Protest against the Elimination of the Pennsylvania Governor's Schools of Excellence (PGSE)

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    Governor Rendell and the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives
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To the Honorable Governor Edward Rendell, members of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, and State Senate:

We, the undersigned, protest Governor Rendells proposal for the elimination of funding to the Pennsylvania Governors School of Excellence.

Since the inception of the Pennsylvania Governors School for the Arts in 1973, and the addition of subsequent Schools beginning in the early 1980s, over 19,000 students have entered this needed program and emerged inspired and changed, ready to reach further than they previously imagined.

The PGSE application process is merit-based and open to any student within the Commonwealth, and accepted students are welcomed to the programs on full scholarship. The statewide approach serves to prepare these ambitious future leaders for a world of opportunity and challenges by building diversity in students' geographical, economic, ethnic, and political perspectives. Access to these unique learning environments opens the students minds and often inspires them to seek fields of study that might never have occurred to them. For those who have already chosen their future field of study, the resources at these schools nurture their abilities and improve the skills that they need to be successful in their chosen specialties.

Partly due to the programs influence, PGSE alumni have gone on to remarkable achievements in their fields. Consider the following list of notable alumni examples:

Kevin Bacon (Arts 74)
Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones (Arts 79)
Aaron Jay Kernis, Composer and 1998 Music Composition Pulitzer Prize Winner (Arts 75)
Mark Oswald, Principal Baritone for the Metropolitan Opera (Arts)
Zsolt Bessko, Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary for Guaranty Bancorp and Guaranty Bank and Trust Company (Intl Studies 85)
Matthew Shafer, Vice President of Investments for UBS Financial Services (Intl Studies 85)
Michael Zemble, CFO of Victory International (Intl Studies 86)
Dr. David Applegate, Sr. Science Adviser of Earthquake and Geological Hazards for the U.S. Geological Survey (Intl Studies 84)
Timothy Browne, Senior Trial Attorney for the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Intl Studies 84)
Brenden Varma, Spokesman for the United Nations (Intl Studies 93)
Joe Savage, Program Manager for the City of Philadelphia (Intl Studies 90)
Adriana Bida, Program Officer for World Federation of Hemophilia (Intl Studies 97)
Jasmine Oglesby, Prevention Case Manager at the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia (Intl Studies 93)

However, alumni impact is just as relevant in their home communities as they conduct leadership projects after the programs, in their colleges as they develop outstanding scholarship in their fields, and in the state of Pennsylvania as they emerge as its next leaders.

In short, these schools offer life-changing experiences that fundamentally influence the alumnis future careers and decisions in life. Ask any alumnus/alumna whether that is true and you will likely hear a resounding YES!!

Education is one of the most precious things we can give to the youth. It is also one of the most needed, as it prepares the next generation to fix the problems of the past, and deal with the problems of the present. Now, more than ever, we need strong leaders to do the work that needs to be done, so it would be unwise to eliminate those programs that help create the very leaders we need.

For these reasons and more, we the undersigned, formally protest the proposal to eliminate funding for the Pennsylvania Governors Schools of Excellence.

Many of the protestors have been discussing and compiling solid and possible suggestions to trim rather than eliminate the PGSE programs. For the good of the future, discussion on a compromise is far more desirable than the complete dissolution of PGSE. We encourage you to open a dialogue with supporters of the program who have been reaching out to the Pennsylvania legislature, in order to explore all options to ensure that these important programs continue to support Pennsylvania's future.