Including student voices in PPS Superintendent search

In the Fall of 2015, Dr. Linda Lane, the Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent announced that she would retire at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

Since then, community members have openly debated about the appropriate methodology for choosing the next superintendent, who has a myriad of administrative issues and changes to face at the district in the coming years. 

However, many of these same community groups agree on one thing – that student voices can’t be excluded from the selection decision.  To do this, Hear Me was asked to partner with Great Public Schools and also with the youth empowerment champions at TeenBloc (a program of A+Schools) to capture students’ experiences and perspectives on what their next superintendent should prioritize and care about.   Great Public Schools is recruiting teachers on the ground to record their students’ stories.  Teachers are using available technology and are eligible to borrow from Hear Me’s lending library of audio recorders.  Meanwhile, TeenBloc students went through Hear Me ‘s audio recording training and created their own set of student-oriented questions, and are pursuing interviews with peers.

A sampling of the questions we are asking include:  

  • What are the qualities you want the new superintendent to have?
  • What are the most important issues facing your school or What issues should the superintendent focus on?
  • What should the superintendent know about students?

Some of the early stories talk about focusing on career training, small student to teacher ratios, representative history curricula in the classroom, and increasing teacher diversity.  You can find the collection here, and look forward to a Hear Me podcast about this in early 2016.

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