This just in from Pittsburgh, where common sense triumphs!
Kathy M. Newman, an English professor and education activist in Pittsburgh, sent this message about yesterday’s school board election:
In Pittsburgh yesterday voters delivered a resounding message that they support the broad platform of education justice for the Pittsburgh Public schools.
This platform includes: Community Schools—schools which provide wrap-around, nutrition and psychological services to needy children during the school day and beyond, restorative justice rather than discipline and punish, more resources for nurses, librarians and counselors, a push back against over-testing, and a district budget that is determined by what students need to succeed rather than austerity, closing schools, and right-sizing. This platform was developed by Great Public Schools Pittsburgh, a coalition of labor organizations, faith based organizations, community organizations, and parent groups, all of whom were involved in grassroots campaign efforts—door-knocking, phone-banking, fundraising, and poll watching, in each of these school board races.
Each of the four school board candidates who ran on this platform won the Democratic primary nomination, and they are all but assured to win in the fall, and to begin serving on the school board in late 2015.
The first winning candidate, Dr. Regina Holley, is from Pittsburgh’s School Board district 2, a district that includes the rapidly developing neighborhoods of East Liberty and Lawrenceville. Holley is a retired African American Pittsburgh Public School principal and teacher with a distinguished record as an educator, has served on the board since 2011. She ran uncontested.
The most hotly contested race was in Pittsburgh’s affluent East End, where a revered long-time school board member, Bill Isler, was stepping down. The education justice movement coalesced around school board candidate Lynda Wrenn, a Pittsburgh Public School parent with 4 children who are attending or who have graduated from Pittsburgh Public schools. Wrenn also holds an MA in education and has served on several district task forces over the last 10 years. Wrenn won by a wide margin against Kirk Burkley, a bankruptcy and real-estate lawyer who promised to be a strong advocate for charter schools and to keep a tight lid on the district’s budget on behalf of tax payers.
In the South Hills area of Pittsburgh a young woman, Moira Kaleida, mother of two and married to a school teacher, won against her opponent, a public school parent, Tracy Link. Moira has been active in Great Public Schools, and will be a strong voice for increasing equity and education justice on the new school board.
On Pittsburgh’s North Side a young African American, Kevin Carter, only 26 years old, defeated his opponents, Rosemary Moriarty, a retired school principal and, Patricia Rogers, a legislative aid and former Juvenile substance abuse supervisor. Carter is the founder and CEO of the Adonai Center for Black Males, a nonprofit that helps at-risk youth move from high school to college or trade school, and from higher education to the workplace. Carter, like each of the other winning school board candidates, ran a grassroots campaign on the platform of equity and education justice.
We are smiling and celebrating today in Pittsburgh! Maybe the education reformers thought that Pittsburgh was so full of Gates money and Broad graduates that we were a “safe city” for them. No longer!!!! The progressives have helped to elect a school board that sees poverty and inequality as the biggest challenges faced by our schools, and who see education justice as the solution!