Earlier today, The Patriot News aggregated a blog post from the Pittsburgh Tribune explaining that former Governor Tom Corbett is back in the classroom, but what the Pennlive and Tribune both neglected to mention was how the once “educator” left the Department of Education and public school districts in the Commonwealth’s poorest school districts in shambles.
John Micek from the Patriot News wrote:
If you spent any time talking to Tom Corbett on the campaign trail or during his four years as governor, it didn’t take much prodding for him to fondly recall his days as a teacher in the Pine Grove schools in Schuylkill County.
Nearly five decades later, the former Republican governor has returned to the classroom, reprising a role he last played when Richard Nixon was in the White House and his current students were decades away from being born.
Debra Erdly from the Tribune took the time to at least give lip service to the fact that Corbett was labeled as the “anti education governor” during last year’s campaign, but in the article, Erdly (which was aggregated on Pennlive’s website) stated:
“He smiles, cracks jokes about the process of bringing complex policy initiatives to fruition in Harrisburg, and engages in a brisk give-and-take with second- and third-year law students.
“They are covering policy issues ranging from the state’s role in crime and corrections, where he sought to reduce incarceration rates, to health care, where he battled mandates that were a result of Obamacare.
“Asked about the best part of teaching, Corbett doesn’t hesitate: “It’s the students. They’re great. There’s a real energy here.”
“At Duquesne, he can tap his experience in public life for a class on the law, public policy and the executive branch.
“At St. Vincent, he can reach back to that, as well as his private-sector experience as counsel to Waste Management, for an undergraduate course in environmental law.”
Don’t be fooled by the revisionist history that is taking place at Pennlive and the Tribune.
First. Governor Tom Corbett was a 9th grade teacher for one year, which occupied 1.5 percent of his lifetime. That’s not including leap years, the weekends and holidays he had off or the summer vacation that followed that one lonely year of teaching. If so, that number would be smaller.
Secondly, just two weeks ago, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released an audit which completely eviscerated Corbett’s education legacy. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:
The audit supervised by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, a Democrat, covered the period between July 1, 2010 and Aug. 1, 2015, including the four-year tenure of former Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican who made deep cuts in state education spending.
The auditors identified 561 academically struggling schools that serve more than 310,000 students but do not receive as much special state assistance as other schools because the department has failed to define “poorly performing” schools and targets its assistance based on federal guidelines.
The auditors recommend a three-step process that calls for the board to update the master plan and designate a committee to take on “the epidemic of poor-performing schools.” They recommend that the department make organizational changes and take charge in helping such schools improve. Eventually, the department should help such schools “through partnerships with school districts, not takeovers.”
And to cap it off, the former Governor gave the former Department of Education Secretary Ron Tomalis a cushy $140,000 no-show job as a “higher education” adviser.
These are the facts. Not the numbers that partisan campaigns used to talk about the billion dollar plus cuts to public education and public higher education or the tens of thousands of public school teachers who lost their jobs during this time, but facts.