Robin Gilchrist may be living up to his namesake, the red robin that bravely appears on a cold wintry day as a symbol of a spring bringing relief.
This Robin Gilchrist, who until State Sen. LeAnna Washington lost her seat in the primary past, could only chirp away with few listeners. Today, he has hopes of convincing the Republicans listening to him, as well as some of the more-conservative Democrats in the 4th Senatorial Dist., to vote for him in November.
Some of his most-telling points include the fact he reports “157 failing schools in Philadelphia for the 2013-2014 school year, as reported by the Dept. of Education. That is a failure Art Haywood (his Democratic opposition) cannot fix with his proposal to spend even more money while opposing school vouchers. Last year, the state legislature approved nearly $10 billion in state funding for PreK-12 public education, an all-time high. In addition, total funding continues to exceed $14,000 per student. The Democrat party, which has controlled Pennsylvania’s 4th Senatorial Dist. for 70 of the past 79 years, owns this failure of our education system.”
He further charges, “For Democrats like Art Haywood, who is proposing a 15% increase in education spending, there is never enough money. Recently, the Cheltenham school board voted for a 3.29% tax increase, which mainly covers salary increases, pension payments and the healthcare costs of its employees – not improving education. It should be enough that salaries and benefits already represent over 70% of the education budget.
“It is common for Democrat school-board members to ignorantly attack charter schools as ‘failures’ and Art Haywood wants to eliminate charter-school funding. However, the facts show many charter schools provide excellent education at a fraction of the cost of public schools.”
Gilchrist charges his opponent, a Cheltenham Township Commissioner, ignores historical results showing eliminating charter-school funding and spending more money on public education do not equal better education. He says even after Pennsylvania increased funding by 3.7%, school performance declined.
He is also blasting Haywood’s and Democrat-controlled education policies, Cheltenham School District graduation rates fell from 85th in 2007 ( 96.6%) to 117th ( 89.9%) in the state in 2013 – a 6.7% decline in six years. According to the latest Public Citizens for Children & Youth report, Cheltenham School District is 4th in per-pupil spending, yet 16th of 21 Montgomery Co.districts in graduation. By comparison, Abington is 15th in spending and 11th in graduation.
Gilchrist observed, “Years of nearly uncontrolled spending and little accountability has created a huge burden for taxpayers. However, with better legislation, we can provide quality education at a reasonable price.”
Gilchrist supports commonsense solutions to the perpetual issue of school reform, by holding school-board members, administrators and teachers’ unions accountable for educational excellence and fiscal responsibility.
Having had been fed by the hand of labor for three generations, Robin and his family both support and recognize the importance of workers to maintain the ability to collectively bargain. However, he says, “these contracts, which are fully funded by tax dollars, have grown to overreaching proportions beyond what is fair, reasonable, or even attainable by a property tax model.”
Gilchrist supports school choice; giving parents the freedom to choose the best educational options for their children. Robin is committed to making sure more dollars reach the classrooms and he strongly states that this can be done without tax increases but by developing performance-based compensation and benefit packages that have increased levels of cost-sharing so as to insure good teachers will be in our children’s classrooms.
The 42-year-old registered nurse affirms, “I’m not an attorney like Haywood but I am held to the same standards of conduct consistent with the Code of Ethics and the law in the political arena and I am held to an even higher code of Ethics as a Registered Nurse.”
Gilchrist continued,” The law is the law and when you demonstrate your lack of respect of the law to those you mean to represent, it becomes apparent that you just summed up how you will represent them.”
In the filing of financial-interest statements, Gilchrist charged Haywood with late filing – a charge Haywood flung back at Gilchrist. But Gilchrist, claiming his filing is now in, said, “It’s one thing to behave in a certain way while in the public eye, but the true measure of one’s integrity is doing the right things while no one is looking. Haywood failed to take ownership of his mistake and instead attempted to defame my character to draw attention away from his failure.”
Gilchrist stated,” This is not the representation the people deserve.”