Friday, February 6, 2009

Closed schools/ effects on students

From today's NYT- Something for PPS to consider when closing schools:

"Eric A. Hanushek, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution who studies school accountability systems, said the inherent danger in closing schools is its potential negative effect on the most vulnerable students. Inevitably, he said, new schools will spend a few years tinkering with their programs.

'Closing schools has good publicity value,' he said, 'but to me the first priority is trying to take care of the kids who are in a school that has been declared to be bankrupt.' He suggested providing students at schools being reinvented with vouchers for private schools or preference for enrollment at more successful public schools."

- The current approach too often seems to be one of waiting for current students to "fade away."


Anonymous said...

I think that it became fashionable for this administration to close buildings from the earliest point of its tenure. Aside from upsetting a great deal of good that had been done in the basic design of school patterns, what's particularly troubling is the return to segregation that we see in the latest methodology and more pointedly, the incredible waste that has taken place thanks to the lack of foresight employed by the administration.
It's amazing to me that the corporate techniques used by Mr.Roosevelt has brought an even bigger bureaucratic style to the Pittsburgh Public Schools. It has become so massive, with so many people employed who are not involved in daily education of our children, that it numbs the mind.
How many schools were closed within at least a few years of having had millions in renovations? How many schools were closed with millions in supplies sitting in stock rooms/bookrooms virtually untouched? How many auctions has this district had--district personnel are restricted from attending, of course---where brand new supplies are basically given away for pennies on the dollar?

I have to laugh at Mr.Roosevelt's desire for accountability in this regard. As taxpayers, one must ask who holds him accountable. Who holds other top flight administrators accountable? In this incredible, blinding shell game that the man is playing, it seems that deflecting all attention onto the teacher is the goal. As prudent taxpayers in dire economic times, it behooves us all to take into account the waste which costs millions and millions of dollars.
Closing schools has an effect on children and on communities, and it has an effect on taxpayers, as well. This is especially true when closures are done for the sake of change only and with a lack of foresight.

Questioner said...

Why wouldn't these supplies from closed schools just be shifted to other schools?

Is there any evidence available of these auctions, or information on when/where they took place?

Mark Rauterkus said...

I would LOVE to have seen, or still see, a report on the students who were in South Vo Tech when it was closed. Many of those students were in their third high school. I'm quite certain that they didn't show up to #4.

Some of the kids at South Vo Tech finished their school elsewhere, but how many? Where is that data?

No doubt, South Vo Tech was an underperforming HS in terms of scores on standarized tests. But, it kept many kids in school.

South Vo Tech had a family feel to many of those that landed there.

Anonymous said...

The district's track record does not bode well for those who would be left at Peabody, if the school stopped taking in 9th graders next year- leaving the school w/ just 3 grades, then 2, then 1.

Anonymous said...

South did not have to do well on standardized tests nor was there ever any pressure to do so.There is a need for carpenters, auto mechanics and plumbers, and while closing the school made sense due to its crumbling infrastructure, not having a back-up plan defies logic. Now, they ship some kids over to Connelley.

Mark Rauterkus said...

What was the "crumbling infrastructure," ???

What they did at South Vo Tech was rumor to close that school for the five years prior to its closing. The cloud of termination (FUD) put a choke hold on South Vo Tech. People pulled out from teaching roles as well as student roles. The numbers went in decline -- via the choke hold of rumor.

Same thing is now in progress at Peabody. No news = choke hold = death grip.

People vote with their feet.

Few want to attend a school that is rumored to close, in the near future. Why cope with that heartbreak when it can be avoided.

Furthermore, the triumphs and raging success we had in saving Schenley High School, complete with rallies and protests, is remembered by all. People cared. It got coverage. It was what it was.

The "done deal mentality" is crushing as is the concentration of power.

Questioner said...

South in contrast to Schenley apparently really did have real infrastructure problems. A worker was reportedly killed when part of the building gave way.

Maybe the "family feeling" of South can be revived at Peabody.

Mark Rauterkus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Rauterkus said...

That is news to me on both counts.

Perhaps you're thinking of Pittsburgh's Convention Center.

At the Convention Center, a worker died (at construction) and the building had problems with a falling floor. (All were okay there, except building rehab and lost months of use.)

Anonymous said...

The school had issues relative to how old it was....easily the oldest in the district at that time. I want to say it was built in 1920 or so. So there is no doubt that in essence, things were crumbling. I don't remember anyone ever dying there and can't remember if this was yet another school that had asbestos issues.

As for the analogy being applicable to Peabody, I'm not so sure. The enrollment has been declining for a number of years which is quite odd in that places like Highland Park are nice areas in which to live. I would say that most families in those areas opted to send their kids to Schenley or a private school rather than Peabody. It's likely that you are misrepresenting the concerns of the families that are left. It's not like this is a company which is closing shop---those kids will have to go somewhere---and it's general knowledge that the wheels grind slowly with such moves. Has this decision about IB moving in already been made with certainty.

I think what would fluster most parents of kids who go to Peabody is the poor idea that an east end school can house all high schoolers. Is there any other part of Pittsburgh with more violence associated to which parts of town you come from? There has to be a better idea. Once again, you can attribute the astounding lack of foresight to the ivory tower mentality that exists down on Bellefield Avenue these days. Doubtful anyone there has kids going to Peabody, so why worry about it, right?

Questioner said...

The immediate area around Peabody has had more problems than other parts of Highland Park but seems to be on the upswing thanks in part to efforts by various community groups.

The decision about what to do with Peabody has NOT been made. The IB committee indicated that of the schools it was given to look at, Peabody seemed best for the program. However, Peabody could still be closed entirely; or could be revived with an exciting new magnet program such as top notch CTE options; or it could house a combination of programs (similar to the way that Schenley housed IB and Spartan Classics). While it could not house all east end students, it could provide East End students with a full service alternative to small themed schools that focus on the Hill (U Prep) and Homewood (where a tjemed school is apparently being planned for Westinghouse).