Monday, October 27, 2008

Strategic Plan Comments Now Available

Comments on the draft Strategic Plan by both A Plus Schools and PURE Reform are now available (see PURE Reform's Links tab and go to the section on "Strategic Plan").

A Plus Schools is to be applauded on its comments emphasizing two way communication, transparency and public engagement.


Questioner said...

Here are comments from the Mark Rauterkus blog:

Thursday, October 23, 2008
A+ Schools does good job with a paper evaluation of the PPS Plans
Posted by Mark Rauterkus at 8:53 PM

There is a public review and evalution of a planning document with a bunch of weenie talk from the PPS educators concerning our schools. One group already did a fine job of laying out dozens and dozens of comments with plenty of open-ended questions and calls for more clarity, understanding, justifications and objective measures.

Another group, A+ Schools, released a paper that takes aim at the same planning document. The A+ Schools evaluation is very good.

A couple of the final points in the document get reprinted here:
Strategy 5.6: The Pittsburgh Public Schools needs a transparent, deliberate, and
accessible format for engaging the community. There should be protocols for
community processes that include criteria for decision making and other
accountability measures so that the public knows what to expect from the District
and knows where they can provide valuable information.

(Add) There was a community engagement plan for high school reform
announced recently and it does not appear in this plan. Stating it as a specific
strategy that PPS intends to use would reinforce the sincerity of the plan that has
already been presented and invoke more likely public support.
Sure, PPS needs lots of transparent elements throughout the entire system. Tons and tons would be a good start.

The problem with the high school reform task force that had meetings for more than a year are many. The group was hand picked. The group huddled without notes ever being released. Votes were not taken. And, the outcome of all of those meetings amounted to zip. Mr. Roosevelt said that all the planning was tossed out the window because of the Schenley excuse.

The members of the task force that asked hard questions were not invited back for additional meetings once the plans changed.

The high school reform task force was a joke. Its outcomes if not its total being presented opportunities to blow smoke and fiddle time and divert attention.

The high school reform task force can't be mentioned in the current draft of the plans as the work product would have to also be referenced. That work product and advice is nothing like what is being orchestrated at present.

The high school reform task force is like a bad rash that Mr. Roosevelt wants to forget as quickly as possible and never hint of prior connections. So, the high school reform task force of the not too distance past is like the re-write of the curriculum by the private firm (Kaplan) with accelerated payments at inflated costs that was later dismissed only to be re-written by in-house people in recent times.

Churn baby churn -- disco inferno!

Well done A+ Schools. Well done Pure Reform. Nice try PPS, but your homework isn't complete and it needs a do-over. Perhaps its grade is 50% -- as it is unfashionable to give any lower score.
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Anonymous said...

Maybe instead of handpicked committees a "weighted lottery" could be used, with extra chances given to those with high attendance at PSCC meetings or who come from areas that will be most affected by the matters being discussed by the committee.

Questioner said...

More from A+ Schools- from today's PG:

Read the school plan

The Pittsburgh Public School District has reached a positive tipping point, thanks to momentum generated by exciting new initiatives -- but you'd never know it from reading its final draft strategic plan. At A+ Schools, our review of the plan identified some very exciting ideas. Unfortunately, many were difficult to find and the plan includes gaps that are hard to ignore.

Buried in the strategic plan are proposals to improve the parent hot line and Web site, provide a new planning approach, develop career and technical education and extend the way the district uses data to inform teaching and learning. The plan calls for expanding culturally relevant courses for students and continuing improved professional development for principals and teachers.

But in addition to these hidden treasures, we found important gaps, including specific measurable outcomes (besides those required to meet adequate yearly progress, or AYP) that the district hopes to achieve and projected dates for achieving those outcomes. Also absent are ways the school board plans to encourage public confidence and involvement.

While we commend the district on its efforts to engage the public in its strategic planning process, the plan itself is neither concise nor does it provide a coherent description of the current reform agenda outlined in "Excellence for All." We urge Pittsburghers to read the plan and offer their own comments. It's available on the Pittsburgh Public Schools' Web site at But time is running out -- the required 30-day public comment period ends tomorrow.

Executive Director
A+ Schools