Thursday, January 29, 2009

Plans for Peabody

From today's PG, "School officials stress fate of Peabody still undecided":

The article notes that per the district Peabody's enrollment is projected to shrink from 489 to 168 by 2014.

If that figure is correct then the fate of Peabody is obvious. But what is the source of this projected 65% drop in enrollment? Pittsburgh's school age population is declining by only about 2% a year, and the East Libery area is experiencing a revitalization. Information about the source of this enrollment projection should be obtained without delay.


Mark Rauterkus said...

FUD = Fear, uncertainty, doubt.

We, Pittsburgh, must fight FUD. Some like to spread it, sadly.

So, I've called for vision salesmanship at my blog. We need to have Mark Roosevelt tell us what he sees as he looks into the crystal ball.

We agree that the present is NOT okay. We agree that the future must be great -- Excellence for all.

But, we don't have any agreement on the pathway to get from where we are to where we all want to be.

The journey needs a captain to guide the crew with confidence. We are ready to listen and help. But his connecting the dots descriptions and back-and-forth is absent.

See my rather long blog post to get my 'drift.' (PUN intended.)

Anonymous said...

The problem is, that parts of the plan may be unpopular. Such as sending Peabody-area students to Westinghouse.

So rather than own up to the plan, it is easier to set things up so that there are few other options and THEN bring in the stakeholders to validate what has already been decided.

Anonymous said...

We need to call for Roosevelt resignation. NOW How much more of this will the teachers, parents and community members take?????

Mark Rauterkus said...

What is there now is unpopular. Peabody, sad to say, is a 'drop-out factory.'

What is unpopular is ignoring Peabody, Oliver, Langley, Westinghouse.

Pick your poison, in the light of day.

So, IMHSHO, perception of what is unpopular (drastic changes / closing of Peabody) would become popular if the overall vision was spelled out.

How about a mind shift. We "get to close Peabody." Not, we "got to close Peabody." We'll get to close it because everyone is going to get something better.

To make a journey, you have to leave something behind. We all understand that. But, we are clueless as to what's about to unfold. That is where and when the push-back comes.

Furthermore, there is the poor dealing with the counterpoints. That is the chapter about the rest of our life. Overcoming objections. Or, making a course change due to reasonable, better objections / suggestions.

Finally, sending Peabody kids to Westinghouse is unpopular. No doubt. To cram them into where they don't want to go for nothing better would suck. So, where is the vision for that school and those students?

What the hell is going to happen to Robotics, for instance? It was in Schenley. It should have been in South Vo Tech long before that. It is in Peabody now. It isn't I.B. It cost a lot to move.

What does Mr. Roosevelt say about the long-term home of Robotics? It depends, sure. But spell it out.

Uncertainty alert.

Is there a problem with Robotics within in IB? But that is just one of the hundreds of specifics that need to be revealed in the scenarios.

Annette Werner said...

How about revisiting this proposal to convert Peabody into 6 different technical academies?

This is the kind of thing that could be expected to attract many students, including those who are dropping out.

Anonymous said...

Why are kids choosing to drop out? Why are parents deciding to move out of the city? Why are parents opting to go to private school or cyber school routes?
These are questions Roosevelt will not ask because he doesn't want to hear the truth. He doesn't want to lend any type of credence at all to the fact that he has been a miserable failure where true education is concerned...where moving children forward is concerned.
But it's ok. He won't raise taxes. Not while he is here. What a guy.

Anonymous said...

It's odd to read comments about east end schools here. In some cases, the feeling is almost akin to, "I don't care where you put them, as long as they are not with my kids." I guess that' understandable and all. Schenley has after all been a case in re-segregation after all, with a huge portion going to Reizenstein and another portion heading to Uprep. I don't think it's any mystery about which kind of kid goes to what school.
And now the Peabody issue. The idea seems to revolve around the desire for that building--a real high school instead of Reizenstein. Yeah, but what do you do about the kids already there? First off, you keep trumpeting the loss of population as you look into the crystal ball. Nice propaganda technique. Then you talk about lumping all of these kids in one east end school, an idea which can only be called pure lunacy. After all, if there are two schools you DON'T put together in this area, it's Peabody and Westinghouse. (But hey, as long as they aren't at Peabody, it's someone else's problem, right?)
And now the idea to shove technical academies at the east end crowd. Maybe we can launch a cosmetology school, eh?

Someone here has to understand that the district's a big place and it doesn't revolve around Schenley or Allderdice.

Questioner said...

The plan for CTE academies at Peabody was apparently the result of years of planning with a focus on matching the training with well-paying jobs available in the private sector. Not so much cosmetology, but construction trades; up to date computer training (hardware and software); health sciences; and other areas where there is a real need for qualified individuals. The school was also to have a strong academic component so that students who preferred to go on to college had that option, and it was to remain open until 8:00 or 9:00 in the evening so that members of the community could train for computer certification or use a fitness center. This option should at least be presented to the community.

Anonymous said...

Questioner, then what you are saying is that Peabody was to be an amalgamation of old South High and Connelley. And yes, there is a need for such schools.

Questioner said...

Exactly, updated to match students with the most current job demand. This seems to be the best bet for keeping students from dropping out; not sending them across potentially hostile neighborhood lines to Westinghouse, a school which also lacks good public transportation options for students not from the immediate area.

solutionsRus said...

anon 9:02, No one is saying that the world revolves around Schenley and Allderdice. I haven't even seen a post about Allderdice. We are talking about east end schools, Westinghouse, Peabody and Schenley because those are the schools that are affected majorly be the current high school reform issues (Oliver, Perry and Langley are up next, so we should stay vigilant so that that process is open and fair). When Carrick, Brashear and Allderdice are being slated for major changes, we will be talking about them.

Not sure why so much anger. Can't we all just get along and work for the common good?

Anonparent said...

Anon 9:02

I think you are confusing parents here with the administration. If you think the IB parents *want* to kick kids out of Peabody and have some burning desire for that specific school, you're wrong.

That was not a decision made by parents. It was a decision made by a committee hand-picked by Roosevelt, sworn to "confidentiality," told what their criteria had to be and which schools they could look at. It was a committee formed to rubberstamp the decision that had already been made.

There are a lot of other decisions already made and that's the point -- parents ACROSS the district need to realize this if they want to have any real input. It may already be too late.

Anonparent said...


That's the beauty of this plan, changes to Carrick, Brashear and Allderdice won't be so much planned where parents and the community can see them, they'll be reacting to the changes in population that all of these other changes have brought on.

They haven't talked about it in a while, but the overall plan is to go with an "all-choice" model for high school. That means EVERY student will have to "apply" to be placed in a high school -- or, I'd guess, they'd be assigned to whichever school is least popular/has open spaces.

Now, I bet that lots of people would have a lot to say about this (and heck, who knows, it might be a good idea if done well) -- but it's going to be a done deal by the time they're done. It's going to be the only thing left to do and not something that gets discussed with public input.

There will only be Allderdice, Brashear, maybe Carrick, and likely Perry as comprehensive high schools (and maybe they'll move Carrick to some sort of specialty vocational too...). Westinghouse/Peabody will have to develop some sort of "specialty" theme too, because Allderdice can't fit all those kids. Well, unless even more people throw up their hands and vote with their feet.

Anonymous said...

They will never mess w/ Allderdice or Carrick or they'll lose their reliable board votes. And Squirrel Hill parents will be in an uproar b/c so many bought houses in SH in order to be in the Allderdice feeder pattern.

Anonparent said...

My point is that they are trying an end run around those parents. In fact, I'd bet they (the administration) have already cozied up to some of the more influential Allderdice folks, assuring them that their interests will be preserved.

Then (if this administration is still around in a couple of years) those parents will learn exactly what Schenley parents learned -- by the time you hear about what's coming, it's too late to change the plans. Especially if you believe that they are trying to help you out. There will be tweaks, but not big changes, though. And I think the administration expects that all their other big things will be good enough to keep people happy (CAPA, IB, sci-tech). I don't think it's a coincidence that they put them in the East End.

If you look at the five year plan they put out before the Schenley vote, you can even see the bone they threw to Carrick with some programming for further down the road, seeming to assure its future.

Anonparent said...

Anon 9:02

Sorry to keep posting!

I just wanted to add that the Schenley parents I know fought against the resegregation explicitly. The mix of kids, races, income, etc. at that school (and its central location) were things that parents there appreciated -- not things they wanted changed.

That said, I don't doubt that the IB program now becomes more appealing to white parents that don't share those values. But, that was something Schenley parents fought against, not for.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Schenley re-segregation issue is as much about overtly separating color as it is separating abilities. It just happens that kids who were on the lower end of the achievement spectrum when Schenley was closed happened to be black. In any case, I didn't think I'd see segregation again in my lifetime.
I agree that we are seeing a great deal of change for nothing but the sake of saying hey, we are changing. In some instances, change is good but not without an overall vision. That's what troubles me about the people in charge. Little or no foresight goes into the decision-making. I am wandering off track here, but the idea of change drops dead where 50% grading policies are concerned. What can a college admissions officer be thinking about prospective students from our district???
The scenario that involves applying to each high school across the city is troubling. It once again is going to leave the kid who has absentee parents in a bind. We are going to have schools full of low achievers or schools full of discipline troubles. Is that the overall plan???
I see the need for a South High type of school. It made little sense to close it without anther such school in the wings. But that cannot possibly speak to the needs of the entire district population that isn't at Schenley, at CAPA, at Allderdice.
And yes, I am sure assurances about keeping the school within a school concept at Allderdice have been made. They have to have been made.
So with Peabody, Langley, Oliver and Westinghouse closing, it means alternatives will have to be broached. An east end school? Trouble. What about the west end and north side? All in one place? More trouble.

What of Perry?
Someone keeps talking about a bone being thrown to Carrick, a school that has lost almost 50% enrollment in ten years time. What bone? The business academy alone is not going to thrill people.
What of Brashear?

Troubling times. When a superintendent can have like minded cronies that make deals with housewives and hairdressers who sit on a school board...and feel no obligation to parents or staff--well, things look to get worse.

Anonymous said...

Valid points, except

1) Until we see major efforts starting with the very youngest children, "ability" grouping can be expected to result in resegregation.

2) Housewives, hairdressers and representatives of any other legal occupation can make fine board members, if they do their homework, take an objective and logical approach and consider the well-being of all areas of the city.

Anonymous said...

Disagree with point 2, anon, especially when most members like the two I have mentioned have time and time again shown themselves to vote with vested interests only. That's not progress, and it's not indicative of the idea of making intelligent choices for the greater good of the community at large. Yes, each board member has his or her own constituency but the educated mind understands that the entire district is at a crossroads. "Average" people should be able to embrace two troubling concepts: administration claims notwithstanding, PSSA scores did NOT do well at the high school level and while we can cheer those 3rd graders, a lot takes place between 3rd and 11th grades, which dovetails nicely into...secondly, the mass exodus of students in this district--especially under the watch of this administration--should give great pause to even the most casual observer. Will those 3rd graders ever stick around to be in PPS in high school?

A lot of propaganda, anon, and most of it coming from the PR machine on Bellefield.

Anonymous said...

Agreed about the propaganda, but I believe there are housewives, hairdressers and many average folk would could and would hack through it.

Anonymous said...

How do an all-choice model and added transportation demands make sense when our country is trying to reduce reliance on foreign oil, and Pittsburgh already has a problem with air quality/ pollution? What kind of example does this set for children?

Anonymous said...

An all choice model also weakens neighborhoods, which have always been especially important in Pittsburgh (see Carrick and Allderdice).

Questioner said...

The IB committee does not even seem representative of the IS/IB community. Tbe recently released list of elementary parent committee members shows 3 from Linden and 3 from Liberty but only 1 from Phillips and none from Northview or Manchester. One also from Dilworth that does not even seem to be an IB feeder school. So, an overwhelming representation by those likely to be most familiar and comfortable with Peabody.

Anonymous said...

Fulton has the only French classrooms now.

Questioner said...

Sorry, there was also a rep from Fulton (also in the Peabody area).

Mark Rauterkus said...

The "all choice model for High Schools" (whatever that is or might be) could weaken neighborhoods. Or, it could strengthen neighborhoods.

Agree, neighborhoods are important in Pittsburgh. But, being in the neighborhood of, say, "Cultural District" with a CAPA is a move to be STRONGER. Downtown is a neighborhood too.

Brashier HS with its Rt. 51, West Liberty Ave, is prime for an auto-body program. (shrug)

An IB High could help a neighborhood.

Central Catholic, Oakland Catholic, help the Oakland neighborhood. Both are specialized schools. Same too with Shady Side Academy or a Waldorf School.

South Vo Tech helped South Side and its neighborhood.

Schools where people learn valued lessons are going to help the neighborhood and society at large. Drop out factories are going to spew all sorts of short and long term problems.

But, we should have this debate about the boutique schools and the 'all choice model' as we never really had one about 6-12 schools.

Anonymous said...

Any school will strengthen neighborhood in the sense that it brings people, events and economic activity to the neighbohood.

But, a neighborhood school strengthens the "neighborliness" of the neighborhood- it builds bonds and a common interest between people in the neighborhood who might not otherwise even meet eachother.

Boutique schools may help their immediate neighborhoods but leave the city's neighborhoods as a whole weaker.

Anonymous said...

Mark, this latest post is so out of touch with reality that it numbs the mind. Good ideas need to be broached for all kids in this district, not just a targeted audience. And your usage of the word "drop out factory" is beyond unfortunate. It speaks to an ignorance you have towards our schools. You really ought to take a walk down the halls of such schools before you presume to even have a clue as to "alternatives."

Anonymous said...

Although I don't always agree with Mark, I will defend his use of "drop-out factory" as a term that was used in a John Hopkins study on education and reported in the PG in Oct. 2007. Five city high schools made that list.

Anonymous said...

I would have expected more from a Johns Hopkins study, to be sure. Poor foresight was used in employing such wording. And I would also hope that Mr.Rauterkus will make it out to one of the schools that he routinely takes shots at. Walk a mile in the teachers who are truly trying. Walk a mile in the shoes of the students who do care. The fire your shots.

Anonparent said...


There seem to be two different sets of people begging other posters to "go to these schools and see.

Some of them seem are saying that parents should do that because they won't believe how truly awful, wild, out of control, horrible these schools are compared to the ones that they assume the other posters children attend. Then there are the others who seem to be offended when parents or posters agree that they're bad and need to be changed -- How can we have it both ways?

Truth is if you look at the PSSA scores on the paayp site there *are* some schools that are educating their "economically disadvantaged" group a lot better than others. There are higher and lower performing groups of white kids and of black kids, by schools.

So, I'm not sure why it's offensive to suggest that schools that are doing well with various different groups have something to offer and that changes need to be made at schools where very, very few kids are doing well.

And one of that blames it on the teachers either -- they're the easy scapegoat. But the administration doesn't want to look any further than "high expectations" and "rigor" and "excellence" either and get to the nitty gritty of hands-on, in the classroom experiences. Nor do they want to admit that providing more than the very basics is necessary. Disaffected kids need enriched, enriching experiences, not pared-down math and reading only constant drilling. That is a recipe for a "drop-out factory."

Questioner said...

One reason no one is visiting those schools is that they are apparently slated to close. The administration seems to assume that when the kids move to a new school or program the problems will not move with them. It would be nice to see one on one, individual attention to kids at the schools they already attend rather than a stream of new schools.

Questioner said...

The Tribune also had an article on this topic.