May 15, 2015

Lindsey M. Williams, Esq.
Director of Communications
Office: 412-431-5900
Cell: 412-443-0226

PITTSBURGH — On Friday, May 15th, students from the CAPA Black Student Union and fellow students from other Pittsburgh Public Schools will hold a demonstration in front of the Board of Education Building. The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT) shares their concerns and has been working hard to address the same issues.

The PPS students are seeking a more “diverse teaching staff and/or the creation of more proactive methods to recruit amongst underrepresented populations.” The PFT has long supported recruiting a more diverse staff.

In order to help retain the staff we have, the PFT has created the African American Teacher Mentorship Program. We will be hosting a kick-off celebration on May 22, 2015 from 4 pm -7 pm featuring jazz music from BAQ II BAQ.

The PPS students are asking for the “implementation of substantial, mandatory and rigorous multicultural/African-American/Black studies programs.” The PFT supports changes to our curriculum to ensure it is culturally responsive. We also want to ensure that PPS educators are well prepared to teach a diverse student population. We are working with University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Urban Education and others to create professional development programing on culturally responsive teaching.

The PPS students are also concerned about the “the substantial disparity in suspension rates between Black and White students” and are asking for the “introduction of proactive efforts to eliminate that disparity.” The PFT, along with the Great Public Schools Pittsburgh Coalition, are working on implementing restorative justice practices into our schools. We want these practices in our schools, but we know that they will not be successful without adequate supports for teachers and students.

Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT400) President Nina Esposito-Visgitis issued the following statement:

The PFT has worked hard to address the issues that our students are organizing around. We are happy to see students becoming more involved in their education and we support them in exercising their voices. We look forward to working with students, the community and the district to continue to address these important issues.