Time for School! These 9 Players Will Reform Public Education. Class 1 of 3

Daycare. A summer camp. A detention facility.

How do we make sure that the children being dropped off by parents and other guardians at these urban public schools are being offered greater blessings? Who do we reach out to if we are agitated that all these kids need to be made ready to take on the world?

Here is a list of who else in Pittsburgh is struggling to accomplish that here, on a grand scale. Grab these levers according to taste…

1. PPS aka Pittsburgh Public Schools:  Managers

Led by Superintendent Linda Lane. They are in charge, they have their views, and they are on some clocks…

Still, the board does not want to close more schools. “I still have an obligation as the superintendent to talk to them about things I think we need to do. I still do. They can say no. That’s their call.” (P-G, Eleanor Chute)

The financial horror is presented today much as it was under Mark Roosevelt, another Broad academic recruited to Pittsburgh in 2005 amidst high hopes. In 2011, Lane stepped up into the Superintendency after Roosevelt’s departure. The School Board has not passed local tax increases exceeding .2 mils, and the Commonwealth and Union have stood similarly silent. Our superintendents have turned instead to facilities management. Today’s Pittsburgh still has a residential population half that of the global boomtown-era Pittsburgh of threescore and more years ago. And today, more schooling options exist for those of at least middle-class ways and means.

28,000 kids attend Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Roosevelt lost any hope of political buy-in on a comprehensive schools closures strategy not long after he shuttered Schenley High School (a diverse, successful, traditional liberal arts academy) with all the finesse of a Joint Military battalion taking out a hospital in the way of a new rail line.

East hills schools like Westinghouse and others suffered in upheaval of new re-configurations. The new University Prep in the Hill meandered. Test scores, grades and graduation rates continue coming in mixed across the district.

Linda Lane stepped up amid all that, sticking to the game plan, providing stability where she can and failing to make progress or breach stalemates where she can’t. Having lasted as long in the role of Superintendent as her predecessor and longer in total in the District, Lane’s contract continues through June 2016.

Before that horn sounds, the contract with district teachers will come up for renegotiation, partnerships with philanthropic reformers could crumble, and a new annual budget will be forged. There is a lot PPS principals and administrators are charged with, so they should be a great source of insight, direction and encouragement.

2. The School Board:  Overlords

It is having an election!

Pittsburgh’s nine-member volunteer School Board approves or rejects business presented by the PPS Administration, sometimes alters it, and occasionally charges it with its own tasks.

Just less than half of registered Pittsburgh voters get the opportunity to elect School Board members this spring. Remember, this is the City, so Democrats only…


  • District 2 residents along the Allegheny out east has an incumbent in former teacher and principal Dr. Regina Holley, who appears by all measures to be reigning supreme.
  • District 4 in the more prosperous East End features an open seat, pitting teaching scholar and marketer Lynda Wrenn against bankruptcy attorney and former City Planning board member Kirk Burkley. The space has been vacated by Bill Isler, a nonprofit administrator and since 1999 a School Board budget hawk.ds2plans
  • District 6 to the South sees Sherry Hazuda also stepping aside. All we have heard is that a “Brookline / Beechview” candidate is emerging with the blessings of shepherds in Progressive labor.
  • In District 8 in the Northcentral / Hill area, incumbent Mark Brentley’s heart has been bleeding since 1999. He too is thinking about stepping aside — but no definitive word yet. Brentley could return to find such challengers as Kevin Carter, Patricia Rogers, or Rosemary Moriarty. This district is being lashed by demand for more “school choice” measures, like vouchers for nonprofit and for-profit schools.

Will the next School Board be inclined to stay the courses when it meets in 2016? Or will it be pressured to tack in some other direction on the way up the mountain? In any event, School Board contests offer a cornucopia of opportunities for concerned neighbors to network.

Have we failed yet to talk enough about kids?

NEXT CLASS:  Players 3, 4 and 5 of nine:  Teachers, Watchdogs and Shepherds

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.