In his column “In rebuttal: Jake Haulk singing the same old song” (July 25 and TribLIVE.com), a rebuttal to my column “Struggling Promise” (July 21 and TribLIVE.com), Saleem Ghubril failed to make an even modestly convincing case that the Pittsburgh Promise is not a failure.
The stated goals of handing out generous scholarships to graduates were to boost enrollment and raise academic achievement. He admits the numbers on both counts are not moving in the right direction.
Pittsburgh Public Schools spends $21,000 per pupil each year. And yet many schools are educational disasters.
But his really stunning implication is that if taxpayers and contributors will just throw more money at the problem, it will get solved. Evidently, experience is not seen as a good teacher.
Mr. Ghubril chastises me for suggesting that a portion of the Promise money would be better used to create scholarships to allow some students an opportunity to get out of the Pittsburgh schools and into private or parochial schools.
My response: How many students who would love a chance to go to a school where learning is prized, discipline maintained and education actually happens are being deprived of that opportunity because he wants to take his needle and thread (money) and try to patch up the holes in the failing public schools?
A better metaphor is the Dutch boy trying to plug holes in the dike. The holes are too many and too big.
Ghubril does not address the horrendous absenteeism in the high schools. Nor does he explain why students with weak academic records can qualify for scholarships.
Set higher standards if you want to see academic improvement.
The writer is president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy.
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