Monday, November 8, 2010

Reminder- Baptist ministers' discussion today

The topic: Are Pittsburgh Public School Students getting the best education possible?

From the Tribune:

"The Baptist Ministers Conference of Pittsburgh on Monday will host a community meeting to discuss public education in Pittsburgh.

The meeting will start at 6:15 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Wylie Avenue in the Hill District. Speakers will be limited to three minutes and are asked to bring a copy of their testimony.

The hearing is meant to gather feedback about whether Pittsburgh Public Schools students are getting the best education possible.

To sign up, call 412-731-6242."


Questioner said...

The exact address is:

Ebenezer Baptist Church
2001 Wylie Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (412) 281-6583

From Mapquest, starting at Centre and Craig:

Take the 1st LEFT onto CENTRE AVE.
If you reach TRURO PL you've gone a little too far
1.7 mi

0.05 mi

Take the 1st RIGHT onto WYLIE AVE.
If you reach GLENDORA ST you've gone a little too far
0.02 mi
8. 2001 WYLIE AVE is on the LEFT.
If you reach DAVENPORT ST you've gone a little too far

Annette Werner said...

In addition to the panelists, there were about 10 speakers at this informative meeting. The only Board member attending was Mark Brentley, who confirmed that all Board members had been invited.

Here's what I had to say at the meeting:

If your sense is that despite frequent references to excellence for all the Pittsburgh public schools have not made a great deal of progress over the past 5 years- our research shows that you are probably right.

I have brought with me a series of charts mapping Pittsburgh public school performance at the various grade levels against performance of the state as a whole. The charts show that Pittsburgh public school performance started out significantly below Pennsylvania performance and that little has changed over the past 5 years. In most cases the gap has actually increased. Since any gains is Pittsburgh are generally matched closely by gains across the state, the "gains" may reflect adjustments to the level of difficulty of the tests.

The administration and our Board members, however, seem to believe that we are heading in the right direction. The reason, I think, is that they are waiting for a Superprogram- the planned Teachers' Academy.

But can we expect the Teachers' Academy to solve our problems? To date, programs have generally not been selected and implemented well. Randall Taylor pointed out problems with the ALA's. Consider also the Kaplan curriculum, CEP and University Prep, which in its third year is greatly underenrolled and is on the state's NCLB warning list. It is not clear that anything has been learned from experiences with those programs, such as the possibility of starting with a small pilot program or the need to gather and utilize greater public input. And, it will be years before we know how effective the Teachers' Academy may be.

My other concern, given that we are meeting here in the Hill District, is the Schenley High School building. As you may know, after the building was closed serious questions were raised as to whether the District had overstated problems at the building. More than 200 Pittsburgh residents, many of them from the Hill, signed a petition for an independent comparison of the Schenley building and the McKelvey (currently Miller) building, which also has pervasive asbestos plaster. but the district declined to have a comparison done. Before deciding that the permanent feeder school for students from the Hill and west of Negley will be a converted junior high school building, I hope the Baptist ministers will call for a complete independent investigation into this issue.

Mark Rauterkus said...

What else happened at the meeting? Just wondering.

Annette Werner said...

I'll answer little by little as I get time.

CMU professor Bob Strauss presented a table and, even more tellingly a graph, of Pittsburgh population numbers v. PPS district numbers. The chart shows a relatively gentle decline in population from 2000 to the present- in fact, from 2007 to the present population barely declined at all. PPS enrollment is another story. It fell sharply, particularly between 2004 - 2007 with significant declines continuing to the present time. Professor Strauss also discussed underreporting of violent incidents in PPS.

Annette Werner said...

The enrollment chart that was presented on Monday went through 2010 but does not seem to be online. You can get the picture from this link that goes through 2008, though- see the second page for the graph: