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EDUCATION: An evening with Linda Lane and friends

Posted on February 16, 2012 at 9:40 PM

Just in a little while ago from the Parent School Community Council meeting at Westinghouse. I learned about it from the posting on "Homewood Happenings" (thanks, Rhonda!). I would rather have attended a Post-Gazette town hall meeting that was held this evening that included Homewood artist Vanessa German on the panel. But  I thought that with Dr. Lane at Westinghouse for a Q and A, it would be intense.

But the meeting was not nearly as intense as I expected. Westinghouse principal Shemeca Crenshaw opened promptly at 6:00 with announcements and introductions of some staffers. That's her to the center right of the photo:

Then she handed the mike over to PPS superintendent Dr. Linda Lane:

Dr. Lane made brief opening remarks, beginning with an apology for the first half of the school year, when an ambitious plan to combine students from four schools into a single-gender 6-12 academy fell apart.

"I'm not here to decide whose fault it is," Dr. Lane said. "I accept responsibility for it."

She then spoke about the importance of interested parties working together to create a better future for the school. When she first visited Westinghouse, she said that she saw " we had a lot of community organizations here. But what I didn't see was how they all work together."

She was done in less than 10 minutes, and the floor was open for the Q and A.  Highlights (or lowlights, depending on one's point of view) included: 

Parent Kiva A. Fisher-Green, who volunteers as a hall monitor at the Westinghouse, saying that mental health is a major issue at the school;

Franklin Duncan of  the Westinghouse Alumni Association presenting Dr. Lane with a list of 40 questions;

Fred Logan declaring that Dr. Lane's apology was insufficient, partly because it should come from the entire board and should be given to the entire student body of Westinghouse in assembly, and partly because it left certain quesions unanswered;

School board member Mark Brentley, who opposed the haste with which the single-gender plan was enacted, apologizing "for what my colleagues did to you."

The PSCC meets monthly; perhaps its next meeting will provide parents and other community members to follow through with the Board on the work needed to turn Westinghouse around.

I recorded the meeting, but the sound quality in the school's cavernous cafeteria recorded terribly. If I find a way to clean it up, I'll post. Meanwhile, Post-Gazette education editor Eleanor Chute was there; I will link to her report, (here it is) and any others I find.

Oh - Ms. Fisher-Green, who attends PSCC meetings regularly, said that there appeared to be no more than 10 parents present tonight. Otherwise, it was alumni, staff people, and journalists.

With all of the drama surrounding Westinghouse over the past year, I have wondered all along why more parents are not more visibly involved. Your thoughts?

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