Scott Wagner Wants to be Pa.’s Anti-Education Governor. Will We Let Him?

Steven Singer is a husband, father, teacher and education advocate.

If theres one thing Scott Wagner hates, its education.

He hates science. He hates schools. He hates teachers. And if students get in the way, hell hate them, too.

These are the qualities he thinks Pennsylvanians are looking for in their next governor.

The York Township Republican will challenge incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf on Nov. 6, 2018.

So who is this guy?

Wagners a college dropout who made a fortune starting a garbage hauling firm. He became a state senator four years ago after winning a write in campaign during a special election where only 17% of the electorate could be bothered to vote.

And ever since, hes been consistent about one thing: he really, Really, REALLY hates teachers.

> We have 180,000 teachers in the state of Pennsylvania, Wagner said in 2015. If we laid off 10 percent of the teachers in the state of Pennsylvania, wed never miss them.

Lets be clear.

Scott wouldnt miss them. But the 1.75 million Commonwealth school children would.

Ever since the last Republican Governor, Tom Corbett, slashed funding by almost $1 billion a year to the poorest schools with the full help of a state legislature that is even now still under GOP control, our institutions of learning have been reeling.

We lost 27,000 education jobs, most of which were teaching positions.

Thats a deficit we still havent recovered from. Even today, state schools are staffed at a 10-year low. Class sizes are at an all time high.

Yet Wagner wants to fire even more teachers!?

Thats not the policy of a man who wants to help improve life throughout the state for all. Thats not the policy of a man who wants to help kids learn.

Its the policy of a man who has a personal grudge against educators.

And his other legislative objectives?

Wagner wants to further slash education funding. He wants to spend whatever is left inequitably. And he really wants to help his heroes Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos enact school vouchers so business people like him can continue to cash in on children from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and all places between.

By contrast, in his four years in office, Gov. Wolf has pushed to increase education funding, pushed to spend it more fairly, and even cut the time it takes for students to take high stakes standardized tests.

The good news: voters throughout the Commonwealth have never had a clearer choice for governor.

The bad news: when has that ever stopped them from getting it wrong?

Heres a couple of Wagners other big ideas cribbed from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and his buddies the Koch Brothers.

He ThinksTeachers Make Too Much Money

We have created a special class in this state and the special class is the public sector union employee, Wagner told Keystone Crossroads in a 2015 interview.

Teachers are doing very well in this state, he said. People would be appalled if they knew what their teachers made, in certain areas.

Unfortunately, Wagner has no idea, himself.

He keeps quoting a bogus salary figure that Im not going to repeat. Its not true statewide, its not an average, nor is it true in his home district.

In truth, the low end for teachers entering the field nationwide is around $30,000, according to [the National Association of Colleges and Employers](https://web.wpi.edu/Images/CMS/CDC/2015-fall-salary-survey_(1%29.pdf) (NACE). So go to college, get a four sometimes five year degree including a rigorous internship of student teaching and you make a mere $10,000 above the most generous minimum wage!?

However, Pennsylvania pays its teachers better than average. We have the 12thhighest pay in the country, according to financial services outlet GOBankingRateswhich compiled average teacher salaries by state using 2015 federal data.

According to that data, Pennsylvania teachers make on average $63,063 per year. Of neighboring states, teachers in Maryland ($65,247) and New Jersey ($71,687) make more. Teachers in Ohio (59,063) and Delaware ($59,853) make less.

Highest and Lowest Teacher Salaries Source: GoBankingRates

But those numbers are deceiving. Theyre averages. Districts serving the wealthy pay their teachers much better than those serving the poor. Actual pay ranges from $99,253 in the affluent Philadelphia district of Lower Merion to $27,592 at Wonderland Charter School in Centre Country.

As everywhere else, many teachers struggle to make ends meet working multiple jobs while others are well compensated.

No matter how you slice it, nationwide teachers salaries are 14% less than those from professions that require similar levels of education, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

In other words, if prospective teachers want to make more money, all they have to do is switch majors.

That may be part of the reason for our national teachers shortage. Not only have states like ours laid off tens of thousands of educators, many dont stay in the field if given the chance. Across the country , 46 percent of educators quit before reaching the five year mark. And its worse in urban districts, where 20 percent quit every single year!

We could take steps to ensure all teachers earned a living wage and even encouraged our best and brightest to enter the field. But, nah, Wagner thinks Pennsylvania already spends enough money on public schools.

As Governor, he would do whatever he could to win his personal crusade against teachers even if Pennsylvanias school children were collateral damage.

He Wants to Eliminate Teachers Sick Days

Wagner has been vocal about eliminating benefits that educators earn, including sick days. He introduced a bill thats still floating around in the state senate to strip sick days from the school code and make teachers bargain for them with their districts.

So forcing sick teachers to come to school and spread the germs to children is fine with Wagner as long as it hurts his nemesis those evil teachers.

He Wants to Cut Teachers Pensions

He also plans to end pensions for working educators, and even wants retired educators to give back 10% of the retirement they earned.

Hes right to want reform to the state pension system but disingenuous or misinformed about the cause.

Pennsylvania pension costs have increased primarily because our legislature made bad plans and bad investments that were upended by the crash of 2008. You dont fix that by stiffing your employees. If you do that, no one will believe any promises the state makes and no one of any substance will want to work for the state.

He Wants To Pay Teachers Based on Student Test Scores

No kidding:

> There are teachers that will exceed expectations while teaching a classroom of 100 of the toughest-to-teach students. There are also teachers that would struggle to teach just one student at a time. I want the first teacher to make a small fortune, and I want the second teacher to find a new career that is better suited for him or her.

So if you teach the best students, you should make the most money? And if you teach struggling students, you should be fired?

But Its Not Just Teachers. He Hates Other Working People, Too

If there is a corner to cut, he wants to take it especially if it screws a working person. As a state senator, Wagner even introduced a bill that would exempt school districts from paying laborers the prevailing wage on construction projects.

Cheaper labor, shoddier work. Thats surely a recipe for success in buildings housing school children!

He Wants to Disband Unions

Oh, but hes not done.

The man who once compared the tactics of public employee unions including those representing teachers to those of Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin also wants to end tenure end tenure, seniority, and disband unions.

Im sure reducing teaching to a career without benefits, workers rights or protections will do wonders for the educational quality students receive.

Teachers working conditions are students learning conditions. Putting children in a building that has fewer safety precautions because theres no union to collectively bargain for them is a great way to cut costs. But parents arent thrilled about having their kids try to learn in a sweat shop filled with Trump brand Russian asbestos.

He Loves School Vouchers and Charter Schools

Call them education saving accounts, education tax credits, personalized learning accounts or opportunity scholarships. It doesnt matter. Wagner loves them all.

I support all school choice, he said in an interview.

Charter schools, funding private and parochial schools with public tax dollars. Hes in for all of it.

So long as it hurts public schools and enriches private businesses without helping students learn at all.

Go ahead! Take scarce funding from public schools and divert it to programs with little to no accountability. Let private school operators fraudulently misrepresent enrollment data. Let them fail to provide safe and academically appropriate learning environments. Let them game the system in any and every way.

Thats what Wagner calls fiscal accountability.

It doesnt matter that these schools dont improve student achievement. Evaluations of voucher programs in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C., have all found no statistically significant differences in the academic achievement of voucher students compared to public school students. And recent evaluations of programs in Ohio, Indiana, and Louisiana revealed that voucher students scored lower than their peers attending public school.

But who cares about facts? This is all ideology for Wagner.

Vouchers have a record of undermining students civil rights especially students with disabilities. Private school students give up due process and other rights guaranteed in public schools. Private schools are allowed to discriminate by denying admission based on religion, sexual orientation, citizenship status, English language proficiency and disability. Private schools that enroll students with disabilities may decide not to provide the services or accommodations guaranteed to such students in public schools. Or they may charge parents extra for them. Moreover, there is nothing to stop them from segregating these kids from other children. And, finally, private schools often suspend or expel students without due process.

This may be Trump and Wagners ideal. But it is certainly not what Commonwealth voters want for their children.

He Wants to Get Rid of Many State Colleges

Wagner caused an uproar when he said the states 14 state colleges will not be around in four years. So, for those of you who think your schools going to be around four years from now, it isnt going to be around, Wagner said.

Fewer institutions of higher learning. Fewer opportunities to get a college degree. That sounds like the policy of a college dropout.

He Wants to Slash School Funding

Wagner has made no bones about this from day one.

This is a guy who took a television reporter on a helicopter tour of schools in his district in 2015 to highlight the fact that we spend a lot of money on schools.

They think the solution is more money, he said of Wolf and the Democrats. Every time you do that the money disappears and the problem is still there.

Its like taking a bath, Scott. You cant just do it once and be clean for the rest of your life. You need to bathe every day. One-time funding windfalls dont work. You need equitable and sustainable funding revenues.

But thats either too complicated for Wagner or he just doesnt care.

He supported Gov. Corbetts plan to decimate Pennsylvanias schools. And he doesnt think the culling should be over.

When asked point blank about Corbetts cuts in 2011, he said, Yes, I believe that Governor Corbett needs to stick to his plan.

Hes said repeatedly that we spend enough money on public schools, while stressing the need for frugality and fewer regulations.

He Wants to Play with How Schools Are Funded

Hes an advocate for legislation that would eliminate school property taxes and replace them with increased state sales and income taxes.

True we need a better funding mechanism than local property taxes. But you can bet Wagners plan is worse than the current system.

It would lock funding inequities among Pennsylvanias 500 school districts into place.

He Thinks Global Warming is Caused by the Earth Getting Closer to the Sun

Wagner is an incredibly stupid man who thinks hes rather intelligent.

But of all the dumb or evil things that come spewing out of his mouth, this one has to be my favorite.

When asked about global climate change, he didnt simply deny that it was happening. He had an alternative theory to why it was taking place.

Its not business and industry or fossil fuels that is causing global temperatures to rise. He actually said that its because the earth is getting closer to the sun every year. Another cause? Human bodies on the planet are giving off enough heat to raise the global temperature.

Perhaps it shouldnt be surprising that a person who hates schools and teachers so much knows very little, himself.

These comments made him a national laughing stock.

His words were repeated on every late night comedy show across the country for giggles and guffaws.

The question is Will the joke be on us come Election Day?

Its not How dumb is Scott Wagner?

Its Is Pennsylvania dumb enough to vote for him?

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