Monday, November 22, 2010

PURE Reform public hearing testimony

PPS Public Hearing Testimony
November 22, 2010
Kathy Fine

Good evening. I would like to start my testimony by once again thanking everyone in this room for their time dedicated to bettering the educational lives of the students in the PPS. I know that even though we might not agree on everything, we all do agree that a world-class education for all of our children is our common goal.

This evening, I’d like to discuss the support staff in our schools. Let me start by saying that I was not able to get staffing numbers on about 36% of our schools as they were not available on the PPS website, so I will just present the numbers for the schools for which I was able to get data.

We all know that many students have multiple and varied challenges facing them every day that hinder their “school readiness”. Whether it is suffering the effects of living in poverty, the divorce of their parents, being the object of bullying, or dealing with the effects of a learning disorder, many students need support in dealing with everyday struggles. Yet a cursory look at the staffing in our schools reveals that the PPS is woefully unprepared for assisting our children. Of the schools that listed staffing, I found the following:

• The ratio of nurse to student is 555 to 1
• The ratio of counselor to student is 450 to 1
• The ration of social worker to student is 1189 to 1
• The ratio of psychologist to student is 1280 to 1

In addition 45% of schools have no assistant principal, 83% have no parent engagement specialist and only 2 schools have a mentoring program.

We cannot hold teachers accountable when they do not have the support staff in their buildings and their students are not coming to class ready to learn. We cannot seriously address the underachievement of our students without understanding that learning is not only about math and reading. Many students, rich and poor and anywhere in between, come to school with heavy burdens that keep them from learning. When my son was having difficulty concentrating in school and organizing his time, my husband and I were fortunate enough to have the resources to get the counseling we needed to help us keep him on the correct educational path. Many in our public schools are not as fortunate and do not have the resources to gain this type of help.

I am asking, once again, that the policies of this board start to redirect the reform of our schools from the current top down method and make sure that resources are spent at the grassroots level, on our students and on services that directly benefit them. Only then will we help them to realize their potential and truly set them on the Pathway to the Promise.


PPS Public Hearing Testimony
November 22, 2010
Annette Werner

Good evening. For my testimony I will read a letter I wrote to the Broad Foundation.

November 4, 2010

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation - Education
10900 Wilshire Boulevard
Twelfth Floor
Los Angeles, California 90024

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Broad:

I am writing from Pittsburgh, where we have had a Broad superintendent for over 5 years.

As shown on the attached charts, the overall improvement in academic performance of the Pittsburgh Public School District during the past 5 years has if anything been less than the improvement in academic performance statewide. Year to year ups and downs at particular grade levels in Pittsburgh closely track year to year ups and downs in Pennsylvania as a whole, raising the question of whether changes in performance are the result of adjustments to the level of difficulty of the tests. This result comes despite an emphasis on testing like we have never seen before, at the expense of other areas such as sports, extracurricular activities and the arts.

I know that accountability is an important part of the Broad approach, so can you tell me: Are these results consistent with expectations for a Broad superintendent? Is there something that needs to be added to the training of these future superintendents? And can you tell us why, in selecting a new superintendent, we should again consider a Broad candidate?

Thank you,

Annette Werner


Mark Rauterkus said...

The P-G ran an article and part of my statement was mentioned.

Thanks for posting your statements. Well done.

Questioner said...

It's good to see the PG covering the public hearing- hopefully that will continue. Here's the link:

Anonymous said...