High quality schools for all neighborhoods:
Every student deserves an excellent school to attend, where they feel safe and valued, and where administrators and teachers alike believe in the potential of every child. Every PPS school should have effective teachers, rigorous course work, and a curriculum rich in the arts, music and technology. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh school quality and resources vary dramatically across neighborhoods. Kirk will work to ensure that children in every neighborhood have access to a high-quality school.
Responsible use of tax dollars:
Pittsburgh spends more than $850 million collectively between its general funds and supplemental funds budgets – an amount greater than the City of Pittsburgh’s operating budget – making it one of the highest-spending school districts on a per pupil basis in Pennsylvania. We must take advantage of these resources and ensure that these funds are being spent responsibly and effectively. With Kirk’s financial background, he will be able to provide much needed oversight to ensure that these dollars are getting to the classroom and driving student achievement and opportunity.
Relentless focus on student achievement:
The role of a K-12 school district is to educate its students. In our district alone, we have schools with reading proficiency rates that are as high as 66% and as low as 22%. We have schools with some of the highest 8th grade algebra participation, and some of the lowest. Every day our board of directors must focus on what is working where, how to scale and replicate it in other schools, and how to dramatically increase the number of students who receive the skills to complete for 21st century jobs.
Commitment to transparency and accountability:
Ultimately, the most important role of any school board member is to hold the Superintendent and his administration accountable for stewarding our resources responsibly and getting good results. Kirk understands that an effective school board member will demand that the administration provide clear and transparent data so that the board can make informed, data-driven decisions that are in the best interest of kids.
Preparing all students to succeed in a 21st Century economy:
Gone are the days when a high school diploma guaranteed a job at the mills and a chance at a middle-class life. In today’s economy, more and more jobs are requiring post-secondary education, and it is the job of our public schools to ensure that our students are prepared. However, over half of the city’s students are unable to demonstrate grade-level math and reading skills and, based on existing trends, only one out of every four ninth-graders in PPS will go on to earn a two- or four-year college degree. As a school board member, Kirk will work diligently with the administration and with the community in order to implement a universal 3-year old and 4-year old pre-k program that will ensure that our children are entering kindergarten with the basic social skills and literacy fundamentals that will give them a greater probability of successful. Further, Kirk will examine the schools that are working, and figure out how to scale and replicate success in schools across the city. Kirk knows how urgent it is for our district to increase the number of students receiving the skills and education necessary to compete for 21st century jobs.