For some Black families in Pittsburgh, finding the right school means choosing between diversity and academic rigor

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For Doris Harvin-Taylor, navigating the options for schools in Pittsburgh is “exhausting.”

Her 12-year-old son Joshua attends The Neighborhood Academy, a private college preparatory school. She and her husband, Kwame Taylor, like the student diversity and values of the school, and it’s where they would like to send their 10-year-old daughter, Abigail next fall.

Abigail currently attends Dilworth PreK-5, a magnet school in Pittsburgh Public Schools [PPS]. They’ve had a great experience there, but Harvin-Taylor is concerned about the social and learning environment at some of the district’s middle schools. “Your surroundings sometimes are everything,” she said.

Choosing K-12 schools can present a dilemma to Black families in the Pittsburgh region, according to new research from local nonprofits and the University of Pittsburgh funded by The Heinz Endowments*. Though parents’ concerns are not monolithic, some noted that public schools can offer greater student diversity but can lack resources due to systemic inequities. Private schools, on the other hand, can provide more resources at a greater price, but the predominantly white spaces can be socially isolating.

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