The Reading School District was featured on CNN this weekend, but not for anything positive. Reporters documented the poor air quality caused by crumbling school buildings across the nation. It appears the entire segment was encouraged by the NEA, the national affiliate of the PSEA, in their never-ending campaign to insist more time and more money will improve education.
Meanwhile, an entire decade has passed without any meaningful improvement in Pennsylvania's NAEP scores. Even the more generous PSSA tests show 36 percent of Reading students are not proficient in math and more than 50 percent are not proficient in reading.
The problem with education funding is not the amount, Pennsylvania's education spending per student increased 133 percent since 1980 after adjusting for inflation. No, the problem is how these funds are spent.
Since 2000, Pennsylvania public schools added 35,821 additional staff while enrollment dropped by 35,510.
Another obstacle to smart spending is Pennsylvania's archaic prevailing wage law. This law requires school districts to pay the prevailing wage, usually the union wage, on any construction project. Prevailing wage laws increase the cost of construction by 20 percent or more.
The president of Reading's teacher union weighed in:
"Education reform right now is about how to punish public schools," Sanguinito said, explaining that many new initiatives like school vouchers and charter schools pull funding away from public school districts. "If we were the Lehman Brothers School District they would be giving us money."
What they are really saying is competition in education is bad for their education monopoly. They'd rather force parents to send their children to failing schools than allow choice and competition. Taxpayers can't afford a school district bailout in the fashion of Lehman brothers. It's time to end the education monopoly and allow parents a voice in one of the most fundamental aspects of their children's lives.