Council Once Came to Pittsburgh, Too

The Council of Great City Schools, partnering with the American Institute for Research, have identified what they see as critical factors in bettering the condition of urban school districts and performance on math and reading assessments. By focusing on leadership, goal setting, developing curriculum, professional development and teacher quality, and follow up monitoring of implementation, schools in Atlanta, Boston, and Charlotte saw improvements in fourth and eighth grade scores.

Pittsburgh obviously was not included in the research sample, but the District was studied by the Council way back in 2006. We wrote about the study and noted that while the Council had some good recommendations they missed a great opportunity by not doing a simple calculation on per-pupil spending. Had they done that, they would have noticed that Pittsburgh Public Schools was already well out of line with the cities they used for a comparison group (Boston was in there, too) and that was when the PPS was spending just over $16,700 per student. That number has grown considerably since then. We also recommended that there be accountability for teachers based on results, something that sounds incredibly empty given the teachers’ union rejection of basing last week’s-and any other-layoffs on anything but seniority and credentials. It is also worth noting that the Council found that PPS lacked the common vision between the board, staff, and community to solve the immediate problems.