Wednesday, November 4, 2009

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?"

26 comments:

Questioner said...

Thee is probably something to it because at the "Community Dialogues" concerns about safety and neighborhood tensions were one of the top few issues, raised over and over by a wide range of people even though none of the questions asked about this topic.

Anonymous said...

A reason why some may ask what's the problem is that the media does not report many incidents. Or occasionally the Trib reports but more people in the city read the Post Gazette which does not report. People ask if the Post Gazette has agreed to keep back harmful information. On the other hand it reported the incident at the science school which did not seem like a very big deal.

amymoore said...

Mark, in theory I would agree that we should not give in to neighborhood rivalries but in reality, those neighborhood tensions affect enrollment. I think that the enrollment statistics already show that Peabody and Westinghouse do not attract most of the kids from their neighborhoods. If the parents perceive that a school is not safe, will they send their middle school kids into a high school? I guess one way for MR to cut costs is to gradually chase families who can find alternatives out of the PPS. If we lose enough kids, we can close a few more schools but what is the long term cost to the city and the region if the Pittsburgh city schools die? Erosion of a system is very difficult to identify in the short term.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Is it time to grow up and put neighborhood spats to rest?

If not now, when?

Sure, safety is a huge issue. But, I don't know if being unsafe = putting a kid in a chair at a desk in a classroom next to another student from the other side of Frankstown Avenue -- or wherever.

Questioner said...

The issue isn't so much when the kids are sitting at desks as it is getting to and from school. In some neighborhoods a number of parents have reportedly signed their kids up for cyber school, even though online learning isn't best for the child, due to safety concerns in their own neighborhood- never mind traveling to another neighborhood. MAYBE we can take the money that is being spent on cyber tuition and spend it on ensuring safe passage to and from school.

Anonymous said...

Mark, you are being a little naive. It is not an issue of "growing up". We are not talking about neighborhood tensions. We are talking about real gang related issues. I hope that these issues can be overcome, but it will not be easy and the merge cannot be done without a realistic approach to the problem.

Anonymous said...

I heard the superintendent on KDKA radio today and I got the idea he is sensitive to neighborhood issues. We can't be quick to dismiss them or tell kids that they'll just have to get past any history. A few years ago I heard of a girl getting caught going through the metal detectors at a city high school with pepper spray. She was fine in her building but needed to have some defense available to her for the walk to and from school. Until we all walk in her shoes ...

Questioner said...

And that sensitivity will lead to plans like "phasing in" a plan by for example moving only incoming grade 9- which conveniently helps the "new school" to get on its feet with a smaller, younger student body.

But what about the students left behind? In the same way we might judge a society by how it treats the least of its members, so might we judge an administration by the way it treats the least of ITS students- such as those being left behind in "old schools" for which the administration does not stand to receive credit.

Observer said...

I continue to be shocked by the nonsense. It's easy to talk about growing up but the reality is something quite different. Unless you've taught in schools where two rival communities attend---and the rivalry entails a long history of death and violence--then again, perhaps you simply don't know and cannot comprehend the magnitude of the problem, as one poster here seems to illustrate.
Merging all of these East End neighborhoods into one school is simply a bad idea. I can understand ignorance of the situation when it entails one-off comments, but repeated comments that ask "Is it time to grow up and put neighborhood spats to rest?" bespeak a "living in a dream world" mentality.

Anonymous said...

I am reminded that the Westinghouse facility turned into a full-service site about two years ago through a partnership with maybe, the YMCA? What happened to that?

Anonymous said...

You tube of some of our gang members. These guys are going to need some help "growing up."

http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhV6HGG206K5mI2Om2

Anonymous said...

It would appear that the "Ivory Tower Mentality" so warmly embraced by Mr.Roosevelt and his staff is also evident among some of the district's parents. I have to wonder if the idea of "warehousing" kids into one building would be as appealing if some of those making the suggestions had their own kids going there.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I asked for full blown discussion. That video link fits.

To warehouse students is another discussion.

Observer said...

Sorry, but it's the same discussion. Anyone who pushes this type of idea is essentially warehousing students. Your comments within this thread so far have been way off base, in my opinion.

deegazette said...

The video referenced by Anonymous 6:26 should be required viewing for those of us who are clueless. We go to our PTO meetings and talk about performance on the PSSAs and the next hoagie sale coming up and not too far away meetings like the ones filmed for this documentary are being held too.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Observer, you are free to paint the world with the biggest brush you wish. Go for it. Repaint as necessary. Yearly?

If not now, when? (question above repeated)

I ask questions, so as to get this out in the open and you get paint over the distinctions between violence and neighborhood tensions and warehousing.

When the language gets twisted, the conversation can only fail -- except for the namecalling.

Questioner said...

Multiple Choice: What's the best way to make a difference with the kids on the video?

A) A teacher training academy.

B) Summer camp.

C) The Pittsburgh Promise.

D) A science school.

E) Intense one on one intervention with the child and his family.

Observer said...

Mr.Rauterkus,I don't know you personally and as such, will NOT call you or any other poster here names. I'm disappointed you would write such a thing.It tends to taint the entire discussion. Perhaps I have been in the trenches much longer than you and perhaps I have seen things that the majority of our teachers have not.No...perhaps a great many of our teachers in a number of our buildings have seen ugly incidents that parents have not. The simple truth, again, is that placing all of the Peabody and Westinghouse students in one school is not just a bad idea, it is an insane idea. Perhaps you'd need to walk a few miles in my shoes to understand my thinking.
I'm not even so sure about throwing the Oliver kids into Langley, but the eradication of housing projects west make it somewhat more palatable.
As for warehousing, let's be honest if nothing else. While it may not be reflective of your desire, grouping the have-nots into one place is an idea that is ancient. I'm not sure what else you would call it. A school is not going to cure a neighborhood feud. In fact, it's going to be a nice middle point where all roads lead to release anger.

Mark Rauterkus said...

If not now, when?

Never? You're history and wisdom can tell me questions I ask.

Never?

Anonymous said...

"When" is not the applicable term. "How" is a better one. Many have tried over the years and to be sure, we are talking decades here.
How?
How do you make people understand? You understand because you are educated. How do you make the person born into this environment understand. It's been ingrained, and these two schools are ground zero.

The feud between neighborhoods is not because of zip codes or bandanna colors, it's turd being controlled for drugs, period. We knew this as far back as the 80's. Knowing that is a plus and when you realize that controlling drugs equates to thousands upon thousands of dollars, you understand the situation.

For the record, I agree with all of your ideas within a perfect world scenario. Problem is, how do we solve problems that emanate from turf control that equates with controlling cash flow?

How?

Questioner said...

And a problem is- even those not trading drugs don't want to get in the middle of a turf battle. Administrators who say it doesn't matter would be easier to believe if they put their offices in these neighborhoods.

Questioner said...

Interesting observation- when the idea of merging Schenley into Peabody was proposed, board member Sumpter said (at a session w/ transcript) that he would be concerned for safety reasons about any plan that permanently assigned Hill kids to the E Liberty neighborhood. How is it different to make Homewood the school for E Liberty kids?

Mark Rauterkus said...

It might not be different (as per the Sumpter statement/leadership).

Since Fifth Ave HS closed, Hill kids go to Brashear and others to Schenley. Now Schenley's gone but kids go to U-Prep, new. Of course others attend schools of choice as well.

The position of "do not mix Peabody & Westinghouse feeder patterns" might prevail with the superintendent and the majority of the PPS board. That is at odds with the consultants.

BTW, Mark Roosevelt said that he does not agree with 100% of the findings and suggestions within the recent facilities report from the consultants. As to specifics on the contrasts -- you'd have to ask him to explain himself. ???

solutionsRus said...

Although I don't always agree with (or for that matter understand) some of Mark's comments, on the point of the value of coaching, I believe that he is right on. All children (not just at risk) benefit from having a positive adult influence in their lives. Even with all the support in the world raising two kids was a challenge and I was thankful for the positive impact that several coaches made on my children. High school sports do get waaayyy too much attention by the media with a little to much focus on winning for my tastes, but the value of learning team play, sportsmanship, leadership skills etc. can not be stressed enough. Yes, academic subjects are the #1 need, but cannot be taught in a vacuum.

Mark's comments on the state of PPS sports programs are right on as well. For every wonderful coach that my children have had, there is one that is just taking a paycheck (one coach used to read the paper during practice and another would grade papers during matches).

We should all stop speaking in absolutes. There are good and not so good coaches, teachers, principals, administrators and parents. Making changes to a system that ensures more good and less not so good will only strengthen that system. But the changes have to be effective, vetted and implemented correctly or it is just "change" and not improvement.

lisa said...

As far back as 2000, when we were lobbying parents to work towards a K-8 neighborhood school, we heard from some parents that they would rather put their child on a bus to a safe school than have thenm walk to school in an unsafe neighborhood. East Hills kids get sent to Allderdice instead of Westinghouse for that reason. Safety has to be the number one concern. Kids cant learn if they dont feel safe.

Anonymous said...

Amen, lisa.