Who We Are
We are a coalition of Black women, parents, current and retired educators, and concerned community members committed to ensuring that all Black children in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region receive the high-quality education they deserve.
Our coalition is diverse; some of us are new to educational advocacy, while others have been championing these causes for decades. We engage stakeholders across multiple school districts in the region, but focus much of our work on Pittsburgh Public Schools, the second largest school district in the state with the largest concentration of Black students in the Southwestern PA region. Our ultimate goal is to dismantle systems that perpetuate racism and oppression in and around our schools.
We build capacity for and awareness of education advocacy and leadership in the region through the following pillars of work:
Learning Institutes: Our ongoing series of virtual, interactive sessions feature education advocates, scholars, and elected officials, and are designed to prepare Black women and co-conspirators to become education thought leaders and run for office.
White Papers: Our publications are fact-based, rich with data, and unapologetic. We write about the history of education in the region, make policy recommendations, and issue calls to action to leaders who can influence the trajectory of Black children in our communities.
Political Action Committee: Our PAC endorses and financially supports candidates who are willing to speak boldly about education issues and include them in their platforms.
We have a shared leadership model in which every member plays a role in content development and decision making. We operate as a united front, in alignment with the sisterhood that runs deep with Black women. Education in our region is a political, divisive, and racially charged topic; many of us are risking our reputations to speak up about something so important to us. We will not allow individual attacks or cherry picking by the media, school districts, or the public to cloud the unified message that we have established.
History and Impact
We started meeting in May 2020 out of frustration with the Pittsburgh Public School district’s response to COVID-19 and the subpar remote learning rollout, which was rooted in a number of organizational inadequacies and shortcomings.
Out of those meetings, we built a coalition to advocate for the PPS school board not to renew Superintendent Anthony Hamlet’s contract. Our letter received 61 signatures, and we elevated a petition started by a Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher that was signed by over 2,600 educators and community members. Our advocacy amplified the public discourse and engagement around the school district. Through our work, people who are concerned about the state of PPS have found a much-needed platform from which to safely speak.
In 2021, after frustrations with a lack of response from Pittsburgh Public School Board Directors, we launched our political action committee (PAC). With a focus on Pittsburgh Public Schools in our first year, we endorsed a full slate (link to “Endorsements”) of candidates to compete in all five open school board races. We were successful in three of our five races: Sala Udin in District 3, Dr. Tracey Reed in District 5, and Gene Walker in District 9.
In fall of 2021 after continued advocacy and pressure from our coalition and others, and amidst a report from the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission that concluded Dr. Hamlet had violated state ethics laws, Dr. Anthony Hamlet resigned as Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools. BW4BE quickly mobilized 167 stakeholders to send a letter to the School Board, outlining our expectations for the leadership transition.
In December of 2021, our three successful candidates were sworn in as Pittsburgh School Board Directors, resulting in a dramatic shift of board dynamics, and in the election of our candidate, Sala Udin, as the Pittsburgh Public School Board President.
When did the group start?
We started meeting in May 2020 out of frustration with the district’s response to COVID-19 and the subpar remote learning rollout, which is rooted in a number of organizational inadequacies and shortcomings.
What is your focus?
We are committed to ensuring that all Black children in this region receive the high-quality education they deserve.
We advocated for the PPS school board not to renew Superintendent Anthony Hamlet’s contract. Our letter received 61 signatures, and we elevated a petition started by a PPS teacher that was signed by over 2,600 educators and community members. While the board ultimately ignored us, our advocacy amplified the public discourse and engagement around the school district. Through our work, people who are concerned about the state of PPS have found a much-needed platform from which to safely speak.
We continue to bring light to and take positions on issues surrounding PPS via social media and by elevating the individual and collective work of our group members. Our ultimate goal is to dismantle systems that perpetuate racism and oppression in and around our school district.