Monday, January 11, 2010

A+ recommendations on teacher recruitment and staffing

From the PG:


Observer said...

Just when will Mr.Smydo wake up and realize that he is a journalist? Just when will he begin to understand that he is not in the employ of Pittsburgh Public Schools, nor is Mark Roosevelt his boss? Just when will he come to grips with terms like journalistic integrity and responsibility to readers?
I have watched him bend over backwards to portray PPS administration in a positive light since he got the district beat. I have watched him act as mouthpiece for the public relations department of PPS, largely parroting their efforts in his articles.
I'd like invite him to spend some time walking a mile in the shoes of a teacher at a place like Oliver? I wonder if he could stomach it for more than a day. I'd like to invite him to adopt a piece of curriculum from the PPS reading department and implement it verbatim, as we, the people who do grunt work, are to do. As an educated individual, I will be interested in reading his comments about questions like "What is the gist?" (of the chapter) and the snappy follow-up, "How do you know?" I'll be interested to read his thoughts as to whether this is increasing our students' overall comprehension and reading ability, saying nothing about the various texts which have been selected by the politically correct administrators who are thankful to be far removed from the schools we toil in.
Cone on, Joe. High turnover rate? And you are going to go to Harris and Roosevelt for reasons why, without talking to teachers who've moved?
This article is yet another commentary that makes teachers appear to be the problem with our district. It is yet another rationale for a teacher effectiveness campaign that each day appears to be more of a method in which to eliminate staff.
To be fair, I want to thank Joe for his quote that came from Roosevelt about all teachers being comfortable in their jobs at their given schools.
I laughed so hard at this that I was passing coffee through my nose. In fact, I'd bet Mark himself had a hard time keeping a straight face.

Observer said...

In hindsight, I guess the issue isn't so much with Mr.Smydo or any journalist. They are much like the public--they hear it from one side. How many teachers these days are willing to go on record? How many will put their name out there? In this climate, I don't know of any. The idea certainly has to be that John Tarka speaks for teachers and yet, most teachers feel he has sold them down the river.
Tough times to be a teacher. A lot to make the public aware of and yet, we see the fruit of protest in this district. In re-reading the article, I guess I can't blame journalists or the public for having the wrong idea.

Questioner said...

Updated PG article:

It seems like A+ has really stepped up its research, reporting and overall activity in the last year.

Questioner said...

The link to the actual report is not quickly apparent on the A+ website. If anyone has it, please post.

blueray said...

As a non-educator several things bugged me about the article. How many times do we have to hear what is already common knowledge and what has previously been reported in other forms?

Was the study really needed? Wouldn't the 2006 numbers have been skewed since the displacements of summer '06 impacted placements in fall '06? Personally, I would like a term limit applied to teachers, moving them to new schools every four or six years.

I do not blame Joe Smydo for being slanted. A+ has done some gutsy work on other fronts. If you want to open doors to journalists in schools that would prove to be helpful if it could be undercover. I don't know why we are still talking about recruitment at all as look ahead to closings and possible consolidations or reconfigurations. How many new teachers will even be needed?

Questioner said...

Note that a principals' academy was put in place and many new principals named even while the district was consolidating. The goal seems to be out with the old, in with the new... although it might first be helpful to have an outside evaluation of how the approach has worked with principals.

Many teachers seem interested in working with students who most need help, but discipline is an issue. For example, teachers in some schools report every sort of profanity being hurled at them. That has to wear on a person after a while. They often report rarely if ever seeing the superintendent in their school buildings.

solutionsRus said...

"The plan includes new steps to ensure order in classrooms"

I was at the EFA presentation for the Teacher Effectiveness program and I don't remember anything about addressing classroom behavior (except that it would effect teachers' ratings). Anyone remember anything different. i will look back at my notes.

Observer, it would be helpful if you posted actual real life events happening in the classrooms regarding the canned curriculum so that advocates like PURE Reform could site these when they are presenting info to the board.

In addition, I agree that the huge focus on teachers is another attempt to find the "magic bullet" but some kind of new evaluation process and hiring practices are necessary in the PPS. However, almost a billion dollars ($40M from gates and $45M from outside funding) is a bit much to address only one of the myriad of issues plaguing our schools. Some of this money would be much better spent hiring social workers, nurses, paraprofessionals, etc, etc, etc. Any one of these measures would help control classroom behavior, turnover rate and thus, teacher effectiveness.

When will common sense prevail?

Observer said...

Someone mentions the idea that with closings and consolidations, perhaps new hiring will not be needed. I think that while the comment is a level-headed approach, it certainly adds a touch of foreshadowing to what I fear is occurring.
When the Roosevelt administration came in, the first order of business was to clean house where administration was concerned. Older principals were shown the door through various means. A few years later, it appears that this methodology is now being aimed at teachers.
Ask around. Most schools now have numerous teachers under "educational improvement plans." These EIPs usually come out of the clear blue sky. A teacher is not following curriculum verbatim. A teacher has been a vocal critic of administration or of the curriculum itself. The bull's eye appears. (Please note that while I do not believe there are a great many teachers truly in need of improvement, I have no qualms with them being put on plans because the students come first).
Read the 70-plus page teacher effectiveness plan. Understand the idea of immediate dismissal and wonder just who has the task of determining effectiveness, and by what means. We are talking about people's lives here, and we are talking about targeting teachers over what has amounted to vindictiveness so far.
I realize that to laymen, a great deal of what you read from me and others here seems alarmist or paranoid. On the contrary, it represents actual events, sad as it is to say.
Solutions, you ask when common sense will prevail. When Mr.Roosevelt has moved on to greener pastures. When his assistant is shown the door.

Questioner said...

Common sense would tell us that there is no reason to think kids are smarter in the rest of the state than in Pittsburgh, or that teachers are more competent in the rest of the state than in Pittsburgh... but that Pittsburgh as a city has a higher rate of poverty and community issues.

So why not address the effects of poverty and community issues through social services and working with parents from the time kids are young. And by avoiding concentrations of impoverished students by offering programs that will attract a wide range of students and helping families to understand the benefits of attending diverse schools. Writing off parents and communities will never be a successful approach.

Observer said...

You have it, Questioner. This district's administration continues to both misidentify the problem or do work-arounds that mask problems.

Most teachers are not the problem. And to be fair, most school administrators are not the problem.
More effort needs to be placed into discovering how kids from impoverished, neglected backgrounds learn. To discount the fact that many kids who come from neglect have a difficult time in school is folly. Hiring more administrators to oversee teachers is not going to solve the problem. Having ridiculous curricula that does not help these types of kids is more waste. Mandating that teachers follow each step of the poor curricula adds insult to injury. You see, good teachers understand the problem. Why would you seek to penalize good teachers on the front lines who want to help kids achieve? Please. Can anyone answer this?

Secondly, the disconnect with the neglected kid comes squarely out of offices where there is more attention being paid to put kids on "the pathway to the promise" than there is to actually helping kids improve their learning abilities. As adults of integrity, how can you seek to justify GIVING kids 50% scores, thereby inflating scores? How can you watch kids do markedly poorer on standardized tests afterward? Is there a thought that no one is watching, that no one notices????

What kid of justice are we doing when we inflate grades so kids can utilize the Promise, watch them do sub-par at best on SAT's and then struggle or flunk out of college after a year or two??? Is the idea that the hunger for good publicity outweighs the need to help kids something you can stomach???

Where is the outrage?

The 50% policy and rationale, as well as the rationale for what is an outrageous curricula across the board curricula from elementary through high school emanates out of one office in the administration.
I'm at a loss how anyone who truly cares about education at the administrative level can stand by and watch the trade off: the charge of helping kids in favor of good PR.

What an amazing time period in PPS.

Questioner said...

Teacher carjacked:

To maintain staff and enrollment in higher poverty schools, more MUST be done to keep staff and students safe.

gary said...


Questioner said...

From the PG, describing incidents involving disruptive students at a school in Woodland Hills:

Similar incidents no doubt can be cited at PPS and have an effect on recruitment and staffing. Question: will the new teacher program include training for handling these types of situations?