Wednesday, January 7, 2009

One teacher's experience with violence in our high schools

From a commentator on Mark Rauterkus's blog:


fixit said...

No matter how good the new curriculum might be, or how successful new Positive Behavior Intervention Programs might be for a miniscule portion of the student population, or how good principals as instructional leaders could be, until the actions of students change, the money is wasted. Does anyone think the reason our themed high schools are being promoted is because administration thinks the specialization cures the bad/disruptive behavior? I bet it is one reason.

Anonymous said...

The original poster at Mark's blog does not seem like a shrinking violet. Wonder why we don't hear stories like this in the MSM. I would like to hear her on a talk show. Marty, any openings?

Anonymous said...

I don't think they think it cures it, no. It does provide a mechanism for getting rid of kids. That is, these are set up with grade point cut-offs and with mechanisms for getting rid of unmotivated and/or disruptive students.

So, at a certain point in the future there are going to be the theme schools, some of which may well thrive and the dumping ground schools, with the kids who are kicked out, the kids whose special needs aren't met in the themed schools, the kids whose parents don't know how to advocate for them, and the kids who aren't doing well.

Anonymous said...

Security and Disipline in PPS is horrible, even at the flagship High School Allderdice. Sometimes when a teacher request security, even for a fight, it takes 10-20 minutes to get help. If a teacher breaks up a fight they might not be supported by administration.

Teachers in the PPS could be fired for talking to the media, and the Post Gazzette has some sort of agreement with the PPS.

The televised media only finds out about fights if the Pittsburgh police are called or the paramedics. Everything is mostly handeled in house. A few years ago 20 girls were fighting on the first floor at dice, East Hills vs. Hazelwood. One girl had a roll of pennies in her hand while hitting anouther girl in the head. Later in the day the parents of the girls were fighting in front of the school when they had to pick up their kids. (Never hit the media) On last day of school before Thanksgiving 2008, a girl was jumped by 10 girls in a locker room in the phys ed area. Her head was split open by a lock requiring stiches. The 10 girls were suspended indefinately, then it was changed to 10 day suspensions.
One girl was sent to clayton.

Never hit the media!

Displine & proper security could save the PPS at lot of $. Instead it is easier to blame the teachers for poor academic performance, and Roosevelt and his Yes Men & Ladies throw money at unproven & horrible curriculums. (Example Kapplan Curriculums) Millions wasted and the curriculum was rewritten by teachers with the boards reform ideas. The curiculum is horrible, the teachers and the kids deplore it. Like everything else in Roosevelt's PPS, all smoke and mirrors.

Roosevelt's, 21 day superintendent program, what a joke. The Eli Broad Fondation in Boston. Research the program on the net.

Our old curriculums were very similar to the ones in the suburbs, the reason they worked in the suburban schools was consistent disipline.

We need a more common sense approach to education in this city, The parents need to start questioning the school boards rumber stamp approach to Roosevelt. Thompson wanted to close seven schools and they ran him out, Roosevelt closed 22 and he was a hero, makes no sense. We need a educator for a superintendent not a politician.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone within PPS administration who does not have his head in the sand on the issue of discipline?

Anonymous said...

There is a huge difference between schools in what is done. That's why those suspension/incident rates they show aren't worth anything. Low rates don't mean low need for action and higher rates may mean a principal that doesn't worry about getting the bonus that attaches to lowering suspensions and instead cares about having a safe school.

I know there are high schools where kids who are causing problems/not following instructions from teachers are tracked down on the security cameras.

Now, we can argue about whether out of school suspensions do anything positive for the kids who are repeatedly suspended. But, to do anything about that would require admitting there's a problem and listening to individual principals and teachers about how best to deal with it. That doesn't happen much anymore.

IronMan said...

Did you really say, "no matter how good the curriculum might be"??? Are you insane? Where is the curriculum good? At what level? In what content area?
What you have right now are administrators who are people so out of touch with the reality of urban education that it can only be called mind boggling that they are on the district payroll. They write curriculum in the ivory tower and send it out into the trenches for implementation.
Never mind the fact that the material is poor, racist or morally offensive. Never mind the fact that the pacing negates student comprehension or achievement?
No matter how good the curriculum might be????

Yeah, behavior can improve, but a curriculum that screams "FAILURE" to even the most casual observer is no help. It allows students to think that they are mired in a hopeless situation.

fixit said...

Ok IronMan stop asking me if I am insane. The answer is PROBABLY, YES. I think if you speak to some CAS teachers you might find they like most of the English curriculum. I would like more of an explanation on how the curriculum is "racist" as you stated. At what grade level?

Anonymous said...

I can answer that one easily, fixit. If you are limiting yourself to commiserating with CAS teachers, you are not seeing the entire playing field but rather, looking at things through rose colored glasses.
Let's look at the 12th grade curriculum. Are you familiar with what seniors are reading right now? Do you think the book by Wideman deserves to be in a scholastic curriculum? Do you think Invisible Man needs to be a part of the curriculum? Does it make sense to continually push the racism card, whether it be books and stories detailing the slave days, of Civil Rights, etc? Is this doing more to widen the gap between races or to bring people together? Is there an agenda at work or just a bleeding heart approach? Hasn't every ethnic group suffered some sort of persecution in this country? Why are we not reading about it?
Does it make sense that so many good writers whose messages transcend race and gender have been pushed aside in favor of being politically correct? Come on fixit, expand your horizons.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:13, I have been suggesting to several parties for a few years now that our literature selections at all grade levels are too focused on African-American themes. I bring it up every year at PSCC meetings, and meetings of parent groups. I have told this to curriculum coaches,english teachers, principals and at least one director face-to-face. My opinion is that it does nothing to build better relationships between students in classrooms. Cover the material once, not again every year. I also asked direct questions about some of the middle grade novels selected. They are too dark in feeling. If you were not depressed before reading a few, you will be afterward. They have won awards, some, but the grade level is already a sensitive few years, why keep repeating the "sad" message? I think this is why a lot of kids abandon reading. They hated the books they "had" to read. I once suggested that teachers picked the books they wanted to use to teach the standards and then compare how those kids did on a PSSA with other kids. I bet the teacher who was given some authority over what she taught made better lessons from the material.

Back to the achievement gap issue. Our curriculum is now being written by PPS techers with help from some department at Pitt, right? Somebody is providing a starting point. Too much is being determined in response to the ruling based on the lawsuitfiled in the early 90s by the Advocates for African-American Education.

The new civics program was a nice PR move, putting a focus on Pittsburgh in the big year's celebration, but will it help students be better citizens? If part of being a better citizen is being a more cooperative and responsible student?

Jimmy said...

Just a comment regarding the January 10, 2009 10:33 AM posting:

The posting included this phrase: "Our curriculum is now being written by PPS techers with help from some department at Pitt..."

In my opinion (and I have 10 plus years with PPS), Pitt is just another part of our problem.

If anything, the Pitt consultants that I have heard are even more fantasy-based than our central administrators.

They will not discuss disruptive behavior, chronic truancy, or anything else that's really a key to improving the district.

All I've ever seen from Pitt consultants are Power Point presentations (based on some study somewhere) that state that if you rearrange topic order and then ask some scripted questions, student scores will - presto - magically and dramatically increase.