Monday, April 12, 2010

Speaking of fights

This time an incident at Brashear, sending a security guard and staff member to the hospital.


Questioner said...

The article mentions tension between the Brookline and Mount Washington neighborhoods as being the cause of this fight.

Seen it all said...

Hold all the Pittsburgh Promise press conferences you want.

Invent as many fancy programs as you want (Kaplan, looping, etc, etc).

But unless these serious, violent fights are stopped, this school district is finished.

I've seen students with blood on their shirts, only because they've been unlucky enough to get caught up between fighters.

If your child came home scared, with blood on his shirt, would you give a sh*t about the latest fancy program coming out of the Superintendent's office?

Or would you be looking to move, taking your tax dollars with you?

And no, fights aren't stopped by issuing meaningless public statements of concern.

Fights aren't stopped by mandating that teachers put anti-violence posters on their walls. (Do you really think a fighter will hold back just because some wall poster says "be responsible"?)

Fights are stopped by permanently removing violent students from those students who want to learn in a safe environment.

But that won't happen. Because that would take courage.

And it won't happen because it goes against the central message of this district: everything bad is the teachers fault.

This school district is finished. And I say that with great sadness because I love this city.

Old Timer said...

I think Seen it All exaggerates somewhat, to be sure. Violence in urban districts has long been a concern not only in Pittsburgh but across the nation. Could anything be worse than what happen to the honors student who was in the wrong place--a fight after school--at the wrong time this past fall and was stomped to death because of it.
But his/her post has great merit in illustrating the tight lid that the PPS Public Mis-Information department keeps on news. I find it funny that it long had Joe Smydo writing their press releases as news almost verbatim for the PG. Now that he is gone and a new reporter has taken over the beat, it's more of the same.
Parents want safe schools and academic integrity. In the part of the former, sorry, but there is only so much you can do to ensure safety in a school and at times, the neighborhood strife will spill into the halls. In terms of the latter, it's hard to fault a parent who looks at the pathway to the Promise and the 50% gift grades and realizes what a sham it is for the truly achieving student.
Tension between Brookline and Mt.Washington??? What a joke of an explanation--like saying that the kids on the south side simply harbor hard feelings towards kids from Oakland when in reality, they could care less.
"Neighborhood tensions"= tension over turf to control drug flow. Period.
But hey, these kids are entitled to educations, right? They can do most anything short of murder--assault a teacher, bring a weapon--and simply get shipped to another PPS school.
Nice gig.

Seen it all said...

Old Timer: Howdy. Perhaps we have met. I've been around the district quite a few years myself. I've read many of your previous posts on this fine forum. They are spot-on.

But a friendly hello is not the purpose of this post. I wish to state as strongly as possible that I see no exaggeration in my 9:11 post.

Absent new and bold leadership from the center, this district is finished. Period.

We are now at a tipping point. We are now where urban districts like Detroit and DC were not so very long ago. I'm sure that many folks in those districts were in a denial mode for a long time.

Those districts are finished. Anyone who can flee has fled.

For goodness sakes, even the President will take the public-relations hit and avoid sending his kids to the DC schools.

All that remain in those schools are poor trapped kids. And a central administration in teacher-attack mode. And maybe a few showcase schools, like our CAPA.

We're not in collapse now. But we're sure heading straight in that direction. We are, in my estimation, five years away from collapse.

There have always been serious fights. But the level of violence is increasing. The key here is how the the city's middle-class tax base is now responding. They are fleeing.

If anyone thinks my point here is an exaggeration, just ask any college-bound PPS student this: After college, where do you see yourself raising your family?

You'll get very few "I'm buying a house in my old neighborhood" answers.

Of course, that's not entirely (or even mostly) due to violence in the schools. But the violence sure makes the choice so much easier.

Old Timer said...

Seen it all, I'd better explain my remarks regarding exaggeration. Your commentary on fights is no overblown statement, to be sure. Your commentary about this administration---truly, what the Bush administration was to America--is no overblown statement. (Regardless who follows Roosevelt, undoing all that he has destroyed will take generations).
I think you exaggerate the idea of collapse, and here's why...
PPS has become the kind of district that is a vacuum, of sorts. Our achievers get out of the city or forbid their own kids from enrolling in the district. They've seen and heard enough. What we are seeing are our lowest achievers basically staying in their neighborhoods, having kids and not having the wherewithal to send them to private schools.
The apathy of the parent trickles to the student. The indifference of the parent is ingrained in the student.
Hey, as long as we can get them on the pathway to the Promise, who cares.
Has anyone seen that report about how many promise kids make it past a year or two of college?
I didn't think so.
I'd like to think that as long as you have apathy and accepted mediocrity, you will have the need for an urban public school system. How large is the question.
What happened in KC should be a wake up call to all teachers and parents who still care about education. Parents can look to other options, but who does the teacher look to?

Anonymous said...

During the earliest stage of high school reform, surveys (I know, normally useless) showed the top reason for not opting for a PPS education was safety and the perceived lack of discipline. We are led to believe that when numbers of suspensions go down discipline exists. We need a full evaluation of all the programs meant to curb the incidents of violence in our buildings. We want our teachers to have full responsibility for student success but these kids go home every day and have off summers and forget all they have been taught.

Questioner said...

But, an increase in suspensions may be a sign of a school that is enforcing discipline more strictly, while a decrease in suspensions may result from more relaxed discipline. There needs to be a better way than days suspended to evaluate behavior at a school.

A measure of safety and therefore one measure of behavior might be the number of students injured by other students and the severity of the injuries.

Anonymous said...

Your point is a good one, particularly when you see that using a cell phone results in a suspension and blood spilled results in a suspension. I believe the PDE reporting process is inadequate in that it does not provide for "degree of infraction" as much as is needed. This is all quite a shame too since unfortunately stakeholders rely on anecdotes when deciding on where to live or which school is best for their kids. Detentions, suspensions, in-house, Saturdays, does any of it work? I have heard of parents being "encouraged" to press charges through district judges, does that work?

Seen it all said...

Regarding suspensions:

A decrease in a school's number of suspensions tells you absolutely nothing.

Case in point: a teacher at my school was elbowed by a student.

A vice principal told the teacher that the student would not be suspended because "we are saving his suspension for something more serious, like drugs or a weapon."

So that's one less suspension on our school's record. Obviously, our school is not therefore making progress on safety.

Circling the Wagons? said...

My son tells me that the Allderdice student newspaper reported this week that fights are at a five-year low. What does this mean, exactly? As my son said, imagine how bad it must have been in the previous five years!

Anonymous said...

At Dice our School Newspaper is called the Forward. Every April the first two pages and the back two pages are a April Fools Joke & it is called the Backward. What your son had read was a April Fools Joke.

I wish it was true