Saturday, January 23, 2010

IB to Peabody?

We are told that Derrick Lopez was a speaker at a meeting and mentioned that the plan is for the IB program to be at Peabody. At the same time, the district's East End panel is just beginning to consider configurations for the East End. However, the panel seems designed more for merging Peabody into Westinghouse than for considering whether this merger is in the best interests of the students.


Anonymous said...

People really like Mr. Lopez. I sure hope someone will volunteer to help him get his foot out of his mouth.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of IB going to Peabody. Not sure I like the idea of Westinghouse and Peabody merging, but I also have to wonder if the lack of numbers at both schools equates with the idea that turf tensions are just not a concern.

Anonymous said...

Okay everyone listen up! The district probably has already decided on plans for Peabody/Westinghouse and are just going through the motions letting people think their input is important. Please! Combining the two schools wouldn't be a bad idea and would work if the district started the students going to school together in their elementary years and gradually onto middle/high school. Rediculous to think that the turf issue isn't real. It is and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Ravenstahl has pulled initiatives out of mothballs recently to quell neighborhood tensions through some kind of program. Coincidence?

Anonymous too said...

I believe the plan is to not only put Peabody and Westinghouse together, but to add the grades 6-8 from two K-8 schools that will go back to being K-5. Of course, right now they are only K-8 in name, since they are each housed in 2 different schools, with lower grades in one and upper grades in another.

One of those schools is Faison -- which had so many problems with its higher grades the first year that some kids were moved over to Westinghouse because their behavior couldn't be managed at Faison.

So, two very underenrolled high schools will turn into a far more full 6-12 school with turf issues.

It could work, with lots of planning and strong leadership and... well, okay, maybe it won't work.

Anonymous said...

It is still possible that the administration will do an about face on the reconfiguration/merge just to prove they hear the outcry and see the light, after months of speculation on the part of the public.

Questioner said...

The tactic seems more to play to narrow interests of particular neighborhoods- ie, to rally Homewood around continued attempts to revitalize Westinghouse as a feeder school even if the majority of kids affected (considering Peabody feeder kids as well as Westinghouse feeder kids) would be better off going to Peabody; or to rally Highland Park around the idea of a nearby IB school even if the location is unworkable for most kids in the PPS district.

anothanon said...

A daily trip to Peabody is evidence of a strong commitment for any southern student in Pittsburgh. I know the Reizenstein building is lacking in several respects, but it is easy to find. Perhaps some survey will include a quesion about how many days a week students take public transportation, drive himself/herself, or are driven by an adult family member. Perhaps when the feasibility is analyzed someone will note attendance and tardiness for those high-achieving IB kids in their current building and factor what the added distance will do to commuters.

Anonymous said...

It will be tough to fill an IB school (or even an IB program within a school) at the Peabody location.

Anonymous said...

Disagree. IB will be no tougher to fill at Peabody than it would be at Reizenstein. IB continues to be a shining star in this district. (It would have made most sense to have it centrally located, of in at Schenley)

Anonymous said...

It's an extra hike from the busway or an extra transfer; an extra 10 to 15 minutes. But neither is ideal.

Anonymous said...


Please Check Out

"The Rise of Venture Philathrophy and the Ongoing Neoliberal Assault on Public Education: The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation" by Kenneth Saltman
I found this on the School Maters blogsite

Excellent, A must read for all


Anonymous said...

1/27 anon, first off, what does it have to do with the IB move? Why tramp on the thread? Second, "neo-liberal"??? Is that like "neo-conservative"? You know, how the Bush people wrecked the nation---undoubtedly the people you called heroes?

Go read the link said...

Anonymous right above me -- I promise you that anyone who is reading the schoolsmatter blog does not have Bush as a hero.

I believe that the phrasing points to the fact that education reform is being um, bankrolled and masterminded by private money right now -- Broad, Gtes, etc. and that currently it's difficult to left from right in the reformers.

Anonymous said...

There are two neighborhood schools in the East End - Allderdice and Westinghouse. Allderdice has a capacity of 1,902 students, and only 1,420 are enrolled leaving room for 482 students. According to the DeJong Facility Report, there are 497 students at Peabody. Assuming that Peabody continues to lose 7% of its population each year, Peabody will have 482 students next year. They can all fit at Allderdice.

Anonymous said...

There are two neighborhood schools in the East End - Allderdice and Westinghouse. Allderdice has a capacity of 1,902 students, and only 1,420 are enrolled leaving room for 482 students. According to the DeJong Facility Report, there are 497 students enrolled at Peabody. Assuming that Peabody continues to lose 7% of its population each year, Peabody's population will be 482 students next year. Allderdice could be the home of all displaced Peabody students.

Dave Atkinson said...

On Tuesday February 9th at 7:00 pm, Pittsburgh Public Schools will hold a public discussion at Peabody High School on the future of schools in the East End. The public should be outraged over the state of Peabody. The school does not meet the needs of families in its feeder pattern. Only 26% of students in the Peabody feeder pattern attend this school. In 2008, only one in five 11th grade students at Peabody were PSSA proficient in reading or math. By the fall of 2018, the DeJong Long Term Facility Report estimates that only 259 students will attend Peabody and recommends closing Peabody.

In 2008, a Pittsburgh Public School Committee made up of students, parents and teachers recommended Peabody be the home of the Obama 6-12 International Baccalaureate School (which is temporarily housed at Reizenstein). In 2009, the DeJong Report confirmed that Peabody is a better facility by ranking Peabody #28 and Reizenstein #52 out of 80 schools. Unfortunately, the report recommended keeping Obama IB at its temporary Reizenstein location. Is Reizenstein a better option? No. Reizenstein’s acoustic problems disrupt learning. Peabody is not perfect, but it is a quality facility that offers amenities such as its auditorium, gym and pool.

Peabody is the best location for Obama 6-12 International Baccalaureate School. East End neighborhoods north of the bus way should seize the opportunity to host a magnet 6-12 school that appeals to college bound students. The School Board should wake up and move Obama IB to Peabody.

Anonymous said...

and students in the Peabody feeder pattern? We can just ship them over to Westinghouse so that Highland park has a cozy boutique school and the poorest among us will be educated in concentrated poverty.

I have no problem housing IB at Peabody, but we cannot forget those without a voice. (Ideally, IB should go back to Schenley where it belongs. If the district was not committed to the experimental 6-12 format, we could have renovated Schenley for the same amount that is going into Frick, Reizenstein and Milliones. Schenley could have housed Sci Tech, IB and University prep as 9-12 (three schools, three programs), therefore preserving the social integration that was working at Schenley and using the central location in Oakland as a magnet to students throughout the city.)

Questioner said...

Tonight the Open East End Panel meets at Reizenstein Room 116 from 5-6:30; it will be discussing Peabody/ IB and other configuration issues; all are welcome.

Dave Atkinson said...

The School District has to strive to serve all its students, but Peabody clearly does not meet the needs of its student or the community. Is keeping students at Peabody better than consolidating the schools two schools at Westinghouse and coordinating social and other services for students? Peabody should close because of declining enrollment; the vast majority of students in the feeder pattern don’t want to attend the school.

In the Peabody feeder pattern, three out of ten students opt out of PPS completely and attend private or charter schools. Another four out of the ten attend other schools in the PPS system. We need to hear the voices of these families who have opted out of Peabody. Considering that PPS is spending $20,000 per year per student (twice the national average), the district should be able to offer more compelling school choices for college bound students. Strong neighborhoods need strong schools, and the failure of Peabody to attract students has a corrosive effect on the neighborhoods in the Peabody feeder pattern. Though Obama 6-12 IB is a magnet school open to any student in the district, the neighborhoods of East Liberty, Friendship, Garfield, Highland Park, Lawrenceville, Morningside, Shadyside and Stanton Heights would all benefit from hosting Obama IB at Peabody.

The IB Site Selection Committee recommended that Peabody be the home of Obama IB. Neighborhoods north of the bus way should seize this opportunity to move Obama 6-12 IB to Peabody. Please attend the meeting at Peabody on February 9th at 7pm and voice your concerns.

Annette Werner said...

Please consider attending tonight's meeting, Dave.

Re: students opting out, note that only about 27% of 9th and 10th grade students in the feeder for Millions (created as a "flagship school" for the district) choose Milliones. With so many different programs to choose from, low feeder rate percentages are not unusual.

We would also want to consider what percentage of students in the Peabody feeder attend Obama (looking at grades 9 and 10 to compare apples to apples) and what percentage of low income students in the Peabody feeder choose Peabody, again to compare apples to apples, because the Peabody feeder has much greater numbers of high income students than for example the Westinghouse feeder, and high income families are more likely to have the time, resources, etc. to shop around.

Lots of complicated questions; it seems too early to draw conclusions.

Observer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dave Atkinson said...

Thanks for your comments. I’m not able to attend tonight. Will there be meetings I can attend in the future?

Families and students have fled Peabody because it does not prepare students academically – not because there are so many different programs to choose from. When families are offered a strong neighborhood school, the enrollment from the feeder pattern increases. Let’s compare Peabody to Allderdice. In the Peabody feeder pattern, 26% of students attend Peabody and 31% attend a magnet. In the Allderdice feeder pattern, 50% attend Allderdice and 11% attend a magnet. More students in the Peabody feeder pattern attend a magnet than the neighborhood school! In the Allderdice feeder pattern, there are 5 students for every one that attends a magnet.

The reason three out of four kids in my neighborhood go to magent, private, charter or other schools is so that they can be engaged academically. They are going to CAPA, Urban Pathways, Oakland Catholic, Central Catholic and other private schools because it prepares them for college and for careers. Parents send their kids across town so that they can take advantage of strong schools. Would they send them to an academically rigorous school in East Liberty? I would think so.

Anonymous said...

Dave Atkinson- The best home for the IB school is where it originated in 1984- Schenley High School. The district fed you many inconsistencies and untruths which you chose to believe. The Schenley building served the Highland Park neighborhood beautifully, as well as all of the city neighborhoods, because of its architectural integrity, its central location, and because of its WINDOWS! Yes, many Highland Parkers go to private schools, and will continue to do so. But many more than you can imagine attended the hallowed halls of Schenley High School. Just look at the list of alumni to prove this point.

Observer said...

Just as I thought. You are running for something. How else can you explain this pearl of wisdom:"Families and students have fled Peabody because it does not prepare students academically – not because there are so many different programs to choose from. When families are offered a strong neighborhood school, the enrollment from the feeder pattern increases."
Families fled Peabody NOT because the school wasn't preparing kids academically, but rather, they were not enthused about sending their children to a school which had safety issues and a history of problems.
Hey Dave, why not try to be a stand up guy instead of blaming teachers? Why not have a bit of guts? You have all the answers, so why don't you volunteer to take a class of the lowest achievers over at Peabody? Let's see if you last a week.
Yes, you'll fit in well with this administration, just another individual who is great at throwing stones at teachers. You're at the end of a long line of cowards, pal. You've jumped into the game a bit too late.

I've read my share of propaganda in my time, but this load of baloney stands out:
"The reason three out of four kids in my neighborhood go to magent (sic), private, charter or other schools is so that they can be engaged academically. They are going to CAPA, Urban Pathways, Oakland Catholic, Central Catholic and other private schools because it prepares them for college and for careers."

Parents send their kids to safe schools first and foremost. Maybe if you had a clue about the reality of the neighborhoods beyond what you have read in some prepared P.R. brochure, you'd understand. Parents are more prone to send their kids into situations in which they can feel assured about the environment. When you pile kids from competing neighborhoods into the same building and don't have a proactive administration in charge--as has been the case at Peabody for years---you will have continued trouble.

Thanks to people like you, it seems apparent we'll see a great model when the Peabody and Westinghouse student bodies are merged into one. But hey Dave, as long as they have good teachers, it shouldn't be a problem, right???

It's open season on teachers in this district. You just have to ask yourself...where do these people come from?

Questioner said...

New rule- any comments about people's occupations get deleted.

Also we need to welcome as broad involvement as possible in school district issues. Newcomers may be new to the area, be new parents, or just recognize issues for the first time.

Annette Werner said...

The Open East End Panel will be meeting again on Friday February 12 and Friday February 26 at the Reizenstein facility, Room 116.

Here is the link to the group's website:

Minutes from today's meeting will be posted when available.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we send the East Hills students who are bused practically right past Westinghouse, to Westinghouse instead of to Allderdice? The students from Peabody, Westinghouse, and East Hills, would fill a school.

Questioner said...

This though would create a school very disproportionately composed of lower income students. This type of school has been much less successful than the more diverse schools in the district.

amymoore said...

Observer, did I miss something in Dave's posts? Is a criticism of the lack of academic rigor a criticism of teachers??? Teachers might be one component but I would also place the blame on the administration, the curriculum, and a great deal of blame on the parents who do not demand more for their children. As a middle class parent who places a high value on education, of course safety would be the top concern but my requirements for a school would not stop there. My son's home school would be Allderdice. If safety were the ONLY factor in choosing a school, he would not have started at Schenley.

LS said...

my kids went to Allderdice and I saw a distinct difference in academic rigor between the CAS/AP classes and the PSP (or scholars) level classes. So called Mainstream classes were little more than cursory attempts at studying a subject. If your child goes to the PPS for high school and hopes to succeed in college, better tell them to take all CAS/AP classes.

Observer said...

OBSERVER has retired. Thanks to the members of PURE Reform for their continued efforts.

Parent said...

Families fled Peabody NOT because the school wasn't preparing kids academically, but rather, they were not enthused about sending their children to a school which had safety issues and a history of problems.

I too don't see how those two aren't linked -- of course if a school has lots of problems, including safety as the biggest, there is not going to be academic achievement.

That is not related to the teachers, either, for the most part. It's related to the administration's dealing with those problems, their support of teachers, etc.

Questioner said...

My understanding is that many families left Peabody because great programs were placed at Schenley- IP and the Spartan program. Nothing similarly attractive was placed at Peabody. Sure you can move the IB program to Peabody, although being in a less central location it will be conveniently accessible to far fewer families. But, IB is not for everyone. And because there are only 600 high school slots, and not everyone would come from the Peabody feeder, it is hard to see how more than a quarter or so of HS students in the existing Peabody "feeder" would be at the IB program. Maybe it should go there anyway, maybe not; there needs to be a coherent plan that addresses the needs of all the students.

Anonymous said...

In response to questioner at 9:18: It shouldn't matter if the student body is made up of a large number of lower income students if Bellefield, faculty, support staff, etc. work together to raise the achievement level. Isn't this what the Gates project is all about? Anyway, in today's economy, there are alot of low income families in ALL of our schools.

Questioner said...

That is what was supposed to happen at University Prep- and what actually happened was that at the end of year 1, a third of the students left.

The next year's 9th grade was drastically underenrolled- fewer than 100 of the 150 spaces available were filled.

One study concluded that a school with a high concentration of poverty MAY sometimes work, in the right place at the right time with the right people in place- but that it has proven very difficult to maintain a successful school with a high concentration of poverty over time. Can anyone provide a list of 50 such high schools nationwide? Or even 25?

Looking at our district, every school that is economically diverse is popular and has high enrollment. Should be not expand the popular offerings?

Dave Atkinson said...

Hello and thanks to everyone for posting your responses to my initial post. I will try to make the meeting on 2/12 at Reizenstein. I’ve tried to consolidate some of the comments below:

1) Closing Peabody is bad for students. Moving them to Westinghouse consolidates poverty.
2) Safety is the major concern for students attending Peabody
3) There needs to be a coherent plan that addresses the concerns of all students
4) Obama IB at Peabody probably may only get 25% of its population from the feeder pattern. Milliones has lost population, and Obama IB is a magnet school.
5) Every school that is economically diverse is popular and has high enrollment.
6) Obama IB should go back to Schenley.

Clearly Obama IB at Peabody would be a better solution than what we have now. Peabody is currently underperforming academically; it’s at 41% of capacity and enrollment is rapidly declining.

One assumption I have heard is that economically disadvantaged students will not enroll in Obama IB at Peabody, but this is not true. Obama IB at Peabody can provide an academically rigorous program and attract a racially and socioeconomically diverse population. The 7-12 Baccalaureate School for Global Education in Queens, NY ( is a good example. It’s ranked by US News as a top high school with a diverse population. US News has a list of its top 100 IB High Schools in the country which may provide other examples.

Questioner said...

Data from other IB schools would be interesting-

but still, those familiar with students typically attending Peabody believe that for large numbers of students, IB will not be the right program.

There needs to be a plan in place for all the Peabody area students, including the great numbers of students who have dropped out or are likely to do so.

Questioner said...

We also need to keep in mind differences between NYC and Pittsburgh. NYC has huge numbers of students and excellent public transportation and so it would not be difficult to find students from every background to fill an IB school. Most relevant to our situation would be whether a high percentage or at least large numbers of low income, traditionally underrepresented minority students from the neighborhood of the baccalaureate school in Queens have successfully completed the IB program there.

Dave Atkinson said...

Hi Annette. Yes, there does need to be a plan for the students at Peabody, but why isn’t there one in place already? The school has been underperforming for years; the students and community deserve better than the status quo. There are also almost 700 students at Schenley/Reizenstein who waiting for a permanent location. Obama IB should move to Peabody where it can thrive.

The Baccalaureate School in Queens has 430 students, is 44% minority and 47% economically disadvantaged (see link below). Peabody has 497 students is 95% minority and 54% at risk. While there are differences between the schools, they are both classified as economically disadvantaged.

I have heard a number of people talk about developing a plan for students who have dropped out. While I personally favor PPS assisting students who have dropped out, is it legal to offer public funds to students who have dropped out but not offer assistance to the 1 in 3 students who opt out by choosing private and charter schools? Wouldn’t PPS have to offer some assistance to serve kids who opt out of the public system? Or should students who have dropped out seek social services that are not funded by PPS?

Questioner said...

When they say "minority"- let's check if they mean under represented minority. Queens of course is heavily Asian and does not lack for high achieving, low income Asian students. An IB program, with its emphasis on a second language, could be especially attractive to recent immigrant families.

Dave Atkinson said...

The link I provided in my previous post breaks down minorities at BSGE by ethnicity.

We should be careful not to stereotype any minority including Asians. The typical Asian stereotype is an East Asian who is high achieving, but this is just a stereotype. While many East Asians and South Asians have been successful academically, many have not. You also have to consider Southeast Asians (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) who have struggled upon immigration and not seen the same results as other Asian subgroups.

Questioner said...

No stereotyping- the idea was to look at how under-represented minorities have done (similar to the approach many colleges take in making admission decisions).

For our purposes, it would be particularly helpful to see data on IB schools with large numbers of poor, non-immigrant students from single parent families who have succeeded in the IB program(whatever their ethnic or racial background).

Dave Atkinson said...

I don’t have that data. I think it would be more helpful to look at how many students in that demographic have opted out of Peabody for a magnet or a charter school. I would imagine that number would be significant looking at the steep decline in Peabody’s enrollment.

Due to low enrollment, Peabody is likely to close. Rather than leave the facility empty, PPS should move Obama IB to Peabody.

Questioner said...

For starters, it does seem like it would be helpful to know the number and percentage of low income, URM minority students who have chosen a magnet or charter school and compare the results at other schools. The percentage of such low income students opting out of Westinghouse for example seems much higher than the percentage opting out of Peabody. And, of course, most 9/10 feeder students opt out of University Prep.

It would then be useful to consider what kinds of programs could be placed in the building that would attract students rather than causing them to opt out. IB is one option; a program combining career training and strong academics is another option that would be likely to attract students. Or a combination of programs.

LS said...

I agree with the idea of career training, or some sort of vo tech. Parents are looking for schools which prepare kids for life after high school. For some, college is not the path they choose. Yet many trades require highly skilled apprentice recruits. South Vo Tech was a good start, but we have nothing in its place right now, except scattered programs that many folks dont hear about. A partnership with CCAC and the trade unions would be a great idea.

Dave Atkinson said...

Even if Obama IB remains at Reizenstein, the Peabody neighborhood high school should close – as the DeJong Facility Report recommends.

Keeping Peabody open is not a viable option. Total district enrollment has dropped by 32% since 2000. DeJong estimates another drop of 16% over the next nine years. PPS has a significant debt burden, and it’s spending almost $20,000 per student per year - more than twice the national average. The debt burden needs to be reduced and cost per student needs to be brought into line with the regional average. We do not need the number of facilities we currently have to educate the enrolled students. Taxpayers should not have to pay two times the national average to educate a child. Peabody would not the first school to close and may not be the last.

Peabody does not meet the academic needs of the feeder pattern. It has the lowest PSSA scores in the district, and students have opted out in droves. There are two students in the feeder pattern choosing a magnet or charter school for every one student choosing Peabody. The school does not represent the diversity of the neighborhood, and there’s a need for significant change.

There are many arguments for moving the students at Peabody to Westinghouse. Peabody is at only 41% capacity and Westinghouse is at only 34% capacity. Westinghouse is a beautiful facility that’s only 1.5 miles from Peabody. It already has career training programs, it has higher PSSA scores, and there’s a dedicated group of local service providers who want to create a support network. Peabody students will be better supported and have more opportunities there. However, as you know, where the Peabody students will go is a PPS and community decision that is currently being discussed.

Questioner said...

Without arguing for or against any particular arrangement, just looking at the facts:

"District enrollment has dropped by 32%"- enrollment certainly has dropped. In 2000 80% of students chose PPS; now only 60% choose PPS. A big factor has been charters. About a third of students do not graduate. Whatever programs and locations are chosen, they need to be designed to attract students.

"Dejong estimates another drop of 16% over the next 9 years" Yes, deJong projects drops in enrollment quite a bit in excess of the drop in projected school aged children, apparently assuming that historical trends away from PPS will continue (with some adj for the Pittsburgh Promise). Can we do better at attracting and retaining students?

"Peabody has the lowest PSSA scores in the district/ Westinghouse has higher PSSA scores" The A+ report shows Peabody w/ a higher percentage of students proficient on Reading and Math PSSA's at Peabody than at Westinghouse. In Math, only 13.3% at Westinghouse were proficient; Peabody had 20.2% proficient.

"The school does not represent the diversity of the neighborhood" It is still an open question as to how well an IB school will represent the diversity of the neighborhood.

"Westinghouse already has career training programs" The only career magnet listed is cosmetology.

"There's a dedicated group of local service providers" Presumably these service providers could also serve Peabody only 1.5 miles away, which also has dedicated providers.

There is clearly a lot to consider in making this decision.

Anonymous said...

To Questioner, PPS does not care about diversity, "The school does not represent the diversity of the neighborhood" It is still an open question as to how well an IB school will represent the diversity of the neighborhood.

I firmly believe PPS is intentionally segerating everyone. As others have mentioned here and in meetings Dejong only looked at buildings and number of kids.

Dave Atkinson said...

Based on PSSA proficiency scores, I’m not sure what incentive an academically motivated student would have to leave a charter for Peabody or Westinghouse. I’ve toured Urban Pathways, and I was impressed with their professionalism, strategic plan, sense of community and academics. 13% of the students in the Peabody feeder pattern attend charter schools. As Propel schools spread through the region, I think it’s likely PPS will lose even more students to charter schools.

City Charter: 66% reading/61% math (2008)
Urban Pathways: 54% reading/61% math (2009)

Regarding diversity, Peabody is 93% African American – which is not representative of the Peabody feeder pattern. Obama IB is 66% African American, 24% white and 10% other – which would be much more similar to the Peabody feeder pattern demographics.

According to the PPS website, here are the 11th grade 2008 PSSA proficiency scores for
Westinghouse: 38% reading/28% math:|&NodeID=4855

According to the PPS website, here are the 11th grade 2008 PSSA proficiency scores for
Peabody: 19% reading/20% math:|&NodeID=4513

According to the Westinghouse link above:
“School-within-a-school programs include Culinary Arts and Cosmetology.” Which would indicate two career training programs.

Anonymous said...


"Regarding diversity, Peabody is 93% African American – which is not representative of the Peabody feeder pattern. Obama IB is 66% African American, 24% white and 10% other – which would be much more similar to the Peabody feeder pattern demographics."

Look at socioeconomics, not color only.

"According to the PPS website, here are the 11th grade 2008 PSSA proficiency scores for
Westinghouse: 38% reading/28% math:

According to the PPS website, here are the 11th grade 2008 PSSA proficiency scores for
Peabody: 19% reading/20% math"

You are looking at 2008 when WHS had some aberrant jump in scores. The scores for 2009 are right back down. I am not looking at the site, but I bet Questioner is correct in comparing 2009 scores. (BTW there has never been any investigation or explanation as to why the WHS scores jumped so dramatically in one year and then fell the next.)

"According to the Westinghouse link above:
“School-within-a-school programs include Culinary Arts and Cosmetology.” Which would indicate two career training programs."

Still not a very diverse sampling of career choice.

Peabody would not be a bad location for the IB program. But as questioner points out, the situation is very complicated and dumping the Peabody kids at WHS and concentrating more impoverished kids into one facility does not seem very equitable to me. We have to be open minded and think about all students.

Questioner said...

Re: PSSA scores- 2009 scores became available over the summer.

There had been an uptick in 2008, but then in 2009 Westinghouse scores dropped back to almost exactly where they were in 2007. As a result, Westinghouse PSSA scores are lower than Peabody PSSA scores.

More later.

Questioner said...

The culinary arts information also appears to be outdated. While the A+ Schools report lists culinary arts for Westinghouse in 2008, that program in dropped in Westinghouse's listing for 2009. During a community group's tour of Peabody in Spring 2009 it was mentioned that the culinary program was at Peabody, along with the robotics program (which at a cost of $2M - $3M had been transferred after the unduly hasty Schenley closing).

Questioner said...

Putting aside the fact that a major task for PPS right now is reaching UNMOTIVATED students, no one is saying that either Peabody or Westinghouse as they are at this time will attract many more academically motivated students.

What the various panels and groups are doing is discussing the kinds of programs that could be placed at various schools that would attract and motivate students. There is strong support for CTE, but based on the results of the community diaglogues held last spring neither cosmetology nor culinary arts are the programs students and families want the most.

All serious options should be considered. If Propel is great- why not consider allowing Propel to set up shop in Westinghouse? If that might be best for the kids, and in addition would be a good use of a public school building by a public charter school- why not at least consider the possibility? It is too soon to draw conclusions.

Questioner said...

Reports are that both Peabody and Westinghouse have popular culinary arts programs. Peabody also has a health sciences career prep program.

We are told that the spring of 2005, a plan for Peabody that had long been in the works was released. It would have added a top notch career component to Peabody with concentrations including construction trades and information science. Partners in these trades were lined up and ready to go. There was also to be a community education component offering certification in different computer software programs as well as exercise facilities. Renovations were planned and ready to be made. However, this plan came to a halt with the new administration and Peabody has been left in a state of uncertainty and decline for almost 5 years. Clearly there is a large gap between what is and what could be.

Dave Atkinson said...

It’s imperative that the Schools Board act. Besides financial pressures, Peabody has been languishing for how many years – 5, 10, 15, 20? The School District has had years to address the problems at Peabody and has not provided a solution. The current Peabody students deserve better, and the community deserves better.

The lack of compelling options for college bound students has fueled the exodus of families from Pittsburgh. Since the last census, Pittsburgh has lost 7.3 percent of its population while District enrollment fell at four times that rate. Even my School Board Member – Heather Arnett – resigned and moved to Mt. Lebanon! This is why it’s important to focus on putting Obama IB at Peabody and making it a desirable option for college bound students. Let’s say my college bound son or daughter is entering 6th grade next year. he/she will probably consider three magnet schools – the School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), Sci-Tech or Obama IB. There is limited capacity at these schools, and the Pittsburgh Promise should increase their enrollments and make them more competitive. Sci-Tech only accepts 50 students per class at this time, while CAPA is extremely popular and centrally located. If your student is not focused on arts or science (or politically connected), he/she will probably choose Obama IB. That’s why it’s important to locate Obama IB in a facility where it can thrive.

The School District has been fiddling while Peabody burns. It should act now to address the needs of the current student population and the needs of college bound students at Obama IB.

Questioner said...

The IB site committee reportedly conditioned its choice of Peabody on certain renovations being made. Does anyone have information on the specific renovations needed and the expected cost?

Questioner said...

Just a note that in addition to CAPA, sci tech and Obama, many Peabody feeder students attend Allderdice.

There are 101 Peabody feeder students at Allderdice, the same number of Peabody feeder students attending CAPA. There definitely is a need for more slots at CAPA and Sci Tech.

Dave Atkinson said...

I have a couple of questions. Is there a proposal on the table to keep Peabody open AND Westinghouse open? Or is the proposal to keep Peabody open and move students to Westinghouse? What programs would go into one or both schools? Also - what are the benefits of these proposals?

Thank you.

amymoore said...

I think one of the problems with the current IBDP is that too many kids have ended up in international studies not because they are interested in IS or IB but because they didn't like their other options. This opting into a school by default goes all the way back to elementary school when parents chose a path for their kids. I would guess that the majority of kids at Linden did not go there because they wanted to learn the German language and culture. How many kids from the East End went to Frick as a way to avoid Reizenstein? How many kids are willing to put out the effort that is required for an IB diploma? My guess is very few looking at our current seniors. Having Obama as a third choice behind CAPA and sci tech doesn't seem like a good plan for a successful IB school.

Anonymous said...

Most of the parents that chose Linden chose it in spite of the fact that it was the German magnet. They chose it because it was in Squirrel Hill, in a white neighborhood, and easier to get to then East Hills. The opening of Linden as a full school magnet, (it previously had a non-magnet neighborhood option) as well as the change to neighborhood priority for admission to magnets, played a very large role in the downward spiral of East Hills International Studies magnet. East Hills was one of the best, if not the best elementary school in the PPS for many, many years.

Questioner said...

Neither of the panels have decided on their proposals yet. The district also has not put out a plan. Everyone is still gathering information and input. Some panel members will be touring facilities at the various schools next week.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the district watches and allows some schools to die a slow and agonizing death while it trips over itself to quickly close others.