Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday 12/19 Pittsburgh Post Gazette coverage of Transition Team

Corbett's team jingles with donors
Two-thirds of members have financial ties to campaign
Sunday, December 19, 2010
HARRISBURG -- Gov.-elect Tom Corbett's transition team has a lot more to offer than expertise on energy policy, welfare reform and education programs.

Nearly 19 percent of the $24.5 million the Shaler Republican’s gubernatorial campaign spent on the primary and general elections was contributed by members of his transition team. Transition team members who contributed the most to Gov.-elect Tom Corbett’s campaign:

Corbett transition committees
Post-Gazette, Sunday, December 19, 2010
A look at the composition of key Corbett transition committee membership indicates a tilt toward insiders -- lobbyists, lawyers and industry types.  Transition team members were told not to talk to the media, so their take on the direction of the committees was not available.

(Here's the Education section from the above article)

Tom Corbett for the most part bypassed the traditional K-12 education community and turned to charter school and voucher supporters, attorneys, former Ridge administration workers and others for his education transition committee.

The panel is co-chaired by University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and Joel Greenberg of Susquehanna International Group.

The committee includes three top postsecondary executives and several college trustees, as well as one member of the library community, Cynthia Richey, director of the Mt. Lebanon Public Library.

The list of 34 members does not include a single active teacher, district school board member, district administrator or staff member of the state's two major teacher unions and Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

The list does, however, includes two who are former school district superintendents -- one of whom had a top post at the Pennsylvania State Education Association -- and another who has past K-12 teaching experience out-of-state.

Charter school advocates dominate the committee. Charter schools, including cyber charter schools, are public schools. Students do not pay tuition, but school districts pay a fee set by the state for each resident who attends.

The REACH Foundation, which advocates for school vouchers, tax credits, charter schools and home schooling. has a strong presence -- of the 12 members of the REACH executive committee and board, five are on the committee.

The panel has four other charter school advocates, including three charter school operators and a prominent national figure in the charter school movement, Jeanne Allen, who founded the Center for Education Reform in Washington, D.C. The charter school operators include Vahan Gureghian, a wealthy campaign contributor who started the Chester County Charter School and is also a co-chair on the transportation committee.

The list, counting some of the members of various boards, includes at least six attorneys as well as several employees of lobbying firms.

Two legislators were named to the committee, state Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, Republican chair of the House Education Committee; and state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, Republican chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Mr. Corbett has taken some criticism for naming Ana Puig, co-chair of the Kitchen Table Patriots, to the committee. The Pennsylvania Democratic Party accused her of hate speech.

Wythe Keever, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, declined to comment on the selections.

"The new governor elect has the right to talk to whomever he wants to talk to in transitioning to his new administration," Mr. Keever said.

Tim Allwein, assistant executive director of governmental relations for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, said, "I don't think it was a surprise that the composition of that team leans heavily toward cyber charter school operators and those who undoubtedly support the voucher issue." But, he said, "just under 90 percent of school-age children in Pennsylvania attend a public school. To totally ignore them, I thought was not the best decision."

Chart: Big Donors: Governor-Elect's Transition Teams
Post-Gazette, Sunday, December 19, 2010

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