This is a topic area that I've been pressing for years. People vote with their feet. Plus, the biggest motivator isn't yourself. It isn't even your job. Rather, people of Pittsburgh are driven by their children. Their kids are the top priority. If people were told that they're kids would get an advantage if a parent lost an arm -- we'd see a lot of one-arm parents in Pittsburgh. People in our city would cut off their arm and give it to their child if they knew it would help the kid.
How we treat our kids, our recreational opportunities, our schools, our teachers, our young people and our engagement with them is huge. Few on Grant Street know this, value it, nor seem to get it.
When the consultants arrive on the South Side to ponder what is going on in the business district, they gave a report that didn't mention any of the following words: "babies, children, kids, families." Empty. I asked. Then they had something to say.
The Ongoing Abandonment of Pittsburgh Public SchoolsThe future of our city depends upon how we deal with our kids.
Like Pittsburgh’s population, the enrollment in City schools continues to slide dramatically. Census figures show the City losing 3,480 people from July 2005 to July 2006 to stand at 312,819. That represents a total drop of 21,700 (6.5 percent) since the 2000 census. Among comparably sized or larger cities only four had bigger percentage declines since 2005 and one of those is New Orleans whose loss was propelled by Katrina.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh school district (which includes Mt. Oliver) has seen enrollment fall from 38,560 in 2000 to 29,445 last year and is projected by the district to slide another 1,521 to 27,924 for the school year about to get underway. Thus, the total enrollment falloff has reached 10,636, marking a 27.6 percent plunge since the decade began. Some of the enrollment decrease can be attributed to the shifting of students to non-public schools. However, much of it reflects the departure from the City by families with school age children.
The future of our city also depends upon how we handle liberty and freedom.
The combination of those two important concepts, with a touch of technology, diversity, open ways, smart policies and democracy can lead to Pittsburgh's revival.