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Town Hall To Address Achievement Gap In PGH Public Schools

Parents, community members, teachers and administrators will discuss potential solutions to the achievement gap in the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) at a town hall this evening in East Liberty.

Irene Habermann, chair of the Education Task Force of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, one of the event organizers, said the purpose is to get the parents' and community's perspective on education reform within the city's public school district.  Habermann said public education is in the midst of a crisis "[it] is being systematically attacked and infiltrated" by charter schools and corporate funded schools.

"Public schools are for the public good, so we want to strengthen our existing relationships between the parents and the community members and school staff," said Habermann, "to create opportunities to share their vision of better public schools."

This evening's town hall is the first of four such events during this school year and will focus on closing the achievement gap between white and black students.  "We're looking at achievement for all within seven years," Habermann said.

However, an annual report issued two weeks ago by the education advocacy group A+ Schools indicated at the current rate of improvement it would take 24 years to close the achievement gap in math and reading.  

But Habermann said overcoming that challenge will rely on working together.  "We are so much stronger in changing and reforming our schools where we have an equitable system where every child gets to achieve and every child has an opportunity to continue their education and really make a difference in their life.

According to Habermann topics for upcoming town hall meetings this school year include student behavior and discipline and teacher effectiveness.

This evening's town hall gathering will be held at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary on North Highland Avenue. All Pittsburgh School District residents are invited to attend the event.  The Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network is asking that those who want to attend register by sending an email to  A light dinner and childcare will be provided.