Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It is premature to sign Roosevelt to an extension

Kathy Fine's Letter to the Editor is in today's PG:



Kathy Fine said...

Just thought I would post a less edited version that I sent in to the PG. Not a lot of difference, but wanted to post anyway.

Dear PG,

The PG’s praise of the PPS school board for attempting to extend the superintendent’s contract (Option year: Roosevelt is worth locking up in a new contract, 9/29/09) is dubious and reveals a disturbing pattern. While Mr. Roosevelt deserves kudos for bringing in money through the Promise and the Gates Foundation, citing Mr. Roosevelt’s sharing a stage with Michelle Obama at CAPA as a reason to extend his contract is way off the mark.

CAPA was a thriving school for years before Mr. Roosevelt’s arrival and continues to succeed despite, not because of, the current reforms.
Highlighting positive aspects of the reform process is commendable. But refusing to acknowledge the realities of the less than stellar results of many reforms equates to spin at the expense of our children. The District hired Kaplan to write its district-wide curriculum, ignoring warnings of parents and teachers and wasting millions of dollars. CEP, the school for disruptive students, is failing, again, wasting millions of dollars. The district made AYP in one of three grade bands due to new state mandates this year that look at performance through “growth models” (a look at previous PSSA results suggests that the PPS may well have made AYP under John Thompson if this more lenient evaluation of scores had been utilized). The district has failed to meet most of the PSSA goals that it set for itself (the district’s statement that these were “aspirational goals” is just not accurate, as these goals were listed under “How We Will Hold Ourselves Accountable” in the District’s “Excellence for All” presentation in 2005).

Describing people who question the present reform efforts simply as “critic[s] of Mark Roosevelt" (City school board scrambles to hold onto Roosevelt, 9/28/09) is doing public school advocates a great disservice. While Mr. Roosevelt has the force of the major foundations and the local media squarely in his corner, all we have is diligence and a belief that a commitment to reality will eventually trump rhetoric. We are concerned citizens who truly understand the value of public education as a socio-economic equalizer; city residents who champion the values of transparency in government; and PPS stakeholders who believe speaking truth to power is what makes our country great.

Kathy Fine

Anonymous said...

Definitely the facilities report and plan should be put out for review BEFORE any kind of contract decision is made. Board members should know this much about what is planned for the district before agreeing to so many more years.