could have been tweaked if, for example, the largest full-time legislature in America had shown some leadership and offered to forego its annual pay-raise as part of the request to teachers.

Shared pain, you know.

The fact it didn't tells you something about priorites among lawmakers. Grrr.