Monday, December 17, 2018

PA: The Good News You May Have Missed

Pennsylvanians may remember our old buddy John Eichelberger, GOP State Senator from Blair County. He ran the Senate Education committee, and... well, he was not a friend of public education.

Eichelberger was an upstart candidate, running against the GOP establishment and goosed along by the infamous late-night legislator pay raise. His attacks on teachers and public ed were many. He was the DeVos point man to try pushing vouchers, trashing the teacher pensions, and, in one of his more inspired moments, trying to make teacher sick days something that would have to be negotiated in local contracts (because teachers don't really need or deserve them anyway). For good measure, he also once suggested that Philly was wasting money by trying to get its (mostly black) students to go to college.

This frickin' guy.
Lots of Pennsylvanians have heard stories. One of my own board members came back from Harrisburg with a story of Eichelberger replying to a request for better financial support by snapping that they had already given enough money to "you people."

It was a busy election year, so that's my excuse for not noticing till someone just pointed it out to me that Eichelberger's time in Harrisburg is done. Done done done finito doneso.

He was actually primaried out in what has to be at least partially an act of political vengeance; Eichelberger trashed the Shuster family to get in office, and they helped back his primary opponent, who rode into the spot on a big pile of dark money. That opponent, physician John Joyce, walked to a massive victory over the Democratic challenger in the general election.

Now, Joyce is no prize; he's about as right-winged as you can get. But here's one thing about him-- he has no particular intertest in education. His list of campaign issues doesn't even include it.

We are actually in a period of mystery and suspense in PA education policy. Both the Senate and House education chairs are up for grabs, and nobody seems to feel particularly grabby. Nor apparently are there any obvious choices for the job. The one thing we know for sure-- whoever it is, it won't be John "No Money for Public Education" Eichelberger. Stay tuned, campers.


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