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Black Women for a Better Education say lengthy search for PPS’s next superintendent is concerning

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

Pittsburgh Public School District Board is holding public comment sessions regarding its search for a new superintendent
(0:00 - 7:05)

In September, Anthony Hamlet, in the wake of an ethics investigation, submitted his resignation as Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools effective Oct. 1.

The school board continues to look for his permanent replacement through a national search firm. Today and Thursday, the board is holding five in-person community input meetings as well as a virtual session, and accepting input from an online survey.

“We wrote a letter back in September when the transition to an interim was happening. There are about 167 of us that signed the letter calling for transparency in the search and offering our support with the search. We didn't hear back from the board,” says Allyce Pinchback-Johnson. She’s a founding member of Black Women for a Better Education, which backed a slate of candidates running for the board, including two that won seats.

“Part of the problem with the district is that they want community input, but they kind of want it on their terms, which looks like last minute and in some ways just moving towards their own agenda,” says Pinchback-Johnson.

The in-person sessions will take place at schools throughout the city today and tomorrow from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Attendees can register to attend and find more details on the district website.

Pittsburgh Opera and the National Opera House are forming a new partnership to develop programs for community engagement
(7:09 - 17:00)

The city's opera community is forming a new partnership that brings together the past and present of this art form. Pittsburgh Opera is teaming up with the National Opera House (NOH) on educational programs and events such as workshops and career development.

The NOH is a nonprofit established out of the National Negro Opera Company, the first African-American Opera company in the nation. The company’s founder, Mary Cardwell Dawson, was initially denied the chance to perform with the Pittsburgh Opera. Cardwell Dawson then rented the third floor of a house in Homewood for the company in 1941. The NOH is currently rehabilitating the home.

“In our nation we have a very dark history of the fact that lots of the arts were segregated among different groups,” says Rebekah Diaz, Pittsburgh Opera's director of community engagement and the IDEA initiatives.

Diaz hopes the programs developed through this partnership will remedy the disparities that have existed in opera, and further the recent progress that has been made.

“It starts with partnership,” says Jonnet Solomon, the NOH’s executive director. “We define equity as creating conditions and experiences of fairness, and right now we’re partnering with everyone in the Homewood area, Lincoln-Lemington to create that experience of fairness”

Diaz says the programming will allow young people to work both on and off-stage, with opportunities in design, marketing, directing, and performance.

Mental health crisis centers worry about capacity when the three-digit hotline number goes live
(17:15 - 22:30)

In mid-July, the 988 hotline will officially go live across the U.S. for people struggling with their mental health.

WITF’s Brett Sholtis reports that crisis centers in the middle of the commonwealth, which will answer some of those calls, are facing a significant staffing shortage, and advocates say they need funding and support.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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