Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cynicism about PPS

On the December "Start a New Post" Anonymous wrote:

Maybe this post could be about the PPS website- what caused me to suggest it is that when one searches for schools, the names are alphabetized...except, when one types "S," the new Science and Technology school appears before Schaeffer, Schenley, and Schiller. Is this an honest mistake? Do they not know how to alphabetize? Is this a push to try to get more interest in the new school? This may seem cynical..but, hmmm.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Report on EFA Meeting/ HS Reform Posted

PURE Reform's report on the December 18 Excellence for All Steering Committee meeting about High School Reform has been posted on PURE Reform's Announcement's page (go to http://www.purereform.com/ "Announcements" tab).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Allderdice Hall of Fame

On the December "Start a New Post" Anonymous wrote:

"How disheartening to see NOT ONE woman nominated for Allderdice's Hall of Fame. Could they not have chosen at least one woman out of the four chosen? What does this say to all the female students...You don't count!"


Please fill us in- where was this announced? Is the Hall of Fame something new or is this a yearly award?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Obama pledges $10 Billion for early childhood ed

Not yet clear how the money will be allocated.


Reform in Chicago

On the December "Start a New Post," Anonymous wrote:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Start a New Post": http://schoolsmatter.blogspot.com/2008/12/from-houston-miracles-to-chicago.htmlHere's an interesting story -- and the report it references might be good for PURE Reform to look at, too! Posted by Anonymous to PURE Reform at December 16, 2008 11:29 PM

This is a discussion of the effectiveness of "top down reforms" in Chicago (which is the district run by the Secretary of Education to be). The PURE mentioned in the article is a different group w/ a similar name (lots of parents seeking responsible education apparently!).

Monday, December 15, 2008

One district replaces AP courses- carefully

From the NYT:

"Scarsdale adjusts to life without advanced placement courses"

This article is interesting not only for its discussion of the pros and cons of AP courses, but also for the way the courses were phased out and replaced with an alternative, which included checking in advance with top universities.

Change for the Sake of Change?

On the December "Start a New Post," Anonymous wrote:

It appears to me that schools are being changed for the sake of change. It would be wonderful if when plans are made to move and reinvent schools the students going to those schools were really, truly considered. 'New and improved' schools need to be 'improved' not just 'new'.The district's 'salespeople' are old time snakeoil salesmen (and women). They promise that everything will be 'new' and 'better'. Questions are never fully answered (Why?) Parents need to start asking questions and not be satisfied until they are given answers they really understand.

Schenley Building Committee

On the December "Start a New Post" PURE Reform wrote:

Word is that the committee to investigate uses for the Schenley Building will commence in the new year after the new facilities director is hired. Pure reform will continue to monitor the progress on this committee and be involved on the committee itself.

Girls' Sports/ Title IX Audit

An audit will look into whether girls and boys' sports are receiving equal treatment in the PPS system.


Specifically mentioned is a lack of athletic opportunities for girls at Peabody High School.

It would be interesting to know whether a lack of athletic opportunities for girls is particularly problematic at small high schools, and if so how this problem can be remedied. It is difficult to imagine how (without some very creative efforts) opportunities at Peabody will be improved over the next three and a half years as the school is being phased out and, reportedly, there will be no new incoming 9th grade classes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Schenley Building Removed from District Insurance

From the PPG:


The district's chief financial office asks how he can justify spending money on a building that kids are not attending.

But wouldn't most people maintain insurance on for example a house that they owned, even if they were no longer occupying the house and were not sure what they would do with the house? Occupied or not, the house would be an asset worth protecting.

Community relations provide an additional justification. How can the district ask for the community's support on a whole range of initiatives, but ignore the community's interest in this property and historic landmark?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Technical Education

Here's an interesting op ed from earlier this week discussing plans for technical education that were developed but not acted on in 2004.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Westinghouse Community Meeting

PURE Reform's report on the second Westinghouse community meeting.

This discussion is of more than general interest for many areas outside of Homewood, since Westinghouse will apparently be the new "home school" for students in Highland Park, Bloomfield, Garfield, Polish Hill, Shadyside, etc. who do not apply or are not selected in the lottery for a magnet school, or who do not maintain the grade requirements set by a magnet (ie, at least C's in all core subjects at the IB school).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Obama Vows Public Works on Vast Scale"

From Sunday's New York Times:

"Although Mr. Obama put no price tag on his plan, he said he would invest record amounts of money in the vast infrastructure program, which also includes work on schools..."

An official at the National Commission on Energy Policy remarked, "He is advocating things like guaranteeing every American a college education..."


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Public Hearing Testimony Posted

At yesterday's Public Hearing there were five speakers associated with PURE Reform.

Topics were Comprehensive High Schools, Former Schenley Building Insurance, IB and Pittsburgh Peabody, Budget/CEP and Parent Engagement. All testimony has been posted at www.purereform.com (announcements tab under this December 8, 2008 item).

The issue of building insurance for the Schenley building is new to this blog. Again, the district has a tin ear when it comes to one of the most beloved school buildings in this district.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Parent Engagement Events

It sounds like Parent Engagement is being kicked up a notch!

From the Director of Family and Community Engagement:

Attention Parents and family members

It is not too late, you missed the first one, but we still 2 more chances to meet in 2008. Parent Engagement Tuesdays are exciting, interactive, informative sessions designed to equip parents with the tools necessary to get and keep your child(ren) on the path to the Pittsburgh Promise. Select the date, time and location that fits your schedule and please RSVP to Wanda Spencer at wspencer1@pghboe.net or 412-622-3617.

Lunch or dinner will be served

Parent Engagement Tuesdays Topic
Parents Rights and Responsibilities Under Title 1, NCLB
How to advocate for your child

12/09 12:00 Noon - 1:30 PM YMCA North Side
600 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

12/16 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM Pittsburgh Phillips K-5 (South Side)
1901 Sarah St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Mark A. Conner
Director of Family and Community Engagement
Pittsburgh Public Schools
341 S. Bellefield Avenue, Ste 422
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: (412) 622-3941
E-mail: mconner1@pghboe.net

Saturday, December 6, 2008

IB Committee Recommends Peabody Building

As expected, of the limited choices given to the IB Committee the Peabody building was selected.


No information yet as to where students in the Peabody feeder will go or as to the cost of renovations to Peabody.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Board to Vote on Peabody; Reports of Fights

We are receiving reports that the Board is about to vote to move IB to Peabody.

There are also reports of fights or attacks in that area involving Peabody and Schenley students.

Parent Engagement December 2008

PURE Reform's meeting from the December 2, 2008 Parent Engagement meeting has been posted on the Announcements tab of www.purereform.com (go to the listing for this event and click on "PURE Reform REPORT."

Board considers $33-$55M to Reopen Connelly

From the PG, the board has discussed reopening Connelly for career and technical education (classroom training only, automotive would stay at Brashear). The current cost estimate is $33-$55M.


It would be useful to know the student capacity for the building so that a cost per student figure could be calculated.

Of course, 3/4 of Schenley (1000 students) could be renovated for $60M (and due to lower labor and energy costs, that figure is probably lower now- work for contractors is way down).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A+ Schools Survey on School Board Governance

A+ Schools is conducting a survey about school board governance at

Access the survey by visiting this link: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/?p=WEB228KG6CLXLV.

The first set of questions is somewhat confusing- choices as to a list of actions/ behavior are "unacceptable, discouraged, acceptable, encouraged" and it is not clear for example if the person responding is intendended to indicate whether the school board finds certain behavior (such as giving priority to the needs of the board member's own district) acceptable, or whether the person responding finds the behavior acceptable; and, it is not clear what to do if the official position of the board is that a listed action or behavior is "encouraged" but in practice the action or behavior does not take place.

But A+ is to be commended for raising these issues and seeking community input.

"Reizenstein Will Most Likely Move to Peabody"

From the Shadyside Action Committee Minutes of November 13, 2008:

· Peggy Ott, Skip Schwab of ELDI and Rob Pfaffmann, Zoning Chair of SAC met with Paul Gil, the COO of the School Board about Reizenstein School. Reizenstein will most likely move to Peabody. The group reminded Mr. Gil that the Reizenstein property is zoned residential and the community will work to preserve this zoning classification.

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