More ‘broth-spoiling’ from The Pittsburgh Promise

More ‘broth-spoiling’ from The Pittsburgh Promise

Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) has been an embarrassing failure for years. And now these educational ne’er-do-wells are getting a misguided assist from The Pittsburgh Promise.

It’s no secret that the city’s public school system is one expensive mess. Long before the coronavirus pandemic hit, failure was the norm, not the exception, for a large majority cohort of students in too many fundamental metrics.

When Covid-19 hit a year ago, things only got worse. A combination of even deeper educratic malpractice and organized labor extortion – “We won’t go back to work until every teacher and staffer has had both vaccine doses!” – has kept students out of the classroom since last March.

According to a radio report, the PPS board of education is discussing keeping students out of their physical classrooms for the rest of this school year. Clearly, the union is in charge.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that an untold number of PPS students relegated to “remote learning” have not been heard from in nearly a year. A Pittsburgh city councilman suggests that fully 50 percent of the district’s black students have been AWOL from any instruction.

And now, The Pittsburgh Promise (now privately funded but talk of moving to a publicly funded model never far off) has decided to further enable failure.

It announced on Wednesday that it will drop the attendance and grade-point average minimums for its student scholarships for the Class of 2021.

Standards that previously didn’t even approach rigorous now will be made laughable.

Prior to the pandemic, PPS students could receive a scholarship with a 2.0 GPA and an attendance record of 90 percent.

Allow us to state this in a manner in which most people will understand:

College “scholarships” were being reward for decidedly average academic performance – a C – and included students who had missed 10 percent of their instructional class days (18 days for a regular 180- day school year).

Now, it clearly appears, the concept of “scholarship” is to include those with Ds and even Fs and, stunningly, even “students” who disappeared in a prior school year. (That latter matter will depend on how the program defines (or redefines?) “enrolled,” we suppose.)

Said Saleem Ghubril, executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise:

“We encourage our students to keep pushing forward towards their post-secondary plans, and not let the circumstances of this year derail their future goals.”

We have a better suggestion:

The Pittsburgh Promise and its funders must put Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (which, ironically, was the first to donate to the program with a $10,000 check in 2006) on notice:

Get your acts together.

Stop promoting mediocrity (or worse) as “scholarship.”

Stop setting up marginal students (and now, apparently, even unsatisfactory or failed students) for failure in college.

Stop flooding community colleges with those same types of students that force such institutions to become repositories for remediation — a fifth or even sixth year of high school, if you will.

Stop kowtowing to the cartel that teachers’ unions are and, in the process, promoting not a climate of educational excellence but one of “equitable” entitlement and, yes, even extortion without consequences.

It once was written that public education always will be mediocre for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking usually is bad. Simply put, what Pittsburgh Public Schools has been serving too many students for too long is inedible.

The Pittsburgh Promise’s dumbing-down tactics will only encourage even more cooks to spoil even more broth, leaving students and taxpayers alike starving.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).