Elites know what’s best for rest of us |

Elites know what’s best for rest of us

After a year of study, the 37 members of the Mayor’s Commission on Public Education reached this conclusion about the problems infecting the Pittsburgh Public Schools: Your basic Pittsburgher cannot be trusted to run the system, but the elites of Pittsburgh can.

Some of our best and brightest believe that students’ poor performance, the district’s high costs, high taxes, failed leadership and governance, as well as the community’s supposed indifference, can be repaired by eliminating the democratic process.

Electing school board members supposedly is part of the problem. Appointing them is the key to success, according to the report.

“They want to put the blue noses in charge,” said Al Fondy, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers. “How could you advocate not electing people in government?”

You can advocate it if you are conceited enough to think the unwashed masses of yinzers are not bright enough to be trusted with their children’s education.

Those same yinzers vote in presidential elections. They also have helped elect members of Congress and the Legislature, governors, county council members, the county chief executive, mayors and city council members. They even are allowed to vote on referenda.

Maybe Pittsburghers should lose all their voting rights because the elites turn up their noses at their supposed poor judgment.

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg chairs the leadership and governance committee of the commission.

Under Nordenberg’s leadership and governance, Pitt’s tuition for in-state undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences at the Oakland campus increased 46.41 percent over the past five years — from $5,884 in 1998-1999 to $8,615 in 2003-2004. In addition, Nordenberg received a 14 percent raise in December to make his annual salary $390,000. plus perks. His annual base salary was $225,000 when he was appointed chancellor in 1996.

So much for controlling costs.

Nordenberg, who declined an interview request, might want to rethink looking down on his school board neighbors at 341 S. Bellefield Ave. from the Pitt campus across the street.

Those who live in glass cathedrals should not throw stones.

The Mayor’s Commission on Public Education means well, but the solution offered is no different from those proposed by other groups of high-society movers and shakers who want what is best for us.

The elites at the top of the food chain always act as though they have the answers for those of us at the bottom, even though they probably cannot even see us because they have their heads in the clouds.

Trust us, they say. Trust us to think for you about regional taxation, stadiums, convention centers, urban renewal and metropolitanism. We know what is best, they say.

When Pittsburgh’s elites suggest they are inspired by “noblesse oblige,” you usually get a gentle pat on the head followed by a “run along now. Mommy and Daddy will take care of it.”

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