As some children are prone to do, the daughter of newly appointed Pittsburgh Public School District superintendent Linda Lane frequently broke her curfew. After several warnings from her mother, Lane’s daughter returned home late one night to find her parents had packed up her belongings in preparation of moving her into the local YMCA.
|BACKGROUND—Linda Lane shares a few personal anecdotes with Lynne Hayes-Freeland. (Photo by J.L. Martello)
Lane’s response to her daughter’s disobedience gave credence to the traditional parental adage, “If you live in my house, you have to follow my rules.” At a meeting with the community at CAPA High School on Jan. 10, Lane showed she would carry this same approach with her in her new role as superintendent.
To a crowd of approximately 400 people, Lane shared her plan for the district, largely carrying on the work started by former superintendent Mark Roosevelt. However, in her conversation with moderator Lynne Hayes-Freeland, an anchor with KDKA-TV, she also placed a great emphasis on evaluating current programs and initiatives to determine whether they are effective.
“Going forward it’s very important for us to know what is working. It’s always important to go back and look at the stories behind the numbers,” Lane said. “It’s kind of like getting on the scale or balancing your checkbook. News may not be good, but you still need to know.”
On Jan. 11 Lane released a list of priorities for her first 100 days in office in order in ensure a smooth transition. Her top three objectives will be continuing implementation of the Empowering Effective Teachers Plan, making high schools a priority and continuing PPS progress on PSSA Exams.
“We know we have the Pittsburgh Promise but we have to get kids there—not just some of the kids, but all of the kids,” Lane said. “We’ve made some progress, but none of us are satisfied and especially not our community.”
Throughout the meeting, cosponsored by the Black Political Empowerment Project, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and A+ Schools, Lane touched on how teachers and administrators can work to combat the negative impact of struggling families on students, a large factor contributing to dropout rates and the achievement gap. She said she will look to community groups and non-profits to help children and families and will work closely with these groups.
“I think good educators help parents be better parents. Teachers have to be effective but at the core of it you have to love your kids because they know (if you love them),” Lane said. “Until we can help families deal with the stress they’re dealing with, we can’t help children. This is an issue of why can some people get through things other people can’t. We need to teach our kids resilience.”
Making community groups a priority is a notable change in Lane’s administration as compared to Roosevelt’s. Though she has pledged to be more receptive to the community she also said there will often be times they won’t like her decisions.
“Even though it may be that you don’t like my decision, I think that I want to at least have you be able to say, ‘Yes, she did listen to what I had to say,’” Lane said. “Since I have this interest and this support right now, how do we turn that into action for kids.”