mardi 17 janvier 2012

Chester Upland: The Tip of the Iceberg

The financial crisis in Chester Upland is about to come to a head. A court hearing is scheduled for noon today. Negotiations continue that could lead to another takeover of the district by the state.

From our story:
With the district’s future uncertain, residents gathered to brainstorm ways to actively voice their concerns to state officials.
“For a long time, the voice of this community has been silent,” Tina Johnson told the crowd. “People just think they can do whatever they want to this community. We’re going to show up and let them know, ‘Not here.’”
This is just the sort of attitude that drives non-Chester residents crazy. Public demonstrations demanding money from others garner headlines and media attention but they also harden the hearts of the people who are asked to bail out incompetent and ineffective school managers. Just check the comments.

There is no way the Corbett Administration is going to give more money to Chester Upland without it having much more control over how that money is spent. To unconditionally bail out CU now without getting that control would be political suicide for Corbett. It would show his administration can be rolled. Other financially-troubled school districts (aren't they all?) will make similar demands on state taxpayers.

When the federal government bailed out private financial institutions during the 2008 crisis, the uproar from taxpayers was deafening. And yet, that money was paid back promptly and with interest. There is no such chance of that happening in Chester or with any other school district. Any money sent to a school district gets spent immediately and then more is asked for. That's what happened with all the federal "stimulus" money that came to Pennsylvania. It went to protecting public employees (i.e. teachers, cops, firemen, etc.) from the sort of layoffs being felt in the private sector. Well, that money is gone. It was spent under the Rendell Administration. Now in comes Corbett having to deal with the mess left behind. (Sound familiar?)

I don't know how this will be "resolved." But the days of school districts and teachers unions being able to pressure and buy governors and state legislatures into lavishing them with more and more money are quickly coming to an end.

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