Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Statement to City Council from citizen about Schenley.

Kathy Fine reported to have made this statement to city council tonight at the public hearing:
Good evening City Council Members. Thank you for providing us an opportunity to voice our concerns regarding the upcoming vote on the Schenley High School closure. It has been a long eight months since Mark Roosevelt first announced his plan to closure this flagship of the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Although we realize that this entity is has no real jurisdiction regarding school district affairs, we felt that we needed to use this venue to shine a spotlight on the fact that the administration has had an advantage when it comes to framing this debate and that our viewpoints have not been clearly heard.

One point that is essential to make is that everyone in the “Save Schenley” movement is in favor of meaningful reform. We are not obstructionists. In fact, I have been dedicated to achieving progressive school board governance by working tirelessly to get first Patrick Dowd, your esteemed colleague, and then Heather Arnet elected to the school board. Ultimately, my work on these elections contributed to bringing Mr. Roosevelt to Pittsburgh. No one is here to tear the superintendent down. We want, no, need him to succeed for the sake of our children and for the sake of our city.

But just because we need a forward thinking, dedicated superintendent does not mean that parents, community members, school board directors or city leaders should be a rubber stamp for all of his efforts. Parent and community input is crucial to the success of reform on the scale that Mr. Roosevelt is proposing. That is all we are asking for, that Mr. Roosevelt allow us to be a part of creating a better public school system for our children.
Three, including Kathy, were also on PCNC TV's NightTalk, tonight. I didn't get home in time to watch.


winky said...

I must applaud Ms. Fine for the portion of her comments concerning Mr. Roosevelt. To outside observers some Pittsburghers might seem to be too willing to show the superintendent the door. I had hopes that this time, in this city, we could show school discticts around the country that a superintendent can hold office for more than the three year average. As far as parent input goes, we would have anarchy if EVERY parent had a seat at the table.

Jen said...

There's a difference between every parent having a seat at the table and no parent having any real input though. The only people asked to be on committees (which are usually not announced until after they've selected members) are those that have already agreed.

Also, the process is going to the people first -- listening to all of them (even the crazy ones!) and *then* formulating a plan. That plan is introduced, it's explained how and where the parent and community input was important and where things had to be changed and why. Then compromises and changes are made when realistic problems are pointed out.

Voila -- not a plan that everyone agrees with, but a plan in which people can see their concerns addressed, their issues noted, even if they didn't get an individualized plan (which obviously can't happen) they can see how their part fits into the big picture of the whole district's needs.

Otherwise known as bottom up, rather than top down.

Part of the reason parents are seen as "the opposition" is that they only ask for input after their plans are complete. They're not looking for our input and when it's given they feel attacked and dig in their heels.