PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Tom Wolf highlighted support for public education with a tour of a local school.
Wolf has made funding education a hallmark of his campaign, criticizing Governor Corbett repeatedly for cutting spending on education.
Wolf political ad: “Tom Corbett cut a billion dollars from our schools.”
Now Corbett has shot back.
Corbett political ad: “Tom Wolf and his special interest groups have spent millions trying to mislead you that I cut education spending.”
Corbett says that spending cuts came when President Obama’s federal stimulus program came to an end. The state lost federal money that Governor Rendell had pumped into education and Corbett no longer had those funds available.
After Wolf completed his tour of the Canonsburg Middle School, KDKA political editor Jon Delano asked him directly:
Delano: “Governor Corbett says that it was President Obama who made the cut. Is it fair to blame him?”
Wolf: “If I’m a breadwinner in a family and I’m spending my overtime on food, and my overtime hours are cut, is it fair for me to say, ‘I haven’t really cut — we’re just not going to eat food anymore.’”
Wolf says it’s a matter of priorities. He says Corbett could have tried to replace that federal money with money from a tax on natural gas drilling, but Corbett didn’t.
“I don’t want to get into the weeds on the math, but it doesn’t matter where the money came from,” says Wolf. “That money no longer goes into education. My definition — that’s a cut.”
Corbett insists when it comes to state money, he increased education funding.
Corbett political ad: “Increasing funding every year to its highest level ever.”
Wolf says that’s not what school districts see.
“We’ve lost tens of thousands of educators since he’s been governor. We have bigger class sizes. There are fewer services.”
Wolf’s tour of the middle school allowed him to ask school officials lots of questions and was no surprise.
With education being the number one or two issue in this race for governor, Wolf wanted to go back to school today.
But the question is — are public schools really a place for politics?
It’s hardly the first time a politician has visited a school.
Governor Corbett addressed students and parents at Mt. Lebanon High School earlier this year, and schools frequently serve as back-drop for public pronouncements.
Wolf said he went to school to learn, and it was the media’s presence that changes the dynamic.
“A campaign at its best is an effort to get information. I’m trying to learn more about things that I think can help the commonwealth,” noted Wolf.
“Came to a good school like this to say, how can we learn from this. So in a democracy, I’m actually trying to learn. You’re here, so that makes it political.”
Of course, the media was there because the Wolf campaign invited media, KDKA political editor Jon Delano questioned Canon-McMillan School District Superintendent Michael Daniels
Delano: “Does it worry you having a politician come to the school just weeks before an election?”
Daniels: “Well, we were careful to make sure that it was simply a tour and not something that would turn into a political sort of thing where we were endorsing a candidate. So, no, not at all.”
And Daniels says he’d love to show off his school to Corbett or anyone else.
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