Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Petition for inspection delivered/ public hearing testimony posted

PURE Reform's testimony from the February 16, 2009 Public Hearing has now been posted. Go to the purereform.com website, announcements tab, and click "PURE Reform REPORT" for the February 16 item.

As the testimony explains, PURE Reform called again for transparency and public participation in school reform, and delivered a petition with signatures of 150 city residents requesting an inspection and evaluation of asbestos plaster in 4 city schools. Signatures continue to roll in and we will send these additional petition sheets to the Board.

Thank you to all who signed the petition!


Anonymous said...

Annette makes note of not wanting an adversarial relationship in her comments and while such a thought may be politically correct or may win brownie points with the general public at large that either doesn't know or doesn't care about the parties within, it's a wrong track to embark upon. In and of itself, government entities such as Pittsburgh Public Schools needs groups which can only be looked upon as adversarial if for no other reason than to make sure it understands that its decisions are being monitored and that an accounting must be made to the citizenry of this town. All too often, the cavalier approach of elected officials and their appointed positions makes us wonder if a basic refresher course in public discourse is needed. In reality, taxpayers elect board members to do their bidding and board members in turn appoint a superintendent who we can only hope represents the best interests of the citizenry.

We don't see that happening in Pittsburgh these days. Instead, we seemingly have a group of individuals who employ a great deal of arrogance in its approach. This extends from the top on down through basic school administration.

In all ways, shapes and forms, we see a superintendent and his staff making decisions as if there is no one to answer to. Curriculum decisions which cost millions come and go. Grading policies that reward negligible student achievement while placing true academic accomplishment at risk for the sake of getting more kids into the Pittsburgh Promise is not addressed, whether when questioned by teachers or parents. Buildings are closed, students sent packing, teachers reassigned and money misspent, and there is no regard for the people paying for all of it.

Being looked upon as "adversarial" should be the least of any parent's worries but instead, the idea that citizens are powerless to do anything.

This is what we have allowed. This is what we have become.

Questioner said...

Don't worry, we are determined to monitor decisions and press for accountability! Our hope, however, would be that if open, honest information is provided to the community; input is gathered BEFORE decisions are made; the concerns and values of stakeholders are respected and reflected in decisions; and decisions are logical and based on evidence presented for all to evaluate, we would be contributors to this process more than adversaries.

fixit said...

"for all to evaluate, we would be contributors to this process more than adversaries."

Are we sure we want "all to evaluate" to be the code? Honestly, I am highly under-qualified to make a contribution to curriculum decisions. I have been through the early stages of evaluating Treasures and Triumphs, and found being opposed to Everyday Math to be a more rewarding hobby than coin collecting. I would venture to guess that less than 5% of the parent population in PPS qualifies to make decisions on curriculum. The general direction to involve the average parents and the community at-large would have to be very clearly defined. I say this while still trying to learn what would most help my kid as she faces college soon. In matters of curriculum, it is not always the best ideas that get implemented, it seems to be the ideas presented by the person who is most convincing and immovable.

I have always wished that the curriculum designers and the Institute for Learning (is that the name?) folks could meet with parents to defend the decisions our kids have had to live with.

Questioner said...

The credentials of the commentator are always relevant- so when it comes to curriculum, some members of the public may have have relevant professional qualifications and could note those credentials when offering an opinion, while others may have qualifications based on experience (ie, "That curriculum worked great for my kid" or, "The program was so confusing even I couldn't follow it"). In general, members of the public can at least check to see if any credible evidence in favor of a particular curriculum change has been presented. The model might be the following, noted on this blog soon after the November election:

"To win the trust of the Net Geners, governments have to be transparent...At a minimum, policy makers should publicize their overall goals and objectives and, for specific issues and deisions, the documents they relied on, the names of the participants in the decision-making process, and their underlying rationales and criteria, and they should provide reasons why alternative policy options have not been pursued."

Of course not every decision would merit the same level of information; decisions that affect the most people, involve the greatest amount of money, or involve issues that people care most about require the most public information.

Questioner said...

Still no response on this petition. Over 200 people have now signed (the additional signatures will be delivered to the Board next week).