Monday, November 30, 2009

Title IX audit report

On the October "Start a new post" Anonymous today wrote:

When is the Title IX audit report being released? Isn't it way over due?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

EFA report

For months PURE Reform has requested a report on the district's EFA goals. The 4 year EFA period ended with the 2008=2009 school year. The PG indicates that a report has been released:

Once again the benchmarks are described as "aspirational," even though at the time they were issued they were described as "How [the district] will hold [itself] accountable." Even small movement in the right direction is celebrated as "progress" toward the goal, regardless of how far off the result is from the benchmark that was set.

Report on EFA goals

PURE Reform has long requested a report on the district's EFA goals. The 4 year period set for the goals ended with the 200-2009 school year. The PG indicates that a report was issued this week.

Once again the benchmarks, which were presented as a means for "how [the district] will hold [itself] accountable," are described as merely aspirational. As long as there was some movement in the right direction on a goal, "progress" toward the goal is celebrated- even if the result is nowhere near the benchmark that was set and even though changes in district results in general mirror results for the state as a whole.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Office of Teacher Effectiveness director

From the PG, the district has named Sam Franklin to head the Gates initiative on teacher effectiveness.

Superintendent claims that African American test results "have exceeded our wildest expectations"

From the Tribune:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

District hopes to avoid mistakes made with a prior large grant

From the Tribune- it's good to hear from someone with a historical perspective!

Report on EFA goals

From the PG:

Of 38 goals, 8 were met.

Townhall meeting coverage by PG

From the PG, coverage of Randall Taylor and Mark Brentley's townhall meeting:

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Plus Boardwatch report card

From the PG:

Pittsburgh Promise fundraising efforts

From the PG:

Keystone Achievement Awards

From the PG:

The article notes that in Pittsburgh "seven schools have received the award for all six years the awards have been given: Banksville PreK-5, Dilworth PreK-5, Linden K-5, Phillips K-5, Rogers CAPA middle school, Sterrett 6-8 and CAPA high school."

Four K-5 schools, two middle schools and no K-8 schools- but the district has moved away from the K-5/ middle school structure.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Townhall meeting w/ RTaylor and MBrentley on Monday

From the PG:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tuition tax/ Pittsburgh Promise

From another post:

Mark Rauterkus said...
Do you think the Pgh Promise Board should suspend Mayor Ravenstahl from his ceremonial role there (with the Pgh Promise) in light of his new dream / promise to tax college tuition?

November 18, 2009 9:20 AM
Questioner said...
People shouldn't be suspended from or kept off of boards, committees, etc. based on their positions on issues. More problematic is when a board or committee member has a conflict. The mayor ran into this issue himself when he complained that the board evaluating his proposal to tax college students included current and former college administrators.

November 18, 2009 9:37 AM
Mark Rauterkus said...
Should I jump to the Nazi counterpoint (famous in internet discussions) now or later?

I just posted about no time like the present on my blog.

Here is the thing. We don't allow those that abuse children to take care of our kids. That is a protective measure, understood. part of conventional wisdom.

The tax on tuition, something that Luke defends and hatched himself, moves one way. That direction is at the polar opposite of where the Pgh Promise is moving. It is counter productive squared.

Help like that, we need to scorn and live without.

November 18, 2009 9:46 AM
Questioner said...
It's a little different from child abuse. Child abuse is not a position on an issue, and it is illegal. In addition, the mayor could argue that a tuition tax will in the long run be best for students by supporting a healthy city; the same could not be said for child abuse.

November 18, 2009 9:51 AM
Mark Rauterkus said...
It is different, of course.

But, the tuition tax is illegal as well.

The tax on students goes to support the retired city workers, not a healthy city. We rob from the young and give to the retired.

November 18, 2009 10:21 AM
Questioner said...
But, if new ways are not found to support retired city workers the money will come out of other city services. It would be better to present and debate alternatives than remove the mayor from boards.

November 18, 2009 11:06 AM
Mark Rauterkus said...
Luke is in the boat and rowing the wrong way.

The sins of yesterday need not be paid off with the dreams of tomorrow.

Rather than cut off the future, just don't pay the past. JUST being the big word there.

That is the discussion not being dealt with. Chapter 1 = patronage. Chapter 2 = money for nothing. Chapter 3 = winning elections and keeping power. Knock yourself out with those debates.

The only way Luke stays where he is and got where he arrived is because of the old guard.

GM had legacy costs too. PAST workers who got paid for nothing makes life impossible unless the gov comes to stimulate.

If I'm on the Pgh Promise board and Luke wants to make the job impossible, in spirt and in terms of real losses to the program, then I'd show him the door.

Luke's talking about $15M per year. The Pgh Promise was to build to $150M forever.

That means in a decade or so, the Pgh Promise is gone. They only churned. That's what I mean as counter productive squared.

November 18, 2009 11:24 AM
lisa said...
if there is going to be a tax on college students, then WHY is it not the same amount for each student? How does a CMU student use so much more in city services than a Pitt student? Making the tax 1 percent of tuition just fosters more anger towards the tax. The 52 dollar emergency services tax is annoying, but at least its the same for everyone.

November 19, 2009 4:46 PM
Anonymous said...
Note to Mark, you're mixing apples and oranges here. I'm no fan of Mr.Ravenstahl and less of a fan of his tax proposal, but this is no time to play politics. It's always about the money.
The issue shouldn't be confused, however. Someone has said that UPMC, its director and leadership should be the ones targeted first and foremost for taxes and I can only concur. One need only look at the monster which is UPMC to understand that health care overhauls are sorely needed.
Yet, 1% of annual tuition is not going to jeopardize the Promise.I abhor the tax idea, but let's be honest.

November 19, 2009 8:41 PM
Mark Rauterkus said...
I am being honest.

What is an apple and what is an organge to you? Prove something in the post.

$15M tax per year = sucked from college spending

Pittsburgh Promise = college spending

In its life, the Pgh Promise = $150M = 10 years of tuition tax.

Apples & apples. $ & tuition. Subtract 1. Add another = Minus wins before you (& Luke) know it.

Bottom line. The tuition tax deflates the Pgh Promise. Tuition tax will wipe the Pgh Promise away.

November 19, 2009 10:00 PM
Post a Comment

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gates Foundation Grant for teacher effectiveness

From the PG:

The amount offered is $40M but the district feels it needs $85M; it is not clear who will contribute the balance. A goal outlined in the proposal is to increase the percentage of teachers who produce gains significantly above the state average from 28% to 41%. (More information is needed on what a "significant" gain would be, given that the district has called gains of a few percentage points or less "significant"- do they mean gains that are measurable or "statistically significant"?). Another goal is to increase the HS graduation rate from 65% to 76% (since current graduation rates greater than 85% are often mentioned in district materials, the 76% must be under the "RAND method" which was used a few years back but never (publicly) updated).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Public hearing/ protests re: treatment of black students

From the PG:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Community meeting w/ District 2 Director

On the November "Start a New Post," Kathy Fine wrote:

"I attended a community meeting at Dilworth School hosted by Dara Ware Allen, new school board director from District 2. There were four parents there as well as Ms. Ware Allen's family and School Board Director Bill Isler.

After a brief introduction of her background, Ms. Ware Allen asked for concerns/questions.

One parent said that she was impressed with the district's communication regarding the new magnet process, but expressed concern that if a student is applying to CAPA as their first choice and another magnet as their second, if they do not get into CAPA, they are not entered into the lottery for another magnet (I think because the admission processes are different for CAPA than the other magnets, students in the past would apply to CAPA and get in while taking a slot at one of the other magnets from someone else).

Two parents expressed concerns over the facilities study's recommendation to close Fulton, citing increasing enrollment and test scores.

I asked three questions/concerns:

Will she advocate for the reconstitution of the Peabody and IB site selection committees in light of the recommendations of the facilities report? Will she advocate for the formation of the Schenley committee and ensure that the membership is open to stakeholder's with diverse viewpoints?

The facilities reports was somewhat misleading by putting renovation costs in "like new" dollars. Estimating costs to make a building usable for 30 or so years would have been more relevant.

Will she advocate for more transparency/openness from the administration? I related how the district deflected my request for information regarding Excellence for All goals to the districts lawyers. Bill Isler stated that the information that I was requesting was in the A+ report, however review of that document revealed that some of the information was in the report, but most was not.

Ms. Ware Allen Wrote everything down on a large pad without comment except to clarify what the parents were asking."

Plan for city schools

From the PG "Plan for city schools could shuffle students again":

Monday, November 9, 2009

A+ troubled by PPS racial achievement gap

The PG notes that according to the PG, the PPS achievement gap in reading has widened since 2005 even while statewide the racial achievement gap in reading has decreased.

Plans for summer school

From the PG:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hill District meeting on restructuring

From the PG:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Year round school

On last month's post for this topic, Anonymous recently left this comment:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Year round school":

"After recently touring a charter school which has always been yer-round, I am giving this more thougth and I must say I like the idea. Western PA in particular has a population high in thinkers of status quo as the only option. We seem to want the best outcomes but are unwilling to change our lifestyle to get it.

Funny story. A few years ago the PPS superintendent was fielding questions from parents about the amount of PSSA prep during a school day. The methods of getting ready varied from building to buildin and finally one Dad explained that he told his kid NOT to work on a PSSA Prep packet given as homework. The packet was given on a Friday and those hours between Friday at dismissal and Monday at first bell apparently should be off-limits for any learning. I find that the best work I do to help my kid with homework happens on weekends when we are less hurried and have the opportunity to take a rest and tackle it with a clear head. Call me crazy! P.S. I am bothered by ZERO comment count."

Posted by Anonymous to PURE Reform at November 5, 2009 9:11 AM

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Transportation and facilities

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Coaches and looping":

"Where did the non-returning kids go? Parents are looking at options for 8th graders moving on to ninth and I feel strongly that the transportation system here is a serious drawback to promoting attending a magnet. Some neighborhoods are located in transportation friendly communities. South Side is one area where public transportation seems to be above average, but other southern neighborhoods provide fewer options. It would be interesting to see how many students getting bus passes to attend a high school magnet actually use the pass everyday. My informal polling tells me more kids get rides from parents and others than you might expect. This indicates a situation where students getting less support from home have options that require real dedication and desire on their part."

- 17 went to other Pittsburgh public high schools including 6 to Peabody and 5 to Brashear.

- 7 went to the Student Achievement Center or CEP

- 5 went to charter schools

- 3 went to private schools

- 1 moved out of state

- 19 are "inactive". It would include students who dropped out or moved out of the district or whose whereabouts are just unknown.

As for magnets, transportation does seem to be a huge issue. While people filling out forms may say "Kids can travel up to 45 minutes for a magnet program" in reality it would have to be one awesome program. Due to bus schedules you are probably looking at a kid leaving the house at about 6:30 am including in the cold, rain and ice, carrying a heavy bookbag and sometimes oversized projects and with pretty severe penalties for being late. In reality it's probably not something most would try without a parent with a car as backup. Central locations can help cut down travel hassles.

Neighborhood tensions

On another post Mark Rauterkus wrote:

"Would love to see a full-blown discussion on the blog in another thread about the perception of a civil war in our neighborhoods and how it is impossible for some to fathom a merger among different neighborhoods.

What's up with that?"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Facilities consultant recommendations

From the PG:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Coaches and looping

Mark Roosevelt spoke to parents at the recent Excellence for All
> meeting. Video captured by Mark Rauterkus. On Mark's blog, points are being made about the overhaul of athletics and afterschool, in particular that there would be less of a
> pressing need to loop the teachers (ie, to have teachers follow the kids
> from 9th to 12th grade) when the kids are in sports and activities
> with empowered coaches.
> Full blog posting with the slide show:


School closing recommendations to be made today

From the PG:

"...schools and buildings DeJong Inc. recommends closing will be identified at a 5:30 p.m. meeting of the school board business and finance committee."

"Parents United for Responsible Educational Reform says it will demand ample opportunity for public input and documentation of how DeJong arrived at its recommendations. Also, group member Annette Werner of Shadyside said that when the district translates DeJong's report into a course of action, officials should present an entire plan rather than roll out pieces one at a time."

Year round school

From the PG Letters to the Editor "The education of a child goes beyond school" and "Family values":

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Start a new post; search PURE Reform's blog

To start a new post, reply to this post with your question, comment or suggestion for a new topic. The adminstrator will then start a new post with your topic as a title.You can post anonymously if you prefer. Click on "post a comment". Type in the word you see for word verification. Choose how you would like to be identified in the post click "publish your comment".

To search PURE Reform's blog, use the "search function on the upper left of the blog.