Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Environmental (or Env & Health Sci) Magnet

Last night the Pitt Honors College sponsored a lecture by Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford professor of conservation studies, focusing on his book about Human Evolution and the Environment. There appeared to be about 1ooo people who came out on this cold Monday evening to hear his lecture.

Clearly there is enormous interest in Pittsburgh in environmental issues, and based on Professor Ehrlich's presentation this interest is well-founded. He spoke for example about how we are facing greater environmental threats than global warming, and that when it comes to global warming there are greater dangers than rising sea levels. His closing message was that as great as the threats are there is hope that we can address these dangers, but to have even a chance of doing so we need environmental education on a vastly greater scale than is now in place.

Why then has there been no consideration of an environmental high school magnet? Yes the sci tech school will offer environmental studies as one of 4 majors, but this is a very small school (even if all 100 of each class were to stay with the program and graduate and one of 4 choose the environmental major, that would be only 25 graduating seniors a year). The school is also perceived as targeting lower achieving students, while there are students at every level passionate about this topic. If the people of Pittsburgh were consulted about a magnet or "theme" they would like to see, environmental studies (as a springboard for the study of math, science, literature, art, etc) would most likely be at or near the top of the list (witness the popularity of the environmental charter elementary school).

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

When the group that was actively trying to save the Schenley building was looking for other potential uses for the building, Vivian Loftness, the director of CMU's Sustainable Architecture department suggested that it would be the perfect location for an Environmental Arts and Science magnet. Not only is it a green building (See PG link that is listed on this website), but its location offered access to the higher education resources that are in Oakland.

Questioner said...

Such a school in the Schenley building would be a real home run for the district- but it would require a focus on long term value rather than an emphasis on showing quick results.

Questioner said...

Given the natural overlap between environmental and health sciences, environmental and health magnets could exist in a single building- AND if centrally located could provide a large school option for students from all parts of the city.

therese said...

This would be a natural choice for those 8th graders finishing the Imagine-Environmental Charter School at Frick Park

Questioner said...

Yes, it would seem to be a way to draw these students back into the public school system.

Kids often want to go to school where their friends are going, and and so the fact that this option would likely be of interest to an existing group would be another plus.

Anonymous said...

With the current administration placing partial blame on charter schools for its fiscal and enrollment problems, the likelihood of an Environmental Arts and Science Magnet as a charter high school is next to none. The administration will not allow any closed school building to be used as "competition" for its programs. The district would have to decide to do this itself, and the fact that there is soon to be opening a small SciTech High school in the Frick Building, close by, lessens the possiblity. The scope of an Environmental Arts and Science Magnet would be so much broader and would attract a wider range of students, interested in many disciplines. The district's focus right now seems to be narrowing, rather than expanding, options for the high school students of Pittsburgh.

Questioner said...

It is strange how charter schools are supposed to provide competition to standard public schools, but it is the public school district that determines whether to permit the charter school to exist, and the public school district can adopt a policy (as Pittsburgh has) of not selling unused school buildings to charter schools- regardless of the merit of any particular charter school.