Friday, December 10, 2010

Incident said to have taken place at U Prep

From another post:

Anonymous said...

Here is something interesting I have heard from many others in the district.

Monday or Tuesday
The Principal at U-Prep asked the promise ready students at a school wide assembly, to stand up and give themselves, applause. They complied. Then he asked the non-promise ready students to stand up. Then he told them to (Boo) their teachers. They excitedly complied.

If this would happened to me, I would have been fired, maybe even arrested.

Talk about a hostile work enviroment for teachers. What an out right disrespect for the teaching profession. He is labeled the Rising Star of the PELA program by many.

He should be fired, of course the union is mute

Questioner said...
What a bizarre exercise- especially since the same teachers presumably taught the promise ready and non-promise ready students. No credit for the successes but blame for those who did not succeed? And when are the principal and administration held accountable?

Anonymous said...
Even beyond teacher and administrative accountability is STUDENT accountability. How absurd: pat yourself on the back for what you earned, point fingers at others for what you failed to achieve. What message are we sending students when we do silly stunts like this?

Can anyone verify that this happened firsthand? This sounds so outlandish that I hesitate to believe it --- except that so many unbelievable things have happened over the past 5 years that I simply can't dismiss it!

alldone said...
We do need firsthand confirmation on this alleged incident at UPrep. If it is an accurate account of what happened and there is no fallout, public apology, probationary period for the individual, etc. our problems are bigger than currently known. If this does not come up on a talk show today it will be a surprise. The parent hotine number is 622-7920. Just what the heck are the principals doing in professional development? If somebody is paid to train on effective motivational methods a refund is deserved.


Mark Rauterkus said...

If PPS could get rid of the "crazy stuff" (such as mentioned, allegedly) then we'd be more than half-way home.

My, oh my.

Some will say, and perhaps rightly so, that the problem is a lack of accountability. Stuff happens, and then little or nothing is done.

Others point to leadership. But really, some of these crazy happenings are from the highest levels of the schools and district. So, then one needs to be careful for what is wished for. If the leadership isn't well reasoned and with good attention to details -- then it is best if that brand of accountability is absent.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking that PPS had gotten a little strange over the past few years!

Mark Rauterkus said...

There is no monopoly on goofy actions. And, they are not dated to only recent years.

Anonymous said...

Yes but the frequency of the craziness can change. Old timers would know best.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. This sounds too bad to be true. I'm concerned that this might be an exaggeration of an exaggeration. I think we want to be careful about spreading what are essentially rumors. I imagine if it were true, channel 11 or the Trib would have picked it up, right?

Anonymous said...

Too bad to be true? What is wrong with the non-teachers on this site? These stories can be multiplied tenfold throughout thisndard operating procedure district. When are you going to get it into your heads that what we have is an administration that is targeting teachers and feels empowered by Gates "philanthropy" money.
Old school principals have largely been pushes into retirement. Only a few remain. Newer PELA types would tell you that this type of behavior is standard operating procedure...if they had any courage at all.

I can see why some feel teachers should be wary of this site. Some real idiots here.

Questioner said...

It adds nothing for a commentator to call someone an idiot. Someone should contact the principal of the school and/or hotline to ask exactly what was said. News sources would not necessarily hear about or report on an incident like this.

Anonymous said...

While we're at it, if I were a teacher on this site, I'd contact the PFT about it. IF it's true, there should be some kind of response from union officials.

Anonymous said...

Call the PFT? Are you kidding? They are owned by PPS.
There is no union.

Questioner said...

Teachers do have to worry about retaliation, but maybe a teacher can go to one of the more newly elected and trusted union reps.

Anonymous said...

"Idiot" is an applicable term for anyone who doubts the dominance and submission tactics used by PELAs these days. It's also applicable to anyone who believes this is a site that is balanced or somehow sympathizes with teachers.

Anonymous said...

The newly elected are being gagged by the cosa nosta in charge. Don't you read your own site? They have minimized the voices of the 4 new PFT officials.
What don't you understand? We are all on our own.

Anonymous said...

This is a site that seems to be used by anyone who wants to use it! Where else did you see this even being reported? There's at least a tiny chance now it will see the light of day.

Trust me, I know very well how hard it is to be a teacher, let alone a teacher in this district, at this time. But taking out your anger on the commenters here is counterproductive. Teachers aren't going to make things better on their own and parents aren't going to make things better on their own. There's only a slight chance that any change can happen even working together!

Questioner said...

It just undermines the whole credibility of, for example, a point about PELA techniques by adding "idiot" to the mix. And this site has absolutely no reaon to be slanted against teachers.

Anonymous said...

The reason to go to the union is to have a record of the incident. If every time something like this happens it is reported, then there's a volume of evidence sitting ready.

No one event may be enough, but a continued pattern has a much better chance of success.

In the Know said...

As a long-time PPS teacher, I can say without hesitation that this site is NOT biased in any way towards teachers.

In fact, I find this forum to be refreshingly honest, informative, and supportive.

There are individual posters here that may have some bias, but that will be found in any venue.

As to the poster who suggested that the union be informed about this alleged incident, in theory that is the correct move.

But, unfortunately, the PFT has decided not to make any waves in these sort of matters.

Instead of being teacher advocates, they have become another PR wing of central administration.

I was told as much by a PFT staff member. If something makes the district look bad, it will be swept under the rug.

Please know that this decision impacts students as well as teachers.

When a teacher is physically assaulted on the job, the PFT will not insist on strong action against the attacker.

So in a few days, the attacker will return to class, maybe to sit next to your son or daughter.

alldone said...

By now shouldn't someone have stepped up to confirm or deny this story?

Perhaps there is some mention of it on acebook somewhere or some kid has a record on his phone.

Is this destined t end up an urban legend?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, not everyone in the PPS reads this blog. ;-D

Anonymous said...

The Principal at U-Prep is not a PELA. Although many new principals are PELAs, others are not. This act, if true, is awful -- not matter the training received to take the role of a building principal. PERIOD.

Johnny Duke said...

The only reason he was hired was because he will be treated as a PELA. Ask around. You didn't have to start off in the program to be one of them.
Just a handful more principals to be shoved towards retirement and then we'll be all under the gun.

Love the need for verification line. What a crock.

Anonymous said...

I totally believe this happened, having confirmed for myself a second hand account of it.

But I also can see how without at least one teacher who was there reporting it to the union or the newspaper or both it ends up being dismissed as a rumor rather than treated as the horror show it is.

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher and I can't really go to the media about this. I can call up the PFT and ask them to look into this -- and I will tomorrow. But if you're a parent or community member and you've heard this rumor, you have every right to demand an investigation. If you feel that an incident like this feeds into current the anti-teacher atmosphere, call the parent hotline (412-622-7920; and email the PG ( and Trib ( ) demanding that someone look into this. Anti-teacher sentiment is everywhere these days in the US and it comes disguised with money and supposed good intentions (Gates $$). If parents and community members don't start to speak out, fewer and fewer smart, enthusiastic college graduates and career changers will want to jump into this snake pit of a profession.

Stand up and demand an investigation. A public one.

DO something.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the U Prep incident - someone (parent, PFT staff, Mark R.) first needs to verify the details. Then let us know here.

If it did occur even a little bit like was described here previously, then let loose the dogs of war (so to speak).

Questioner said...

We will work on verification.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Questioner. If PURE Reform considers itself a watchdog group, this is just the type of situation that merits action on its part. Speaking as a teacher, I'd really appreciate the support.

Questioner said...

Remember, the blog is a public forum and is very much subject to accusations of "spreading rumors." What is the danger of verifying information?

Anonymous said...

If I know someone has reported this to the union, I can call the PG and ask them what the union's statement is about this occurence.

As it stands now, I could call the PG and say, hey, I saw an anonymous comment on this tiny little blog run by parents about the PPS that said something happened.

Which of those two do you think is going to get any action?!

In fact, I asked a blogging teacher and union rep (in another state) what he thought of this -- and he was skeptical. But said that if it was confirmed, to let him know.

And I know he doesn't hate teachers. (Neither do I, in fact.) I understand the pressures that teachers are under now, but some of the comments here surely aren't going to get anyone new on your side.

Questioner said...

If this site is used as a way to alert people to an incident, and we request information from the district about what happened, that can also work.

Johnny Duke said...

Anon at 5:01, I neither want nor need you on my side. I doubt that any teacher would seek to rally parental support in any way, shape or form, because it's our collective experience that for every parent who "understands" what is going on in the district these days, there are three more who either yawn or think we had it coming.

I have to laugh at your opening comment. Perhaps your naivete unbalances your logic. What, do you think we are being facetious in discussing how our union has capitulated to management? Do you simply feel that there are just a few loose cannons showing up on PURE Reform?

Additionally, has your head been completely in the sand over the past five years where news reporting is concerned? Doesn't it strike you as ironic that news is obfuscated in favor of spin?

Point will not get media coverage because on one hand, Bellefield Avenue will not legitimize anything that may make it appear in an improper yet truthful light and, no teacher will go on record at this time. Can you blame them?

As for your friend, I can appreciate someone being in the profession, but I would never pretend to understand his situation, no matter how much I think that I can walk a mile in his shoes.

It's not about your support, or that of the general public. Let's be honest, if the public has not marched on Bellefield after Schenley's closure and the East End plan, they're not going to do much for us. No, it's more about being patronized, nothing more.

You can sit on the sideline and cast aspersions. You can sit there and have doubts about what you are being told. But what you are getting is an eyeful of the realities of teacher targeting these days. Shame that your perceptions don't extend beyond your own realities.

Anonymous said...

Yes. This incident DID happen.

Inquisitive said...

Anon Dec 15th 6:06, can you please provide some details here?

What leads you to believe that the incident happened?

To the PureReform moderators: If the incident can be verified, is there any way to keep this thread on top?

Because if true, this is no small thing.

How the public, the board, and union react will be a major turning point for this district.

Questioner said...

Please be patient as to confirmation. We are working on it.

Anonymous said...

Inquisitive, are you joking?
I mean, really.
I don't mean to condescend, but media will give this no play.
The union will do nothing.
What will it take until non-teachers understand?

Anonymous said...

Shall we wager? Going to do best to make sure this story gets out.

Questioner said...

It is important to address this issue, among other reasons because it is an example of an instance where parent values may be undermined. Parents who are trying to teach personal responsibility will not welcome their children being instructed to boo at teachers. Even if a particular teacher is not good, booing would not be the way most parents would want their children to react.

Inquisitive said...

To anon 9:29

You posted to me:"What will it take until non-teachers understand?"

Respectfully,I probably have more urban public school teaching time than you do, so please let's lower the level of sarcasm here.

I fully understand what's going on here.

We are all on the same side. So let's all work together to look for solutions, however difficult that may be.

Anonymous said...

PPS teacher weighing in here. I'm not as lacking in confidence in the PFT as others here, although I think elected officials in general work best when their feet are held to the fire.

Teachers should call the union and complain and demand an investigation. It's the right first step. It goes on record. Call but follow up with an email so it's in writing. Do it whether you believe anything will come of it or not.

Parents should call the Parent Hotline and complain and demand an investigation. Demand that someone just publicly deny or affirm it one way or the other. A common MO is to simply give no answers, to not reply to questions, to simply not respond. That tactic will only work if parents let it work.

And finally, contact the media and ask THEM to inquire. If you've asked and received no response, then that's a bad sign. Let channel 11 ask.

And could a moderator please consider putting this on top of the blog again?

Anonymous said...

Inquisitive....doubtful. Highly doubtful. Unless we are talking three decades.
You write as if there is some sort of leverage that teachers have. Where is it? Just what can teachers bring to the table that administrators feel warrants "finding solutions."?
To administration, nothing is broken.

To the last anon, about the PFT, your commentary is downright funny..and insulting to those who have truly worked for change. Perhaps you saw the last election results. You know, the one where 4 newcomers won spots.
What happened to those 4?
Have they been empowered?
Has the PFT leadership looked at their election as some sort of mandate?
Are you just naive or are you simply brainwashed by the myriad press releases that come in the mail?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:44

Please give any constructive suggestions you have to parents or fellow teachers here.

If you truly don't see any solutions to these problems, why are you berating others for not getting it? Clearly, nothing anyone reading here does is going to make a difference anyway, according to you.

Inquisitive said...

To anon 10:44

Yes sir/madam, I have three decades of urban public teaching experience.

I might not have seen all you that you have seen, but I have seen an a lot.

And as to "leverage", you are correct as far as teachers go. We have very little leverage now, thanks to the last couple of contracts.

But I REFUSE to just roll over and surrender, to just sit on the sidelides and belittle those that are still trying.

However, I do understand why you sometimes get sarcastic, I really do. It's out of understandable frustration with this entire mess; a mess that puts good students dead last.

In my humble opnion, the only real power to change things now rests with the parents. That's why this site is so very important.

I will echo what anon 11:01 said: "Please give any constructive suggestions you have to parents or fellow teachers here."

Anonymous said...

And the parents will do nothing collectively. That's the point. The Schenley closing. East End reform. Middle school reform. This administration knows the drill: put up with a little dissent and it'll fade because you will never, ever get big numbers.
You're one lone option--strike---will never be used by Tarka.The man is either a coward of incredible proportions or has capitulated to the point one must wonder about. Want change? Radical means.
Our last strike was noteworthy? Perhaps you remember it. Court orders to return to work and a united union saying, "Go ahead. Arrest all 3000 of us."
THAT was the idea of being united.
Please, don't embarrass yourself by talking about doing things to help the situation. I've been there, and I've done that. Were you there?
These people have succeeded in splintering that unity--and I include our own union leadership in that equation.
I try to remember where I live, who came before me and how their retirements were generally huge personal losses for us, as a union. We've replaced them with wimps.

Inquisitive said...

To anon 6:39

I agree with every point you made. But I am truly puzzled by three things.

Are you saying that we - and the parents in particular - should just give up?

And why do you feel the need to belittle posters here with phrases like "your commentary is downright funny" and "Please, don't embarrass yourself"?

And why are you taking your frustration out on your natural allies, fellow teachers and parents?

We've all got to be realistic, certainly. And it is very helpful to point out the many obstacles we face.

But it is worthless to simply mock others without offering any solutions.

In fact, it divides and dispirits us, and so plays into the hands of those that are comfortable with the status quo. Please consider this.

So I will again echo what anon 11:01 said: "Please give any constructive suggestions you have to parents or fellow teachers here."

To which I'll add the old army saying: "Lead, follow, or get out of the way."

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:21

"PPS teacher weighing in here. I'm not as lacking in confidence in the PFT as others here, although I think elected officials in general work best when their feet are held to the fire. "

May I borrow your rose colored glasses, or have a hit of what you are smoking? Gates, Broad, Roosevelt and Lane are all on board the "Teachers Suck" train.

Inquisitive 6:39 pm

"I agree with every point you made. But I am truly puzzled by three things.

Are you saying that we - and the parents in particular - should just give up?"

Many of us have, nothing seems to make a difference. It is so political and very inhumane on every level. We tried, but I could only handle so much head banging, and my little guy could only take so much daily disruption. A light bulb clicks on when you have to take your child to an MD because he/she can't handle how loud, abusive, distracting the day to day life is in a K-5 school. I can't imagine a K-8 being an improvement.

No third grader should come home everyday looking like he needs a hug and xanax. I pulled him out of the district and nobody asked why. He was an A student in the gifted (I hate that word) with excellent citizenship marks. Was he more important than the child in his classroom that needed extra help? No. Is PPS losing kids that do well and are good role models to children that are struggling? Yes.

That is a shame, yet nobody cares.

Questioner said...

That is so, so sad. As the proportion of troubled students rises schools become harder and harder to manage. The response is often to crack down with uniforms, regimentation and strict rules- but that only leads to the loss of additional students attracted to more relaxed and creative settings.

Questioner said...

"Retirement Looks Good" tried to post the following but it didn't come through on the blog:

"Most teachers who have been around for a few decades have in fact been vital parts of this union. Yes, we all benefit from having brethren who fought the wars and have largely retired, but at least the older teacher has a sense of appreciation. We understand solidarity. We understand the sacrifices those before us made.
We understand what's gone on in our union, too. We understand how John, who was one of us, for some reason has given in. What we don't know is why.
It's funny to read "teachers" talking about solutions. What solutions?
It's funny to see a blog talking about reform, and then censor its posts only because it does not like criticism. No improper language. No name calling. It just doesn't like the criticism.
Veteran teachers nearing retirement age, you know what's going on. You have been dedicated to advancing the children as if they were your own. You've put in long hours, watched most of western PA pass you in terms of pay, have cowardly representation and a vindictive administration. And as far as this site, you are treated to commentaries from regulars here who visit schools once in a while and believe they have all the answers. They think that milquetoast commentaries equate to being fair and balanced.
This place is no friend to teachers, period."

Questioner said...

Criticism is fine. Name calling, offensive language and snide comments about people's occupations are not. C

an you not understand that the sponsors of this blog do not want to be associated with that type of communication, and that it only serves to make it easier for MR's administration and those who blindly support him to dismiss the very real concerns discussed here?

Anonymous said...

"This place is no friend to teachers, period."

I cannot disagree with that more.

Anonymous said...

"This place is no friend of teachers, period."

Seriously? This may be the only place that has your back.

Anonymous said...