I can't blame the students and professors for giving the cold shoulder to Corbett:No one booed.
But the graduates of Millersville University didn't exactly cheer Gov. Tom Corbett either Saturday.
In introducing Corbett as the class of 2013's commencement speaker, Michael Warfel, chairman of the Council of Trustees, explained the difficult fiscal conditions the governor has faced, highlighting the state's looming pension crisis. He noted that Corbett has signed two budgets on time.
Warfel didn't mention education funding.
That has been a major cause of contention on campus since Corbett was announced as the speaker. Students and faculty questioned how approprate it was for the governor who twice proposed massive funding cuts for state universities like Millersville to send graduates off into the world. Petitions were signed and there was talk of protest.
As Corbett stepped to the microphone, about a dozen students turned their chairs away from the stage. Early in his speech, the governor asked the graduates to stand. A few dozen more remained seated. When it became clear Corbett wanted them to wave to their parents in the stadium, some stood, some waved from their seats, some sat motionless. One student had "Game of Loans" written on her mortarboard.
About half of the faculty members wore yellow pins reading "I support public education." A few of the professors turned their chairs as well. - The Patriot-News, 5/18/13
Corbett's education cuts have contributed to his lousy approval ratings along with a long list of other reasons why he's one of the most unpopular governors in the country. Hopefully come summer of 2015 we'll be hearing Governor Allyson Schwartz (D. PA) be speaking at more commencement speeches:Chet Klinedinst, of Lancaster, was one of the students who turned his back on Corbett.
"I turned my chair around because I felt like I needed to show my disapproval of the cuts that were going to be taken to the budget for public education in Pennsylvania," he said.
Klinedinst also objected to the fact that Corbett was asked by Millersville to speak at his graduation ceremony.
"I felt like it was disrespectful to our class," he said. "I understand that you can't just say no to the governor, so it would be disrespectful to just turn him away, but at the same time, we worked for four years for some reward to earn a degree, and it just seemed a little disrespectful in regards to his relation to public education."
Millersville students saw their tuition increase every year for the past five years.
Those still in school will see it go up again next year.
Over that same period, the state has cut $55 million in educational and general appropriations to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which oversees 14 state universities, including Millersville.
Corbett has been governor since 2011. - Lancaster Online, 5/18/13
Schwartz plans to make education a big issue in next year's race:This weekend, many of your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, husbands and wives will prepare for a new milestone – their college graduation.
This is a moment of opportunity and accomplishment for so many young people and middle class families across Pennsylvania. Their years of work have finally paid off with a degree. But as they enter the workforce, what economy in Pennsylvania awaits them? For too many of Pennsylvania’s young people and middle class families, the opportunity to get a good job and start their lives will be out of reach.
After years of unprecedented cuts to our system of higher education, Pennsylvania graduates today face a world of uncertainty. They live in a state where misplaced priorities of the current administration have left our economy stagnant. A state where the governor ranks 49th in job growth. We owe it to today’s graduates to do better and not make excuses.
We want our young people and middle class families to stay in Pennsylvania. To live, work, grow their families, and carry on the great traditions of the Keystone state. But how can we convince them to stay when our current governor has abandoned our higher education system through record cuts, and has let our state’s economy stay stuck in the mud?
Our young people and middle class families deserve a state they can be proud of. A state that where we do big things, and are guided by bold leadership.
They deserve a Pennsylvania that embraces their talent, ingenuity, determination, and pride.
As we watch our college students graduate this weekend, let’s work to build that Pennsylvania we all deserve.
And to our graduates, I won’t stop working until we’ve restored Pennsylvania’s promise.
More to come.“I believe strongly in investing in higher education,” said Schwartz.
“Being governor means investing in higher education and making sure our students can afford a higher education,” she added. “We need to ensure economic growth, to make sure we build on the great assets we have in our commonwealth starting with our people, and build a great future for a great state. Our Governor has undermined our trust and is holding our state back.”
When voucher programs were brought up, Schwartz said that she has “always been opposed to vouchers as an alternative to public education. We must make sure all of our schools are of high quality.”
“I have been open to charters,” she added, but made clear that “walking away from the public school system is not the best way to go.”
“Budgets, which are required by law to be balanced, are a question of priorities,” said Schwartz. “We need to set priorities in the right way. The Governor made it clear that his first priority was to cut education. He has ignored infrastructure, bridges, highways, and higher education.”
Schwartz explained that she serves on the Budget Committee at the Federal level, and that her committee “deals with these issues all the time–what would grow our economy, what does it take to be competitive, what does it take to make sure the people of Pennsylvania have the skills to move forward.” - Keystone Politics, 4/18/13