When Gov. Tom Corbett receives a Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to the arts and education at Pittsburgh Opera headquarters Saturday evening, there will be protesters outside who think the award is "ill-conceived." Kathy M. Newman, Carnegie Mellon University English professor and mother of a second-grader and soon-to-be kindergartener at Pittsburgh Linden, said the $1 billion cut by the governor over the last two years has crushed art and music education across the state.
While some cuts may be necessary, said Newman, the depth and breadth of Corbett's cuts are like a "nuclear bomb" in the state's public school system, especially when the state could raise revenue in other ways. "It's not taxing Marcellus Shale. It's not closing the Delaware loophole which allows companies like Giant Eagle to register in Delaware and not pay state taxes. I don't want revenue being raised at the cost of my child's and the next generation's education."
Newman said the Pittsburgh Opera's award has had the effect of uniting parents across the state, but the protesters want the governor and the state legislators who make education decisions to be aware of parents' widespread "frustration and despair."
The Pittsburgh Opera responded to the planned protest with the following statement. "This award recognizes both of their long-term records of public service and support of the arts through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Mrs. Corbett has served on the PCA board for 10 years and now chairs the agency; Governor Corbett oversees the budget. PCA funding is instrumental to our ability to provide opera education to 20,000 area educators and school children, free community programs such as our Brown Bag concerts and Opera Up Close, and to keep our starting ticket price at $10. PCA is a significant funder of the arts statewide, not just for us, and we truly appreciate its longstanding support."