June 23, 2010

PSEA members bring the fight for pensions and school funding to the Capitol

June 22, 2010

Lobby Day 2010 5School funding cuts, education layoffs, and cuts to school employee pensions would hurt everyone – schools, students, and communities. In the heat of the budget battle, PSEA members made sure legislators hear that message.

Dozens of educators traveled to Harrisburg for a special “lobby day” on June 22. They participated in countless meetings with state senators and state representatives, including a discussion with the governor and members of the press.

In every meeting, they delivered a unified message: 

  • Support kids and schools by increasing state funding for education by $354 million.
  • Support HB 2497 as passed by the House – a fair solution to address the pension spike and protect defined benefit pensions for school employees.

Early in the day, Governor Rendell held a public event to thank participants for all they hard work they do to help Pennsylvania children. "The Commonwealth's school districts are facing unprecedented financial challenges because of the economic downturn," Governor Rendell said.

"It's more important than ever that the Commonwealth step up and fulfill our promise to our kids. There's a clear link between adequate funding and student performance."

Third grade teacher Patty Conner, a member of the Cumberland Valley Education Association, told how funding cuts can hurt classrooms. She said as her district fills fewer vacant positions due to budget cuts educators already working hard to help students succeedbear the burden of making up for the losses.

“As a third grade teacher, I prepare my students every year for the PSSA tests. Research shows that a class of 15-17 students creates the best learning environment for third graders. Last year I had 28 students.”

Lobby Day 2010 4
Cumberland Valley EA member Patty Conner

This fall, she could have even more…

Easton Area Education Association President Kevin Deely told the Governor that his district voted on June 21 to cut 72 teaching positions – though his local tried to save jobs. He talked about the importance of fighting for students. “If people aren’t willing to fight for the education needs of kids, I don’t know what is worth fighting for.”

PSEA President Jim Testerman and teachers from across Pennsylvania spoke about the importance of funding for kids and schools.

Lobby Day 2010 2
President Testerman and Easton EA President Kevin Deely

“PSEA advocates for equitable funding because we know the power of a great education – and a great education doesn’t just ‘happen’. It takes an investment. Investments in the resources for research-based programs like all-day kindergarten, after-school programs, tutoring and smaller class sizes. The Commonwealth has invested in these programs over the last few years, and, because of this, our schools are making great progress. Why stop the momentum now?”

Lobby Day 2010 3

Testerman cautioned that the class of 2023 starts kindergarten this fall – and suggested that legislators who vote against school funding attend the first day of school to tell the children “maybe next year.”

Learn more about school funding at www.psea.org/schoolfunding.

Learn more about the pension issue at www.psea.org/pensions.

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