Best practices: Pittsburgh's schools can learn from each other

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Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane is a realist. The latest demonstration of her straightforward approach to leading the region's largest public school district is her decision to hold a meeting with officials from city charter schools.

Instead of viewing charters merely as rivals of traditional public schools, Ms. Lane has opened the door for the district and its charter schools to start learning from each other.

Too often, public school administrators see charters only in the context of competing against them for students and for resources. But the idea of commissioning charter schools -- which are, simply put, another form of public schooling -- was to offer choices for families that want options not available in district buildings.

If some of the charters are successful models, why wouldn't public districts want to follow their lead? And if there are areas where the public district exceeds what charters, typically with smaller operations, can provide, why wouldn't they try emulating district success?

Ms. Lane's goal is to expand the level of cooperation to include parochial and other private schools, too. The approach is sound. Infighting among the adults won't help the region's children, but they stand to gain if educators all start pushing in the same direction.

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