Pittsburgh School Board Wants Extension to Close Racial Achievement Gap

A 20-year quest for racial equality in Pittsburgh Public Schools likely will last at least two more years.

The city school board is scheduled to vote later this month on a proposed memo of understanding with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission that gives the district two more years to reduce racial inequality for students, including academic achievement, discipline and resources.

“The measures put in place have produced significant, positive results, but the work is not done,” said Shannon Powers, spokeswoman for the Human Relations Commission.

The roots of the memo are a 1992 racial discrimination complaint filed by the Advocates for African-American students, a group of parents and educators.

The school board voted in 2005 to settle the long-standing case, and the agreement was finalized in 2006. The district contended many of the action steps were covered in its Excellence for All agenda.

Time has run out on the conciliation agreement, so a memo of understanding — which also is legally enforceable — is in the works to extend at least some measures from the conciliation agreement.

At its agenda review meeting Wednesday, the board is scheduled to review the proposed memo of understanding. The memo is expected to be up for a vote Sept. 26. The commission is to sign off after the board votes.

The commission would review the district’s progress twice annually. When the memo expires Aug. 30, 2014, the commission will issue a finding as to whether the district has made significant progress.

Click here to read the full article by Eleanor Chute, published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (September 18, 2012)

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