This Steve Esack piece is a trove of important political lessons and recent history and you really just need to go read the whole thing.
One more point to make about the issue is that there’s a weird idea out there that if Tom Corbett had only done a better job of selling his education cuts, or seeming more sorry about them, he wouldn’t be so hated right now.
The reality is that parents just want the money and they don’t care who took it away. The number they care about is how much their local school is getting. That is the root of Corbett’s political problem, and no amount of focus group messaging was ever going to fix that:
But Baldino said parents did not care how the $1 billion disappeared. All they know is that they were seeing favorite teachers laid off, class sizes balloon, music and arts eliminated, and fees instituted to play sports.
Meanwhile, they were seeing property taxes rise and state college tuitions and fees swell.
The view is that, if the federal stimulus aid to states was going away (and it shouldn’t have), then it was state government’s responsibility to at least hold total education spending per pupil constant, and ideally keep raising the share of state funding just as the “costing out” formula planned.