Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Let's Keep Pittsburgh's Promise This Is No Time for the Pittsburgh Public Schools to Backtrack on Teacher Excellence

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Let's Keep Pittsburgh's Promise This Is No Time for the Pittsburgh Public Schools to Backtrack on Teacher Excellence

Article excerpt

Since its conception in 2006, we have been big supporters of the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program. From our perspective, it's an investment that's paying off. The Promise is working to stabilize Pittsburgh's population and bring children into city public schools. It's removing barriers to college and trade schools for all of the city's public school children, and it's forcing our school district to transform itself so that it is able to ensure that all children graduate and take advantage of the scholarship. In many ways, it's the most important thing going on in our community right now.

Although the Promise has provided over 4,700 children with scholarships for post-secondary education, we know that too many are unable to access it. We believe our schools and community should use every tool available to create the transformation in education that will enable all our children to go to college.

That's why we were dismayed when we read that one of those transformational tools, a $40 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help improve the feedback, training and support for teachers was at risk ("Teacher Evaluation Fight May Prove Costly," Jan. 12 Post-Gazette). With all the progress that we've made in the past few years, this fight is a distraction that takes the focus off changing a school system to prepare all students for college or vocational training. Most disturbing, from our perspective, it looks like the fight is over lowering the bar for what we can expect of our teachers, something we can ill afford to do if we are going to help students get ready for the rigors of post-secondary education.

Teachers' jobs are enormously complex and our investment in the Pittsburgh Promise is our way of showing that we believe in their ability to greatly move student achievement. …

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