Sunday, November 06, 2005

Too cool for school

For anyone who cares about the Pittsburgh Public Schools, or has followed the district's troubles these last several years, the Post-Gazette's Joe Smydo offers an informative and well-written analysis of the new superintendent's plans to remove politics from a decision to close several schools.

He's had help from school board member Alex Matthews, who convinced his colleagues to cast an up-or-down vote on the school-closing plan Mr. Roosevelt puts before them. In a break with tradition, board members won't be able to go over the list school-by-school and knock pet buildings off the list for political reasons.

That is huge. No one wants to see their neighborhood schools close, particularly in a city like Pittsburgh that places such a premium on neighborhood identity. Will this guarantee success? No. But it does provide some political cover for board members to approve a plan that will shut down their constituents' schools, and it means that defeating the plan will require the entire board to explain to taxpayers the enormous cost of running a district that, according to Smydo's story, has almost 13,000 more seats than it needs.


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