Friday, February 29, 2008

BPEP Press Release on School Board Decision to Shut Down Schenley High School

And we get local Pittsburgh school board press releases. This one is from BPEP. I predict that the majority white members of the school board will outvote the minority black members of the school board but I could be wrong. I also used to think you couldn't elect a black guy president so what do I know. Here's Tim and Celeste:

Superintendent Mark Roosevelt and Board President, Bill Isler

Board Members: Heather Arnet, Mark Brentley, Theresa Colaizzi, Jean Fink,

Sherry Hazuda, Bill Isler, Floyd McCrea, Thomas Sumpter, Randall Taylor

Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education

341 South Bellefield Street

Pittsburgh , PA 15213

Dear Superintendent Roosevelt, and Board President Isler, Members: Heather Arnet, Mark Brentley, Theresa Colaizzi ,Jean Fink, Sherry Hazuda, Bill Isler, Floyd McCrea, Thomas Sumpter, Randall Taylor

For many years, B-PEP, the Black Political Empowerment Project has been very concerned about and involved in the issues of reforming Pittsburgh Public Schools so that all of our children, in particular African American children receive a high quality education. Our involvement in school reform became even more heightened as a result of the announcement on October 31, 2007 that called for the closing of Schenley due to students and staff being exposed to asbestos where conditions were continuing to deteriorate and the cost to remediate was prohibitive. Well since that announcement we have learned that there are other options that can allow Schenley to stay open without ignoring safety and weighing the cost with other proposed building renovations. On October 31st we also learned of other high school reforms that didn’t come with as much details or public process that should have existed for such dramatic proposals to be successful.

Our position today has been influenced by attending many meetings, public hearings, information provided by the Superintendent, his staff and administration, Board members, PPS website, PA Department of Education, principals, teachers, students, parents, news media, concerned community members, in addition to independent building engineers, legal and finance experts. After weighing all of this, we respectfully request that board members Vote NO or table all the items regarding moving Schenley students separately and making expenditures to renovate other school buildings. We ask that you Vote NO or table all aspects of this proposed High School Reform plan and not move ahead with making any other expenditures until there is a comprehensive approach to programs that address the needs of all students associated with the 9 High Schools that failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress. Can you please share with us where you are with that? Maybe those plans are somewhere in the ever growing and changing documents connected to high school reform and we just don’t know where to look for it or maybe it was in the information you received between February 20th and today?

We agree with you and understand the fierce urgency of now to ensure that ALL of our children receive a high quality education, especially the many that have been denied that opportunity for so long. It is good to see the A+ Schools plans for community forums on high school reform beginning Thursday. In addition to this we must focus some of our energy on figuring out a way to reach and teach our students where they are at NOW. It will be a shame to use the excuse that we were not able to make any improvements for many of our students over the next couple of years because we spent so much time devoted to only discussing not so well laid out plans.

Respectfully submitted,

Tim Stevens, Chairman and Celeste Taylor, Vice-Chairperson

"Moving From Complaint To Possibility,
From Planning To Implementation"
The Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP)
Tim Stevens, Chairman
Celeste Taylor, Vice Chairperson
Phone: 412-758-7898
Web Site:
c/o Hill House Association, 1835 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Related: Everything you needed to know about "The Tyranny of the Majority". More about Lani Guinier here and she just published a new book and she's interviewed at Dollars and Sense about it.

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