In the May primary election, longtime District 8 School Board Representative Mark Brentley defeated three challengers vying for his seat on the Pittsburgh Public School District Board of Directors. Now he will take on one more opponent in the general election Nov. 8.
Candidate Rosemary Moriarty, a retired school district principal, will be running on the independent ticket for the District 8 seat. For the past few months she has been making the rounds at community meetings and festivals trying to get the word out on her vision for students in the PPS.
“I felt it was necessary for someone to run against Mark. I felt I had the qualifications. I felt like District 8 wasn’t being represented because every time Mark would bring up a topic, it was always being voted against and I just felt District 8 wasn’t being represented,” Moriarty said. “So I thought why doesn’t someone run so they’d be able to bring the issues of District 8 to the table.”
Moriarty is only one of the many challengers in the past who have criticized Brentley for his inability to work with the rest of the board. She said this in cohesive nature of Brentley’s relationship with the board, has lead to District 8 being negatively impacted, especially in light of proposed school closings in the North Side region of the district.
“My challenge would be to show that the entire school district is all of our responsibilities. We need to look at what schools have been slated to close and really examine if there’s equity in the school closures and look at what are we going to offer,” Moriarty said. “Nothing is being given to the parents in terms of what kind of programming is going to be offered. We really need to come up with a sure plan before making these moves. Parents and students need to know what’s going to happen before it happens. There needs to be a clear-cut plan. The problem is stability.”
As the former principal of Miller African Centered Academy in the Hill District for 18 years, Moriarty has experience working with predominantly African-American students from predominantly low-income families. She said she would like to model schools that have produced academic growth for those students most at risk for academic failure.
“We know there are schools that have turned the academic performance around and I would look at best practices that have been proven in schools that are similar to the ones we’re looking at. We need to look at schools that have proven results,” Moriarty said. “If the schools had programs that were appealing to students who aren’t going to college it would improve the drop out rate. We really have to look at programs that are going to be appealing to students, that students are going to be able to come out with a job certification, to be job ready.”
If elected to the school board, Moriarty said her top priorities would be improving education achievement across the school district, especially in terms of early childhood education. She also said she would tackle the district’s financial problems caused by population decline in the city.
“Our schools are not meeting the qualifications of a high class organization to deliver education. We’re looking at the financial situation of the school district and that’s something that needs to be addressed and we know our population is declining so we need a way to attract parents to the school district,” Moriarty said. “Pittsburgh is known as being one of the most livable cities and in order to really be a good community we need to have strong schools. In order to attract people to the city we need to have a strong education system to attract parents to the schools.”
Moriarty is an Oliver High School graduate with a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in educational leadership from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“I’ve been in education for over 35 years, I have a doctorate in education, I’ve taught, I’ve been a principal, I really know the workings inside the school district and I’m a parent as well,” Moriarty said. “I really feel my experience would offer a lot of information to the existing board.”