A few years ago, there was widespread discussion around Pittsburgh, about whether to lower the academic standards for high school athletes. The advocates of lower standards never argued that such lowered standards would be in the best long term interest of the Black athletes; it just made it convenient for them to play sports, without also achieving academically. What these advocates expected those under-educated athletes to do when they found themselves in the labor market without a college degree was never clarified.
Now, thanks to the Feb. 5, issue of the New Pittsburgh Courier, we have another round of lower standard advocates, only this time, with an extra layer of accusations that the Pittsburgh Promise is guilty of institutional racism. The Courier article even goes further, to personally accuse a long-time progressive and civil rights supporter, Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril, of deliberate racism! This steps out of bounds.
The article gives as its basis for criticism, a 2011 report and recommendation by the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems and the absence of a minimum attendance requirement and a 2.5 grade point average in the Kalamazoo, Michigan Promise program, as evidence that the Pittsburgh Promise should lower or eliminate their standards. What they fail to tell us is that the Kalamazoo program does require high school graduates to first gain admission into the institution of higher learning of their choice. And they fail to tell us that the students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA, while enrolled in college and graduate within a certain time period. If the students drop below 2.0 the grant is withdrawn until the GPA again rises above 2.0.