Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No "do-overs"

On the March "Start a new post," Anonymous wrote:

Remember as a child the idea of 'do-overs'? Well, our children will have no chance of a 'do-over'when it comes to their educations. If PPS learns from its mistakes, great for the incoming students but tough luck for those in the system. We as PPS victims are being pushed down a path that leads to a cliff. If you believe we have real 'choices' you are one of the leaders to that cliff. If you believe a PPS diploma will be worth the paper it's written on then you get a 50% for effort (heck, the students do or not, I'm confused). If 'new and improved' is you style then PPS is for you (maybe we'll even have a boy and girl themed school). If you believe the Promise will help you kid, let me know how that works out for you. But remember that in this ongoing mess there will be no do-overs for your kids!

Posted by Anonymous to PURE Reform at March 31, 2009 11:05 AM


Questioner said...

A number of commentators have mentioned PPS seeming to take on more than it can chew. Prioritizing, taking on a fewer number of projects, doing them well and completing them before going on to a new set of projects may help avoid the need for do-overs.

Anonymous said...

I think the transition time is going to be critical. Maybe Roosevelt's ideas will work (I personally don't think so) but I do not want my child to be a guinea pig and Anon 1105 is right: there are no do-overs in this situation. With a lot of luck and even more hard work, we weathered the transition of Linden becoming a fullschool magnet. At that time East Hills was still the top language magnet but school board policies managed to kill off that once strong school. However, I think the parents have more of a contributing factor at the elementary level. At the middle and even more at the high school level, you need kids with a good foundation to make academic programs work--or a super strong faculty and administration to bring them up to speed. Parents are important (look at 'Dice) but so many parents take a hands-off approach in high school. It is possible that the new IB, science and tech school will be even better than the current high school offerings but they will need all of the factors working: strong principals, good faculty, involved parents, and a central administration that will allow the principals to make the tough decisions. How many parents of high-achieving kids are going to risk their child's future to an unproven program? We need kids at all levels to make the school system work.

solutionsRus said...

Let's not forget that the Sci Tech and IB schools have a 2.5 minimum grade criteria for admission (a la CAPA), which somewhat guarantees a certain level of success. Still waiting for the innovative programming that will address the remainder of the PPS students.

Anonymous said...

I hate to always be negative, but do you seriously think a 2.5 gpa will make much difference? Standards are not being set very high--especially with the "no grade below 50% rule."

solutionsRus said...

Good point. That pesky minimum grade point average sure is a conundrum. I guess that between the 2.5 minimum and that fact that these students have engaged parents (enough to get them into a magnate program) they would probably have a better chance of success than those left behind.

Questioner said...

Actually sci tech does not have a minimum GPA, but applicants get more "lottery chances" if they have a certain attendance record (which tends to correlate w/ GPA) and certain scores on the PSSA.

Anonymous said...

Not only does CAPA have a minimum gpa, but it also has an audition process which I would guess would weed out kids with problems. If the system worked as designed, IB and sci tech should benefit from self-selection; kids with an interest and/or aptitude will apply to the appropriate school. Unfortunately, that has not been true of the language magnets. Many kids with no interest in world language/culture ended at the magnets because the schools were perceived to be better than the neighborhood school.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Frankly, life in America is full of other chances and additional opportunities. The life in other parts of of the world is much less, shall I say, flexible.

But, I agree with the theme that we are putting too many kids into unproven models.

Sadly, some of the kids are lab rats.

These years, we should be seeing the windfall from the past years of Charter Schools. I see little or no impact from them.

On the other hand, while it is not wise to sink a lot of kids into unproven schools. It is way worse to put kids at risk in schools that are proven to be less than adequate in existing situations. Some schools are drop out factories -- PROVEN as such.

As to boy and girl schools -- I'm in favor of the establishment of two single gender high schools in PPS, one for boys, another for girls. It would be fine to have a public school alternative to Central Catholic and Oakland Catholic -- proven as successful schools for some. These schools, of course, would be city-wide magnet options for those who choose to go there.

Finally, as a 'do over' -- I think that the 13th Grade Option is one such fix to this problem. There -- its is do-over. Bang. It is needed for some. Let's make a do-over.

Questioner said...

Re gender-based education- see the new section on this topic in the Links section of the PURE Reform website.

Anonymous said...

Let's cut to the chase which apparently, no parent here wishes to come to grips with.
A kid with a 3.8 is applying to Pitt. He is a product of PPS. A kid with a 3.3. is also applying. He is a product of Lebo, or Hampton, or Shaler, et al.
Which kid is going to be looked at more seriously in light of the 50% grading policy? (and make no mistake...the revised policy IS basically 50%)
Do you really believe that admissions reps don't read the papers?
When will someone here tell it like it is? All priority within this district has gone toward the Pittsburgh Promise. It has blinded top level management with regards to the task at hand. The idea of getting kids to the promise puts the screws to the top achievers while placating the bottom tier. It is allowing low level, apathetic students the chance to go to IUP, Cal U and myriad others, and it is limiting the options of real students.
The administration of PPS are basically business people, first and foremost. Their decisions are PR-oriented and driven by economics. Is this what academia should be all about???
When is it going to dawn on parents of achieving students that the bell tolls for thee???

Anonymous said...

I see no sign of interest whatsoever on the part of adminstration in top achievers. It is assumed that they will fend for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I share the concern ( stronger word should be used) for the high-achieving kids of the PPS. At the PVASS (value added) presentation, the high achievers in the city were the ones that showed the least growth; it is not just our imagination that the high-achievers are not being challenged.

As a parent and a former educator, this situation was one of the reasons that we chose IB. With its outside the district grading, the program is forced to meet higher standards. At Allderdice and other city high schools, AP classes and dual enrollment are used by knowledgeable parents and kids for the same purpose. A city school system should be meeting the needs of ALL of its constituents. f