Wednesday, January 14, 2009

700 transferring to a magnet?

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

Found this on the PPS district web site when I went looking for a 2-hour delay. It would be nice to have ALL of the numbers. I like the 700 student number being thrown out there as the number of private school kids who are transferring to a magnet for next year. Of course, there is no mention of how many typically come into the system for high school from PUCS, Carlow, or from various Catholic schools that go to 8th grade. . . From the sounds of this article, the population in city schools will be going up. I will believe it when I see it in September.


Questioner said...

Also, not everyone who puts in an application WILL transfer.

For the 700 figure to mean anything we would need to know how many from private, religious and charter schools "transferred to a magnet" last year. And since there are more magnet programs this year (for ex a magnet at Carrick that will probably draw mostly kids who would have gone to Carrick anyway) we would want to know how many transferred into PPS this year v. last year, whether into a magnet or not. For a data driven administration this should not be too much to ask!

Mark Rauterkus said...

You say, you'll wait until September to see the numbers -- but -- there is no guarantee that you'll even see the numbers in September 09.

You don't know the numbers for this year, right?

Anonymous said...

As stated previously on other threads, this administration loves to play the numbers game. Heck, it's almost like a shell game. Thanks to KDKA and the PG--two mouthpieces for the Roosevelt machine---we are treated to an entire litany of rosy articles and video pieces portending to be "news". I'm still in shock over Andy Sheehan's hatchet job on teachers last year during negotiations.
And now, Roosevelt wants to play nice, tell teachers how much he appreciates them at an in service a week from Tuesday....and give them all a scarf.

All of this brings me to the Pittsburgh Promise, another well done shell game by the current administration in cooperation with local media. I still marvel at how many people are of the belief that PPS is providing a "free college education." According to KDKA, people are even moving within city residents to take advantage of this incredible deal.

While any money is good money, the truth is that the Promise only kicks in after students have received as much financial aid as they can each year in college. This numbers game means that if a kid is going to matriculate to Duquesne and have a $35,000 bill in front of him---and gets aid for $20,000---the Promise will pay $5000 of the remaining amount. The kid will have to take out additional loans for the remaining amount due.

Why is it that so many people don't know or hear this? Why is it that the media doesn't report it. I think that any amount thrown towards kids is wonderful, but opportunist have taken the initiative here to trumpet the headline without explaining the details.

All of which leads me to the original post. This numbers baloney extends to drop out rates (remember when a few schools last year were called 'drop out factories' by PPS officials?), attendance rates, sign ups to the district, transfer rates and the like.

Like it or not, this is a people business and no matter the fact that the corporate approach of data driven decisions is the modus operandi of this crew, the district fails miserably thanks to failure to address the all too real needs of the all too real students.

The one sobering fact that can't be spun: this district is losing population. Families with achieving students are looking elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

The school district is doing a survey to find out why parents choose schools other than PPS and/or transfer their children out of our district. They need to do a study to identify how many staff and other personnel members choose to not send their own children to PPS. You would be surprised by the large numbers who do so. The district's own personnel doesn't have faith in the school system.

Anonymous said...

And well, they shouldn't. What educated person who is also a responsible parent would want to send their kid to a school district with an outrageously out of touch curriculum and a 50% grading policy that rewards do-nothing students?

Tell me, does a study really need to be done, and if so, how much are we spending on it?

Anonymous said...

Uhh, there are actually quite a few well-educated parents who send their children to the PPS -- they do their homework, they don't just listen to the stories but actually go and look at schools and talk to students, parents, principals and teachers and make good decisions.

Anonymous said...

But uh, you're becoming a smaller minority as the months and years go by. There's only so much room at Schenley, or Allderdice, or CAPA. Talk to me when you have made the decision to send your kid to Oliver. Talk to me when your education has led you to believe that a mainstream curriculum over at Perry provides you with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
The more you look at Roosevelt's dealings and the more one examines this blog, it becomes clear that there is a have and have not mentality that pervades education within city limits.
To those whose kids go to the few good schools with the few exemplary programs, the issue becomes playing defense. Keep things the way they are. Exert pressure on Roosevelt, who admittedly flinches in the eye of dissent, save for the Schenley building debacle.
For the have nots, it's like Katrina all over again. Who speaks for you? Who is listening? Does anyone care? Let's swallow hard on curricula built for the elite--that come from the elite. Let's sell our souls for the 50% grade policy--a policy so blatantly grotesque for any real adult with an education that it numbs the mind.

Yeah, I am sure you have done your homework, but, uh, talk to me when you walk a mile in the shoes of parents who are stuck in parts of the city where the "have-not" tag applies.

Questioner said...

Re: those stuck in "have not" parts of the city; isn't the idea that themed choices (including a CTE school) will gradually replace the problem schools?

Anonymous said...

Questioner, that's like putting a butterfly bandage on a 6 inch wound. Check the data. What are parents who have kids that value education supposed to do? Do we send our kids across the city to Allderdice, a school which is largely 2 schools in one? Schenley? The question becomes rather simple. If I don't want to send my kid across the city and if I don't want him at the neighborhood school, I might as well either get out of town or send him to a parochial high school.
Where has the population gone at a place like Carrick? What have parents decided? What type of student has gone to a "better alternative"? The answer of course, is that parents of achieving students have moved out or have opted for Seton LaSalle.
How about Langley? Or Peabody?
Like Thompson before him, Roosevelt has set his focus on one group of parents while forgetting about the city as a whole.
This isn't the Schenley IB School District, nor is it the CAPA School System. Throwing a few school ideas to appease or placate worried parents hasn't done the trick so far, and won't do it given this administration's course.
This district is bleeding students and it is the achieving student who is going elsewhere. No public relations regarding the Pittsburgh Promise can hide the simple facts that the student population is shrinking.

Questioner said...

We don't even have Schenley anymore. IB World doesn't come close to replacing the Schenley experience.

But the issue about sending students across town does seem to be valid. The administration never consulted communities about the very basic issue of "neighborhood schools" v. "themed schools." There can be a very specialized theme school or two, but beyond that the themed schools can pull out some of the highest achieving students, leaving behind smaller, weaker neighborhood schools and a lack of options for those who do not want to travel to or do not "win the lottery" for a themed school.

If only said...

Anonymous at 9:41 --

I assume that you're at the public hearings asking these same questions? I assume that you've had long discussions about this with your board members? That you're writing letters to the editor?

Have you expressed to these people what I have -- which is that every move they've made is going to lead to decreased chances for
'have nots" in the district?

My biggest problem with an all IB high school was/is exactly what you're talking about -- that it's going to turn into a CAPA with "have" white kids massively over-represented by a big margin and that the comprehensive schools are going to end up being the places where the kids with special needs, with problems, without parents to push them along and advocate for them will be concentrated, making them less and less appealing to the parents with the privilege of time and energy to be watchdogs.

When IB was a magnet (and more centrally located), it had the ability to pull along at least a few other kids, offer a few more opportunities for everyone in the school -- just as other programs there provided other type of experiences for the IB kids.

And they purposely killed that.

"Exert pressure on Roosevelt, who admittedly flinches in the eye of dissent, save for the Schenley building debacle."

He does? As far as I can tell, he's gotten 99% of what he's wanted, regardless of what parents/teachers tell him.

There's a reason so many of us post anonymously, and to fear retribution because you ask questions is not the way a district should be run.

Anonymous said...

Roosevelt doesn't flinch even when he should.

Kaplan curriculum?
Disrupting successful K-5's to make them into K-8's, and now changing them back again?
Isolating Schenley mainstream into University Prep?
CAPA having to add 6-8?

If only said...

I'm not sure how he flinched on those things -- they all went through despite opposition from parents, community, teachers, etc. and even when expected/predicted problems arose, he rarely changed anything substantive.

Not to say that he doesn't occasionally tweak stuff -- he's not stupid.

There's only one K-8 moving back to K-5 that I know of and that's to help fill up UPrep. Are there more?

Am I missing something on the others? CAPA moving to a 6-12 model was his idea. Isolating mainstream kids at UPrep, his idea.

They moved 8th graders out of Crescent and into Westinghouse that year, but that's because they hadn't reacted to earlier problems that should have clued them to act far sooner.

There's a lot of plans out there that the community/teachers/parents don't even know enough to ask about. By the time the district asks for input, they're only willing to make cosmetic changes, not substantive ones. And they never ask for ideas before they plan, as far as I can tell.

Anonymous said...

I will agree that Roosevelt does as he pleases and has surrounded himself--right down to the principal level--with either yes men fearful for their jobs or like-thinkers.
Urban education will always be a challenge and there is no getting around that, but the wrecking ball that this man has employed in "transfiguring" PPS has been nothing short of disturbing. I've come to look at his continued ranting about the Pittsburgh Promise as reflective of asking for a license to do as he pleases, that in some twisted way of thinking his one "right"--and I use that term guardedly--makes up for the myriad wrongs.
A Schenley parent put it straight last year when she told the superintendent that his scattershod approach to decision making would have consequences that residents would feel for years--long after he had used this stepping stone to his advantage and moved on.

The best thing anyone can do is envision what life within the PPS will be like in 15 or 20 years given these changes. The word nightmare comes to mind.