Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A tale of two school districts

It is hard to reconcile these two news stories.....

Last week there as this passing headline:  A $110 million upgrade at Mount Lebanon High School. Of note to Mount Lebanon taxpayers I suppose, but not much to notice elsewhere.

and then pick any recent headline being generated by the ongoing miasma of the Duquesne City School District where the state forced the high school to close and then forced neighboring school districts to take in  the refugee students against their wishes.  Think it was voluntary that the neighboring school districts took the kids in? See this recent headline: West Mifflin Area to sue for tuition reimbursement.

To be clearer, I guess the students are not refugees, since you typically need to cross an international border to be considered a refugee. So they are internally displaced students I suppose. Seriously, this does not happen elsewhere in the developed world writ large. Why is there not daily news/punditry on what is happening in Duquesne?  Not the feel good story is my only hypothesis.

Nothing against Mount Lebanon making whatever investment it thinks it needs, but it is just shocking that everyone treats the ongoing implosion of the Duquesne City School District as normal at this point.

For all the talk of New Pittsburgh, realize that in most any other part of the country the city of Duquesne would not exist as a separate municipality, but instead would have been absorbed long long ago into the center city... i.e. Pittsburgh. So it is a geographic (and political) fiction to think of it as a distinct place from the city of Pittsburgh proper and it is certainly part of Pittsburgh writ large.

Maybe some ratio analysis to put the scale of this in perspective.  Population under age 18 in Duquesne in 2010 =  1,513.   For comparison population under 18 in Braddock (which gets to attend Woodland Hills schools anyway) was 605.  So I guess we need 2.5 new restaurants to save Duquesne.

Nobody is talking of bringing a high school back to Duquesne.  Greater talk is of the entire school district shutting down. Maybe other school Pennsylvania school districts can just close up shop and send all their students to wherever the state decrees they must be taken in.  These other school districts typically fight against this, but have lost their legal actions to stop it from happening. Wilkinsburg is reported of late to be trying to send its students to neighborhing school districts, but have only been rebuffed outright.

Of course, Duquesne might be an extreme case, but not really far from the state of many Pennsylvania school districts, 500 in all.  Thus what may be percolating at least in the Governor's office, if not in the state legislature. See the Washington Post today which prompted this little diatribe:   Pa. schools are the nation’s most inequitable. The new governor wants to fix that.  


Anonymous BrianTH said...

At least Wilkinsburg has a decent-sized (and growing) tax base. In fact, logically some school district (maybe the City?) should bite at taking a few more HS students in return for payments way below that school district's marginal cost per student. But logic does not have much to do with how we run our public schools around here.

And I am long since past even referencing basic compassion or fairness.

Thursday, April 23, 2015 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger JRoth said...

If Duquesne gets absorbed, doesn't Mt. Lebanon as well? Lebo is closer by distance and number of intervening municipalities.

Friday, April 24, 2015 4:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my humble opinion, school districts in Allegheny County are pathologically competitive and this competition contributes to the extreme disparities seen between districts. There is also apparent and shameful indifference toward the larger impact of starving children for a decent education versus indulging children to the point of excess and extravagance in Mt Lebanon. The long term social, financial and educational impact of PA's failure to attend to the needs of all children and develop a fair and ethical system highlights PA's lack of authentic political leadership and long standing inability to put children first.

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