Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Allderdice/ Comprehensive Neighborhood Schools

On the October Start a New Post Anonymous wrote:

Allderdice Parents Beware: Don't assume the Superintendent does not have plans to turn Allderdice into a theme based school. He wants to turn every high school in the district into a theme based 6-12. My children are currently in a K-8 private school, but we plan on sending them to Allderdice for high school. My husband and I want our children to receive a comprehensive high school education at their neighborhood high school just like we received in the suburbs. We do not want our children to have to decide their future career paths as young as ages 14, 15, 16 or even 17. After all, how many of us didn't even know what we wanted to major in once we got to college? We will not limit the education of our children by having to decide on a "theme" school. Instead we will have to pay for private school or move to the suburbs. Rumor has it that Allderdice is next. The Superintendent already closed a model of urban education by closing Schenley so don't think Allderdice is immune to his high school reform agenda. Parents want comprehensive neighborhood schools! Parents, make yourself heard before it's too late!


Anonymous said...

i agree completely.
allderdice is all about variety - so let's start embracing the great variety a student can achieve at allderdice with funds and enthusiasm - the same funds and enthusiasm that capa is getting.

Questioner said...

But aren't the recent funds to CAPA connected to making it a 6 - 12 school? It seems like most CAPA families would have given up the funds if that would have prevented the addition of grades 6 thru 8 to CAPA.

anon said...

Anonymous is correct, Roosevelt does want to turn all the high schools into theme high schools. The plan for Westinghouse is for it to specialize in sports science. That's science of sports, not sports and science. The thought is that since families in Homewood will go to sporting events they will naturally send their children to a school that specializes in sports. I can tell you that families in Homewood will also go to fashion shows, church, and restaurants. So maybe the district would be better off creating a religious fashion institute with a great cafeteria. What children need is a straightforward education. Everyone knows that small class size is a strong factor in a student's academic success. Give the children what they need and they will thrive. I don't think they need to decide the course of the rest of their lives at age 11.

DiceDad said...

I am somewhat wary about the wisdom of combining middle school kids with high school older teens, there are various issues regarding sexuality, alcohol, driving etc. in which most parents of middle school kids do not want their kids hanging out with high schoolers.

Three of my children have progressed through the PPS (soon my youngest will finish at Allderdice) and I was happy with their middle schools being separate from high school.

Roosevelt does not really care much at all about high ability students from middle class and upper middle class homes in the East End. For Roosevelt the main game plan is all about trying to prove to a national audience that he can institute programs that will eliminate the racial academic achievement gap and consequently about 90% of his effort is on trying various expensive new programs to increase the achievement of low ability poor black students. If Roosevelt had free rein I am sure he would try to eliminate or dumb-down the CAS program at Allderdice.

East End parents have to admit that the only thing that they really like about the PPS is the advanced programs offered at schools like Allderdice-CAS and CAPA. Both of these programs utilize ability-tracking. If the PPS had more ability-tracking in the K-8 years we would have far fewer East End parents opting out of the PPS for fear that the curriculum in the city schools is being dumbed down to accomodate the low ability poor black students. For example the writer of the original post in this thread mentioned that their children are in a private school for K-8. Why are they now considering Allderdice for high school? Of course it is all because of the strong ability-tracking program at Allderdice (i.e. the General track for lower IQ students, the Scholars track for mid IQ students, and the CAS track for higher IQ students). Liberal upscale parents invariably claim that they hate tracking because it is inequal, but in reality they absolutely LOVE public schools with tracking!

By the way, because of Roosevelt's anti-tracking mindset the proposed new Science and Technology 6-12 school will undoubtably turn out to be a total flop. If you carefully read the plans for this new school you will see that there will be no effort to track the students, in fact the plan is to have the dumbest students sharing all the same classes as the smartest students. So just how advanced and rigorous will the classes really be in this new Science and Technology School? They even have plans for a special admissions weighting procedure designed especially to recruit low performing students from particular schools.

Throughout the nation, successful public high schools with advanced science curriculum are all exam schools, meaning they use exams to select for the high ability students. Examples of very successful public schools that select for high-ability students are Stuyvesant and Bronx Sci in New York City, the Latin School in Boston, Thomas Jefferson in Fairfax County Virginia, and Lowell School in San Francisco. But Roosevelt and the harebrained advisory group he hired at CMU have the opposite plan for the PPS's new Science and Technology School, rather than selecting for high-ability students, instead they have a plan to recruit low-ability students. Of course it will be a total flop and after the first couple of years virtually no East End middle class parents will send their high ability kids to that school. By that time maybe Roosevelt and his minions will have killed or dumbed down the CAS program at Allderdice, so then probably the only option will be to move to the burbs.

Forget all the politically correct anti-tracking crap that you have all been fed. The truth is that in order to have a truly vibrant and successful public school system within the context of an ethnically diverse urban setting, you really need to have a whole lot of ability-tracking.

Questioner said...

High achieving students of whatever race are affected when appropriate classes are not made available to them. However, doesn't CAS status ensure these classes for 9th and 10th grade students, as mandated by the state, followed by AP classes? (If the sci tech school is somehow excused from offering CAS that could be problematic, especially because it will not be offering AP classes and so there is no guarantee of a challenge for the highest achieving students.) It may be that students who are not low achieving but also not in CAS are the ones being most overlooked.

Anonymous said...

Is there really any chance of changes at Allderdice? Certain schools (Allderdice, Carrick) seem to have "guardian angels" on the school board to protect them (although if the rest of the system goes down they will eventually be affected as well).

Anonymous said...

Dicedad is right. For East End parents, Allderdice is the jewel of the district, as was the IB Program at Schenley. I also agree that middle schoolers and high schoolers should be in separate buildings. We don't need to see 12 year old pregnant 6h graders. The best configurations is K-6; middle school 7-9; and high school 10-12. Every educator I've spoken with agree this is the best arrangement. Additionally, there should be excellent science and technology programs and teachers at every school. There should also be a diversity of languages and electives available at every high school. Class sizes should be smaller and more teachers should be hired. That is how we can really improve the education system, not by making up these little theme and gimmicks and cutting resources at comprehensive schools. East End parents bought their homes in the East End neighborhoods so their children can attend Allderdice and not have to be bussed across town to some other school.

Anonymous said...

Westinghouse High School gets a bad rap. They have small class sizes which is beneficial to the students because they get a lot of individualized attention from teachers. They made AYP. If progress is being made then why do they want to turn it into a Science of Sports magnet? In my opinion, that is rather offensive to the community. The problem is not with Westinghouse, but the drugs and gun violence in the community caused by adults.

PPSParent said...

I don't believe that Allderdice will be made into a theme 6-12 -- there has to be a school with lots of spots open at 9th grade level to serve the kids in the K-8 schools the administration started the reform with.

HOWEVER, there will likely be only a few comprehensive schools like it in the city and if you read the strategic plan very carefully, it seems to say that ALL high school admissions will be by application/lottery of some sort. So, while Allderdice will still be Allderdice in some related form, it won't be tethered to its neighborhood as closely as it is now.

There have to be a few schools in the district that take the kids that can't or don't want to fit into a theme. There has to be a place for special education and ESL, etc.

I'd suggest asking about how these schools are going to be filled and when neighborhood feeder patterns will be gone.

Questioner said...

One of the questions we have submitted, on our question tab is:

"Will remaining comprehensive schools be equally available to students regardless of current neighborhood feeder patterns? Ie, will there be an all-district choice system and if so, approximately when will it be implemented?"

We have been told that we will receive answers to our questions and it will be none too soon because the themed schools are being put into place for 2009 but there is no indication of a plan for 2009 for the kids who can't or don't want to fit into a theme. This is one of the places where kids will be lost from the system.