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PGSS Letter-Writing Campaign Begins Now

posted Jan 16, 2012, 4:22 PM by Jeremy Hurwitz
Governor Corbett will soon be announcing his proposed budget for the year 2012. In our Board's previous meeting with Governor Corbett, both he and Ron Tomalis, the PA Secretary of Education, seemed extremely supportive of the Governor's Schools, and of PGSS specifically. We also have had ongoing calls with the Secretary and one of his deputies, who both hope that the Commonwealth will be able to help us in other ways. Now is your chance to join the chorus of voices. We want all those positively affected by PGSS to encourage Governor Corbett to include at least partial funding for PGSS in his proposed budget.

You can make the difference. Those of you who live in Pennsylvania, as potential voters, may have more "influence," but each and every one of you -- regardless of where you now live -- has a heartfelt message to send about the impact PGSS had on you. 

We are including a sample letter (copied below) written by Alfred Schnabel (PGSS 1994). Please either adapt the letter to fit your personal situation or write your own letter. Make sure to describe the impact of PGSS and what you have done since, especially anything related to Pennsylvania and/or STEM. The paragraph in blue below can most easily be changed to your own situation.

If all our letters arrive within the same few days, it will make the most impact.

You can simply click on the link and paste your adapted letter in:  

or send your letter snail mail to:
Governor Tom Corbett
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120

I am also including a sample letter for parents.  If your parents are not already on the parent e-mail list, please forward this sample to them. That letter might be the one that makes the difference. If you'd like me to send the cover parent letter directly to them, just send the e-mail address.

If you live in PA and would like to send a copy or a specific letter to your representatives as well, please go to:

Again, please send your letter in support of funding for PGSS with your personal reasons why to Governor Corbett at:

Thank you for your efforts,
Janet Hurwitz


Dear Governor Corbett:
I am writing to ask for your help to restore state funding of the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Sciences (PGSS).  I encourage you to include PGSS in grants and in the 2012 budget to re-open it for future students.  As you yourself have acknowledged, promoting and improving Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics (STEM) is a vital component of education reform.
As a former participant in the program, I can attest to the impact that it had on me.  While education reform often focuses, quite rightly, on students who are in danger of falling behind, it is important that the state not forget those of us who are “gifted”.  It is often assumed that people like us will “be all right.” 
The truth is, many of us faced our own unique struggles in school. Many of us attended schools that couldn't provide us with educational opportunities that matched our abilities.  We stood out academically, but felt apart from our classmates socially.  We were different at a time in our lives when differences are rarely celebrated or encouraged.
PGSS showed us that being different was good.  We thrived in an environment where, for the first time, we could really be ourselves.  We met people who shared similar interests.  To be smart was to be cool.  It was a thrill to meet people who were your intellectual peers.  PGSS transformed us; it transformed me.
Lectures and labs challenged us.  Team research projects taught us how to collaborate and work as a team.  Teachers and staff shared their passion for science and learning.  PGSS helped many of us decide to pursue a career in science or medicine.
[All PGSS alumni have gone on to college, often in Pennsylvania, and most have a graduate or professional degree.  We are doctors, teachers, engineers, lawyers and innovators.  Many of us continue to make our home in Pennsylvania, and we are grateful for the support the state gave us in PGSS. Pennsylvania taxpayers should be proud of the impact that PGSS has had on Pennsylvania's high school students.]
I believe that for Pennsylvania to thrive in the 21st century that we need to continue to provide opportunities like PGSS to Pennsylvania's students.  Encouraging the next generation of Pennsylvania leaders is an investment that will pay large dividends in the future.
Thank you for your consideration,

SAMPLE PARENT LETTER (written by Mary Ellen Kirby (Parent 1990))

Dear Governor Corbett:

My son’s participation in the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences on the Carnegie Mellon University campus over twenty years ago was an unprecedented opportunity and a truly life changing event. Having access to outstanding facilities, such as the Mellon Institute and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, as well as a distinguished faculty, and working in close collaboration with other equally capable and motivated students from across the Commonwealth provided a unique and unforgettable experience.

[This paragraph is where she wrote about her son's national merit scholarship in high school, about his attendance at a state university, and about what he has done since. PLEASE ADAPT THIS FOR YOUR SITUATION.]

One of the most pernicious educational fallacies is that “smart kids get it on their own.” These are the youngsters who need to be nurtured in the most stimulating and challenging academic environment we can provide, in a socially welcoming peer group. Challenging them above and beyond their high school experience is critical, especially when excellence in science and technology is a national priority.

While I appreciate the excruciating budgetary decisions you must make in these distressing economic times, I urge you to lend your support to the hundreds of alumni, faculty, parents and friends of the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences, who have raised more than half of the funding necessary to reinstate this exceptional educational opportunity for our Commonwealth’s brightest, most promising, and too often most isolated students. As we redouble our efforts in this new year, we look to you for a helping hand, not a hand-out, and look forward to your favorable consideration.

Parent of a PGSS [YEAR] Alum