Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!
The last day to do all-in-one early voting (applying for your ballot and voting it early in person) is 5 p.m. October 27. You may continue to drop off your mail-in ballot in person until November 3, so long as you’ve applied for it before October 27.
Mayor William Peduto released the following statement regarding the final report by the Community Taskforce for Police Reform, which he named in June:
“This amazing work by the Taskforce is more than I ever could have hoped for, and I am humbled and thankful by their exhaustive work on the critical need to reimagine police work in Pittsburgh. As the report notes the work by a diverse group of civic leaders — from corporate, religious and philanthropic entities; unions; health care and community-based service organizations; grassroots activism; and the law — brings the breadth of knowledge and experience that was necessary to take this very complicated and important subject to task.
Their independently produced recommendations are noted in the report under the focus areas of Eliminating Racial Disparities; Officer Wellness; Reimagining Policing; Recruitment, Training, Education and Hiring; Relations with Pittsburgh’s Fraternal Order of Police; Transparency and Accountability; Use of Force Changes Needed to Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Policy; and Use of Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets, “Flash-Bang” Devices and Other Less Lethal Methods of Crowd Control.
These recommendations will be our guiding influence as we make changes to police policy and budgeting to restructure police operations to make them more community-driven, safe and supportive for all residents, especially our Black neighbors. With these recommendations we will make real changes to policing, backed up by data and research, to ensure equity, accountability and transparency for all.
I must also thank Pittsburgh City Council for its initial changes to police methods already put into City law this year.
This report is only the latest step toward reform, following work we have already done and assistance we need from state and federal legislators. In June I created the Office of Community Health and Safety to redirect city resources to better meet community needs by housing social services, public health and social work experts who can assist first responders. I also called on Harrisburg to promote several police accountability and transparency reforms, and to make it easier for municipalities to immediately release body-worn camera footage.
I have joined efforts led by the U.S. Conference of Mayors to engage with other city leaders nationwide as we together seek the best practices for reimagine how policing is performed across America, in many ways through the types of changes recommended in the Community Taskforce report.
In sum, the Taskforce report is a model not only for Pittsburgh but the nation, and is a springboard for actions we must continue to take to protect Black lives.”
Source: City of Pittsburgh
October 9, 2020 After much deliberation, Mayor William Peduto today announced his agreement with the City Art Commission finding that the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park be removed, and directed that the statue be displayed in a private location still to be determined.
The Commission unanimously voted September 23 to remove the statue. After reading Commission testimony and talking to passionate advocates on both sides of the issue, the Mayor made the difficult decision that removing the statue is justified, and that it can be better displayed in a private location that places Columbus, his memory and his history in different context.
The Mayor issued a letter to the Art Commission today that reviews the celebration of Columbus by Italian-Americans who were subject to discrimination after emigrating to the United States, and the subsequent reckoning with the explorer’s support of slavery and genocide. The letter says in part:
“All four of my grandparents were Italian and personally experienced discrimination, yet learned to love their new country. I am tremendously proud to be part of the Italian-American community in Pittsburgh, just as I am proud to be Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh and to represent all people of our city.
After much thought and prayer I believe it is now time for us to return the Columbus statue to the Italian-American community that brought it into existence. They can preserve it in a manner than celebrates Italian-American culture, while acknowledging the wreckage that slavery and racism has done to America.”
The letter asks the Art Commission to make a final vote on the disposition of the statue.
No decisions have yet been made on when the statue will be removed, or the private location where it will be stored and displayed. City crews may cover the statue until it can be removed.
A copy of the Mayor’s letter is available here.
We are pleased to welcome back our fans to Heinz Field this Sunday when we host the Philadelphia Eagles. We appreciate the guidance of our public health officials to make this possible.
Under the guidance provided by the Governor's office, we are limited to 7,500 total in the stadium, which includes players, coaches, stadium staff, etc. Based on these limitations we will only be able to make available to our fans approximately 5,500 seats in the lower seating bowl at Heinz Field. Priority will be given to our season ticket holders who did not opt out this season. Seat selection opportunities will be based on a computer-generated random selection of season ticket holder accounts. Unfortunately, we may not have tickets available for all season ticket holders for this game.
All fans entering the stadium will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing protocols throughout Heinz Field. Tailgating will not be permitted in the stadium parking lots. Additional details concerning game day operations will be available prior to the weekend.
We look forward to hopefully having more fans soon while still maintaining a safe and healthy environment at Heinz Field.
Steelers captain Maurkice Pouncey announces he will add a new name on the back of his helmet, breaking from the team's decision to wear the name of police shooting victim Antwon Rose Jr. on helmets for the 2020 season.
Maurkice Pouncey’s statement:
“I want to personally clarify what transpired this past Monday night in regard to having Antwon Rose’s name on the back of my helmet.
I was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon, and I was unaware of the whole story surrounding his death and what transpired during the trial following the tragedy. I should have done more research to fully understand what occurred in its entirety.
My work with police, both in Pittsburgh and back home in Florida, is well documented. I don’t always feel the need to highlight what I do with police departments, but I also want to make sure they understand I inadvertently supported a cause of which I did not fully comprehend the entire background of the case. I take responsibility for not doing more investigating into something that is sensitive to the community and his family, but is a lesson learned as it relates to political issues that occur every day in our society.
Moving forward, I will make my own decision about what to wear on the back of my helmet. Make no mistake, I am against racism and I believe the best thing I can do is continue helping repair relationships between the police and their communities. Systemic racism issues have occurred in our country for too long, and that needs to stop.
My focus will continue to be on helping the police in our communities, and I will support making any necessary changes to help those efforts. #### (end of statement)
Rose, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by East Pittsburgh police in 2018 after the car he was riding in with other teenagers matched the description of one involved in a drive-by shooting.
Officer Michael Rosfeld ran after Rose, one of two passengers who fled the car, and shot him three times in his back, face and elbow. Rosfeld, who had been on the force for just three weeks, was charged with criminal homicide but was acquitted of all charges. During the trial, Rosfeld said he thought he saw one of the two teenagers point a gun at him, but he didn't know which one.
The shooting was captured on video and sparked some protests in the region. Rose's name has continued to be a rallying cry used by protesters in demonstrations.
The family reached a $2 million settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the borough of East Pittsburgh and Rosfeld in 2019.
Statement from Team President Art Rooney II:
As an organization, we respect the decisions of each player, coach and staff member relating to how to express themselves on social justice topics. We will continue to support our social initiatives to fight against social injustice and systemic racism not only in our area, but around the country.
Along the way, we understand that individually we may say or do things that are not universally accepted. There will be uncomfortable conversations. But we will strive to be a force for unity in our efforts to support a more just society.
With our support, our players have and will support our communities to address these issues with tangible actions. Our players have done an amazing job in helping create social justice platforms that we have already begun participating in this year. But we know there is still work to be done. This season our primary focuses in terms of social justice funds and activities will be voter registration and awareness, community and police forums, and education and community investment.
I am proud of the way our players have responded to the need for greater efforts to bring awareness and changes to combat racism and social injustice. I know they will continue to be leaders in our communities and their hometowns.
This year the NFL is allowing players to wear helmet decals to honor victims of systemic racism. Players could select the name of an individual to wear on their helmet and the Steelers players and coaches united as one to wear a single name on the back of their helmets and hats for the entire 2020 season – Antwon Rose Jr.
Antwon Rose II was 17 when he was shot and killed by a police officer two years ago.
“We don’t want him to be forgotten,” the Steelers tweeted. “For the 2020 season, we unite as one and will wear a single name on the back of our helmets – Antwon Rose Jr.”
Cameron Heyward knows that there is power in numbers, that people working together for one cause can make a difference, even if that means saving just one life.
"When you think about Antwon Rose's story, we don't want to ever let his legacy go away," said Heyward, one of the Steelers team captains and a voice that has been heard in the team's fight against social injustice. "That kid had a bright future and he was taken away too early. We see all of these things happening across our country now. This hit home.
Read more at Steelers.com
August 26, 2020 – Today the Board of School Directors for the Pittsburgh Public Schools voted to reappoint Dr. Anthony Hamlet as Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2025. The Superintendent’s current contract expires June 30, 2021.
Appointed May 18, 2016 with an initial salary of $210,000, Superintendent Hamlet’s current salary after meeting objective goals for the 2016-2017, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years is $229,372. The Superintendent’s final contract and new salary is not yet finalized and will be submitted to the Board for review and approval upon recommendation of the District’s Solicitor.
The Superintendent will hold an in-person press conference with Board Members and his Leadership team on Tuesday, September 1, in celebration of the start of the school year. Please find below statements read this evening by Superintendent Hamlet and Board President Sylvia Wilson, related to this evening’s Board vote.
In Other Business – Board Votes to Move Forward With Fall Sports
Following significant input from students, staff and families, the Board voted to let fall sports proceed for the 2020-2021 school year. Team conditioning will continue while the District finalizes the schedule for sport physicals and “ImPact” testing. The official start date for fall practices will be announced once the schedule for physical is finalized. An All-In webinar focused on ensuring the safe return of athletics will take place tomorrow at 6 PM and can be viewed on the District’s website and Facebook page.
Statement from Superintendent Anthony Hamlet
I want to thank the Board for this vote of confidence. And while the misdirected self-interest of a few attempted to take away from the progress we have made together, we are now able to move forward squarely focused on improving outcomes for our students. With only 35 Council of Great City Schools recommendations left to complete and the groundwork that has been laid with the initiatives of our Expect Great Things strategic plan, we have laid a strong foundation for the next five years.
One thing for sure is we are living in truly uncertain times, but what is not uncertain is our responsibility to ensure our students are prepared to be successful and competitive in the 21st Century global economy.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our students have proven themselves resilient, intelligent and considerate of their fellow man – putting them far ahead of previous generations. It is incumbent on us to ensure we develop these assets of our students.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
I want to say to those who have shared their concerns regarding the achievement of black and brown students in our district, that I hear you. Yes, we have inevitably lost some of the ground we had made with our students due to the closure of schools this past spring. This will make for a tough road ahead. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast - go alone. If you want to go far - go together. I am committed to bridging all divides as I know that each of you play a valuable role in the success of our efforts to improve student outcomes.
We will not lose sight of our charge to work against racist ideas and policies that prevent our students from experiencing a bias-free education. I look forward to working closely with Kathi Elliott and Gwen’s Girls to continue our work to reduce the disproportionate rate of arrests affecting black children. We also will continue our intentional efforts to eliminate racial disparities in the achievement of African American students, as outlined in our On Track to Equity Plan – our most extensive and comprehensive equity plan to date.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, we are committed to the work we have begun through Imagine PPS; our strategic plan for the future. Now more than ever, we must make the changes to our system necessary to get the results we want for our students. I take this charge as Superintendent as my number one priority. I know that taking steps to align instruction to standards, increase progress monitoring, elevate data reporting, invest in new curriculum and improve professional learning for all staff are not the kinds of actions that grab headlines, but without these steps, Pittsburgh Public Schools would not be primed for the road ahead.
Imagine PPS builds on the work we have begun and puts into super drive our efforts to empower students with the knowledge and life skills they need to thrive in our global economy. Through Imagine PPS, we continue our work to design an educational delivery model that aligns to the values of our city and positions us to reach our goals for students.
Right now though, my immediate first course of action is ensuring that we are prepared for the successful start of school on Monday. Through a collaborative effort with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, we have been able to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to support full time online instruction. I remain committed to this spirit of collaboration as we continue our efforts to ensure Pittsburgh Public Schools remains fiscally sound, academically strong and a first choice for students, families, teachers and other staff in Pittsburgh. I want to thank all of our school leaders, teachers and school staff for their flexibility and commitment to putting students first. I also must thank the members of my Executive Cabinet, central office, operations and IT staff for their commitment to children and families of Pittsburgh.
When I arrived at Pittsburgh Public Schools, to take on my first superintendence, I left Palm Beach County intent on making Pittsburgh my home. I understood the challenge ahead and the time it would take to truly transform the District for all students. I now have a heart for this city, its residents and most importantly its children. And today we now have the stability we need to ensure all students receive the high-quality education they deserve and that all graduate with a plan for their future and beyond.
Statement from Board President Sylvia Wilson
I would like to take a moment to warmly thank all those who took time out of their days to submit their concerns, gratitude, hopes, and support during the last two days of Public Hearing comments. We sincerely hope that you all understand that your positions were not only heard but also profoundly considered.
Welcome to 2020! A kickoff to a new school year unlike any other. The coronavirus pandemic has taken us all on a ride to test and challenge our confidence, our resiliency, our integrity and most importantly, tested our commitment to the thousands of children in our care. And as we think about the future of our district, let’s be sure to keep the children as our top priority.
My record speaks for itself, as I have proven to be a dedicated servant to Pittsburgh Public Schools for over forty years as a teacher, parent, grandparent, volunteer and elected official. This experience has helped guide me to deeply consider all factors when making decisions…and to keep this precedence in mind when voting. As a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh for my Masters…the recent attacks to my integrity as Board President have been tough to absorb… but those attacks have driven me to be more determined than ever to act and respond with a razor like focus while continuing to move forward. And Moving Forward is exactly what we MUST do in order to protect all of the progress that has been made in the past four years.
Regarding the resolution to confirm Dr. Hamlet’s contract …During my career as a teacher, I was always evaluated every year on my performance.
When I joined this board years ago, it was an eye opener to learn that no such formal evaluative process was done for previous superintendents. A sub-group of board members worked together with Dr. Lane and an outside consultant at that time to develop an evaluative instrument.
Additionally, after the evaluation process was created, the state mandated a format for school boards to use to evaluate all superintendents.
Since then, the tool that we use has been updated with the assistance of the Council of Great City Schools, of which PPS is a member. It is the responsibility of this board to use that instrument to evaluate the progress made by the superintendent with very specific measurable goals. Each board member rates the superintendent on these goals based on actual data.
The process to determine the renewal of Dr. Hamlet’s contract is based on the details outlined in his contract. It was determined that this board was NOT to use subjective criteria, but to use objective criteria. Each board member is responsible to rate the superintendent in what I would hope to be an honest objective manner.
So, after assuring that there is a specific process for rating the superintendent, along with my years of experience, I resent being pictured as someone who makes decisions based on a nice personality, nice suits, nice cologne. This type of rhetoric is not helpful to the process and is insulting to my intelligence and I will also add, sexist.
My record is not the only one that’s been on the chopping block lately. Dr. Hamlet’s integrity has been under attack as well. In recent months, not only have we been at war with a pandemic, we have been faced with a media blitz of negative and mixed information – much of which was created to cast dispersions on a board that for the first time acted against traditional and historic protocols by involving the public in the process of selecting the next superintendent. There were those who fueled the mixed and misguided messages to express their dismay – taking it out of the hands of the very people who were elected to do this job.
As a black woman…as a black educator…Black Lives Always Matter and I too am concerned about the levels of achievement of black students. Over the past four years progress has been made in the levels of black student achievement. What is happening across this state and our country mirror what is happening in Pittsburgh. The levels of black student achievement were low before Dr. Hamlet arrived.
Over the last four years’ progress is being made, and the pandemic is a set-back for our students of color.
Change and evolution takes time. Dr. Hamlet did not bring his magic wand to accomplish this – in fact – one might remember that the teachers are in the classrooms.
Changes in how teachers deliver instruction takes time as well. For too long teachers were to do prescriptive teaching which took away what was once the highlight of Pittsburgh Public Schools. The pedagogy of teaching – being able to diversify to meet the needs of all the students.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but there were no outcries when a previous superintendents destroyed achievement goals of students of color during their tenures.
In working with the board Dr. Hamlet has made many critical accomplishments to date. Among these are:
1. A nurse on every campus.
2. Additional social workers and counselors.
3. The Career and Technical Programs have been expanded to include more students and to provide more opportunities for career options.
4. There has been a reallocation of resources to schools with the most needs.
5. Graduation rates have increased.
6. Attention is given to average class sizes.
7. Student voice is an important addition.
8. Community Schools have been expanded.
9. Out of School Time continued to develop and relationships with community organizations/partners grow in assisting with student needs.
10. Working on better relationships overall that hadn’t existed.
In closing, many have asked why now as opposed to waiting. We decided as a board to make a decision now due to the very reasons that many asked us to wait. We need to concentrate on the education of our children. We needed to get the district back on track post COVID-19 with haste. The district is making every effort to move forward in a difficult time that was not created by us. We are not alone in these struggles. We are in touch with other districts similar in size and larger and compare notes – we learn from each other. We want to remove distractions that prevent us from focusing on educating ALL of the children.
Again – why wait? We have several other considerations to resolve that impacts educating our children that must be resolved such as collective bargaining agreements that have expired, others that will expire soon and our financial future is worrisome. We need to maintain stability at this time so that the critical work can be accomplished. Thank you for this time, my vote is YES to retain Dr. Hamlet’s contract.
PPS Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet reappointed until June 2025.