Local teachers protested Governor Tom Corbett’s pre-kindergarten funding proposal outside his regional headquarters Monday.
The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers says Corbett’s proposal eliminates a line item that provides a quarter of the city’s early childhood education funding, or $5.3 million.
Corbett has defended his proposal, saying that although funding is down from last year, former Governor Ed Rendell used stimulus funds for education, and that money is no longer available.
But PFT President John Tarka says if stimulus dollars aren't available, the state should look elsewhere for the revenue it needs.
“We have to look aggressively at available sources of revenue, like Marcellus Shale, as an important way to address our financial shortenings,” says Tarka.
Pittsburgh Pre-K instructor Camille Taylor-Parrish says not only would children and families be hurt by the budget as proposed, but as many as 100 local teachers could lose work too.
"We have been called babysitters. We are not babysitters," says Taylor-Parrish. "
A recent Pittsburgh Public Schools study showed that pre-kindergarten programs helped students with both reading and math scores later in their educations.
The PFT says Corbett’s proposal would close half of Pittsburgh’s 100 early childhood classrooms, which enroll a total of more than 2,500 children.