Politics Making a Mess of Education

It appears Gov. Rendell has succeeded in getting an increase in education spending for the FY 2010-11 budget. Despite the fact that enrollment is down across the Commonwealth and the state is facing a multi-billion dollar deficit.

Like last year, Rendell has been touring the Commonwealth emphasizing the dire financial condition of school districts, which he claims only more money can cure. However, the Allegheny Institute dissected a recent example of his rhetoric regarding furloughs at Penn Hills. Gov. Rendell forgot to mention the Penn Hills furloughs only affected 10% of the staff while enrollment has dropped by almost 10% in 6 years. To keep the same level of staff despite large demographic changes is irresponsible.

While state government continues to make a mess of Pennsylvania’s k-12 education, the Supreme Court is undermining higher education. Cato comments on the recently decided CLS vs Martinez, allowing Hastings College of Law to deny the school’s Christian Legal Society the same recognition and support it granted to some 60 other student organizations. The school argued the requirements of members to abide by certain Christian principles was contrary to their non-discrimination policy.

Essentially, the court revoked these students freedom of association, but the larger issue, as Cato explains, is the incompatibility of government sponsored learning institutions and first amendment rights.

Nathan Benefield’s recent commentary explains how state education subsidies benefit unions and staff at the expense of the students. The more we politicize our education system the more dysfunctional it becomes.