The best suited and most feasible policy proposal for enriching the Pittsburgh Public School District would be to work with our local legislators to advocate for state-funded preschool education. The results yielded by early education programs are remarkable, as evidenced by models in place in Cincinnati, OH and Union City, NJ, as well as other growing districts across the country.
The common thread between Union City (UC) and Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) has been the foundation laid out in their early education programs. UC boasts nearly 100% enrollment rate, while CPS has increased their population by 12% since the inception of the program. In addition, the plan proposes for the state – not the school district – to foot the bill for toddlers’ education. In turn, the Pre-K programs will be much like Abbott Districts of New Jersey which put all young children on an equal playing field with regard to their educational foundation. The early education program is a win-win situation for all districts across the state, but even more so to low-income regions, such as the City of Pittsburgh.
The plan of implementation is rather simple and would require mostly marketing to provide information to parents that this type of education is available to their children. In addition, providing information about the returns of early education is very important to garner a large majority of the three and four-year-old children in the region. In addition, there will be an increase in teaching opportunities and resources needed to start the program. Most funding should be on the shoulders of the state, so the districts will only have to roll out the plan for the state to bankroll.
In addition to providing Pre-K for all, we will advocate for partnerships with private educational and technical entities like Microsoft and Apple, who have both created educational programs to assist faculty in providing the best learning environment for children. Microsoft’s Strive Partnership with Cincinnati Public Schools has done wonders for their district. The basis of the program is to better understand the needs of students through data-driven materials.
Like Microsoft, the folks at Apple have a similar educational resource tool, ConnectED. The Cupertino technology company provides products, support and opportunities to schools that are underserved across the nation. Moreover, Apple identifies technological infrastructural needs and provides support to teachers to integrate more technology into the classroom.
In 2008, the Ravenstahl administration implemented the Pittsburgh Promise to provide scholarship money to high-performing city students. However, there is a large disparity amongst student population and scholarship winners, as 12% more white students obtain the Promise grant, despite there being nearly 20% more black students enrolled in Pittsburgh Public Schools. Moreover, many students that earn the scholarship are not ready for college and end up dropping out or limiting their time in the university environment. It will be my obligation to students and parents to reduce the racial disparity in scholarship winners, while ensuring that each and every student that earns a scholarship is equipped with the knowledge to succeed at the next level.
It would be great to implement all options, including Microsoft’s partnership due to the software for record review. While it will be a struggle to obtain these resources, I will do everything in my power as your councilman to bring these tools to the Pittsburgh Public Schools and support our students from “cradle to career,” like Cincinnati Public Schools.