So last week we had an opportunity to speak with two city council representatives about their legislation, calling for a state of educational emergency in the city of pittsburgh, looking specifically at pittsburgh, public schools. So here now to give us some perspective on this is a school board member that i’m, going to suspect has been feeling for a while something needed to happen to bring attention to what’s happening with pittsburgh. Uh public school students saladin welcome to the show! Thank you. Lynn, it’s always a pleasure, so i don’t think – and you tell me, if i’m right or wrong here, but i don’t think that i’m overstating this when i say a school board member. Who is grateful or happy that someone else is calling attention to what’s happening to pittsburgh public school students? I am indeed glad to see the city step in and get engaged. The whole city has to become engaged uh in this conversation because it’s going to take the whole city to change um, the the outcomes for uh children in public school, and so i was pleased to see um two city council members get engaged. I hope more will become engaged because there is an emergency. There is an educational emergency, especially for black children in pittsburgh, public schools and if we don’t step in and do something to turn it around uh, it may never get turned around. I mean this is kind of like the uh rallying cry that you’ve been crying for a while.
It seems as if the pandemic and uh should they be in school. Shouldn’T they be in school. Should it be virtual or not brought this to a head recently? But this is something that you’ve been saying for a while. We were at an emergency level before the pandemic and children were falling way behind, especially in reading and mathematics and um, and now that they stepped in and closed the schools. Last march and uh it took the school district quite a while to catch up with computers and uh and internet access, um and it’s, taking an even longer while for parents to be able to help their children with their with their schoolwork. Parents are out out working trying to put some food on the table and keep a roof over their head. They don’t have time for this, so it is, it is a. It is an emergency uh that requires a response from the whole community, um and now they’re. Even further behind um and i don’t know that we have a plan in pittsburgh – public schools uh how we’re going to catch up that’s, what the what’s that’s what the emergency is. I was going to say so how do we get to the root of this salah? Because i understand that – and i don’t have the exact numbers, but i understand, like the reading levels within pittsburgh, public school students are way below par where, where kids should be in terms of their reading levels and let’s, be honest if that’s, accurate um, if our kids Can’T read they’re not going to succeed; if they can’t read, then they can’t do mathematics and if they, because all the mathematical problems are written, you have to be able to read to understand the problem right, um, and so, if they can’t do reading and math, they Are not going to be successful in high school and not going to be prepared for college and therefore they will not live a happy life if they are not well educated, so uh, it is a serious problem and um.
It takes something like this to shake up the school board, i think, and and the school district to make us realize that it is an emergency, so i actually had the chance. As i mentioned last week on this show, we talked to uh the two council representatives, reverend burgess and daniel lavelle, and then on my radio show. I had an opportunity to talk with sylvia wilson and uh. She told me she was a little caught off guard when they um introduced that legislation in city council uh not offended just caught off guard by it um, but then went on to say this is gon na cost money. What they’re talking about this extended day program and going uh throughout the summer, having schools open throughout the summer is going to cost money um? Is that going to be a hindrance? Do you think to to getting our kids back where they need to be it’s, going to cost money to return the kids back to in school learning, uh? No matter what to recover from this pandemic is going to cost money to to allow the schools to reopen um safely, it’s going to cost money. So um education is an expensive endeavor. Uh it’s only exceeded by the cost of not educating so uh. That is that should not be a hindrance uh, that it might cost money, um it’s, going to cost money either way. So where do we start, then salah? I mean i know that uh daniel lavalle and ricky burgess said to me that i know they were supposed to have uh in depth conversations in council meeting this past week, and then they were talking about having some public forms in the community.
Where do you think we need to start? Because again i mean this legislation is interesting, but this is what you’ve been talking about for a while, and i feel, like you, haven’t gotten the attention that you should have. I have not gotten that attention. Quite frankly, i haven’t gotten it from the from my colleagues on the school board. They don’t consider um this, the the quality of education, the poor quality of education to be a high priority and um that’s, where i think it has to start it’s not going to change fundamentally until the board itself considers um the quality of education of all public School students, as a matter of fact, not just black students, um a seriously high priority and take the steps necessary to make the changes that we need to make um to turn it around it’s gon na it’s, not gon na be easy. The churches have to get involved, the corporations have to get involved, the foundations have to get involved, but, most importantly, we have to change the way parents are engaged in education. Now. I know it’s difficult for parents who are working uh, who have other siblings, to take care of in the house um, but it re it requires all hands on deck um to to solve this situation, uh and i’m i’m glad that uh councilman, lavelle and councilman burgess Um pulled the trigger on this. You know there’s, not a good relationship between the school board and city council right um, going back to history that’s his story.
Let me get you to hold that thought. We’Ll pick it up right there i got ta, take a quick break, we’ll come back and we’ll start right there. Okay, all right our conversation with solo dean continues.