Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Evermore Redux


Note the update on all things Braddock in Pittsburgh Magazine:Braddock Rising. It is a pale shadow of the earned media Braddock was getting a few years ago, but something. Still, you have to take with a grain a salt yet another headine of Braddock showing signs of life. (NYT even came in to do their own video once).  What really is really worth thinking about is that Tony Buba is now updating films he did on Braddock a quarter century ago.

The latest is the rose colored view... sort of. I note that Chris mostly stays away from what was the perpetual fiction that the decline of Braddock has someting to do with the decline of the steel industry in itself. We've been through that mythos repeatedly.  The article actually notes how the historic Braddock Library needed to be saved from demolition in the 1970s.  Note the timing if something needed saving 40 years ago.

It is painful to note that even developments since that article went to press bode ill for Braddock.  The article highlights what was the most concrete plan to date to bring new jobs to Braddock with the intended relocation of the Woodland Hills School District offices from Churchill.  Yet in news just a few days ago, that plan has already been cancelled. PG: Woodland Hills school board cancels plan for new offices.

But, not to be completely a nabob.  If you ask me the most exciting development in Braddock of late.  I have to admit I have yet to get in to see it myself, but there is a new museum down there I need to get to when it is open. Yes, I know. The location is technically North Braddock. Got it.

What I don't get at all is how little attention is being paid to the greater crime of late.  Nowhere else in the world would the deconstruction of a school district be so ignored.  Yet that is what is happening in Duquesne, PA where nobody wants to deal with the children soon to be left without a school district to care for them. Literally every child is about to be left behind. Just something that does not happen the developed world. Not much interest all around and even less media coverage? Not Braddock's school district I know, but just a stone's throw away. It is hard to take too much hagiography on the Mon Valley if that is the 'news' coming out of Duquesne.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Jason T. said...

"Nowhere else in the world would the deconstruction of a school district be so ignored. Yet that is what is happening in Duquesne, PA where nobody wants to deal with the children soon to be left without a school district to care for them. Literally every child is about to be left behind. Just something that does not happen the developed world."

It's pathetic and symptomatic of the dysfunction of local government in Pennsylvania. You'll recall something similar happened before, in Beaver County, when the Midland Borough School District was failing and no one else would accept their students.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midland_Borough_School_District

They now bus their high school kids to Ohio. Their one remaining school has fewer than 400 students.

James Carville was onto something with his infamous description of Pennsylvania. Only a truly backward state would allow entire school districts to fail. We have wonderful universities in Pittsburgh, but we're not doing a very good job of preparing our local students to enter those universities.

Instead, we leave crucial decisions up to local school boards who say, "I don't want to take those students from (Duquesne, Midland, wherever), it's not my problem."

We ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 5:53:00 PM  
Blogger Vannevar said...

It's an ugly thing: this wouldn't be happening if those were white kids in white school districts.

Beaver didn't want the (black) Midland kids in their white schools.

The biggest recent reform in PA school districts was the merger of Center and Monaca. Reform? It was a cynical move by Center to preclude having to merge with adjacent failing (black) Aliquippa.

The racism is western PA is astounding.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 7:13:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I don't think you can blame just western PA. They were offering $8,000/student. Pittsburgh Public Schools, which is admittedly not a pillar of efficiency, spends something like $20,000 per kid. This is a state-level funding problem, mostly.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 10:20:00 PM  
Anonymous DBR96A said...

Yeah, it's all about racism; never mind that I don't see anybody in western Pennsylvania complaining about any of the school districts with increasing Asian enrollments, let alone running away from them. There's no mass stampede out of the North Allegheny, Pine-Richland or Mount Lebanon Area School Districts, or even the Chartiers Valley School District, for that matter.

Truth is, many poor black communities have some degree of social dysfunction that a typical school district simply cannot compensate for. Too many "parents" in these communities simply don't give a shit about education, much less their own kids, who are either going to take after them and be hostile to the idea of learning anything, or be left twisting in the wind, knowing that something's wrong but never understanding exactly what it is. And in either case, the kids don't learn proper social or critical thinking skills to help them make the most of their potential.

The achievement gap among black schoolkids has nothing to do with the top end; the smartest black kids are just as smart as the smartest white or Asian kids. It's the bottom end that skews the averages down, and a school district becomes less desirable if it has a critical mass of kids with deadbeat parents who never bothered to teach them basic life skills. The problem with the Woodland Hills School District ain't the kids from Edgewood, Churchill or Forest Hills, all of which have a black middle class. It's many of the kids from Swissvale, Rankin and Braddock that bring it down. It's not even all poor kids either; there are plenty of poor families who are trying to make life better for themselves and their kids. At the very least, their kids will be upwardly-mobile and become part of the black middle class. The problem is the deadbeats, and unfortunately, there are enough of them in many of the poorest black communities to make them undesirable.

For that matter, take a look at the Gateway School District. It's the most diverse suburban school district in western Pennsylvania, with above-average shares of both black and Asian students. There's no mass stampede out by white families there either, and that's because the quality of education is still good. There's a growing black middle class in Monroeville. It's not like Penn Hills, which has experienced ghettoization in places. In fact, I'd venture that many of the black families in Monroeville have left Penn Hills behind. Middle-class black families are leaving the poor black school districts as well.

If I had to brainstorm a solution for poor black school districts, it'd be to have "tracking" in the poorer black school districts, starting in about fourth grade. Have a standard curriculum for the kids who have displayed good learning and social skills, and an alternative curriculum for the kids who have either learning disabilities or disciplinary problems. Also have a comprehensive meal plan for the kids with deadbeat parents -- I'm talking breakfast, lunch and dinner -- so they're not left scrounging for food. It's hard to learn or do homework with an empty stomach. For that matter, include cooking as both a class and an extracurricular activity so they can learn to cook their own meals if they have to, or even get a job as a cook or get into culinary school.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 12:27:00 AM  
Anonymous steveH said...

Amen Deborah. Finally someone who doesn't let the scourge of political correctness completely color their thinking. The problems of the underclass stem predominantly from the destruction of the family in these communities. All the money being thrown at fixing poor schools, communities, etc. will continue to be wasted until those communities take responsibility for their actions and start investing in a better life for their children. Until then, nothing will improve beyond the margins. It is a shame we now live in a society where if our views are deemed too "traditional", we are branded as racists, Neanderthals, or worse.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 9:48:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

So I have to say I hate the Carville quote, though he actually didn't come up with it.

I also note that the fault is hard to pass on to individual school districts. The core structure of local government in Pennsylvania creates this situation.

To be clear, what I just don't get... is just why nobody notices. I mean, this is not yet another story of social problems. A school district is going away and leaving children without anything to do. Duquesne, the borough turned 3rd class city, was created because of the mill that was created there. I don't think you can blame current elementary children for their school district being left without any tax base.

So the only recent news I saw was just in the hyperlocal Mckeesport news. I know there isn't a hockey puck involved, but ought not some public official be standing on their head or something.

I'd say all they need is a Myaor with tatoos, but that would not be fair of course. Braddock's children ARE going to have a school to go to. Of course that is only because of Federal intervention 30 years ago.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 5:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Show me something in Pittsburgh Magazine that isn't rose-colored or a couple years behind the curve (except perhaps for a few Rich Lord pieces).

Tuesday, April 02, 2013 9:22:00 AM  

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