Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Candidates Identified

Since the "Candidates not identified" post changed partway through to "Candidates Identified," this new post will be for discussion of the candidates.

From the "not identified" post:

Questioner said...
Updated article describing the applicants.
July 15, 2009 1:08 AM

Anonymous said...
I'm glad that the names of the applicants were published but there is no mention of the fact that 2 of the applicants from Highland Park have never had children in the PPS. Both of them have sent all of their children through the Sacred Heart-Central Catholic route. In fact, the mayor didn't go to public school either! One of the applicants was on the high school reform team, so we can most likely expect an alliance with the MR administration. She is also the mother of a toddler, and will also be in the same position as Heather Arnet as a working mother who will have to leave her child to come to the numerous meetings (too many) that the school board has.

There is no mention as to where Shannon Barkley lives, and is Downtown, where Matt Harm lives, in District 2?Lastly, there is still no mention of a very real reason that Heather Arnet is no longer on the board- she will be moving out of the city and the PPS district. Her house has been sold and she is in the moving process.
July 15, 2009 8:49 AM

Mark Rauterkus said...
It is bad when Board members 'bail.' And, H.A. is not the first. Dan R did too, (thankfully).Interesting to note that some of the 8 are NOT even in the district. Could this be true? And, Dick S. - OMG. That pick would be a hard one to cope with, short and long term.
July 15, 2009 10:25 AM

Anonymous said...
Let's face it. The mayor and Roosevelt will consult (despite saying otherwise)and will chose the person most likely to be an ally of Roosevelt's. I bet that the chances of one of the PURE Reform members getting it are slim to none. Roosevelt doesn't want anyone questioning his questionable decisions. That would be like letting a fox into the hen house.Re: Heather ArnetWhy is she leaving the city? Does anyone know?
July 15, 2009 10:45 AM

Anonymous said...
Unfortunately, anon is likely on target. I think most of the candidates are qualified to run, Ms.Fine especially. I think if anyone is lacking, it is Mr.Skrinjar and yet, given his connection to the O'Connor Administration and knowing how both the Roosevelt and Ravenstahl administration work, his appointment would not surprise me.With them, it's never what you know but where your allegiances lie. Please don't misunderstand me. I think that Dick is a good man, just not the right person for this position.
July 15, 2009 1:36 PM


Annette Werner said...

For a time consuming position like school board director, there is somewhat of a tradeoff to be made.

A person with a full time job in a relevant field who participates in a range of professional and volunteer organizations could bring the board expertise in these areas- but may have limited time to devote to the board and communication with constituents, particularly if there are also family or other obligations.

I would like to see a person chosen who would rank being a director at or very near the top of their priorities in terms of time and effort spent.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me about the often unsensitive comments that often take on the guise of personal attacks posted on this blog.
FYI - Mark, Mr. Romaneillo passed away recently. He was very ill when he chose to leave the board. Unfortunately, your celebration of his departure is disrespect at its best. It's easy to judge situations/people/places when you have no idea!

PPSparent said...

Absolutely. I wonder how many of those people understand that the school board isn't a one or two meetings a month type of position.

To have a young family and a full-time job was a large part of the reason Arnet is stepping down, one would assume and it seems silly to replace her with someone else likely to be just as sideswiped by all the time and effort the job needs just to be an adequately informed director, let alone a really involved one.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Former board member and big Bulls fan, Dan R, left the city and left the board. FACTs. Of course he was a fan of much more than the B.Bulls, if not all of PPS. But he was in their court for sure.

My heart and hand went out to him, as a gentleman. FACT.

I didn't know of his passing. May he rest in peace.

By the way, don't be 'amazed' when personal attacks are, indeed, unsensitive. Often, they go hand in hand.

Questioner said...

Anon 5:40, according to this news article Mr. Romaniello decided to move out of the city in the Fall of 2007 and was not diagnosed with cancer until the following May (2008).

If he was very ill when he chose the board this is not clear from the news report, which notes only that he had back surgery in 2006.

This is not to excuse any insensitivity given the circumstances, but just to get the facts straight.

Questioner said...

Correction, words got dropped, the above note should say "If he was very ill when he chose to leave the board this is not clear from the news report..."

Anonymous said...

His son played for the B.Bulls. FACT.
As a parents in the PPS, I think that we can agree that it is easy to support our children's endeavors and to be a fan of their teams/schools. OPINION
If we are truly trying to get to the bottom of "fixing" the PPS, why are personal attacks even necessary? OPINION
This site often finds errors in information or questions local reporting. So again, it "amazes" me that we immediately refer to an article from the post-gazette to "get the facts straight." Personal reasons are not always represented and/or known....
Things are not always as they seem.

Questioner said...

Those who post on this site do not seem to have found errors with the PG's reporting- on the contrary the PG seems to check its facts quite carefully. The complaints about the PG seem to center more on a lack of coverage of one issue or another, or on a perception on the part of some that the PG avoids criticizing the PPS administration.

Parent said...

Uhh, I hate to not let this go, but somehow, I can't help myself.

"Personal reasons are not always represented and/or known....
Things are not always as they seem."

If you know this to be the case, mr/ms anon, then why did you personally attack a commenter on this blog for saying something about a person leaving the school board, when you admit that it's likely he had no way of knowing that he was or might have been sick (and it was reported differently in the paper)?

At least one of the two of you has the guts to not be anonymous as well! (and you'll note that while I don't use anonymous, I am so, so if you feel personally attacked which should be difficult from your anonymous stance, note that I have attacked myself as well).

Anonymous said...

Parent, I have no clue what your last paragraph meant.
In assessing media, we would be remiss in failing to note that not questioning authority figures is now a national trend. It's now rip-and-read journalism, that is, rip the information you get from the government entity and just go with it. The only "investigative" reporting is tabloid journalism.
I think they way Dan Rather was railroaded scared the pants off of the journalism community, but I digress....

There's a reason that MR has such a good reputation among the people in this area. The public relation machine which is over on Bellefield provides info to the PG Ed writer and in typical fashion, he runs with it. It's rare when the script is deviated from and it's disconcerting when people who protest decisions are cast in a negative, almost wacko/whiner light.

And to Mark...nice deflection.

july said...

Here’s the real scoop regarding the media:

The foundations, UPMC and PITT run this city.
Our school board (PDittty) brought in Mark whose former job was the CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, Managing Director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, and as a Professor of Politics and head of the Gordon Public Policy Center at Brandeis University. HMMM Bio – Medical – University….. Get the picture. Anytime our foundations, UPMC and PITT want something they get it. They have ties with the “Media” and no matter how great the person who either running for a school board, superintendent position or in fact and righteous cause to better the school district the Media will make it look bad. Fortunately the Pure Reform group has seen below the surface.

Parent said...

Anonymous, here's the short version: If you want to attack other posters here when you perceive them as being "unsensitive" and disrespectful, at least do it with your name attached.

(And then I noted that I don't do that, either, so that the irony didn't knock you over!)

Parent said...

It's true re the foundations, but I'd argue that our local foundations are just following the lead of the biggies out there in this: Gates, Broad, etc.

Until and unless we understand that there is tremendous unseen pushback from big money we're not going to get very far, I'm afraid.

Some districts have done so and then paid the price:

In the sharply worded letter that praised Sims' leadership and criticized the school board, CRSS founder Donald McAdams said the foundation was not interested in continuing the relationship in the wake of the superintendent's departure.

I'd argue it's an okay trade-off.

Questioner said...

It seems like Gates at least is willing to reevaluate and make changes when things don't work out as expected.

But what is strange is why these intelligent philanthropists don't invest wisely by trying out their programs in a limited "test market" before rolling them out across the country. Maybe they have a huge sense of urgency, believing that there can't be any delay in them coming in the save the education system. But this hasty attitude may do more harm than good.

Anonymous said...

july, many thanks for getting to the heart of the matter. You've accurately described the paradigm shift where media in this country is concerned, and it's especially true of our local reporting. We're closer to '1984' thane ever before and maybe it's my conspiratorial side that thinks there's a danger in media seeking to control thought. It sure has been done locally. How can things change when only a few people see the trainwreck in front of us and everyone else sees the blue skies and sunshine they are told to see?

Mark Rauterkus said...

My $.02 -- perhaps worth a whole new thread.

Part of the churn in the global field of education is deep within the roots of education itself.

Educators and those that teach in Schools of Education are always quick to toss out the baby with the existing bathwater. They need to and get rewarded for innovation. They often take great glee in breaking what does not need to be fixed.

Other fields (computers, medicine, sciences) have a rate of progress that is impossible for education to match. So, the leaders need to fabricate something.

On a local level, much of the yanking around of the families, students, communities, schools is because of the roots "power." The foundations have power. The hired administrators have power. They need to conserve their power and knock what could be or is a possible challenge to said power.

July said...

Talking about Gates, you jogged my memory. When MR started at PPS he had a "pre" school meeting and Bill Daggett was the presenter. If you look Bill Daggett up - MR speaks he sounds and runs this school district by the Bill Daggett bible.

Daggett PowerPoint Slide Shows Dr. Willard "Bill" Daggett. PowerPoint Slide Shows ... Description of the Rigor/Relevance Framework, which is used to develop academically rigorous ...

Anonymous said...

I believe Bill Daggett was the name next to the ridiculous quote they had up when MR announced the decision to close Schenley- something about not fearing change but in loftier language-which totally ignores the concern of many that we need to be sure proposed change will actually be for the better. Everyone was asking, who the heck is Bill Daggett?

Anonymous said...

Mark, there is certainly a degree of wisdom to what you put forward here. We now have researchers for everything. Just today we learn that some entity researches how much time an individual spends in traffic jams over the course of a given year. And we wonder, just who finances such studies?
We, the taxpayers do.
I don't think you quite nail the modus operandi of the Roosevelt administration, however. You have a mixed bag that includes what you put forth, what july puts forth and the idea that this is a typical corporate model. That is, we are seeing a school district run just like a corporation, from upper management right down to the assembly line.

Parents are customers. Their concerns are taken relatively seriously but the corporate leaders know that if there is no groundswell, then let it pass. And it will fade from reality. Teachers are on the assembly line. Their concerns oddly enough are given short shrift. They are given a manual and told to follow it verbatim. Verbatim. Follow the curriculum guide.
Principals are only mid managers/site supervisors now. Their individual concerns pale in comparison to what upper level management has deemed important.

And upper level management ascribes to research entities like Rand, other corporate models like Broad and university types to guide philosophies.
What is so hard to understand about this? Roosevelt has never been an educator. he is a businessman doing what he knows best.

Anonymous said...

So has Roosevelt ever run a profitable business?

Parent said...

He's a policy guy -- and a politics guy. You know, sort of think tank stuff. In MA he worked on the campaign to get a more equitable distribution of property taxes to schools (a good thing). He also has the distinction of having lost the race for governor by the largest margin of any democrat in MA. In all fairness, his opponent was popular.

He's just one of several, relatively interchangeable Broad/Gates sort of people. Like Duncan, he assumed that running schools and education could be treated like a business. You standardize the input and your widgets will come out better. If you talk a good game, the results will somehow follow.

But kids aren't widgets -- never have been and here's hoping no one will figure out how to successfully turn them into widgets!

However, I don't think that these lefty-er liberal, we'll save those poor, urban, (black) kids with our good intentions and our business practices people like Roosevelt, Duncan, Klein, etc. out there really understand that they've joined hands with the other, more ominous wing of "education reform."

That wing is convinced that there is a software program out there, or a technology that can replace teaching, replace motivation, and replace the social experience of being in a school and part of a class.

That wing? They're looking to make money. They want to run charters and sell products (new and improved every year, with new licenses required, textbooks that are online and can only be used for one year without re-upping, the list goes on and on) and turn the stream of education dollars right into their own pockets, bypassing those pesky teachers, children, parents...

Not that I've thought about all this way too much!

Anonymous said...

When I was back in school, an old professor used to predict that one day, "the government will get out of the education business." In a way, the last decade has proven him right. On one hand, you have charter schools and cyber schools. On the other, you have corporate take overs of districts like what we saw in Philadelphia. What's ironic is that these ideas are somewhat transparent. One can see the effort being exerted to wrest control away from school boards and education types. What has been a bit more shadowy has been the proliferation of entities like Broad and Gates, with superintendents like Roosevelt.

Let me say that I don't know Mr.Roosevelt personally, he may be a splendid man. Yet it is also ironic that this is a man who is involved in education in name only. From the surrounding of his office with like minded, data-driven, accountant-accessible, corporate trained types, to the easing into retirement of principals who thought first and foremost of their own schools, to the complete destruction of what was once a strong teachers union, Roosevelt exemplifies everything you might find in Business Management classes at Duquesne or RMU. Someone said previously that he is amenable to bringing in researchers and outsiders to dictate policy. How many in business have gone to seminars or found their own corporation's theories aligned to some guru who has written books and held conventions?

What's been disturbing to me continues to be the people on the actual board. Look, it's always been split along racial lines for the most part, but how do so many members who are in tune with the needs of their own parts of the city continue to support what is going on? Not all of their constituents can be sending their kids to IB or CAPA, which means, they must be hearing an earful. Can people in this district be so stupefied by the Pittsburgh Promise that everything else gets pushed to the curb?

Parent made a salient point that escapes corporate education--it's about the kids. This style of doing things actually might work in affluent areas but it is a failure in urban settings. Does the apathy of the populace that we see in each election actually strengthen this kind of leadership too even when it's our own kids who are in question? It would seem so.

I never thought I'd see the day when media was so totally owned in this country and in this region. I never thought politics would take priority over academic prudence and sound judgment.

Boy, was I naive.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Not all of their constituents can be sending their kids to IB or CAPA, which means, they must be hearing an earful."

I don't think so- it seems like if things are like they always have been (or like they have been as far back as people remember, which usually isn't very far back), most people won't complain.

amymoore said...

I don't think most people complain; they just leave. If everyone that was unhappy with the schools stayed and fought, maybe we could see some improvement and more quickly. Instead, we are seeing the middle class parents, abandoning the city public schools for the suburbs, for charters, or for privates. The few of us who are hanging in there are labeled as troublemakers. Because I am a Schenley parent, I am viewed as just unhappy about losing our building and all of my other concerns are dismissed. It doesn't matter that I had years of teaching experience and 13 years of active involvement as a volunteer. I know that teachers are the most critical element in the classroom and the teachers that I have talked to are very worried about their future. I thought that the IB program was safe since it has to meet international standards, but even the IB must depend on good teachers

Questioner said...

And even as we face some of the biggest enrollment declines in recent years, the district spends a half a million dollars on a consulting team that tells us to accept those declines as inevitable rather than on a team that would work to address the issue.

Anonymous said...

Questioner, well said. If an Andy Sheehan or Joe Smydo REALLY wanted to be journalists, a complete and thorough review of this district's expenditures over the course of this administration would be revealing. The incredible waste of money on studies, on consultants, on outside entities doing the jobs of teachers and education professionals, of money poured into renovations only to see that same building close within a couple of years, of needless, non essential staffing at the central administration level, of staffing for positions that don't deal with the true business of this district--teaching--well, it would be amazing.

We will never see such an article from the PG. We will never see such a piece on TV.

Your tax dollars at work. What a game they play.

Anonymous said...

As a PPS Parent, PPS Teacher I am scared for the future of our schools. The money wasted? How about that rally for district employees. I was told that the money was fondation money and if it was not used it would be lost. It was used, but it was a waste. These foundations dictate how the money is to be spent, none of the money goes directly to teaching or even to our crumbling schools.

What is scary is all the house for sale signs I see all over the South Hills part of the city, Brookline, Westwood, Banksvile, ect. people are not complaining to the school board, there leaving. I have two on my street and they have school age children. When Thompson dropped the residency requirement for teachers many of my comrades ran for the suburbs. I stayed out of a sense of pride, being a PPS grad. The way things are going maybe I should reconsider. I have to say I considered leaving the district as a teacher the last few years because of the hostile enviroment I have to work in.

Frustrated and losing hope

Parent said...

I agree that many people don't bother to complain or to do so very loudly. They figure this is what the city offers and they should take it or leave it -- and many choose to leave.

Parents that do get involved have generally been those more likely to stick around in the past. However, under this administration particularly, the more involved you become (particularly outside of a single classroom or school) the more quickly you realize that the devotion to "parent engagement" is a crock.

They handpick parents to be on various committees and then say that parents were involved. Most parents and teachers I know who have been on some of these committees figure out pretty quickly that they're being shepherded through a process designed to get the outcome they planned on.

It's not a good combination for successful schools -- letting the less involved just slip away and make those who want to stay and be involved in improving schools increasingly cynical and angry and aware of how very little impact they can have.

I think teachers see this too -- you can either be a part of their already made plans and have no real influence using your own knowledge or you can shut up and do what you can in your own classroom can leave.

Anonymous said...

Re: parents/teachers figuring that outcomes have already been decided- committee member attendance seems to go way down after the first meeting or two. Many people seem to find the committees are not what they hoped, or to decide they are not worth the time.