Tuesday, June 21, 2016

NOW is the time to "stay the course"

Testimony from Pam Harbin at yesterday's Public Hearing:

"Pittsburgh Public School students are in desperate need of a superintendent who is an experienced educator with a solid background in school transformation and who, like this board, rejects the status quo in our schools.  This elected school board hired Dr. Hamlet and I believe he is the right educator to lead our district and build the schools we know our children deserve.  #just #equitable  

Immediately after Dr. Hamlet was voted in unanimously by this board, I personally spoke to some of you.  You explained that Dr. Hamlet was the top candidate because he stood out as someone who understands that education is built on relationships and respect, not business transactions.  I couldn’t agree more.

Shortly after Dr. Hamlet was announced, the usual suspects, those in favor of corporate style reforms like Teach for America, school closings, and other disruptive reforms that have failed our students, came out to say that the search should start over.  

Don’t do it.  You selected a qualified educator with impressive gains in the areas identified and prioritized by students, parents, teachers and community members.  You are a democratically elected school board who is accountable to us and Dr. Hamlet is accountable to you.  Outside interests believe that their money and influence should give them power over our public school system. But they are not educators so they must stop dictating education policy, interfering with democracy, and giving money only when it’s accepted with strings attached.
Stay the course.  We have serious problems that need to be addressed before the start of the school year.  For one, we don’t have a Director of Special Education, a critical position that has been vacant since Jan 30, 2016 - there are more than 4,000 students with disabilities in the district.  There is work to do!

The stakes are high.  When people ask me why I am so adamant about my support for the school board and Dr. Hamlet, I tell them that a minority of students will be fine with any superintendent--they were fine under Roosevelt and Lane and they will be fine under Hamlet or someone else.  But, my son and many other students were NOT fine under Roosevelt and Lane.
Special education was severely neglected in the past 2 administrations.  To get my son a proper education, I had to take legal action.  You chose Dr. Hamlet because he understands these challenges and has the background to address them.

A few months ago a Pittsburgh influencer told me that the “17 most powerful and influential people in Pittsburgh” disagreed with the communities vision of school improvement.  

Who are these powerful outside interests? All I know is they DO NOT have the right to take democratic control of our schools away from us!  They DO NOT have the right to say that we shouldn’t have community schools where students, parents and teachers will finally have the power to influence policy and practice in their school.  

We have community wisdom! We know what is stopping our children from learning!  And, this elected board is willing to work with us, and willing to hold Dr. Hamlet accountable to create the schools all of our children deserve!  Let’s do this!"


Anonymous said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

Amen! I couldn't have said it better myself.