Ben Hodge, a York County performing arts teacher, said last year that one of his students told her that her acting class was the only thing that kept her up every day and come at school.
At the start of the year, the high schooler had been shy and shy, he said. But Hodge saw her come out of her shell as she played three separate roles in a school play, an opportunity that boosted her confidence and taught her leadership skills.
It’s the kind of experience Hodge fears he’ll lose if GOP Sen. Doug Mastriano wins his gubernatorial bid this year and implements funding cuts that could jeopardize electives and force larger classes. .
“I am concerned for the 125 students who are currently enrolled in my performing arts electives that I currently teach,” Hodge said Wednesday at a press conference hosted by the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). “If those funds are cut, choices are often the first things to be done: music, art, dance, performing arts.”
An analysis of the PSEA — which Mastriano says is incorrect and based on misinterpretation — estimates that the candidate’s plan would cut annual public school funding by more than $12 billion and result in the estimated loss of about $119,000. Commonwealth jobs.
The association’s analysis builds on Mastriano’s comments in March about changing state student funding levels, now set at $19,000 per student.
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“I think instead of $19,000, we fund each student about $9,000 or $10,000, and then they can decide which school to go to: public school, private school, religious school, cyber school, or home school,” Mastriano said during the Altoona radio interview. .
The PSEA said this will result in a $29 million cut in school funding and a loss of 304 jobs for the Central York School District.
“Halving school funding would be devastating. Can you even imagine what a school would look like with half the teachers, half the staff and half the opportunities for our students? said association president Rich Askey at the press conference, one of about a dozen PSEAs held around the state this week to present their estimates.
But Mastriano accuses the union of picking the remark from his March interview and incorrectly extrapolating from it. The comment about funding $9,000 or $10,000 per student relates to just one element of his overall education plan, according to a rebuttal video released by the campaign.
“The syndicate has deceptively taken this element and represented it as its entire plan,” the video’s narrator said. “Except that’s not his plan.”
Mastriano’s website says that as governor he would “make sure public schools are well funded,” but he would also “fight like hell to give them the competition that will make them great.” His plan, the site says, would call for expanding school choice options so that “no child will ever be trapped in a failing school again.”
He also says he would try to eliminate property taxes, promising that if elected he would form a task force to work towards that goal.
However, the site offers few details on how it would achieve these policy goals. PEAS representatives said they repeatedly asked Mastriano for details of his plan but received no response.
“Senator Doug Mastriano told you who he was,” Askey said. “Please, for the sake of our students, believe it.”
The PSEA is backing Mastriano’s Democratic rival, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, in the Nov. 8 general election.