Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ten Master's of the New Universe

On the January "Start a new post," Anonymous and then Observer said:

"Ten Master’s of the New Universe

Skills to Fix Failing Schools"

January 3, 2010 12:26 PM

Observer said...
"“It’s not because we think they have all the answers,” says Mr. Nathan. While schools are not businesses, he says, education leaders can nonetheless use corporate skills. Harvard’s program places third-year students in a partner organization, much as medical schools place interns. (They earn $65,000.) Mr. Schwartz hopes the program will attract those heading into public policy, business or law school “who want to change education.”

Now YOU, too, can be a superintendent. Education degrees simply aren't necessary. Instead, embracing the gift of being a political hack can earn great sums of money while fooling the public through public relations techniques, also taught within the course.

Mr.Roosevelt ought to be a poster child.

Clearly, there is something wrong in this country when turning the needs of kids over to corporate management is the rule of thumb. 30 years from now, we will all laugh at our own stupidity for allowing such an outrage."

January 3, 2010 8:41 PM


Anonymous said...

This is certainly nothing new. Health care , for instance, was taken over by administrators long ago. Religious institutions have been taken over by bean counters, as have many other social services. Why would education be any different from any other business? Cold, uncaring, bottom line mentality is the rule of order these days. Who is looking out for the needs of the children, the sick, the elderly, the prisoners,the poor?

Anonymous said...

It's true- there is big money now in health, education, religion. Wu-Tang is right- "Cash rules everything around me".

Hanging In There said...

In my veteran opinion, the failures of the Pittsburgh Public Schools are NOT primarily due to a bean-counting or a bottom-line mentality.

Rather, it's due to an I-read-an-article-so-I-know-much-more-than-you-teachers mentality.

Let me explain. The central administrators read some article, or some study, that says that if teachers would only put up certain posters, or introduce lessons a certain way, or grade papers a certain way, then presto! everyone's scores will magically go through the roof.

So, it's all the classroom teachers fault! They don't have the right posters up! They are too dense to present their subject correctly! Here teachers, read this paper, then implement it exactly!

Never mind that the paper is totally unrealistic, for time management and other reasons. Never mind that the paper contradicts last week's paper.

Just one small example: record 0% as 50% just because some study somewhere said so.

Just do it, or get fired.

Am I bitter and discouraged? Like the huge majority of my colleages, absolutely.

But, again like the huge majority of my colleages, I nevertheless will continue to offer my students the very best instruction that I possibly can. And I mean that.

I've just got to remember to dodge the random incoming fire from central admin! :)

Lisa said...

Todays Post gazette had an interesting article about how teaching kids ballroom dancing(as well as some other styles) made a remakable difference in their behavior. Well, when you make gym and music class actually relevant, woo hoo!! kids respond! Thats one idea I would like to see implemented throughout the schools

Anonymous said...

Dear Hanging In There

I Feel ya

I feel I was 10 times better before the core curiculum,

Every year it's getting harder to dodge the suits, the seem to be visting more & more often, I must have the right posters up

God forbid you question a PELA on a useless article just to occupy PD time.

I do not teach History, I teach reading for the PSSA's

I hope I can Hang in there too, I used to love to teach!


Anonymous said...

I will never laugh at this thirty years from now, teaching right now is like trying to avoid a witch hunt in Salem.

parent two said...

Hanging in There and Anonymous:

I agree with both of you. With an older and younger child in the schools, I'm not sure we can stay in the PPS for the younger. The things that kept us in the district are being strangled out.

However, I'd just like to add that there *is* a money-saving aspect to all of this. Think of the savings as they continue to shove out older, experienced teachers who just can't take it anymore. Of the savings when new teachers leave the district after a couple years of the insanity, to be replaced (yet again) by other cheaper, newer teachers. If you keep them all from getting tenure, who will ever speak up and question you?!

Similarly this emphasis on smaller/more specialized schools -- it's about the money. They have fewer (or no) extracurriculars, they have little or no music or art, they have few electives. As more of them open, it will be easier and easier to eliminate those "extras" from the comprehensive schools left in the name of "equity."

This is in no way to say that academic concerns aren't the most important, though we all know that the extras have long been well-used to keep kids in school and engaged. But, just like "rigor" and "excellence" have been used as code words for scripted curriculums, stripped down offerings and teacher bashing, they also cover for the cost-cutting and program gutting that is happening below the radar.

Observer said...

parent, once again you are right on the mark in your analysis, and my thanks goes out to the various other teachers who have chimed in throughout this thread. What parents are seeing here is a true rendering of dedicated teachers, not some whining diatribe coming from adults who have grown bloated and uncaring.

I have to chuckle at what anonymous stated about teaching PSSA's. Sir/Madam, we both know that if that is the case, you have found the core curriculum that comes from the English department to be completely absurd. What better example of a complete disconnect between a department head and the classroom: in every unit, and at every grade level, end each piece of reading by simply asking, "What is the gist? How do you know? What are significant moments?"

Apparently, the "powers" that be truly believe that these three questions alone will provide our students with the wherewithal for success on the PSSA's. And that belief, friends, is beyond ignorance, it instead speaks to a psychological condition which entails the refusal to listen to your teaching staff.

I am sure that any teacher who understands the importance of PSSA scores for their individual schools is augmenting what can only be called an "ivory tower" curriculum with their own materials. If not, then most assuredly you will find the scores will either stagnate, at best, or drop.

But I digress.

Somehow, PPS PR types will put a positive spin on whatever the results. And it's nice to know that there is a section regarding obfuscating the truth right out of the Harvard handbook.

maxmom said...

The Harvard Program, the Broad Academy and Broad residents here in PPS, the PELA Program and possibly the Teachers Academy in development...Lots of money being granted and spent and jobs created. I have heard of Ponsi schemes but what will this new creation be called? Maybe career ladders or somthing?

Anonymous said...

The question is, will the Pittsburgh Promise be enought to make parents choose Pittsburgh schools despite all the problems.

When you have a 5 year old, graduation and college seem far off. You're not sure where you will be in 5 or 10 years. Or if your kid will want to stay in Pennsylvania. And you have to wonder if enough money will be raised for the program.

parent one said...

The question of enough money has been asked at Promise Nights. As of the early fall, the Promise director said the program is funded for 28 years into the future.

Anonymous said...

The number of jobs is not in the teaching field. The PPS keeps hiring more people in to management positions, More and more layers, less and less people working directly with children. The new special ed director that was recently hired taught two years in Teach America, 28 years old/ What indepth class room experience, The PELA's there are a very few good ones, the rest are just failed or horrible teachers with very little experience, Roosevelt's Yes Men, The New Corporate Principals

The Biggest Joke is the Math & Readings Coaches

Very Little Teaching Experience, People who just want out of the classroom, Its the stepping stone for tying to get in the PELA program, or a away to get a bad teacher out of your building if you are a principal

Sorry for venting, I wish the public knew what a farce this all is. Excellence for all, who do not work directly with children

Angry, depressed, I hope this made sense, sorry about spelling & grammar

I just wanted to vent so I could enjoy my family tonight.

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

Reading and Math coaches... Next to meteorologist, is there a better job?
At the PSSA news conference last July, I watched in shock as one of the featured schools had a reading coach who credited all of the school's gains to the new principal. Flowery prose, it almost sounded like some strange love story. I had to wonder what the reading teachers there must have thought about their efforts. And this guy called himself a teacher?

Observer said...

I'm aware of the love-fest you are talking about. I thought the commentary was strange, too and more of an insult to teachers who did all of the grunt work in pushing scores upward.