Recognizing a need for change prompted Tiffany Lumpkin to run for a seat on the Wilkinsburg School Board in the upcoming election.
Hearing the concerns of Wilkinsburg residents, she decided to run because she wants to be part of the solution and a conduit for change, Lumpkin said.
As program director of the Family Group Decision Making program at Small Seeds Development Inc., Lumpkin has her finger on the pulse of many issues facing today’s youth. The FGDM program mostly serves the eastern neighborhoods with the goal of empowering families to draw upon extended family and community resources to better think, plan and utilize existing resources in addressing family issues. The program aims to keep children with their natural families.
Lumpkin, 28, holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh, and says she is able to use her connections and resources from her position at Small Seeds if elected to the school board.
This north Philadelphia native says she is a product of a school district very similar to Wilkinsburg. It was a failing district but because of her mother and the “it takes a village” mentality, she is the person who she is today. “There were people in my community who saw the potential in me and my classmates and encouraged us to do our best,” Lumpkin said. “They challenged us to think beyond the inner city. I want to do the same thing here in Wilkinsburg.”
One of her main focuses is on academic performance. Lumpkin sees a revamping of the curriculum as one solution to low testing scores. “Right now the students aren’t able to compete on a county and state level. I believe that our children can succeed and achieve a higher level if given the right tools. So I’m willing to work hard and dig deep to find out the source of the issues and how we can help our students to achieve,” she explains. She says she is willing to dig in and find out what needs to be done to bring Wilkinsburg students up to par in standardized testing.
Other platforms include accountability and financial management.
She demands accountability on the part of the school board, superintendent, teachers, and all who work with students directly. “Wilkinsburg needs, teachers and administrators who are passionate about educating our children,” Lumpkin said.
Regarding fiscal management, Lumpkin said Wilkinsburg has one of the highest tax millage rates in Allegheny County. People need to see a return on their investment. “I’m not trying to infer that the district is mishandling money, but we need to look further to see if the district is using and investing the money wisely,” Lumpkin said.
With the governor’s recent budget cuts the educational system has been hit hard, Lumpkin said, regardless the schools still need to be maintained and brought up to standard. To do this, she plans on tapping into under utilized resources to secure better funding. “If we get our test scoring up I’m sure the funding will come. We need to make sure the money is going to the proper place and not being misused.”
With so many institutions of higher learning in the area, Lumpkin is amazed that the Wilkinsburg School District hasn’t collaborated with any colleges or universities to assist in developing a beneficial curriculum or partnership. She plans to reach out to the University of Pittsburgh for such assistance.
Over all Lumpkin said she’s a candidate who believes in the educational system and believes that the school district should work in tandem with the parents and teachers to assure that students get a quality education and the best chance possible to succeed. She said that if the social and emotional needs of students aren’t being met they will not be available and ready to learn. “That goes back to asking, “what is the school board doing to assist families?” she said.
“I believe that all children deserve quality education and I don’t believe that this is what the students in the district are receiving. I don’t think it matters what socioeconomic status you fall under, everyone has that right to free public education, but one that is quality.”