Pittsburgh Board of Education, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Piotrus

The City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Public Schools are separate entities with their own elected officials, their own budgets, and their own policies and procedures. Despite this important separation, there is so much that the city does that affects the public schools and vice versa. Decisions made at the city level can dramatically impact operations in our schools and decisions made at the School Board level have a lasting impact on city residents. Yet far too often, city officials and school officials don’t talk to each other on a regular basis, don’t share policy proposals, and don’t consult one another about important issues facing the city. As Mayor, I pledge to change this. We need open lines of communication between the Mayor’s office, City Council, City Departments, the School Board, the Superintendent’s office, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, and public education advocacy organizations.

1. Creating a Culture of Cooperation

Our public schools are vitally important to the future of our city. Our public education system is a key factor for potential new residents in determining whether to move to the city, our neighborhood schools are anchors of community, and our kids rely on a strong public education system to succeed later in life. We have to build strong bonds with our partners in public education and create new lines of communication to move Pittsburgh forward. The first step in this process of culture change is for the city to reach out and ask officials in our public schools to talk. It is long past time that we have regularly scheduled meetings between city officials and school officials. As Mayor, I will bring everyone together to ensure that it happens and that the conversations are productive and actionable. Bringing all of the stakeholders together will, I am sure, lead to new revelations about common problems and common solutions that we can tackle as a united front. I look forward to building and strengthening these bonds.

2. Speaking to Harrisburg and D.C. With One Voice

Another important way that the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Public Schools can begin to work collaboratively is in our lobbying efforts in Harrisburg and D.C. City and school officials should travel to Harrisburg and D.C. to meet with state and federal leaders together and speak with one voice about the common needs of the city and our schools. It will send a powerful message to our state and federal leaders and will benefit everyone in Pittsburgh. With state and federal funds increasingly restricted and shrinking every year it is critical that we begin to work as partners to make sure that our residents and their children have the resources they need to thrive.