Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Op Ed: "Students must be ready to learn"

Op Ed by Kathy Fine in today's PG:



Anonymous said...

Police said Monday the 16-year-old girl, whose name hasn’t been released, was charged with conspiracy and solicitation to commit homicide.

This took place in the East Liberty area. Do you think she is a private or parochial school student? Do you want to bet she is a PPS student? Is she a "Promise Ready" or even a "ready to learn student?" Our teachers in the trenches deal with all types of students on a daily basis. The "Op Ed" was right on target. Somehow, someway our system needs to address underlying issues for all of our students who need it. Focusing on test scores shouldn't be the priority. Our students need support systems in place. One needs mental, physical, and social wellness to be successful in everyday endeavors. They go hand-in-hand. School is one constant that can provide a support system.

We pay a lot of tax dollars and PPS gets government and grant money. Let's utilize some of it to help our students be ready to learn.

Questioner said...

ANY TIME a PPS student is charged with a serious crime, there should be a discussion among the school counselor, social worker, principal, teachers, and other staff familiar with the student. They should ask, what went wrong? Could we have seen this coming? What did we do for this student, and what more could we have done? Is there anything we can do to make incidents like this less likely? Do we have information about the student that should be shared with others who may be trying to help the student or his/her family? Are there younger siblings who may need help?

Questioner said...

Maybe some or all of the above questions are already being asked- but maybe not. Who is checking?

Old Timer said...

I have worked in gang-infested schools for the better part of my career. I have seen my share of kids dying way before their time. I have seen my share of kids being locked up for long periods of time. I have seen numerous other health related issues affect kids, from teen pregnancies to STD's and drug addiction.

And I have come to know that most of the aforementioned types of students do not fit into any one stereotype. Most have been extremely bright with a wealth of potential. In most cases however, the call of the street trumped everything else.

I find it incredible that no politician will say what truly needs to be said to our society for fear of the ramifications: we as a people have failed our children. That the reason for so many tragedies in our young is due in no small part to absentee parents. Simply put, Americans as a whole have been failures to their children over generations. That no political leader has the gumption to say it should not dissuade us from the truth.

Questioner, you state that any time a PPS student is involved in some type of tragedy or altercation, a discussion should ensue among school staff. Sorry, but anytime a young person in general is involved in such events, a discussion should take place IN THE HOME.

In many urban areas, adult guidance is lacking, period. It's a train that has gone off the tracks. Asking teachers to do more is often folly, especially within the area of raising your kids to appreciate education and comprehend social responsibility. This begins and blooms in the home. No amount of discussion among outsiders---such as school staff--is going to change a cultural phenomenon.

Anonymous said...

This is a great article. It says, in a very articulate way, what many in education have been saying for quite some time.

I thank the author for taking the time to understand what is currently going on in our society related to education and taking the time to write about it.

Anonymous said...

Questioner, Regarding your first post, I am sad to say that more often than not many people involved in the school - counselors, social workers, administrators, and teachers - can see this sort of thing coming. I am also sad to say that more often than not our hands are tied when it comes to addressing your other questions.

As someone who works in a school, I can tell you that we offer the kids mental health services. However, the parent has to agree to the service. Many times they either do not respond to repeated attempts to contact them or they refuse the service. We have outside community agencies working with the students. Unfortunately, this is often INSTEAD of parental involvement and we all know that nothing can take the place of that! We call CYF or the student is already involved with the agency. Yet, nothing changes. They may have an in-school probation officer to help monitor them and keep them on track.

The list of supports and interventions goes on and on. This does not even include time spent with thier counselor, with their adminstrator, with the school nurse, and with each teacher they have.

Many of the kids and/or parents choose not to participate in the many services that are available to them.

So, many of the questions you pose are asked before and after the kids get into trouble or get hurt. It is still amazing to me how many high school kids get charged with serious crimes.

Without a doubt, there is a small group of kids who are headed down this path that we may be able to catch and point in a different direction. However, I have example after example after example about how what is going on outside of school is much more influential that what is going on inside those walls. It is very sad. Yet despite those odds and despite seeing many of our students hurt and/or arrested on a much too frequent basis, we still get up, go to work every day, and most of us give it everything we have.

Anonymous said...

What has been posted by those working in the schools underscores what parents have often said. The biggest problem is employing the myriad safety net programs in buildings is that the kids have to leave at the end of the school day and then have to spend the weekend and summer away from those safety nets, too. Do all these programs contain enough to prevent the loss of in-school lessons, enough coping skills to use when away from support systems?

Anonymous said...

Thank You from a teacher


I have lost so many students in the last 20 years I stopped counting. I do not like to think about it.

Here is my question, with one of the highest cost per pupil in the state, around 20,000. How much of that money goes directly to the students. I could be wrong, but from what I have heard most of the money was being spent on transportation and then Belfield avenue administrative salaries. That was before the Roosevelt era. The amount of administrative positions has sky rocketed. The number of teacher has been going down, and class sizes going up. We need more people directly working with the children, not people constantly watching and evaluating teachers. The students in the suburban school districts have so much more for less money spent per pupil.

I give poptarts and granola bars to students daily, I have bought students school suplies. That reminds me, I have to go out and buy pencils, my school is out of them for the year, and I will need them for finals. Most of the content posters in my room I bought not the district. In a school district with money problems, why does Roosevelt get a 15,000 dollar raise every year? That would buy alot of pencils. How much grant money is spent on PR and advertising. Remember all the Gates money, Broad money, and Race for the Top money comes with strings attached. Its kind of similar to Trickle Down economics, but none of the money is reaching the children.

One thing I am pround about at my school is we do have a comprehensive SAP (Student Assistance Program)to indentify kids with negative issues. I know we can't save them all but the more the better.

Thanks Kathy

Anonymous said...

FYI: I loved the article. Currently there are social worker & counselor positions being cut. A new job has been created: Behavior Intervention Specialist. Sounds great, huh? Well this job does not require a college degree. It does not require a person with expertise in crisis managment, therapeutic skills or professional certification. As a person working in a PPS & a parent of a PPS student, I worry about how such a person will interact with a child in crisis. I think that the position would be a great supplement to a student services team, but not the main person dealing with high risk students.

Anonymous said...

No need to worry about how this "behavioral specialist" will work with the students. This person will work with the teachers to make them more effective at dealing with behavioral problems.

Behavioral specialists are not new to this district. PPS had a behavioral specialist a few years ago that taught a kindergarten - third grade class prior to becoming this "BS". Based on her "success" working with 5-7 year olds, she was given this position. She was then sent into all schools, including high schools, to work with the TEACHERS on how to deal with kids with behavioral problems. Let's just summarize by saying that the interventions that work with a 5 year-old do not necessarily work with a 17-year old!

The current push is NOT creating positions and programs to work with the kids. It is all about working with the teachers - because everything is their fault...under the mentality of this administration.

See the blog about the new teacher contract for more information on the programs being created.

Anonymous said...

There is actually another type of behavior specialist position that's different from the one you are talking about. That behavior specialist had to have a professional degree. I had the wording wrong. There is currently a job posting for a "Behavioral Intervention Liaison" Level 3 Support Staff position for a middle school. I believe that some of the high schools already have staff in those postions - high schools that have cut counselors & social workers. I know a little about the new programs. My gripe is that they are putting a lot on the teachers & cutting back on professional support staff.

Anonymous said...

And I absolutely agree with your gripe 100%. I did not know about th middle school posting you refered to. I am aware not aware of any high school positions like that yet; but that doesn't mean they don't exist. I did read the brief description of the behavior specialist position in the Gates proposal

It is my understanding that one of the high schools actually cut the position of the social worker – a professional with a Master’s Degree. I heard that they are replacing her with a paraprofessional – who as you stated - may not have to have any college experience at all. The high school social workers are all over worked as it is…one social worker for over a thousand kids in some cases. How is a non-professional going to pick up those duties – referrals for mental health services, contacting CYF, truancy issues, etc.? It is just hard to believe sometimes when you hear stories like that.

Anonymous said...


part of article:

Recently, nearly 350 business and community leaders from Kentucky's largest cities -- Louisville and Lexington -- traveled together to Pittsburgh, Pa., to examine how the city has transformed itself from a struggling former steel town to what Forbes magazine recently named the No. 1 most livable city in America. What we discovered came as no surprise: It all starts with education.
When asked to pick the number one force that has transformed Pittsburgh, nearly every businessperson, community leader and philanthropic expert delivered the same answer: education. It's an important lesson for Louisville because, like our community, the educational accomplishments in Pittsburgh have been achieved with the help of leaders outside the traditional education arena. Businesses and philanthropic organizations have joined forces with educational leaders from varied backgrounds to create a P-16 system that works.
Take Mark Roosevelt, superintendent for Pittsburgh Public Schools. His background ranges from domestic policy staff under President Jimmy Carter to former Massachusetts state legislator. He's using this background to drive success for Pittsburgh students. Consider the Pittsburgh Promise. It's a guarantee to each public school student that if they maintain good grades, upon graduation they will receive a scholarship worth $10,000 a year. It's like Kentucky's KEES scholarships on steroids.
Roosevelt touted business-education alliances focused on improving student achievement and educational outcomes, alliances like Louisville's Business Leaders for Education. So it's not surprising that he calls on business and civic leaders to demand more from public schools, and to provide the resources and leadership to improve them. Louisville is already engaged on this front, from the Every 1 Reads literary initiative to GE educational grants to public schools. But to get quantum increases in educational attainment, we will need quantum increases in business and civic involvement in our public schools. It's time to jump in.

I found this link on PPS' home page. I had to search for the article because the person responsible for putting the link on, did not spell Louisville correctly. Who was his/her English teacher? Focus him/her - no step increase.

Isn't our superintendent wonderful and our school system a great model? :)

Anonymous said...

Great Model of What?

PR and Advertising?

Scapegoating Teacher's?

Wasting Money?

This article ruined my dinner, wow


The PPS is being run like a corporation, remember Eli Broad, big headge fund trader. He is from the same cloth as the people who runied our economy. This man and his foundation's money and political ties are going to run public education and the teaching profession into the ground. Roosevelt is just one of his puppets in one of many Urban School districts.

Moving to the burbs soon, Looking for a non Broad foundation/Race for the Top, Smoke & Mirrors School District. One that wants to teach my children not their teachers. One that has transperancy. One that is safe and where the school board and the administration are truly accountable. There is a fight everyday at my childs school, the teachers are great, but to many fights and disruptions. I thought I was sending my child to safe school because of the academic reputation.

I will glady pay higher taxes for a safer school. Looking at Peter's Township, South Fayette, My wifes big on Upper St. Clair we are checking in to thier IB program. There goes my short commute and evening strolls through Frick Park.

Fed up parent

Old Timer said...

Today, American Eagle pledged $100K to the Promise fund. This is the type of news trumpeted by our superintendent and the kind of news people remember. The average Joe tends to think our district is a study in academic renaissance, a true success story. Just look at how graduates are being treated. Just look at all the companies that can't wait to come aboard.
Yet if there was ever any doubt that money corrupts, what is going on in our schools serves as living proof.
With a tip of the hat to Ms.Fine's op ed title, the idea of students being ready to learn has been replaced by the idea that their academic shortcomings can simply be altered. While the Pittsburgh Promise might have been a good idea on paper--check that, a great idea on paper---it quickly became evident that the fund meant nothing from a P.R. standpoint unless great multitudes of students could draw from the well, so to speak. Therein was the problem. Many, many students simply could not attain the necessary grades to garner the fund.
The solution?
Force kids to focus on achievement?
Force them to embrace education.
Let's change their grades.
What the public doesn't know and Andy Sheehan and his ilk apparently don't care about is the idea of inflated grades. I'd call this the death of academic integrity, and I'd wonder why a college would even consider a PPS student who is "borderline" when the 50% policy is now well known.

In essence, we have replaced the idea of education with the ideas of public relations and fund raising. In its glee over building a fund for students, the PPS overlooked the idea that many urban students simply under-achieve for myriad reasons. And instead of tackling the problem in an academic manner, they decided they'd do what many kids do: they'd cheat.

Ms.Fine's title didn't go far enough. "Students must be ready to learn. And if they're not, we'll fix it for them" would be more appropriate.

This is an extraordinarily sad era in education and it is amazing that there are those who would laud a superintendent who apparently knows nothing about what education is all about.

I don't have a bodyguard said...

Mr. Roosevelt feels he needs a bodyguard (a uniformed school police officer) whenever he visits a Pittsburgh Public School.

I don't recall Dr. Thompson - the previous superintendent - employing a bodyguard.

Many's the time I saw Dr. Thompson in my building. But never once with a bodyguard. Usually he was just walking the halls by himself (yes, by himself!), or with just the building principal.

I have seen Mr. Roosevelt in my building maybe six times. And the bodyguard was always present. Always.

I just want to know why Mr. Roosevelt thinks he needs a bodyguard.

And should I, as a teacher, need a bodyguard too?

What's going on?

Stephanie Tecza said...

At the May Local Task Force on the Right to Education. Mr. Roosovelt felt he needed a body guard to meet with parents and district folks to discuss issues in PPS regarding students with exceptionalities.

deegazette said...

It has been a very long time since the superintendent was accompanied to the monthly EFA meeting by a bodyguard. Furthermore, he drives himself, and, I might add, his vehicle is adequate, but unimpressive. We should avoid this type of discussion since it only diminishes the valuable debate. In community meetings held while the superintendent was new to the district I have seen parents whose behavior, tone and language made me think I did not want to be a pps parent. Now how did we jump from talking about students needing to be ready to learn to bodyguards?

I don't have a bodyguard said...

deegazette, I see your point, but please see mine.

Mr. Roosevelt always has a uniformed police escort because he does not, apparently, see my school as a safe place to visit.

If "students must be ready to learn", they must obviously have a safe environment to do so.

Yet absolutely no one in central administration does anything concrete, anything real, to address school safety.

Everyone talks safety, but then Mr. Roosevelt feels the need for a bodyguard.

Actions speak louder than words!

I'm not trying to go off-subject here. I'm trying to present an insight on school safety.

Old Timer said...

I think the better picture one gets of the superintendent is how out of touch he is with the realities of our schools and our students, dee. Yeah, the commentary went off topic but in an ironic way, it sheds light on the problems that come from administration, and the commentary is certainly in keeping with the contract thread.
Mark Roosevelt might be a splendid
man, a wonderful husband, father, neighbor and great humanitarian. And I could care less. I don't care what kind of car he drives or what restaurant he frequents. None of my comments ever take issue with a PPS administrator on a personal level. Again, I simply don't care. I'm not looking for a buddy.
But in a very real, professional sense, this is a man who has put more and more upon his laborers---his teachers--while offering them very little in the way of recompense. Additionally--and in line with Ms.Fine's editorial--this is a superintendent who dwells more in an ivory tower (as do most of his administrators)and appears to be happily out of touch with the realities of being an urban teen living in poverty and looking at schooling with ambivalence.
Most teachers like myself have dedicated our lives to working with these types of kids. Some of us may have some students who come from solid homes where a parent or parents have done a tremendous job in raising their kid and have ingrained the value of an education, but more often than not, we are having to educate, motivate, instill morals and values and deal with the static that comes from the streets and pervades the very being of our kids.
Having a bodyguard is akin to Marie Antoinette saying, "Let them eat cake" to the poverty stricken masses. It's not only indicative of a disconnect between administration and teaching staff, but an arrogance in general.

deegazette said...

I get the concern over security. It is the number one reason you see so many city kids who have gone through PPS until eighth grade going to private and parochial schools for 9-12. We parents who do not work in schools are forced to read blogs and rely on the stories our kids bring home. The numbers posted earlier in this thread of suspensions, what story do they tell? To get an accurate answer the kids need to be engagend in the discussion. Somebody once commented that administrators and curriculum designers should have to substitute teach. Maybe the superintendent should present lessons to kids within a seminar series. His key administrators too. I can't see how the education think-tankers would not endorse this idea. "I don't need a body guard", I get your concerns about security.

Questioner said...

Someone posted a suggestion some months back that the superintendent should teach a course at Westinghouse (not just at CMU). Both teacher and students would benefit.

deegazette said...

Old Timer, we must be more on the same page than I thought. I said to a principal as the last PSCC meeting was breaking up, "I am tired of this let them eat cake attitude." And I have been called snarky based on some comments like "if you don't have an answer just use the word FRAMEWORK and it will sound so strong that nobody will question any further" and "insert the word ROBUST and it will instill confidence to the point that any objections will disappear." We want a successful school system. It is the getting there that is a worry.

Old Timer said...

dee, first off, simply being a substitute wouldn't be the answer for an administrator. I have said to more than one individual that I want to be around long enough in the school district to see a number of current "department heads" thrown back into the classroom. Between their adopted arrogance and their disconnect with regards to "mainstream" students, that move would be...as the kids are so prone to say these days..."karma". But as a substitute, the job entails simply following a lesson plan prepared by the real classroom teacher and then simply leaving your troubles behind when the last bell rings. No, Mr.Roosevelt and his assistant superintendents deserve a year's worth of teaching, and not at a CAPA, Obama or Dice. They deserve the idea of having to shape 5 classes or more of uninspired, often unruly kids. They deserve having to get close to kids that apparently would scare them, who come from diverse backgrounds, some of which are marred by extreme poverty, others which are filled with continual violence. And I want them to raise their PSSA scores with all of this in mind AND with a curriculum which is so out of touch with both the testing requirements AND the abilities of our kids that quite literally, it is shocking that it can continue to exist, especially in English.
It's a nice dream.
I'm not looking to be appreciated by administrative types. Most of these people were too happy to leave the classroom. But while Roosevelt has tried to shape a school district into a corporate model, the effort begs the question of whether corporate leadership can truly be viable if it fails to understand what workers are contending with and what they are doing to move "the company" forward.
Clearly, this is a man and this is an administration that does not want to know what is going on in the trenches. The idea is that while we can make edicts for our employees down there and treat them with dishonor, if we ignore their realities, then they will just go away and we can all sleep better at night.
For Superintendent Roosevelt and his administration, the corporate model in which they exist entails raising funds, hobnobbing with the elite, working in offices, molding public opinion via public relations.
Kids coming from Homewood, Beltzhoover, the Hill and Northview Heights are simply nameless, faceless characters that might as well be from some fiction novel.
There is such a strong disconnect between administration and teachers in this district--and with it, the worlds teachers toil in---that it numbs the mind.

Anonymous said...

By Jill King Greenwood
Monday, June 14, 2010
Last updated: 12:38 pm

Pittsburgh police this morning arrested a 15-year-old boy on charges he raped a 14-year-old girl at a North Side city school.

The boy, whose name was not released, is accused of grabbing the girl by the arm, throwing her down a set of stairs and assaulting her in the basement of Pittsburgh King, a pre-K-8 school, as the school day ended about 3 p.m. Friday.

The girl reported the incident to a school bus driver, who alerted authorities, police said. Investigators searched the school over the weekend and collected evidence, police said.

Pittsburgh Public Schools officials did not immediately return calls

Another "ready to learn" student off to juvie. Of course no comments yet from PPS. Someone has to come up with a "spin" on this first.

Questioner said...

The WPXI report quotes PPS as saying that there will be no commentary since the city police are investigating.

The number one priority has to be safety. Unfortunately, with "no comment" we'll never know what if anything is being done to prevent this kind of incident.

Questioner said...

The WPXI report says "Channel 11 News has also learned that the suspect has a long list of previous charges including, assaulting a police officer and assaulting teachers."

- Why wasn't this student at least at CEP? Maybe because CEP doesn't take "adjudicated" students, but was nevertheless sold as the answer to disruptive students in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

It might be revealing to know more about the quality of climate, leadership and learning at the King K-8 ALA. More than 60% of the students are not proficient in Reading or Math, and during the past year, there have been at least three changes in principals, all of whom were PELA principals, it has been reported.

Questioner said...

Where did the first two PELAs go?

Anonymous said...

CEP also does not take special education students.

M.L.King has always been a horrible environment to learn in and to teach in. Horrible.

No worries now, though. Now that they are going to pay teachers more based on student performance, I am sure his teachers will work harder and he will become an upstanding member of society.

Anonymous said...

One of the PELA Principals had a mental breakdown last fall. Some of the teaching staff were also let go for one reason or anouther.

Anonymous said...

There was a fight in the Allderdice auditorium. Parents of middle school students at a graduation assembly. Parents attacked students and each other. The middle school was either Sterett of Colfax. I bet this wouldn't be in the news.

Anonymous said...

My son said there was a massive food fight at Dice during his lunch, 4th period yesterday. He said administrators and teachers cleaned it up.

Anonymous said...

My son said there was a massive food fight at Dice during his lunch, 4th period yesterday. He said administrators and teachers cleaned it up.

Questioner said...

This is really bizarre. It does need to be in the news- adults fighting along with kids seems to be a real problem lately.

Anonymous said...

The fight at Allderdice did make the evening news, mentioning that it was a group from Sterrett that was there for the middle school promotion.

I guess it is understandable that the kids fight since that is the behavior they learn from the adults in their lives.

Wonder what caused the fight--people trying to save too many seats????

Anonymous said...

I heard 15 teachers called off the day of the rape at King. Is this true or an exaggeration?

I also heard there has been no security at schools this week because of a security guard "retreat". Why would they schedule a retreat for security staff during the last week of school?

Maybe the district will start focusing on safety issues now that the contract has passed.???

Anonymous said...

The district did plan some kind of security training, last week & this week. As a teacher in this district I do not even ask why, anymore. No common educational sense. The Ivory tower types would know if the spent any significant time in a school or classroom that the last days of the year are the most precarious.

Yea, I expect this district to give out all kind of bonuses in this new contract. C'mon man, I have had to buy my students pencils for the last month. Hire more middle management, at the tower to watch the bad teachers.

Anonymous said...

Safety????????? That was one of the open ended parts of the contract, it is on every contract. They could care less about safety except at school board meetings and Roosevelt's Body Guard/Driver. The only time you see security is after an incident or before a learning walk through a school. Last week a teacher called for security and had to wait 15-20 minutes, this par for the course. If people really knew whats happening in the schools, it is only going to get worse now that this contract has been passed. King is an example of Roosevelt's peoples true skill as leaders. Three different PELA principals can not get control of that school. He assigned one of his Assistant Superintendents to the school, Christina A. two days a week. All she did was blame teachers and scape goat them all year. Some of the teachers were exited as Tarka would say. Three different PELA principals and a Assistant Superintendent could not get control of the school so they blamed teachers who go through a living hell everyday at that building with this effective teaching crap with no disipline or safety. These people Know Nothing about running a School District!

Questioner said...

This is a good example of a gap between headlines and reality. Every time the PELA program is mentioned, it is described as a complete success that produces principals who produce better test scores than non PELA principals.

Anonymous said...

What's the time frame on all of those principals at King?

So, the girl was assaulted and raped on a day that the security was not there? And security was not there because of a planned training (meaning kids would know that security wasn't there, since they wouldn't have seen them all day long)?


Anonymous said...

Three Principals in the last year and half.

I have no idea about, security staffing at King the day of that horrible, yet preventable incident.

There has been security training for security guards from all over the district the last two weeks. Schools have been short staffed, this also happens quite frequently with Principals and their PELA's through out the year. Our Vp's were at a training last week the same days we were short security staff.

Most schools do not have enough security staff.

Good Evening

Anonymous said...

The current PELA principal at M.L. King ALA (a Phys Ed teacher) has again been transferred for the 2010-2011 school year to Fort Pitt ALA in the East End. The transfer took place at the May 26th Legislative Meeting.

Anonymous said...

There are abundant examples of schools with demographics similar to M.L. King ALA that demonstrate an orderly environment with successful teaching and learning and extraordinary academic achievement. Please check the research on Dame Dame Schools, 90-90-90 Schools and KIPP Schools where the leadership is knowledgeable, experienced, caring and committed to urban populations. We can do that in PPS with similar components in place.

Questioner said...

Can you provide examples of public, non-charter schools sustaining an orderly environment and high academic achievement over time (5+ years, or if none are available at least 3)- these would be great models.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Dame Dame Schools and the 90-90-90 Schools ARE Public Schools. The Research of Dr. Jerome Taylor, Chair of the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and his Team have researched and continue to accumulate a substantial list (more than 50) of schools with these demographics similar to PPS underachieving schools who have demonstrated achievement in the 85th to 95th percentiles in Reading and Math. As a matter of fact Dr. Taylor has brought these very successful Principals to Pittsburgh where three of them (from Houstin, Austin, and Chicago). gave presentations and seminars, The success of these schools extends over five years___and clearly is DOABLE!

Questioner said...

Can you give us the names of the specific non-charter schools with a track record of strong results?

Anonymous said...

Please check with Dr. Jerome Taylor and his Team for details on this project.

Anonymous said...

To the Questioner:

As an experienced Educator, I am willing to guarantee a substantial increase in ACHIEVEMENT (20 to 30%) in the first year with increases in excess of 10% in subsequent years until the State Targets in excess of 63% were met shortly thereafter _____with cooperation, collaboration, and professional development provided in the first year___ without recompense if these goal were not met. Let's begin with Westinghouse. This is doable with buy in from the District. Any takers ____what would anyone (PPS) have to lose?

Anonymous said...

Experienced educator: I'm not entirely sure what you are saying?

I've heard several people call some PPSchools 90-90-90. It definitely means different things to different researchers/educators.

KIPP schools are not public schools. Their attrition rates are sky-high, particularly among middle school age African-American males. Until they are teaching everyone and not just those that they don't kick out (or "counsel out" or make the experience so miserable that they leave for the regular public school).

What are these "DAME DAME" schools? Link please?

Anonymous said...

I think the poster of the DAME DAME schools might be referring to Dame School, a type of school transplanted to some of the American colonies from England, usually conducted by a woman in her home. Young children of the neighborhood were taught the alphabet, the Horn-Book, elements of reading, and moral and religious subjects. In New England, such schools prepared boys for admission to the town schools, which would not receive them until they could "stand up and read words of two syllables and keep their places." The "dame school" pre-figured women's central role in the public school system and the professionalization of Education in the nineteenth century.

Anonymous said...

I've actually heard of *those* Dame schools -- but they're hardly relevant to this discussion, right?!

Not to mention that they weren't free or public, either.

Questioner said...

Experienced educator-

How, why and on what terms the PPS decides to hire consultants is a mystery to us- all we know is that a lot of money is being spent on consultants. Actually there is one known factor- usually the consultants are favored by the Gates Foundation. Do you have any connections w/ Gates?

Anonymous said...

To clarify and verify definitions, relevance and challenges:

Regarding the Dame Dame Schools (pronounced dah-may, dah-may: Dame Dame is taken from the West African symbol for INTELLIGENCE and INGENUITY . These are PUBLIC schools, nationally, with predominantly African American student populations at the poverty level who are achieving according to NCLB standards in Reading and Math at the 85th percentile. As I said previously, Dr. Jerome Taylor has been inviting principals, nationally, to present their success strategies at conferences, seminars, and workshops open-to-the-public at the University of Pittsburgh. The three presentations that many attended this year were held at Langley Hall at Pitt, the Holiday Inn in Oakland and at Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

The 90-90-90 Schools are nationally acclaimed PUBLIC schools who have take 90% minority populations at a 90% poverty level to 90% academic achievement. If you Google 90-90-90 Schools you will be able to access abundant research and information.

I understand the resistance to charter schools that drain money from Public Schools; however, they are examples of what can be accomplished educationally with ALL students. It only takes one example to prove the point. We would not need “alternatives” such as charters if ALL public schools produced the results of the Dame-Dame and 90-90-90 schools ____that are regular PUBLIC schools.

And NO, I have no connection with the Gates Foundation nor the Broad Foundation, which are not educational institutions and currently are investing millions of dollars and dozens of non-educators in Pittsburgh Public Schools.

And YES, there is, here, readiness to take on the challenge of substantial academic improvement (20 to 30%, even 40%) academic improvement in PPS in one year___without the typical consultant fees for thousands, tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands. No progress, no payment!

Anonymous said...

Tonight at PPS Board Agenda Review Meeting a
“proposal“ was put forth to pay America’s Choice approximately 3.6 million dollars for the 2009-2010 contract and to EXTEND the contract into the fifth school year (2010-2011) for an amount “TO-BE-DETERMINED.” This proposal was not challenged and is likely to be passed at the June Legislative Meeting despite the lack of achievement at the ALAs (which have implemented the America’s Choice program with consultants at multiple millions of dollars over the past four years. ) Seven of the eight ALAs have a lack of proficiency in Reading and Math at 60 to 80%. That means that only 20 to 40 % of students in ALAs are reaching “proficiency” in Reading and Math. The PA target for all students this year is 63% in Reading . What conclusions might we draw from this data?

kathy Fine said...

I presented information to the school board and administration regarding 90/90/90 schools at least 2 years ago as the research that i read stated that the methods utilized were not consultant driven, expensive fixes. I will look for the link to the research and post later.

Questioner said...

It would be nice to have some examples of 90 90 90, non-charter schools that have shown strong performance for 3-5 years.

Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with a charter, but it would be helpful to see these techniques working independent of the charter context.

Anonymous said...

The Dame-Dame Schools and the 90-90-90 Schools referenced here are NOT charter schools, but regular PUBLIC schools in other cities across the US that are achieving in the 85 to 90 percentiles with high poverty and high minority student populations. There are many, many such schools. The Pittsburgh Model is a business model that lacks the educational expertise, leadership and commitment to become a high-achieving urban district as is evident in the data previously cited.