I got some very interesting calls and emails today from public school folks. It is worth noting that many of the calls and emails came from school employees while on taxpayers time and using taxpayer funded equipment. Certainly, any citizen has the right to address their elected officials, but using public resources to advance their personal agenda is inappropriate, unethical and perhaps illegal. Many of the people who pay their salaries and bought that equipment do not share their views. The Senate Education Committee today passed Senate Bill 1 with a vote of 9 to 2, showing bi-partisan support. The bill is scheduled to be voted on by the full Senate tomorrow. Much of what I heard from public school employees today was about how well the current system works. It is important for people to understand that statewide our students come in 42nd out of the 50 states in SAT scores, we are in the bottom third in PSSA testing (perhaps as low as 45th), we are first or second in what we spend per pupil in the classroom, we lead the country in teacher strikes and pay school employees more than most any other state. The schools have received hundreds of millions of additional dollars from the state over the past eight years, they received billions in federal stimulus money, and the majority of schools continued to raise taxes on the property owners back home. The 2011 PSSA scores show that 26% of Pennsylvania’s students test at or below the basic level in reading and 23% test at or below the basic level in math. Meanwhile, over 99% of teachers and administrators receive a “satisfactory” evaluation annually. This system desperately needs to be changed. Our children deserve better.