No one booed.
But the graduates of Millersville University didn't exactly cheer Gov. Tom Corbett either Saturday.
In introducing Corbett as the class of 2013's commencement speaker, Michael Warfel, chairman of the Council of Trustees, explained the difficult fiscal conditions the governor has faced, highlighting the state's looming pension crisis. He noted that Corbett has signed two budgets on time.
Warfel didn't mention education funding.
That has been a major cause of contention on campus since Corbett was announced as the speaker. Students and faculty questioned how approprate it was for the governor who twice proposed massive funding cuts for state universities like Millersville to send graduates off into the world. Petitions were signed and there was talk of protest.
As Corbett stepped to the microphone, about a dozen students turned their chairs away from the stage. Early in his speech, the governor asked the graduates to stand. A few dozen more remained seated. When it became clear Corbett wanted them to wave to their parents in the stadium, some stood, some waved from their seats, some sat motionless. One student had "Game of Loans" written on her mortarboard.
About half of the faculty members wore yellow pins reading "I support public education." A few of the professors turned their chairs as well.
The black armband protest that had been discussed on campus in the days and weeks leading up to graduation did not appear to materialize.
Cobrett's speech itself was a generic May recitation. [emphasis mine]An empty speech from an empty man - no surprise. Corbett has been terrible, not only for Philadelphia, but for the entire state. He took piles of money from edu-pirate Vahan Gureghian, then turned a blind eye as Gureghian destroyed Chester's schools. He's allowed cyber-charters to fester across Pennsylvania, costing the taxpayers millions and children their educations. His legacy is an approval rating that's in the toilet.
And yet corporatist governors around the country - Republican and Democratic alike - seem to think the money they get from plutocrats will offset the voters' growing disgust with the anti-public school agenda. They're hoping against hope that Chris Christie is the rule, and not the exception.
Take it from a Jersey boy, folks: if Superstorm Sandy hadn't hit, Christie would be in trouble, and we'd have a contested Democratic primary to decide who gets to go after him. Christie's re-elect numbers were 44 percent before the storm; they're 71 percent after. Why were they so bad before? Because everyone was tired of his anti-teacher, anti-public schools schtick.
I suppose Corbett could hope he gets his own natural disaster...
Trust me, Tom: you need a superstorm to save you!