Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Board to discuss HS configuration on Monday

From A+ Schools:

School Board Discussing Excel 9-12 on Monday, August 2nd

The School Board will meet on Monday, August 2, 2010 at approximately 6:15 PM (immediately following a special Legislative Session) to have its second discussion about the high school reconfiguration plan. This plan could come up for a vote as early as August 25th.

The meeting will be held in the Board Committee room on the 2nd floor of 341
S. Bellefield Avenue. Monday's meeting is open to the public. Members of the public can observe (and we encourage you to), but cannot speak before the board. Members of the public can speak before the board at its public hearing on Monday, August 23, 2010 at 6:00 PM.

Check out the A+ Schools website for more information on how to register to speak at the board hearing on August 23rd.

New teacher orientation

From the PG:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


On another post Anonymous wrote:

Try to have an intelligent conversation with any pro-public school parents. It is very difficult, I was ultra public school, and I figured anyone that was dissing it was either misinformed or paranoid. I know what is going on now, and I did a 180 in a matter of a few days. You could have not changed my mind, I had to be willing to read and look. I was not before.

I honestly think I have lost a friend once I started putting the pieces of this mess in place. I have very little faith in the long term future with PPS.

This administration is all about self promotion without any personal integrity involved. I

If their aim is to tear apart communities, fire/dismiss people to make room for their own, they have won. The only choice I have is to call them out, but then people will lose their jobs. They are really good at faking and covering up their tracks.

It is lose lose, shut up and play our game.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Teachers' Academy FAQ's

On another post Anon wrote:

Given that Summer Dreamers is having mixed success, how will the district do with its Teachers' Academy? See this link for some of the details. Apparently the students at these schools will have numerous teachers in their core subjects.

Program for Black male students only


On another post Questioner wrote:

Questioner said...
From the article:

"City schools last week began a full-day, month-long summer program in which 32 black male students in 9th and 10th grades receive a $100-per-week stipend for participating. The program, paid for by Heinz Endowments, helps East End students who struggle with math and reading."

-PPS does seem to be focused on gender distinctions these days. Why not a program for girls struggling with math and reading? And why only black students?

And then Anonymous wrote:

You forgot the famed Derrick Lopez quote:

We incentivize them enough so we can (instill) ... that this should be a pattern you follow during the school year," said Derrick Lopez, assistant superintendent of secondary schools.

Just a few points-if one does not read the newspaper-we will never know the latest PPS imitative.

Lopez is a great Hoover sweeper sweeping under the carpet and resurfacing squeaky clean with agenda.

$400 each for 32 students. -we are really gender specific and race specific here in this Summer Program.

Is it a free Program? As they advertise the other Summer Program.

Why not Black girls are we being sexist?

Let us here of the selection process~from the Board? When?

Girls have a right as well all socio-economic background indicators-not just race and gender specific.

What about the Semolinan children or other immigrants. Why were they not given a chance-Do they have a special ESL program there-maybe they should and work with them?

Are the students selected from all around the PPS district or just the East End?

Where is this program located and housed?are the students being transported and fed?

Is it housed at Westinghouse-how In addition, do we see a goodwill tour for gender specific schools?

Hey, where is the lawsuit against this type of specific criteria?

The Wellness Program involved-are they a separate vendor-health counselors-Phys Ed teachers

With the Wellness Program involved-are they implying health issues as another indicator for selecting the 32 black boys? Heaven forbid-they are saying the boys cannot even get their homework done after school and must participate in some form of athletic activity or they have an eating disorder or need to lose weight.

Are we labeling here in this program?

What are the specifics of the curriculum and behavior modifications for alternative classroom behaviors if necessitated?

Just a little bit of criteria-there should be more.

I guess the Heinz Foundation will write a check –for PPS whims.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Release of PSSA scores delayed

PPS has announced that its release of PSSA scores, originally scheduled for July 29, will be delayed.

Stimulus funding and Summer Dreamers

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Read more:

One sectional Quote from article∷ Research shows much of the academic achievement gap between low- and high-income youth is tied to summer learning options, and kids without summer activities can lose up to two months of academic progress before the school year starts. To address that, the city district started an all-day, free camp for middle schoolers this year called the Summer Dreamers Academy, which boosted summer program registration from 800 to 2,300 students.

The camp, which is budgeted to, is scheduled to shut down after next summer when the stimulus funding ends, said Cate Reed, the district's project coordinator for strategic initiatives.

Well, my son is at Camp King, they already had three good physical fights at this site-the Camp Site Director, and his crew cannot manage this site. The money is wasted at the site that could have been put to better use. Site Directors; make $8500 and teachers $6000.

The money for afternoon activities should receive funding-this site is a serious joke-because of the people in charge-they are afraid of the Black students. $4 million to $5 million annually just another waste of money and they never use the current research-just like-Where is the research for the past 5 years on our ALAS. King has been always a disaster for 30 years. And they are furloughing teachers. They take research and good old RAND and what happens 5 years of waste-I wish President Obama could see the waste.

But, they should have had a diversified Site crew to deal with this Section of our city-my son goes to a magnet-the only selection for some North Siders. The kids call the site Director Dork and the Dorkers- and some of the Camp Coordinators just plain nasty the students and the teachers. Only the male Camp Coordinators are braking of the fights. Not the teachers.
However, as a parent even when I pick up my son-you should see the disorganization of the kids and the buses.

Why waste this cost $4 million to $5 million annually so 2011 another cost of $4 million to $5 million.

Mr. Rauterkus you are right-but look what happened this summer with their territorial setup of the Camps. They wasted majority of the 5 million.

Why do you think I send my son to a magnet school-oh my and what about high school? This does not happen at Allegheny Traditional and listen it is a waste-when I will hear wait till next year to work out the quirks!!! When they sre closing schools and cuttin student programs and class size.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Notices of possible furloughs received

Word is that some teachers have received notices that they may be furloughed. It is not clear how many teachers have been sent notices or how likely the furloughs are.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A+ schools questions plans for reconfiguration

A+ Schools Program Info


A+ Schools strongly advocates that the Pittsburgh Public Schools provide more information on the proposed high school reconfiguration plan in the form of at least one community briefing before voting on any part of this plan.

We observed the June 21st Education Committee meeting, reviewed the materials and met informally with administrators and we believe many important questions are still left unanswered. In fact, we submitted a list of questions to the administration and school board to try to gain a better understanding of exactly what is being proposed.

Our questions and concerns fall into the following categories:

(+) Choice: What is the intended model of choice PPS is trying to achieve and by what mechanism will families be asked to chose?

(+) Equity: How do the proposed plans contribute to the district's vision of equity - policies based on the belief that effort creates ability and with the goal of eliminating the achievement gap?

(+) Alignment: How are the CTE, EET, and Excel 9.12 plan aligned operationally to achieve the same goals?

(+) Feeder Patterns: What are the implications for school size based on the proposed changes in the East End feeder patterns?

We would expect that parents and other stakeholders would have equally valuable, important and possibly different questions and concerns. Tell us what questions you have. We urged the district to create time for those questions to be surfaced and addressed and to build public support for whatever changes are pursued.

While high school reform planning has been going on for three years; the specifics of the current plan have only come to the general public's attention in the past few weeks. We commend the district's efforts to engage a group of stakeholders in developing this plan, but more public understanding and comment is essential. Further, the planning group consisted primarily of East End interest and the changes presented impact the entire district.

A plan of this size and scope deserves a thorough public vetting prior to a legislative vote by the school board. We urged the school board to convene at least one, but preferably several community information sessions before voting on any portion of this plan. More information will allow the community to offer meaningful feedback at future public hearings.
A+ Schools
Questions regarding the Excel 9-12 Plan:
What is the intended model of high school choice that PPS is trying to achieve and by what mechanism will families be asked to choose?
• What is the combination of feeder/magnets/CTE/other programs that PPS is trying to achieve?
• What is the final version of high schools that PPS plans to have by 2015? For each secondary school, what is the configuration, academic program, magnet program, CTE program housed in the school?
• What is the mechanism for students to choose magnets other programs? What is the choice mechanism for each CTE regional cluster? How can these be aligned for parents/families to navigate through them easily?
• If a student feeds into a school with a CTE program, is that student automatically enrolled in the CTE program?
• If Robotics is no longer a magnet and it is housed in the IB School, which is a magnet, how will students that are not part of the IB School be able to access Robotics?
• Currently Oliver, University Prep, Langley and Brashear are listed as partial magnets. Will those schools remain that way or will those magnet options be eliminated or replaced?
In what way is the district’s policy regarding equity reflected in the Excel 9-12 plan?
• How does this plan work specifically towards closing the achievement gap?
• If Oliver is the only feeder school in the north side and the only drop-out/ credit recovery school in PPS how will other students in the city be able to opt-in to Oliver? Is there evidence that the feeder pattern for Oliver has the highest concentration of students at risk of dropping out?
• Is it equitable or lawful to make a single-gender school (Westinghouse) the default choice for a select group of students?
• In what way is the CTE programming in each regional cluster easily accessible to ALL students?
• If Westinghouse is a single-gender school with consumer sciences and health CTE programs, how can we ensure gender equity in those CTE programs while not undermining the qualities of a successful single-gender program?
What is the rationale for changing the east end feeder pattern to be Negley Ave?
• How is Milliones considered under-enrolled when it was intentionally created to serve a specific number of students in the district? Were the residency projections wrong or did fewer students choose Milliones than expected? Moving forward, how can we ensure that enrollment projections for new schools are as accurate as possible as to not create under-enrolled schools?
• How do plans for Uprep change with an expanded feeder pattern since it wasn’t intended to have that large of a student population?
• University Prep was planned before there was consideration for students from the Westinghouse or Peabody feeder pattern. It is currently listed as a partial magnet in the district. What work has been done to ensure that University Prep has enough room to accommodate the entire proposed feeder pattern west of the Negley Ave while remaining a partial magnet? If choice is open to students from both the former Peabody and Westinghouse feeder patterns for University Prep, how can we know that all students who choose University Prep will fit?
How is the proposed CTE plan, the EET plan and the Excel 9-12 plan aligned?
• How is the proposed CTE plan, the EET plan elements (including the extra period accounted for in the collective bargaining agreement and career ladder roles) and the Excel 9-12 plan aligned?
• Who is responsible for managing the conjunction of these plans and coordinate their joint implementation?
• How will the proposed “extended day and extended year” at Oliver be addressed in collective bargaining?
• Perry, Langley and Brashear were targeted for transformation and will be implementing RISE, the Promise Readiness Corps and focusing on Teaching and Learning Environment; however Carrick was left off of any list and it is in Corrective Action 2 (while Langley and Brashear are only in Corrective Action 1) and the transformation strategies are part of the EET plan that are supposed to be implemented in every school. Was Carrick left out intentionally or was it an error? The same question applies to Allderdice where the EET plan was also planned to be implemented.
• If Oliver and Westinghouse are targeted for turnaround and half the staff can stay and there must be new leadership in the building, in what way will those teachers be chosen to stay in accordance with the priorities in the EET plan?
• The CTE program proposal in March stated that roughly 10% of students in a district enroll in CTE and that the entire CTE program was intended to serve between 600-800 students. If feeder schools with CTE programs automatically enroll students in CTE, does the CTE program have the capacity to offer programming at that scale? Conversely, if the anticipated enrollment in CTE is 600-800, how can we ensure that we are offering a full complement of programming in each region while making best use of our funds?
• What makes the Health, IT, Business and Finance and Culinary CTE programs at Oliver different that the CTE programs in the east and west/south cluster for Oliver’s programs to be named career academies?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Possible vote on reconfiguration on July 21

WPXI reports that the school board is set to vote on a reconfiguration plan today

However, the agenda review materials do not seem to include the reconfiguration plan, or if they do it is not very prominent in the materials

- Can items be added to the legislative meeting for a vote whether or not they appear in the agenda review?

Greatschools ranking

A PPS mailer sent out this week includes among the "good news to share" that "our District was ranked 7th in the nation among public school systems in large US cities in the Great Schools Best cities to live and learn 2010 report."

But, the PG reported that it was schools in the Pittsburgh AREA (ie, 160 schools including 66 Pittsburgh public schools), not our District, that ranked 7th:

Plans for teacher training

From the PG:

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Many question the value of single gender schools"

From today's PG:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Grassroots public reform encouraged"

Tribune article about an initiative by the Pittsburgh Foundation, which seems to target all areas of government except schools:

When all else fails make it a racial issue

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


We are hearing that the district is CONSIDERING furloughing a number of teachers. While there is no way to verify this report at the current time it seemed best to mention the issue since jobs are at stake, and maybe teachers can obtain some information from their union.

Community meeting announced for Tuesday 7/20

Members of the East Liberty and Westinghouse communities have called a meeting for next Tuesday:

TUESDAY, JULY 20, 2010
6:30 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Agenda review materials for 7/14/10

The agenda is pretty much to review grants, awards, contracts and purchases.

Not on the agenda is policy making or discussion of the major changes being proposed for PPS (ie, single gender academies and changes in configuration) or review of relevant data (such as whether the Westinghouse 9th grade had a higher GPA after introduction of single gender academies last year).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vegan options

On the May "Start a new post" Annette Werner wrote:

The issue of healthier school lunches has come up frequently lately and is part of Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity.

Vegan options would be healthy and just as important, cruelty free. An introduction to vegan choices is being offered tomorrow in Shadyside by Voices for Animals:

What It's All About!

Come see the original "Peaceable Kingdom," (2004) a powerful movie about animal agriculture and the animals affected by it (77 minutes), enjoy a FREE delicious vegan meal, and hear and participate in discussions about veganism and animal sentience. There will also be a question and answer session after the movie.

Sunday, July 11th, 12 PM-2PM
First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh
(Schweitzer Room)
605 Morewood Avenue
Pittsburgh (Shadyside), PA 15213

Admission is free but donations are greatly appreciated.
Everyone is welcome!

Note: Movie may not be appropriate for children. Parental discretion is advised

Friday, July 9, 2010

ACLU Action Alert/ concerns about single gender schools

Speak Out Against Sex-Segregated Public Schools in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh School Board Public Hearing
Monday, July 12, 7:00 p.m.
341 S. Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh

To register to speak at the public hearing call the district superintendent's office at 412-622-3600 by noon on Monday, July 12.

As part of a larger East End reorganization plan, the Pittsburgh School Board is considering turning Westinghouse High School into two sex-segregated academies for 6-12 grade students.

The ACLU has serious concerns about the implementation of this plan, and we need you to speak up for gender equity in education while there's still time.

The school board has given the public less than a month to weigh in on the proposed changes and is set to vote on the plan on Wednesday, July 21.

We need you to make your voice heard at the next public hearing of the Pittsburgh School Board this Monday, July 12, at 7:00 p.m.

This will be the last public hearing before the board votes on these controversial changes and it is imperative that the board hears from residents, parents and advocates that segregating our schools is not a real (or legal) solution to improving our kids' education.

Sex-segregation in public education is unconstitutional, perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes, and ends up depriving both girls and boys of the benefits of co-education. Creating sex-segregated schools and classrooms diverts resources from initiatives that have been proven effective in improving the education of both boys and girls – such as reducing class sizes and increasing teacher training. Rather than offering choice, sex-segregated programs limit the education of both boys and girls.

Find more information on sex-segregated schools and the harmful assumptions that shape the curricula and teaching methods on the ACLU website.

To register to speak at the public hearing, call the district superintendent's office at 412-622-3600 by noon on Monday, July 12.

For questions or more information, contact the ACLU-PA Pittsburgh office at: 412-681-7736 or

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Water Polo

Here's a way to beat the heat-

Water Polo at Peabody, starting Monday July 12 from 10:30 - 12:00 am.

All are welcome to drop in- boys, girls, teens and adults.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Trust me"

From the PG:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Superintendent applied for position in Austin

On another post, Anonymous wrote:

"This is interesting.

Apparently Mr Roosevelt is not as committed to Pittsburgh as much as he professes!"

An Anonymous also noted a link to an article in the Tribune Review:

- It is also interesting to consider this news about the superintendent applying for another position in February 2009 together with another news article from February 2009, reporting that the superintendent's house had been placed on the market: In that article he stated that listing his house did not reflect on his commitment to Pittsburgh.

"Thinking Skills"

On another post Anonymous wrote:

The Harlem's Children's Zone appears to be wonderful project and is certainly providing for the needs of children____educational and otherwise. We could replicate that here in Pittsburgh with results that would astound since in PA there is real clarity about the "Thinking Skills" needed to do well academically and in life. (In future posts I will list those skills, specifically.) If teachers were aware of those skills and taught them situationally as well as textually across content areas (including art, music and phys ed) we would see significant academic and life skills improvement___in the first year anywhere from 16% to 25% (personally accomplished with school districts) to 35% improvement. Professional Development for teachers on how people learn and strategies for teaching PSSA and PSAT "THINKING SKILLS" would see immediate 'quantum' leaps. Let me show you the way at no cost to the district! Nothing ventured nothing gained. We have the knowledge, but not the process____most likely due to greed and self-agrandizement._____It is not "laugh"able!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Test Scores -- PSSA-style

There's a thread about test scores at various high schools on the previous posting about the Promise. Those comments start on July 4th and list test scores for the PPS high schools.

On the Pure Reform website, this page has links to charts of performance from 2004 onward:

The first link there compares changes in PPS versus state results as a whole. In a nutshell, any gains in the PPS have been mirrored by similar gains statewide. Whatever we're doing here isn't outdoing what everyone else is doing -- our scores don't seem to be improving any more than the statewide scores, despite all the changes.

There are a couple of things to remember as you read the test scores. HS students are only tested in 11th grade; younger students are tested in all grades 3-8. To compare schools solely on their scores is problematic, you should also consider demographics, magnet programs, etc.

This link at A+ Schools gets you to the two page listings for each school. Those pages break out some of the information, like % of kids getting free or reduced lunch and scores by race, IEP, and by income status. There need to be 40 kids in a category for it to be broken out in the charts. For instance, in CAPA's 11th grade in 2009, there weren't enough kids with IEPs for their scores to be reported separately.

You can find the 2009 PSSA numbers for yourself at this site:

And you can find older PSSA results at this link:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pittsburgh Promise in the News

In a video-taped message, city schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt said, "The Promise is what makes everything go in the Pittsburgh Public Schools," at the moment.

from Post-Gazette article on the Pittsburgh Promise:

The total amount was not leveraged this year; there's no indication if there's any way of making that up in future years. It looks like a correction is needed to the amount of the match -- UPMC gives $1 for every $1.50 donated, not the other way around, according to the totals given for donations.

Interesting data about graduation rates is also mentioned.