Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PPS expected to receive a Gates grant

From today's PG:


Anonymous said...

The sound of a Gates grant is impressive. Yet, once again, the idea is to re-shape teachers. Here is something I always ponder; why is there no one out there taking parents to task for being in absentia? I am sure that there are many teachers who are either not up to the task of teaching in an urban setting and I am sure there are some whose methods are antiquated. Surely, they need to be re-worked. But are we at a point in which we seek to be so politically correct that we cannot point the finger at the source of most problems, the home?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Anonymous, don't get your wires crossed.

Home is home. School is school.

It would not be prudent to have school people putting blame onto home life.

The buck stops where?

Focus helps.

Anonymous said...

Mark, think about your own academic life. At the earliest point, what was the impetus for you going to and achieving in school?
Flash forward into modern America. Think about our society. Think about how things are handed to kids more than at any point before. Think about how hard it is to get them off the couch. Now think about why your own kids succeed in school. Where did the idea of achieving great things start.

Point is, one cannot have a conversation about why students do not achieve until parenting and the home come into the discussion. In diagnosing the root cause of an ailment, your idea of focus would blame the doctor for the problems associated with patients who smoked a pack for 30 years and now have lung cancer.

If you understand Euro schools, then you also understand the familial aspect that looks upon education as being essential, academic achievement as being honorable. These days in America, for every parent here who cares about their kids, there are two who care more about themselves.

Playing the blame game is nice and teachers will once again be the whipping boys. Teaching to the test will give our culture the mistaken idea that our kids can compete, when all we have done is programmed our children.

I'm hoping you were being facetious.

parentone said...

The buck stops with the student in today's world. If Pathways to the Promise does anything it will hopefully be to convince kids who come from a less supportive environment that they can achieve with just the support of the school and the programs it offers. There will be those students who will never be convinced of course, and they will have determined their own future.

I have seen teachers glow when discussing the accomplishments of students. Teachers who try hard against the odds. Most teachers will be up to the task of the new evaluation procedures. Most teachers will welcome the work they have to do if PPS gets the Gates award. It is likely that great things that already happen will be uncovered during the process.

Annette Werner said...

Re: home is home and school is school- there seems to be widespread agreement that the attitude and involvement of parents makes a huge difference in the extent to which children achieve. So, schools would be negligent in not doing whatever possible to promote parent support and involvement.

There was someone a couple of months back who was starting a group dedicated to getting parents to take more responsibility in their children's education. The group was starting with a meeting/rally in the Hill District. I don't know where things stand with that effort.

Annette Werner said...

Gates would probably get the BEST results if a large portion of the funds were dedicated to parent involvement, or at least to helping teachers find effective ways to promote parent involvement.

PPSparent said...

I clicked from here and the next thing I happened to hit on was this old, yet timely, reprint about merit pay and teaching...

PPSparent said...

Re home versus school:

If there were a known cure, a magic bullet for parent engagement of the kind we mean, then yes, I'd be all for it.

But there isn't. And sitting around complaining about parents isn't educating their children. Somehow we have to find a way to educate kids no matter what their parents are or aren't up to, are or aren't supporting, etc.

What I currently see though is that we are moving further and further away from classrooms that are engaging and interesting and prove how much fun learning is and more towards classrooms that are dull and punitive and centered only on tested materials.

There's no way to engage kids in learning with the latter. TV and video games and everything else out there is far more interesting than a stack of worksheets with multiple choice questions about an inane reading passage.

Annette Werner said...

So do you think there is nothing that schools and teachers can do to promote this kind of parent involvement? Although there may be some hopelessly uninvolved parents, I think that most could be led to greater involvement. It's not a matter of blaming parents but rather working with them constructively.

Anonymous said...

If learning at Pittsburgh schools is really becoming less fun and engaging- you can be sure that families will be looking for other choices and continuing to leave Pittsburgh schools, Promise or not.

Stephanie Tecza said...

Just a couple of parent thoughts.
I agree we need parents to be responsible. I agree that successful students are students who have had someone in their lives who nurture, trust and take care of them and let them feel valued.
I think PPS needs to do a couple of beginning things:
1. Have welcoming office staff that say good morning, thanks for stopping by, what we can do for you. Not be ignored for 15 minutes while you stand there and as they walk past you. (This has happened to me a number of times)
2. Have teachers (preferably) visit student homes or give the parents a welcome call prior to the beginning of the school year.
3. Perhaps require the parents to volunteer in the school this could be done during the school day or after school events or activities. (In parochial schools parents are required to do some many volunteer work hours)
We (PPS) needs to make parents feel they are important and valued.

Annette Werner said...

Great ideas for a more involved parent body!

I wonder though if parents could actually be required to volunteer. Maybe instead of schools paying for proms or other special activities, parent volunteer time could work as a credit against these costs.

Annette Werner said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Annette Werner said...

One or the other of my kids attended a total of 9 schools as we moved to different places, and in each case the kind of welcome (or lack of welcome) offered by the front office was a good indicator of what the school would be like.

Questioner said...

Here's an article from Google about the Gates Foundation grants. This article seems to say that Pittsburgh is one of 5 finalists and final decisions will be made in the fall, while the PPG article indicated that only formalities remained.

Mark Rauterkus said...

"Parent body." Neat concept.

"I'm hoping you were being facetious."

Sure, I'm just kicking the can down the road. Talk more. Blame less.

Carry on....