Of failed schools & Peduto’s seriousness

Of failed schools & Peduto’s seriousness

The abject failure of public schools in the City of Pittsburgh has been laid bare yet again.

Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic has upended life as most had known it. That includes the education of our children.

But we are forced to place quotations marks around “education” when referencing Pittsburgh Public Schools. That’s because the district has failed far too many students for far too long.

And, tragically, academic performance in some key metrics continues to slide. Despite grand plan after grand plan to “fix” the problems.

Sadly, failure begets failure. As is the case with the district’s decision to give passing grades to all students for the fourth quarter grading period. That is, no student will receive a score below 70 percent, no matter what.

As the Tribune-Review reported it, “Grading guidelines were adjusted to avoid penalizing students with unequal access to remote learning technology.”

“The grading guidelines are designed to hold students harmless,” said David May-Stein, chief of school performance. “Not all kids are going to be able to do this effectively to where learning can be accurately measured.”

So, all students will be passed along to the next grade level, where the troubles for those failing will only be compounded. That’s not a “policy,” that’s a train wreck of a travesty.

Despite dire budget projections because of the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Pittsburgh still has not broached employee layoffs.

At the same time, it has been pleading with the federal government for bailout money.

But as the Allegheny Institute’s Jake Haulk and Eric Montarti noted last week (in Policy Brief Vol. 20, No. 14) – and it’s worth repeating here —  “Asking for $127 million in federal or state government aid before layoffs, spending cuts or use of … reserves is likely to be a non-starter.”

Clearly, the city is going to have to show it is serious about changing the way it operates.

But past being prologue, that will be quite the challenge.

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