PG columnist Tony Norman states that the “Biggest Gap in Black Kids’ Learning” (Feb. 18) is parents. He goes on to suggest that “once an active partnership built on mutual trust, respect, empathy and expectation between parents, teachers and students is established, there won’t be any significant racial achievement gap to speak of in a few years.”
The biggest gap in Mr. Norman’s understanding of urban education is reality. The majority of students (55 to 75 percent) in the inner city (black or white) don’t have parents … they have a parent. And the majority of urban students (70 percent in Pittsburgh and Mon Valley public schools) live in poverty, according to the federal free/reduced lunch standards. In fact, student homelessness ranges from 3 percent in Pittsburgh to over 10 percent in Wilkinsburg. Does Mr. Norman really want us to wait until this “active partnership” is built?
There are many quality schools in the Pittsburgh area that have students who achieve extraordinary accomplishments in spite of not having a two-parent middle-class home life. Pittsburgh public schools such as Fulton, Dilworth and Westwood; charter schools such as City High and Propel Schools; and independent schools such as the Neighborhood Academy believe that all students can achieve great things and then back up their beliefs with a quality education program that does the job.
There are hundreds of quality schools across America that produce black and white scholars from challenging circumstances. Pittsburgh (and Mr. Norman) needs to wake up before its public schools become obsolete.
The writer is a retired public school educator.