Saturday, December 31, 2011

Roosevelt hiring

On another post Bulldog Forever wrote:

"1. You give Mr. Isler far, far too little credit for the current state of affairs. Do not forget that for nearly Mark Roosevelt's entire tenure Bill drove MR home after each and every board/committee meeting.

When MR was floundering at getting a job at a school district for a time much longer than it took him to complete the rigorous 7 weekend - weekend, not months, not years - Broad Superintendent's academy, it was the John Kerry/Teresa Heinz camp that pushed Bill Isler very directly to lead the test of the Board to hire Roosevelt.

By some great act of coincidence, the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College receives a very very very sizable foundation donation that completes it's capital campaign and literally the house the Isler built is, well, built.

Tit for tat here folks, follow the private money in this."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Change to elementary hoops policy

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11361/1199509-298.stm

Friday, December 23, 2011

Race to the Top Money

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"NEW POST:
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/education/s_773436.html

Pennsylvania just received 41.3 million of Race to the Top money. Hmmm? PPS received more than that from Gates. It seems as thought the intent for the money is teacher evaluation. How much would you bet that they use the "Pittsburgh model."

Too bad those who know a little about education are not in a position or do not have the time to go beyond the P.R. when making decisions about effective programs."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Teacher age discrimination suits can be expensive

From the Tribune:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_773067.html

Teachers offered buyouts

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11355/1198265-53.stm

Monday, December 19, 2011

Westinghouse update

From the Tribune:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_772703.html

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The main culprit

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11352/1197401-109-0.stm?cmpid=newspanel

From today's P-G:

Don't blame teachers for the racial achievement gap - blame poverty."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Survey given to teachers

At the agenda review a $137k "teaching and learning" survey given to teachers is also discussed. One question raised was how this survey differs from the previous in house surveys. The response was that it "organizes it into constructs" and then a quick offer to provide more information (sigh of relief that the questioning was over).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Summer Dreamers

Based on the agenda review, it sounds like what is happening is that all kids who are not proficient and who want to attend Dreamers will be placed in a lottery. The program will be in 3 locations only, Milliones, King and Carmalt, and it will supercede the longstanding successful program at Lincoln. If by some chance there is some space left kids who are proficient might be allowed to attend.

CTE being shuffled around

This week's agenda review has a great deal of discussion of confusing information, shuffling around CTE again. The approach seems very patchwork.

Survey given to students

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Hello,
I was hoping somebody could enlighten me about the survey my kids took earlier this week. I plan to ask questions at my PSCC meetings but one won't even be held until 2012. Does anyone know what this cost us?"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Certain sports at some schools may join WPIAL

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11348/1196669-363.stm

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Feeling that a district has become a testing lab for wealthy outsiders"

Critics complain of "[unilateral imposition of] a controversial agenda — replacing principals, opening new schools, placing charter schools inside district buildings — dreamed up by outsiders and consultants who do not understand the needs of their children, and that there is not enough opportunity for input by parents and community-based advocates....'There are so many new things happening, it’s like the idea is just throw it all against a wall and see what sticks.'”

- NYT article about complaints against state control of Newark public schools:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/12/education/newark-school-district-in-debate-over-state-control.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXXII (July 2009)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW POST

How we got where we are, part 32, July 2009

July 27, 2009: Central office expansion continues as the Board “accepts a grant award from the Fund for Excellence in Pittsburgh Public Schools for $841 ,773. Renewal support is awarded from the Fund for Excellence in the amount of $841,773 over 16 months for costs associated with the Office of Strategic Initiatives: The High School Plan for Excellence. Specifically, funding is awarded to support salary costs associated with the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI).”

It was a summer of giving, as the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration recommends “an agreement to renew a contract with Dr. Judy Johnston to provide training, support, consultation and recommendations to Assistant Superintendents and up to 20 principals in support of the principal-evaluation program. This work will require direct work with assistant superintendents and principals in the form of one-on-one instructional coaching, school and classroom visits, interaction with the Teaching and Learning teams, and the gathering of evidence for performance standards. Services to be provided between August 1st, 2009 through July 31 st, 2010. This support will be provided to meet district proficiency standards as identified on the leadership evaluation rubric. This work is in conjunction with the principal
evaluation project. Total cost not to exceed $107,750.00 for up to 90 days of work in the district.”

Yes, you did the math correctly. At well over $1,000 per day Johnston's compensation was greater than the Superintendent's.

Patricia Kennedy, Executive Director of Communications, resigns, lasting less than one year under the iron rule of the Chief of Staff.

The Board votes to add a K-12 Gifted & Talented Coordinator, a luxury we did not have at 30,000 students.

Focus on Results also finds PPS to be a day at the beach, with the Board approving a contract “to provide 84 days of training and consulting to 5 secondary principals and their leadership teams” with an operating period from August 1, 2009 to July 31,2010. The rate of payment which includes consulting $2,300 per day, planning $650 per day, books and materials $1,000 and travel shall not exceed $257,670.”

The Board, except for Mark Brentley and Randall Taylor oblivious to the repeated warnings in writing that the trajectory of administrative costs and program expansion would jeopardize the district's solid financial footing, reward Superintendent Roosevelt with a raise.

Mr. Brentley's commentary is scorching: “During these tough times -- remember just this month we passed a very, very high increase within the communication and marketing. In some areas it's selective on who determines and who gets what.....It's been extremely difficult to get the superintendent to focus on equity....I raised concerns over the years about the program, the community educational partnership program. It's a problem. I had asked for this administration to address it....we cannot get caught up into the slick media campaigns....we found out in some cases recommendations that are made in terms of who gets what principalship has been or may be influenced by some former board members and some folks within the foundation community....We've watched as changes will be made, and Mr. Taylor and I would be left out often. And so yes, it's great you have the majority here, but what good is it for the district?...the fact of the matter is that I am still an elected official here. I still have a responsibility to the constituents who put me here, and regardless of the negative things that continue to happen, we know that this -- this community and this district is still a district in crisis....When asked about we're losing we're losing so many students, well, [Roosevelt] said well, we're managing decline. If we're managing decline, and if enrollment is constantly going down, why are salaries constantly going up?...at some point somebody's got to begin to ask some questions.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

Review of "Teaching America"

A new book about civics education, reviewed by the WSJ:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203802204577066682141742196.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Civics education is an area that has been improving in PPS in recent years. Maybe, eventually, there will be an effect on PPS itself.

Does PPS discourage reporting of employee crimes to police?

From WPXI:

http://www.wpxi.com/news/29955212/detail.html

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Board passes budget

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11342/1195440-53-2.stm

It's strange that the article did not report what the vote on the budget was (ie, number for, against and abstaining).

Obama admin issues guidelines to promote diversity

From the NYT:

“Diverse learning environments promote development of analytical skills, dismantle stereotypes and prepare students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/03/education/us-urges-campus-creativity-to-gain-diversity.html?_r=1

Saturday, December 3, 2011

PPS seeking a director to "Design Westinghouse"

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New posting for "director, design Westinghouse!"
http://www.pps.k12.pa.us/143110127104380/lib/
143110127104380/Director_School_Design-12012011.pdf

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Consultants eat up Pittsburgh schools' gift

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Consultants eat up Pittsburgh schools' gift

“Two years after Pittsburgh Public Schools received $40 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to increase teachers' effectiveness, the district has spent or allocated nearly a third of it on consultants and contractors, mainly from outside the state.
Administrators told board members that they need consultants to perform specialized work outside the expertise of district personnel.”
Can anyone document improved achievement or benefits for students as a result of the more than 13 MILLION reportedly spent here?

How was the remaining 37 MILLION spent? With what results for students, specifically?

Read more: Consultants eat up Pittsburgh schools' gift - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/education/s_769818.html#ixzz1fHIz3Zsa

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Courier article about school closings, etc.

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Another NEW POST:

Also please check today’s Pittsburgh Courier . . Board closes 7 schools

"On Nov. 22, the Pittsburgh Public School District Board of Directors approved a slew of plans aimed at reducing the district’s projected 2012 budget deficit of $21.7 million. Among them were the elimination of single-gendered classes at the Academy at Westinghouse and the sale of two school buil..."

“The ACLU wasn’t worried about Homewood until we put single gendered classes there. They were fine with letting those kids suffer for years and years and years,” Shealey said. “I actually heard that since the change in administration people are more confident with the school.”

http://www.newpittsburghcourieronline.com/index.phpoption=com_content&view=article&id=5953:board-closes-7-schools&catid=38:metro&Itemid=27

Editorial about Westinghouse

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Please check out today’s PG Editorial Page:
Beyond sugar and spice: Real school reform doesn’t rest on gender stereotypes by Susan Frietsche and Sara Rose.

http://m.post-gazette.com/opinion/perspectives/beyond-sugar-and-spice-1193362
From the eid

"Westinghouse needs to change, and innovation and improvement can't stop just because this one aspect of the reform program at Westinghouse has failed the test.

The children have had enough false promises. Fortunately, the focus can now return to real reform ---"

Concerning the actions of PPS, not only does the whole scenario at Westinghouse get curiouser and curiouser, but more and more disingenuous, egregious, and unconscionable as it pertains to the education of Westinghouse students.

Perhaps WAA can find out what the PPS agenda really is at Westinghouse. What are the plans? Is PPS turning it over to the Homewood Children's Village?

Dear Heaven, help us find a viable solution for these students, poste haste!!! (PPS and HCV do not have the where-with-all to provide a solution.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

NY principals revolt

On another post West End Mom wrote:

Looks elsewhere some educators are standing tall, dare I say "rising":

"Angry" New York Principals Protesting RTTT Teacher Evaluations.
Characterizing principal "revolts" as exceedingly rare, the New York Times (11/28, Winerip, Subscription Publication) reports that "President Obama and his signature education program, Race to the Top, along with John B. King Jr., the New York State commissioner of education, deserve credit for spurring what is believed to be the first principals' revolt in history. As of last night, 658 principals around the state had signed a letter - 488 of them from Long Island, where the insurrection began - protesting the use of students' test scores to evaluate teachers' and principals' performance." The Times describes the principals' opposition to the concept and implementation of the evaluations, adding, "It is hard to overstate how angry the principals who signed are."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Citations as way to maintain order

This week's televised public hearing included an attempt by Mark Brentley to discuss citations being issued at one of the district schools. He held up a stack of citations from the local magistrate issued to students for disorderly conduct. Even though he was not mentioning any student names the discussion was quickly squelched and his microphone cut off. The question is, are citations an acceptable way to deal with discipline problems? Are they an effective way to deal with discipline problems? If PPS is paying for CEP, why are students being cited rather than referred to CEP?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Westinghouse article in City Paper

Link:

http://www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A103401

Superintendent's performance priorities

From the PG:

"the board Tuesday night adopted the "performance priorities" of Superintendent Linda Lane, which include the "restart" of Pittsburgh Westinghouse in Homewood in 2012-13. Westinghouse reopened this fall as a 6-12 school offering single-gender classes, but, after a disorganized start and threatened legal action from the American Civil Liberties Union, the board Wednesday agreed to discontinue the single-gender classes by February.

Ms. Lane also is charged with developing a plan by April to decrease racial disparities in the district....

Ms. Lane's performance goals also include improving support for principals, ensuring the budget that provides enough money for a reserve, continuing programs aimed at improving teacher quality, showing progress on state tests, working on high school reform and re-evaluating and refining the career and technology education plan."


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11327/1192006-298.stm#ixzz1eVbux7jO

Board votes as expected

From the Tribune:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_768705.html

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Site based budgeting

On another post Anonymous wrote:


address anon 3:18 and all
About budget cuts- maybe new topic-
Since we have had "site based" management by principals, they have the ability to decide which subjects your children have- particularly in the elementary schools. I have never been seen as a defender of this board BUT- 9 schools had NO librarians. For some areas- Lincoln/ Lemington comes to mind-- that means that a student will not SEE a librarian until they start high school. Sure one day a week is wrong- but so is no access in 9 schools to library resources guided by a librarian. Other districts do not decide that some schools get this, and some dont. Another inequity-- book budgets- site based brought us principals deciding how much money goeds to new books in the library. Some got thousands a year; some as low as 25.00. Schools are different, and they have different numbers of students, staff etc. But, there should be a base throughout the district, both as far as staff and a basic book collection. Principals shouldnt be able to decide that wow, scores are low- no art or music for here. It is just equity that is necessary for a public school system.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Feeder pattern changes

On another post Anonymous wrote:

School feeder changes create complications
Monday, November 21, 2011 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

BEWARE! BE INFORMED!

Read more: http://www.postgazette.com/pg/11325/1191484-53-0.stm#ixzz1eM4XTUe5

Comment by Cate Reed:
"Ultimately, the two schools are a lot closer together than ideally we would like them to be. We can't move a building."

REALLY?!

I wonder how many parents are aware of the changes; or will the realization dawn only when children are again switched to other schools.

Too late! The time to coalesce, to testify, to voice your opinions is now, today at the public hearing.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11325/1191484-53-0.stm#ixzz1eM4LSisw

Friday, November 18, 2011

Football championship

On another post Mark Rauterkus wrote:

"New post....

Saturday, 1 pm, football championship game. South Side Cupples Stadium

Allderdice vs USO (UPrep, SciTech, Obama)

Plenty of good seats still available at the gate.
City League Championship Football Game, Allderdice vs. USO.

Saturday's PPS / City League Championship football game, 1 pm at Cupples on South Side, has a special pre game tailgate for All the grads and alumni of Uprep, SciTech and Pgh Obama. Every one of them already have advanced tickets. It was nice of the Dice coaches to chip in and cover the cost of beverages for the tailgate for these grads. It is a closed party, but look for them on the bridge and behind their parked flying carpets.

Schenley and Allderdice grads, do not go to the above mentioned party. Yinz do get to go to the game, of course. Be there. Cheer."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2012 PPS Budget has large operating deficit

From the PG, a $21.7M operating deficit is to cme out of the fund balance:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11320/1190432-100.stm

The PPS fund balance will then be at $42M according to the article. That would be enough to cover a $21M deficit for each of the 2 years remaining on the superintendent's contract, but would leave major problems for the next superintendent. It will be interesting to see if our school board raises any concerns about a budget with such a large deficit.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Plus Schools Report to the Community

Link:

http://www.aplusschools.org/eq_reports_11.shtml

Former Westinghouse coach under investigation

From WPXI:

http://www.wpxi.com/news/29777936/detail.html

"Weiss said days after receiving the complaints he forwarded them to the school police, but never heard back from them on the outcome of the investigation.

Jennings reported that sources inside of the school district said police were ordered by then superintendent Mark Roosevelt to turn the investigation over to the district's human relations department."

- Huh?

Superintendent/ health condition

Tribune is reporting that Dr. Lane has a "manageable health condition" not affecting her ability to lead the district:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_767444.html

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cuts at CAPA proposed

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11318/1189827-298-4.stm

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Graduate Pittsburgh" initiative

On another thread Mark Rauterkus wrote:

Today's (Thur) event at Hozana House @ dropouts.

http://www.urbanmediatoday.com/Taking-Action-to-Address-the-Local-High-School-Dropout-Crisis/

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Brentley requests Superintendent's resignation

From the New Courier:

http://www.newpittsburghcourieronline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5759:brentley-asks-lane-to-resign-school-board-faces-tough-choices&catid=38:metro&Itemid=27

Approach college carefully

Courier article about advice from the former director of NEED:

“Only about 28 percent of the African-American males who enter college are college ready... I really support college, if you know the career you’re going into and that a job is going to be there"

but

"more students should be looking into the benefits of career and technical education as a means of finding employment more quickly and without the burden of college loan debt."


http://www.newpittsburghcourieronline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5654:reid-cautions-students-against-college&catid=38:metro&Itemid=27

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXXI (June 2009)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 31, June 2009

June 24, 2009: With enrollment continuing to decline, the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration was determined to not let something as simple as supply and demand for school administrators stand in the way of the venture philanthropist agenda for the PELA pipeline.

The Board enters “into a contract with the Coro Center for Civic Leadership as part of year 3 of Pittsburgh's Emerging Leadership Academy...Coro is dedicated to providing unique, experience-based programming to cohort 3 in order to enhance the PELA residents' team building and facilitating capabilities, as well as to further develop their role as cultural builders and community leaders (collective results).”

Who can stop at just one PELA contract?

The Board also enters into a contract with Dr. Judy Johnston “as part of year 3 of Pittsburgh's Emerging Leadership Academy....to provide up to 50 days of training for Pittsburgh's
Emerging Leadership Academy Cohort 3 2009-2010. Dr. Johnston will provide no less than 50 days of onsite supervision, evaluation and training to the PELA residents from July 2009 through June 2010. Dr. Johnston will work with PELA residents on program competencies at their assigned school specifically around effective teacher observation and conferring skills, learning walk protocol, and effective and coherent professional development. Dr. Johnson will confer monthly with Dr. Jerri Lynn Lippert and the Lead Principal, Kellie Abbott on PELA resident needs to inform the professional development training component of the program. Dr. Johnston will be supervised by PELA program director Dr. Jerri Lynn Lippert. Dr. Johnston has been selected as a trainer due to her expertise in learning theory and curriculum, successful national urban principal training through the Institute for Learning, and demonstrated expertise in training Pittsburgh principals through the Leadership Academy. Through Year 1 and 2 PELA program evaluations, Dr. Johnston's work is invaluable to the development of instructional leadership.”

But why stop there?

The Board enters “into a contract with International Center for Leadership in Education as part of year 3 of Pittsburgh's Emerging Leadership Academy....to provide training to the emerging leaders in Cohort 3 2009-2010 of Pittsburgh's Emerging Leadership Academy....Managing change at the building level is one of the most crucial, and challenging, aspects of school administration. Building administrators must be prepared to serve as instructional leaders while creating a culture focused on preparing students for the world in which they will live and work.”

Clearly sensing an urgent need to create more school administrators at the same time the Facilities study's demographic data was making clear that we would have fewer children to educate in fewer schools, Mr. Roosevelt also recommends a $165,540 contract for PELA with the Duquesne University School of Education, with the agenda item proclaiming that “The partnership between DU and PELA will yield a true academy for aspiring school leaders driven by research on real problems in urban schools and developing urban school leaders who are research practitioners.”

And yet with large, no-bid professional services contracts to be handed out, what month would be complete without the Institute for Learning? For $541,000, the Board authorizes “a contract with Institute for Learning...to support a fourth and final year of support to complete the development of a rigorous core curriculum.”

Pay for Performance takes a step forward with the Board approving the School Administrator Evaluation Rubric and corresponding Achievement Bonus Formula.

The financial statements again warn that “Significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs.”

Both Mr. Brentley and Mr. Taylor take note, voicing strong concerns over the PELA program, given the array of already available, experienced and certificated professionals in the district."

Congratulations Regina, Congratulations Mark

Strong effort by Lisa with many important points raised.

Conflict at U Prep

From a reliable source there was a large fight at U Prep last week involving girls from the Hill v. girls from E Liberty. Is enough being done to adress neighborhood conflicts?

Up to 300 teacher positions may be cut

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11312/1188305-53.stm

District committee recommends rejecting Schenley bid; makes recommendations on other bids

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11312/1188317-53.stm?cmpid=relatedarticle

The article refers to a "district committee" and an "evaluation team". Is this the committee that Ira Weiss's office asked some individuals to join in late September? Was the formation of this committee ever announced and if not, why not?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Eliminating single gender

Word is that single gender will be eliminated at Westinghouse in February. Legal action by the ACLU and Women's Law Project is part of the reason. Also contributing most likely was that the arrangement was not very popular and was not working out as hoped. Probably also made scheduling more difficult.

Principal bonuses

On another post Anonymous wrote:


"The Sky Is falling! Bonuses anyone? Over 1/3 million forked over last week alone. This is how PPS rolls...
http://m.post-gazette.com/news/education/67-
city-school-principals-
awarded-bonuses-1188089?p=0"

Sunday, November 6, 2011

High portion of students lacking basic skills

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Let’s cite additional evidence (a PSSA skill). Today’s PG under”Business” not “Education.” Let’s hope Eleanor Chute and ‘others’ here take note. Please read the entire article. This is only an excerpt to make the point:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11310/1187592-28-0.stm

“Unfortunately, a high school diploma in the Pittsburgh region doesn't necessarily mean that a student has the basic skills employers expect from a high school education. Pennsylvania State System of School Assessment test scores for 2011 show that more than 37 percent of our 11th-graders can't do math properly, and 26 percent can't read adequately. That means that southwestern Pennsylvania schools are sending more than 9,000 young people into the workforce every year without the minimum skills they need to get a job, much less go to college.
It's not just the high schools that are failing. The problem starts all the way back in elementary school. Nearly 30 percent of the fifth-graders in the region can't read at grade level, and more than 20 percent aren't proficient in math.
No business could survive if one-third of its products were defective, and our region can't be competitive in the global marketplace if one-third of our workforce lacks basic skills.
If you think the state tests may be too tough, think again. The National Assessment of Education Progress has found that Pennsylvania's standard for "proficiency" is only equivalent to what NAEP calls "basic" skills. Under the NAEP standard for proficiency, fewer than 50 percent of the elementary school students in our region would be considered proficient in either reading or math.
You might think that your own local school district is doing well because it proudly told the community it is meeting state standards for "adequate yearly progress," or "AYP." But a school can be classified as making "adequate yearly progress" even if one-third of its students are not proficient in math and one-fourth are not proficient in reading.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11310/1187592-28-0.stm#ixzz1cxIEJvyH

Perhaps this is worthy of a new POST>

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Westinghouse a study in disorganization"

From the PG:

http://m.post-gazette.com/local/neighborhoods-city/westinghouse-high-a-study-in-disorganization-1187818?p=0

Parent engagement positions

Word is that PPS will close parent engagement positions and give a teacher a stipend to work 44 minutes per week to hold PSCC meetings.

High number of adminstrators in PPS

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"New post:
The Trib. has an article today about declining enrollment and the glut of administrators in PPS.
The two Westinghouse principals put on PAID leave are PELA grads."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Letter to editor re: Mark Brentley often challenging admin

From the PG "Be thankful for Brentley":

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11308/1187300-110.stm

What's up with Sci Tech enrollment?

As of October 1 enrollment in Sci Tech grade 11 (so far the school has grades 6-11) was 71 students. This is significantly below the 100 student enrollment for this grade when Sci Tech opened. Since new students are not accepted beyond grade 10, and some students will most likely move or change schools, the number graduating will most likely be lower than 71.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Board president Hazuda/ taxes

On another post Cindy wrote:

"http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11307/1187164-298-0.stm

Board Pres. Hazuda defends her evasion of school tax payments and destruction of the school district by accusing city teacher Lisa Jones of being a "disgruntled employee" because of "drastic changes". WOW.

Hazuda also complains yet again about her income. Hazuda would not have her cushy job at Biotronics if she wasn't the puppet she has become.

Isn't it odd that Hazuda got a job with UPMC as soon as she was elected to the school board. Then she voted to protect UPMC from potential future taxes. Hazuda now works for Biotronics which seems to almost exclusively contract with UPMC. She is a "contract specialist". (and still can't pay her taxes in a timely manner.)"

Westinghouse administration

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"new post please--- Wstinghouse change of admin? Any comments or info?

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/breaking/s_765368.html"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXX (May 2009)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 30, May 2009

May 27, 2009: The Board approves a $132,000 contract “with Focus on Results to coordinate the training and development of the Superintendent's Cabinet on building a high performance culture to support the realization of the District's goals. This work is part of a District-wide plan to develop Human Capital at all levels. The Superintendent's Cabinet engages in training, receives critical feedback and engages in activities to increase team work performance. In
addition to this work, FOR works with the administrative team providing coaching, conducting school visits, increasing the inter-rater reliability of the principal evaluation process, facilitating the retreat goal setting for the year and following up with the staff on progress toward goal attainment and the relationship with school achievement results.”

Nobody seems to notice that the scope of work frankly is exactly the task of a commissioned officer per the PA school code (superintendents, assistant superintendents).

The Board approves a contract with Mary Ann Brown "To do an audit of the District web site conducted by the design firm of Mizrahi Design Associates, Inc. earlier this year, who recommended significant changes to the site in order to support audience needs and make the site easier to use....Services to be provided by Ms. Brown include, but are not limited to, developing copy for additional pages required by the new site structure and editing existing pages to conform to site standards.”

Good heavens, consultants auditing the work of consultants.

The Board authorizes “(1) student tutor, Franco Colaizzi to work with children during the nineteen (19) days of summer school at Pittsburgh Phillips K-5. The student tutors will support struggling students in reading and math instruction during the three (3) hour morning session and will support the work done in partnership with CitiParks, Mercy Behavioral Health, The Brashear Association, R.I.F. Pittsburgh and Riverset Credit Union during the three (3) hour afternoon session.”

Enough said.

Central Office explansion continues as the Board hires Lauren Meehan as “Program Coordinator, Stimulus Funds Utilization, Office of Strategic Initiatives.” Anita Ravi, fresh off of her connections with the Institute for Learning, is hired as the Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator.

This really is a trademark of the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration, with every new task not replacing some other, less important task for an existing employee, rather creating an opportunity to hire another Central Office true believer.

The financial statements again warn that “Significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs.” Mr. Brentley again seems to get it, noting that “I'm concerned about the administration's spending.”

Randall Taylor objects to the continuation of the Focus on Results contract: “The other one I wanted to ask about is No. 27, Focus on Results....Didn't we have a similar contact....it's difficult for me, and I hope that, Mr. Roosevelt, you know what contract I'm referring to that we did have someone who was supposed to come in and they are supposed to look at various departments. I mean, did we not have some group that was also playing a similar role as far as...”

At which point, Mark Roosevelt, either oblivious that FOR was doing work that is his or truly showing that he didn't care, cuts Taylor off: “This is the group that has been operating in this capacity for us....it represents a continuation of that work, so I'm sorry. I don't know exactly what you're referring to, but I think you're referring to Focus on Results who have been playing this role with us for a number of years now.” "

Pittsburgh would be affected if voucher bill passes

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Notice that Pittsburgh is among the six “worst-performing schools districts” in the state who will be eligible for vouchers under the new bill.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — "The state Senate could vote as early as Wednesday on a bill that is designed to meet Gov. Tom Corbett's desire to overhaul Pennsylvania's public schools by helping thousands more of those students afford private and parochial school tuition with taxpayer help and making it easier to open charter schools."

“Under the new bill, vouchers would be limited to children in the worst-performing school districts, but income limits would be higher. “

“The bill likely would make thousands of public school children, primarily from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Reading, Chester and Allentown, eligible for a taxpayer-paid voucher that would help them pay for the tuition to a private or parochial school that chooses to participate in the program.”

Read more: Pa. Senate could vote tomorrow on education plan - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/education/s_763751.html#ixzz1cGaN8r60"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Superintendent refuses pay raise

From the Tribune:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_764495.html

Tribune article on school board candidates

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/election/s_764458.html

Friday, October 28, 2011

Special ed student to teacher ratio

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Can you please start this as a new topic?
Can someone please explain the districts plan to change the special education teacher to student ratio? From what I understand the district wants the union to open there contract and increase their caseload to 25, if they refuse the district will make the ratio 50:1."

Board meeting not broadcast this week

The weeks when the Board meeting are not broadcast are often the meetings people may be most interested in seeing. For example, Wednesday's meeting came right after a heavily attended public hearing, and included the vote for a raise for the superintendent.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Clayton student arrested for stabbing teacher

http://www.wpxi.com/news/29605251/detail.html

PPS enrollment total and by school

Link to PG chart:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/pdf/201110/20111027pgh_school_enrollment.pdf?cmpid=relatedarticle

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Action United alert on vouchers

From Action United:

"URGENT UPDATE


TUITION VOUCHER HEADING TO FLOOR VOTE

MORE ACTION NEEDED
THIS MORNING SB 1 WAS VOTED OUT OF COMMITTEE AND IS HEADING TO A FLOOR VOTE

WHAT IS HAPPENING…
A fast committee vote this morning has sent SB 1 to the whole Senate for a vote. It could come as early as today or tomorrow.
CALL YOUR SENATOR NOW AND TELL HIM TO VOTE NO!


This bill is a bait and switch for poor people.

Sure, it SOUNDS good, but it WONT give most of us real school choice, it will just take money out of our schools without any promise of a better education for our kids.



Time is tight! CALL IMMEDIATELY!



Call your Senator and urge them to oppose Senate Bill 1.




FIND YOUR SENATOR HERE


If it passes the Senate it will go to the House. Find your State Representative here and give them a call too.



TALKING POINTS
Vouchers are a budget, education, accountability and constitutional issue.
COST:

As PA School funding is slashed, how can we take even more money from public schools least able to afford it and give it to private schools?
And, with the state budget in such dire condition, how can we justify transferring state revenues from public into private entities?
Any voucher bill will cost taxpayers and school districts millions in funding that neither have available, while, at the same time, districts across the state, especially those with students who will be eligible to receive vouchers, are making deep cuts into instructional programs for students.
EDUCATION IMPROVEMENT:

Since only a small percentage of eligible students would use the vouchers to attend a private school, what happens to the overwhelming majority of students who continue to attend underfunded, under performing schools?
These bills do nothing to improve educational opportunities for the students who remain in these schools. In fact, these bills harm their educational opportunities because the schools will have fewer resources with which to provide educational services to the students.
ACADEMIC ACCOUNTABILITY:

How will private schools be held accountable for use of public funds?
Will these schools be required to administer the state assessments?
Since schools accepting voucher students would not have to administer the same assessments as administered in public schools, parents would not be able to compare the performance of their public school to that of the private school.
To make well informed decisions, parents need comparable data. Private schools accepting voucher students should be required to administer the same state assessments as administered to public schools.
FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY:

Will the money provided through vouchers be audited? Taxpayer dollars should be spent transparently and those spending that money should be held accountable. No Voucher bill so far has required any independent annual audit of how private schools spend public money.
CONSTITUTIONALITY:

The Pennsylvania Constitution is clear that funds appropriated for use by public schools shall NOT be used for the support of any sectarian school, even if funds appropriated from the Commonwealth’s General Fund budget and provided to parents in the form of a voucher were based on the amount that the student’s resident school district would have received from the Commonwealth had the student continued to attend public school. While some may argue that PHEAA provides funds to students to attend a sectarian college or university, the Constitutional provision addresses public schools (K-12), not colleges and universities.
PLEASE MAKE YOUR CALLS TODAY!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

School district in Oregon turns down grant for performance pay experiment

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"A school district with integrity:

Oregon City School District walks away from $2.54 million grant for performance pay

http://www.oregonlive.com/oregon-city/index.ssf/2011/10/oregon_city_school_district_wa.html"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Single gender education recent research

On another post Anonymous wrote:

“Single-sex education fails to produce academic benefits and inflates gender stereotyping.”

Room for Debate- A Runni#46A0CF
Single-Sex Schools: Separate but Equal

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/10/17/single-sex-schools-separate-but-equal?ref=education

“Additionally, based on voluminous research of the negative effects of separating people into groups, we warned that single-sex classrooms would likely generate and exacerbate stereotyping and sexist attitudes. Rather than promoting gender segregation, public schools should be striving to teach a diverse body of students to work together and to respect each other.”

“For nearly a decade, proponents of single-sex schooling have argued that boys and girls differ so fundamentally in brain functioning, sensory abilities, interests, stress responsiveness and more that they cannot be taught effectively in the same classrooms. However, scientific data do not support these claims, and, indeed, many single-sex advocates have recently backed away from them. Nonetheless, such advocates have already trained hundreds of teachers (often at taxpayer expense) in mythic “gender-specific learning styles” that make a mockery of Title IX’s requirement to eliminate sex discrimination in schools.”

60+ expected to speak at public hearing tomorrow

At least 60 people are expected to speak at tomorrow's public hearing at 6:00 tomorrow, Monday, 341 Bellefied.

Topics to be addressed include:

- The proposed merger of Perry and Oliver
- The name to be selected for Westinghouse High School
- The proposed sale of district property including Schenley and Reizenstein

To sign up to speak, call PPS at 412 622-3600 BEFORE 12:00 NOON ON MONDAY.

If all of those who have signed up attend the hearing may last several hours, but those with later numbers just need to arrive by the time their number is called (so if you are number 60, you do not need to be on the premises at 6:00). Also, if a speaker is not present when his/her number is called, it is the usually practice for those people to be called again at the end of the list.

How we got where we are Part XXIX (April 2009)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 29, April 2009

April 29, 2009: PPS takes important steps toward becoming the unsustainable morass of programming that now finds Dr. Lane throwing bucket after bucket of water out of the boat to keep it floating.

The Board accepts “the submission of an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for $16,269,290...for the Title I funding portion of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act....provides supplemental funds to support District and School activities for improving student achievement, increasing parent involvement and providing professional development to administrators and teachers....In order to address an area of need, stimulus funding will be focused around a literacy summer program for middle school grades.”

Just to be perfectly clear, almost to a person anyone internal with any academic or business management credentials objects to Mr. Roosevelt's plan to use the one-time stimulus funds for summer camps.

The Board enters into “a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation to support the development of a Proposal that could ultimately form the basis for a multi-year investment and extensive partnership between the Foundation and the District.”

If someone offers you $40 million in seed money to finance programs that ultimately will require ongoing, annual investment of more than $20 million that you do not have – and in the face of a 10 year forecast you were shown in dramatic fashion (PSERS, health care, et al) - maybe this isn't such a bargain?

Short-term thinking from Bellefield's 1st floor is sharply contrasted with that of its Finance team, who have the Board “authorize to arrange for prepayment of principal on the 2001 variable rate bond issue, total amount of prepayment not to exceed $650,000.” In other words, if short-term investment rates are less than the all-in interest rate on the variable debt, pay it early and capture the difference as savings.

The Board amends the Acceptable Use of Technology policy. To this day, key provisions of the policy are routinely ignored by Chief Technology Officer Mark Campbell, who has been exposed on this blog for repeatedly committing acts of plagiarism, but hey, he has a Boston connection, so why enforce the policy? “Illegal use of the network; intentional deletion/manipulation or damage to files or data belonging to others; copyright violations or theft of services and/or identity will be reported to the appropriate legal authorities for possible prosecution.”

The Easter season would not be complete without a basket of goods from the Office of the Chief of Staff. The Board authorizes “its proper officers to enter into a contract with The Karol
Company...to produce Pathways to Promise collateral that will be made available to parents as a part of the Welcome Back-to-School materials....The Karol Company will do the following: (1) interview 10 to 12 key staff to gain a clear understanding of each key milestone (2) develop copy describing Pathways to Promise (3) develop copy for inserts in the Welcome Back-to-School materials including the District-wide calendar.” All yours for “$250,000 from the Fund for Excellence to implement our Pathways to the Promise Communications Plan....to support key materials that must be written, designed, printed and delivered to various stakeholder groups.”

The general contract for work at Reizenstein to split the school into two so that the last two classes of Schenley could graduation as a distinct school is awarded for $1.149 million.

A project coordinator (Broad connection) and three project managers are hired for the Office of Strategic Initiatives. The Board also approves an Achievement Bonus system “for Assistant Superintendents, Deputy Superintendent, and Chief of Research, Assessment and Accountability.” The bar is not set high.

The financial statements again warn that “significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs.” "

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why do they talk around the specifics at a public meeting

The agenda review now being broadcast contains a discussion about a contract the district will be awarding for yet another consultant, this time on the budget. The superintendent in discussing this recommendation takes pains to talk around and avoid mentioning the name of the consultant and the amount or other specifics of the contract. Further, nothing is said about accountability on the part of the consultant for performance, and again the Board raises no concerns about accountability.

Budget cuts expected to affect PPS class sizes and offerings

From the PG, in addition to school closings and changes in feeder patterns

"... a school that offers two geometry classes of 14 students would offer a single class of 28 students. The plan would also combine various levels of similar class electives, consolidate levels of core classes in high schools and offer semester-long -- instead of yearlong -- electives, if enough students express interest."


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11294/1183745-53.stm#ixzz1bPWp3j8c

This article about serious cuts in the budget and courses is vaguely headed "School board mulls tips to revamp education."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Competing reform agendas

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Check out the compelling Commentary in Education Week (Oct 19, 2011) back page:

“Two Education Reform Agendas: One Leads to Success Across the Globe, the other to the U.S. System” by Marc Tucker (President at NCEE).

Quotes from the article:

“We cannot fire our way to a world-class teaching force.”

“Our organization, the National Center on Education and the Economy has researched the education systems of the top-performing nations for more than 20 years to find out how they do it. It turns out the explanation is pretty straightforward."

"First, most of these top-10 nations put more money behind their hardest-to-educate students than those who are easier to educate. Second, most have developed world-class academic standards for their students, a curriculum to match the standards, and high-quality examinations (not multiple choice tests) and instructional materials based on that curriculum. And teachers are prepared to teach the required curriculum, though they are treated like professionals and therefore often have considerable discretion in their practice.”

“And while we (U.S.) have a teacher quality agenda, it is pointed in a direction and based on a set of principles that are nearly antithetical to those pursued by our competitors.” "

PPS to address underenrollment

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11293/1183471-298.stm

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

PSSA school level results

Results for schools, broken down by grade level for math, reading, etc. and then by subgroups (male/ female, etc) are available from the State at:

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/school_assessments/7442

Go to the Allegheny County section, the Pittsburgh Public Schools, then the relevant school.

Hand picked committees

Those who followed the facilties study, the IB site selection committee, the Westinghouse naming committee and the East End panel will be familiar with a defensive process on by the district where committees are handpicked and formed without any sort of advance notice. By the time the committee is announced, membership is closed. Almost invariably the committees reach the result the district had decided on in advance (due to a strong alumni association, Westinghouse was an exception).

In the case of the Schenley sale, a hastily formed handpicked committee will not be sufficient. Requests for the committee were made for more than three years. The committee was to consider re-use broadly, not a particular sales proposal, and a couple of weeks would not be adequate for the process of gathering information, deliberating, and reaching a reasoned decision.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXVIII (March 2009)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"NEW POST

How we got where we are, part 28, March 2009

March 25, 2009: The America's Choice contract for Accelerated Learning Academies is extended by seven months at a cost of $614,000.

Randall Taylor objects to the continuation of the ALA model: “We received information that the Administration has wanted us to receive, but we have yet to be able to receive the questions that this particular Board member and I think members of the public have continued to ask and not receive answers to.”

The Board approves a $202,993 contract “with Blanc Printing Company for printing, assembly, design, editing and pre-production and mailing services for the 2009-10 welcome back-to-school materials.” Amendments are made to the code of student conduct, with Deputy Superintendent Lane urging approval so they could make the print production.

Contracts for plumbing ($218,000), mechanical ($182,540) and electrical work ($298,000) are awarded for Pittsburgh Schenley at Reizenstein. The $1,166,000 lowest bid for the general work is rejected, because it exceeds the district's variable cap for compliance with the eligible business enterprise policy.

Bids are awarded for “General, Asbestos Abatement, Plumbing, Mechanical and Electrical Work” at Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy in the amount of $10,399,470.

Multiple contracts for the Institute for Learning start bearing fruit as the Board approves “a travel waiver for Dr. Linda Lane, Deputy Superintendent, to travel for Professional Development to Chantilly,VA April 30 - May 2, 2009, for the Institute for Learning Retreat. This trip will result in 2 professional development days. The purpose of this trip is as a follow up to the February 2009 Superintendents and Intermediaries meeting and will focus on what it takes to make ALL students, college and workforce ready. The retreat includes Deputy Superintendents, Superintendents and Executive Directors from districts across the county working with IFL. This is an annual trip and expenses included as part of our contract with IFL cover mileage, accommodations, selected meals, and
registration only.”

A similar waiver is also granted for Dr. Jerri Lippert, Chief Academic Officer, “because of the importance of the ongoing partnership with the IFL.” Indeed.

The Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration continues central office expansion with the opening of a Project Coordinator and three Project Managers to plan for spending Stimulus Funding.

The financial statements remind the Board and administration that “Significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs”, “further efforts at efficiency and effectiveness are needed”, and “extreme diligence remains necessary throughout the 10-year projection, escalated further by projected PSERS employer contribution rate increases.”

Mark Brentley gets the message, stating that “I am one Board member who believes we should not immediately begin to spend, spend, spend.”

Taylor's comments about the agenda are again prophetic: “I don't have a lot of confidence in this Board sometimes to hear very common sense things.”

Despite the stern fiscal warnings, “the Board of Directors of the School District of
Pittsburgh authorize the proper officers of the Board to bring forward recommendations to enter into contracts for the grant writing required for a proposal to be submitted to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, not to exceed $75,000 and for the proposals for grants from stimulus funds (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), not to exceed $175,000.”

Fast forward to 2011 and the seeds of the local match necessary to support arguably unsustainable partnerships are beginning to blossom, all called for in the July 2009 Empowering Effective Teachers plan, including “building consolidation”, “teacher distribution” (increased student teacher ratios), and “operating efficiencies” (layoffs). See also pages 53-54 of the original PPS grant submission to the Gates Foundation."

Link to Reizenstein bid

http://www.pps.k12.pa.us/1431106208495983/lib/1431106208495983/Bids/Walnut-Capital-Bid-Reizenstein.pdf

Link to Schenley bid

http://www.pps.k12.pa.us/1431106208495983/lib/1431106208495983/Bids/PMC-Property-Group-Bid-Schenley.pdf

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Schenley/ so much for committees

When the Board voted to close Schenley in June 2008, it was on the condition that a community committee be formed to advise on reuse of the building. Over the next three years repeated requests were made to form the committee but all were ignored.

Now we are told that a sale is suddenly on the fast track, no community input needed. The Board (all but one of them) went along. Tribune article on this topic:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_760840.html

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Upcoming school board elections

From the "Start a new post":

"Elections Matter has left a new comment on your post "Start a new post/ search PURE Reform's blog":

This site has been very useful in identifying the many problems facing the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

But identifying the problem is just the first step. The second step, obviously, is to ACT to solve the problem.

On November 8, 2011 there will be elections in four PPS school districts.

The incumbents are marked with an (I).

District 2

Regina B. Holley, Democrat
Dara Ware Allen, Republican (I)

District 4

Bill Isler, Republican, Democrat(I)
no opposition

District 6

Sherry Hazuda, Democrat (I)
Lisa Jones, Republican

District 8

Mark A. Brentley, Sr., Republican, Democratic (I)
Rosemary Moriarty, Moriarty-Independent

If you are satisfied with the direction the district is taking, vote for the incumbents.

But if you are serious about wanting change, please contact Ms. Holley and Ms. Jones and offer to help!

These two ladies need help; people to help get the word out and to man the polling places on election day.

http://www.voteholley.com/

http://lisajones4schoolboard.blogspot.com/

Even though Mr. Brentley is an incumbent, he is a true outsider with the same reform views as Ms. Holley and Ms. Jones.

As the old saying goes, talk is cheap. Please do more than just talk about PPS problems!

Please consider contacting Ms. Holley, Ms. Jones, and Mr. Brentley. Offer to help! That's the only way things will change.

Moderator: I am a district employee and not affiliated with any of these candidates. Please make this a new post."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Report about limits of education reform

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Nice editiorial in the Chicago Tribune taking some of the glitter off of Arne Duncan's Chicago "reforms."

I wonder how long it will take the Post-Gazette to wake up from their slumber to begin to question the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration. Perhaps they are waiting for enrollment to dip all the way down to or past the "unmanaged outcome" McKinsey project pre-Promise (good luck finding the original reports on line - the closer reality gets to the "unmanaged outcome" the more the source documents are disappearing).

Happy reading:

Chicago Tribune: Report Shows Limits Of Education Reform.
A Chicago Tribune (10/10) editorial headlined "No Miracles" describes the "cutting-edge school reform" efforts that Chicago has seen in recent decades, noting that "Paul Vallas ended social promotion and championed high-stakes standardized tests to hold schools accountable. His successor, Arne Duncan, shuttered failing schools and boldly vowed to create 100 new schools in a decade." The piece asks whether such reforms have borne fruit, and cites the recent University of Chicago report on the city's education progress to argue that the reforms have not worked "as smashingly as you might think." The Tribune suggests that the lesson from the report is that there are no cure-all policies for the city's schools, and concludes that instead of "miracles," the city's students need "talented teachers, talented leaders, and a sense of urgency from everyone who is charged with the noble job of educating them." "

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ailing infrastructure

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11275/1178859-28-0.stm

The article explains that the federal government will not solve our serious infrastructure problems and that the state will not solve them.

If a nonprofit is making a contribution in lieu of taxes, infrastructure may well be a better and fairer investment than something like a scholarship program.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Enrollment

On a "Start a new post" Anonymous wrote:

"Enrollment
It has been mentioned that at the end of September, families could opt out of Westinghouse and that admin intended to make it such a positive experience that this wouldnt happen.
Also the end of September was traditionally in PPS a time when staff adjustments were made. Sometimes new classes had to open- a bulge in enrollment at a grade level etc vs very small classes at some schools at individual grade levels.
No enrollments are on-line. Not the old or the new for Sept."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Loaded gun found at Clayton

From WPXI:

http://www.wpxi.com/news/29410376/detail.html

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Montessori/ Fort Pitt

From another post:

"They also proposed moving Montessori out of Friendship and into Fort Pitt which was said to be larger and more able to serve the waiting list at Montessori currently.

October 5, 2011 12:11 PM


Questioner said...
Continued obliviousness to the importance of location, neighborhoods, connections... it cannot be assumed that the young families in a reviving neighborhood drawn to a school they can walk to will be just as happy to go to Fort Pitt. Way to quash the comeback!

October 5, 2011 1:08 PM


Anonymous said...
Fort Pitt had substantial improvement in PSSA, much greater than in most other schools. The teason given for "closing" Fort Pitt was that there were only about 150 students there. Clearly the drop in enrollment over the past few years was due to the demolition of the Garfield Hgts Projects. That area and beyond has been newly developed with literally hundreds of new homes with more in the development process. These hundreds of homes (with children) are being quickly inhabited. The closing of Fort Pitt means that Garfield children will be sent to Arsenal as the feeder school. Arsenal is much too long and hazardous walk for K-5 children. Will they be bussed?

Will all of the children in the new Garfield Heights Common homes be bussed when Fort Pitt is just within several hundred yards of where they live?

Since Fort Pitt is designated as "closed" and children have been assigned elsewhere WHY did the conversation by Cate Reed & Company SUDDENLY turn to moving Montessori from Friendship to Fort Pitt at last night's meeting (10/4/11)? Just asking???

October 5, 2011 1:25 PM"

Close both Oliver and Perry?

On a "Start a new post" Mark Rauterkus said:

"Radio news on KDKA on WED says one PPS consideration is to close both Perry and Oliver on the North Side and build a new school.

Say what?"

How we got where we are Part XXVII (February 2009)

On a "Start a new post" Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 27, February 2009

February 24, 2009: What says love more than another contract for the Institute for Learning?

The Board accepts “a grant award from The Fund for Excellence in Pittsburgh Public Schools in the amount of $511,000...Funds will support the following costs for a contract with the Institute for Learning to complete current curriculum work:

1. Math 6-12 Intended curriculum revisions and 60% on-site support: $156,000
2. English Language Arts Continued revisions to core curricula: $100,000
3. Science: Development of K-5 curriculum and revisions to 6-12: $55,000
4. Disciplinary Literacy Course: Copyright cost and district curriculum writer training: $200,000.”

I hate to point out the obvious, but if the reform agenda was really about empowering effective teachers, why not deploy the PFT's finest to accomplish the task?

Central office expansion continues through a series of three grants totaling $336,000 from the Fund for Excellence to support “three curriculum specialists - 1 Mathematics, 1 English/Language Arts, 1 Social Studies.”

Other Fund for Excellence grants would pay the first year costs of an additional curriculum coach for ALAs and another curriculum coordinator for CTE.

Dr. Paula Bevan also celebrated Valentine's Day 2009, thanks to “a grant award from The Fund for Excellence in Pittsburgh Public Schools in the amount of $112,700. Funds are awarded to support the design, training, and implementation of a new system of teacher evaluation supporting professional growth-a system consisting of an improved process and tools for evaluation (including observing and conferring), and the necessary professional development and support for the new system's implementation. This work is aligned with Excellence for All's emphasis on accountability for results.”

The district's fascination with Courageous Conversations would start with a “grant award from Fund for Excellence in the amount of $150,000. Funds are requested to support the costs of consultants and training from The Consortium on Racial Equity in K-12 Education, a partnership between Pacific Educational Group, Inc., and West Wind Education Policy, Inc.”

I guess if PPS were serious about Courageous Conversations around race, maybe a good starting point would be listening to and understanding the community frustration and anger evident in the repeated questions and commentaries from Board Member Mark Brentley.

For that matter (and fast forward to 2011), if PPS were really serious about Courageous Conversations around race, it might actually ask the President of the Westinghouse Alumni Association to sit on the committee charged with formulating a naming recommendation for the new combined Westinghouse?

The Board approves the recommendations of the Commonwealth's Common Cents study, a key piece of which was for PPS to serve as a regional bidding hub for copiers (about as far away as you can get philosophically from current good old boy approach of spending 3X more through a negotiated process).

Letters of intent and due diligence periods for the sale of Connelley and Washington are approved.

Bids for Concord totaling $14.7 million are awarded, as are contracts equaling $8.2 million for Milliones.

Broad Residents are transferred to the Office of Strategic Initiatives as Project Managers.

The academic leadership team (six individuals reporting to Deputy Superintendent Lane) is reclassified from Executive Directors to Assistant Superintendents and/or Chief Academic Officer, which grants them specific rights under the Public School Code, along with a personal services contract.

Along with the Chief of Research, Deputy Superintendent and Superintendent, the newly titled Assistant Superintendents/Chief Academic Officer all become eligible for bonuses."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Support Westinghouse's history and name tomorrow 10/5 at 4:00

Wednesday October 5 4:00 Westinghouse room 121

Under consideration by PPS administration is a name change for Westinghouse High School. The Westinghouse Alumni Association encourages those interested in retaining the Westinghouse name to attend.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Langley players attack coach

Langley Football Coach attacked by a Langly player, then jumped by several other players after loss to Perry Friday night. The game was attended by Dr Lane & her husband. This was not reported by the media. This happens WPIAL

October 1, 2011 7:02 PM


Anonymous said...
Does anyone have video posted on youtube?

October 1, 2011 8:57 PM


October 2, 2011 7:13 AM


Anonymous said...
Gee, beat up the coach cause the team loses-- sounds alot like-- booing teachers cause the scores are down-- is this the culture WE are creating-- cant blame the parents this time -- this is OUR school climate-- I'm just sayin'

October 2, 2011 9:08 AM


Anonymous said...
I'm just sayin',

I hope that you are not blaming teachers for the "blame everyone else for my failures" climate!? It was administration, not the teachers, that asked the students to 'boo' the teachers who 'failed them.' Administration and Union Leadership have created this negative, blame everyone else climate. Now, the anger is escalating to violence. Shame on Lane for allowing this to happen. I hope that she takes steps to truly discipline the players involved in the act of beating up the coach. If not, we need to demand that she step down!!!

We need leadership that teaches those who fail to look inward and reflect upon their behavior and actions to make changes to succeed. The administration, board, and students need to be RISEN. LOL!

October 2, 2011 10:11 AM


Anonymous said...
The players are off the team and suspended. They should be expelled for this type of behavior, I hope that coach files charges.

This incident should have it own post, this happened

October 2, 2011 11:06 AM

Roosevelt at Antioch

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11275/1179215-298.stm

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Other school districts cutting back on costly PR

On a "Start a new post" South Hills Stan wrote:

South Hills Stan has left a new comment on your post "On the September "Start a new post" SolutionsRUs w...":

Did anyone see this editorial in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on Friday, September 30, 2011:

"A silver lining in the belt-tightening forced upon public schools by budget realities is reduction or elimination of public relations specialists, whose self-serving spinning of districts' images is an obscene use of taxpayer dollars.

School districts -- and boroughs and townships, for that matter -- are government entities, accountable to those whose tax dollars fund them. Their results -- and their officials -- should speak for themselves. Yet they pay in-house spinmeisters and gatekeepers to filter the truth and insulate them from the public.

Let's call it what it is -- government propaganda. You're paying to be spun.

In fact, the more that local-level officials rely on such "flacks," the more reason the public has to suspect that those officials have something to hide.

That holds true regardless of what a particular school district, borough or township pays a particular PR person -- though the higher the salary, the greater the misuse of taxpayer money is. Every dollar that a school district or municipality spends on PR, after all, is a dollar not spent on the core functions it exists to perform.

Especially at the local level where school districts and municipalities operate, the fewer layers of bureaucracy -- and obfuscators of fact -- there are between the public and public servants, the better.


Read more: Government spinning ... With your money - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/s_759364.html#ixzz1ZXGTRFeb"

Friday, September 30, 2011

On the September "Start a new post" SolutionsRUs wrote:

"I did some rough calculations from the "How We got there" series. Had to do some rough estimates because actual dollar figures were missing from several items (whoever posted the series, is it possible to get the actual costs for all of the items in the series?).

So, from July 2005 to January 2009, PPS spent the following:

Consultants: $20.8M
Communications and Marketing: $3.1M
Increase in Central Admin: $6.1M
PELA program: $2.6M
Robotics move: $3M
Construction change orders: $5.9M
CEP: $12.5M

For a total of $54M

And that does not include the construction costs for Reizenstein, Sci Tech and Milliones...anyone have those numbers?

This is a travesty. Not one cent of this money was seen in the classroom. "

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Start a new post/ search PURE Reform's blog

To start a new post, reply to this post with your question, comment or suggestion for a new topic. The adminstrator will then start a new post with your topic as a title.You can post anonymously if you prefer. Click on "post a comment". Type in the word you see for word verification. Choose how you would like to be identified in the post click "publish your comment".

PSSA results released

From another post "Dr. Marge McMackin has left a new comment":

"TODAY the Pennsylvania Department of Education released the OFFICIAL AYP/PSSA results for 2011. Listed here for public access are the PDE websites for information relevant to this region.

You will see ALL of the Allegheny County School Districts that made AYP outright. PPS did NOT.
PPS is in "Making Progress -Corrective Action II"

http://paayp.emetric.net/County/DistrictList/c2

ALL Allegheny County Districts “Made AYP” outright EXCEPT the following five Districts: (Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg are in “Making Progress”)

1. Wilkinsburg “Making Progress-School
Improvement II”

2. Pittsburgh Public “Making Progress: in Corrective
Action II”

3. Sto-Rox –“District Improvement I”

4. McKeesport - “Corrective Action II 1st Year”

5. Woodland Hills - “Corrective Action II 3rd Year”

PITTSBURGH PUBLIC SCHOOLS AYP/PSSA Results:
http://paayp.emetric.net/District/SchoolList/c2/102027451

PPS DISTRICT GRADE LEVEL DATA:
http://paayp.emetric.net/District/DataTable/c2/102027451

CHARTER SCHOOLS:
http://paayp.emetric.net/District/SchoolList/c2/4"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Langley as a city wide public safety magnet?

From Mark Rauterkus's blog:

http://rauterkus.blogspot.com/2011/09/cant-langley-be-turned-into-city-wide.html

"College graduation rates stagnant even as enrollment rises"

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11271/1178096-298.stm

Monday, September 26, 2011

PPS officials seek remedies for violence in schools

From the Tribune:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_758705.html

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How we got where we are part XXVI January 2009

On another post Anonymous wrote:

How we got where we are, part 26, January 2009

January 21, 2009: The Board approves “an agreement with DeJong/Kimball Partnership to prepare long-term facilities' needs and utilization strategy. This study is required as part of the District's strategic planning for the future. Normally, these studies are done every 10 years. The last facilities study for Pittsburgh was done 12 years ago. The plan shall evaluate all the District's facilities' suitability, functional adequacy, technology readiness, code compliance, required capital upgrades, equitable distribution of resources and a plan for its future needs over the next ten years. This study shall result in a "Plan for the District's Future" that can be implemented.”

With so much at stake, the leadership team of Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss would no doubt attend every meeting of the cross-functional team, wouldn't they? Yeah right; don't look for this crew when the sun goes down if the camera is not rolling.

The Board also authorizes a $53,714 contract “with Grant Communications Consulting Group who worked with the Division of Communications and Marketing to produce the first two issues of The Pittsburgh Educator which were published in May and October 2008. Services provided included writing, photography and design; coordination of printing and mailing. Approval of this contract will authorize Grant Communications Consulting Group to continue working with Communications and Marketing to produce two additional issues scheduled for publication in the Spring and Fall of 2009."

The Board approves a $50,000 increase for the contract with the Law Offices of Ira Weiss “for professional services related to Real Estate Tax Matters, Bankruptcy Cases and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) matters” for the year ended December 31, 2008. “The need for an amendment is driven by the significant amount of base year appeals filed by Allegheny County.” This contract, which carries a base year amount of $215,000, is over and above the monthly retainer for Solicitor services.

Fast forward to 2011. Does anyone else feel uncomfortable that it was a lawsuit filed by the Law Offices of Ira Weiss that started us down the path of another Countywide reassessment for values that will be used starting in January 2012?

With some estimates of the number of appeals reaching 100,000 in Allegheny County, the big winner of the reassessment is not school districts or municipalities – by law they are prohibited from receiving a windfall – the big winner is those law firms that stand to generate a significant amount of business by filing and defending against appeals. Brilliant strategy Counselor, no wonder you are too busy in Pittsburgh to represent the Montour School District any longer.

Paul Gill, Chief Operations Officer and Broad Superintendent's Academy graduate, resigns his position after less than one year on the job. He retains the moving expenses the district reimbursed. In less than three years he has been to two different California school districts.

Mark Brentley proposes a policy that would have required the administration to respond to public speakers with 48 hours.

Brentley explains: “If you talk to some parents, they say that when they come up with real important issues, the first thing they say is you're pointed to the Parent Hotline. The Parent Hotline gives them a voice mail. The Parent Hotline will give someone who will take a note and it then starts right back into that vicious circle. Parents, taxpayers have got to be brought into the loop in this Administration....We're left to react after the Administration has already made the move....Here is an opportunity of saying to the public we're not perfect, but we can simply listen to your response, and we're going to work on it and try to get back to you in a timely fashion.”

The resolution is defeated by a vote of 2-7, with only Mr. Taylor supporting it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Educational forum

On another post Anonymous wrote:

The remarks by Dr. Steve Perry, today at the Educational Forum at the August Wilson Center, were strong and 'dead on.'

"Dr. Perry courageously stepped forward in outright opposition to Dr. Lane and Esther Bush who continue to blame poverty and other 'conditions' for not being able to educate all children to high
levels. (Although it appears the the Urban League has proficiency in the 90th %ile.)

Dr. Perry advocated for the closing of all "failing schools."

Sala Udin stood and advocated for transforming all "failing" schools into schools that educated all children successfully.

We CAN make that happen if the Community is UNITED, and PPS changes its current philosophy."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Single gender education misguided according to new Science mag report

From the NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/education/23single.html

Current plans

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"I don't understand why Peabody's location and condition will attract more familes to send ther children there.

I honestly believe this part of a 10 year "failure plan". Spend, disrupt, anger the community & city to the point of convincing everyone that teachers are the problem, public schools suck & everyone throws their hands up and caves in and we become pro charter school & vouchers.

Remember Broad & Gates are into "Venture philanthropy" this is not charity, they expect a return. Privatization of public services is the goal."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXV December 2008

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"NEW POST

How we got where we are, part 25, December 2008

For the silver edition of the series, we pause for a moment of deep reflection....

December 17, 2008: Central Office expansion continues with the promotion of a Principal on Special Assignment Nancy Kodman to Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives. Holland O'Donnell is hired as Manager of Afterschool Programs.

The financial statements again warn that “significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs”, urge “an even greater premium on cutting expenses”, and call for sale of closed school buildings to be a “priority.”

The minutes reveal a pretty fascinating discussion around a fairly small dollar contract. An intern is hired to work with one of the Board residents on the issue of enrollment decline. “That the Board authorize, this year, the District to began efforts to research the reasons for declining enrollment in the district and to develop a 3 year plan to address declining enrollment....Marni Pastor, a Broad Resident working in the Office of the Superintendent, is leading plan development.”

Mark Brentley notes that “If you talk to some parents openly and honestly, some will share their concern that most of the initiatives in this city, over the last two and a half years, has either been Broad endorsed or initiated somehow, some way, by those individuals with Broad certification.”

We start to witness Superintendent Roosevelt backpedal from one of the initial goals of the Pittsburgh Promise. “But the point here is to identify that percentage of folks whose decision making we can effect....a majority of people, and our initial data leads us to conclude that, are leaving for reasons beyond our control.”

Let us not forget as we watch this unfold that in 2007 McKinsey projected that an “unmanaged outcome” would result in the school district having an enrollment of just 22,000 by 2014. It will be interesting to see just how much better the Broad/Gates driven outcome is three years from now.

Fast forward from 2008 for a moment to 2011. It has become clear that while Pittsburgh's schools under the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss regime have continued enrollment decline, while charter school enrollment has grown quite aggressively (Pittsburgh Tribune Review, “More parents picking charter schools for their kids” August 28, 2011).

Seeing our charter school enrollment increase while Pittsburgh's student count declines should be a wake up call to action for the community and for those of us who care so deeply that we will continue to relentlessly fight and advocate for quality schools in the city.

The market is speaking and quite frankly it should be telling us that the experimentation with school configurations (we have them all, including a fixation with 6-12), deep partnerships with national foundations, managed curriculum and oversold professional development that hamstrings the creativity of our staff, PELA principals, and relentless public relations machine are not meeting the demands of Pittsburgh families.

In this sense, the “How we got where we are” series is in part designed as a road map to re-engineer our school system or perhaps shed it of expensive and corrupting influences. We lost 1,616 students from the beginning of the 2007-08 school year to the beginning of the 2008-09 school year. This should have been a signal that something was wrong, very wrong.

We might do well to apply Occam's razor or at least the wisdom of French novelist Honore de Balzac: “During the great storms of our lives we imitate those captains who jettison their weightiest cargo.” "

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A+ statement on budget

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"A+ Schools
Statement on Pittsburgh Public Schools Budget Challenges.

http://www.aplusschools.org/pdf/find/StatementonBudget%20IssuesFINAL.pdf

A+ Schools Releases Statement on School Closings, Budget Cuts

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=ri78lwcab&v=001rBBS2uM5H3-5Vj149b0DTyCfe1P6ao97VZ-Ke4Wt-5FisLOuVF_KGIcdpSMU5dCOAGq_TrlWIDu5Mc_u8_4hlsS5CpDTXq9Yj1-t7oVDqLzSEADwV-XItkDM-26QYR7vwf5t3uJIjbMqBGNutiLNaYZ667K9VSq977KF9CPOJEHVoH-jkYhUzuBZLwhk1bqck2vamq5LfiIoC6QUIFtUJL185xxjuf3Fjq8WQiwaMBzpgF5S2Z-c-niy6JVwUpJj--qDyZtatgESjdLcuOy9zcc0_Cgoc4FS3T38e_r0lu3UjmR6ktEBxw%3D%3D"

Monday, September 19, 2011

PPS safety chief on paid administrative leave

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11262/1175954-100.stm

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXIV (November 2008)

On another post Anonyous wrote:

"November 25, 2008: Deputy Director of Education for the Gates Foundation, John Deasy, is hired to be the keynote speaker at the January 27. 2009 district wide inservice at the Convention Center. Deasy's task is to “speak to PPS teachers and administrators about the work that we are doing in PPS and the importance of staying our course with reform efforts in PPS.”

The Board approves submission of a required, six-year Strategic Plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (POE) for the period of 2008-2014. The resolution caveats that “it includes initiatives that are already underway, as well as initiatives that the District will need to plan, design, and begin to implement in the coming six years.”

It was the season to give thanks, especially if you are friends with the Chief of Staff.

The Board approves a contract with “contract with Meade Johnson, a marketing and communications consultant, to build upon the work completed this year in developing the Welcome Back to School materials to inform PreK-12 parents. Services will be to support and assess any adjustments that need to be made in the process of compiling school-based materials and District information, the creation of updated materials and distribution of materials for the Welcome Back to School binder and District-wide calendar for all PPS families.”

Also ratified is a contract for $422,000 with graphic design firm Dennis Moran Design to provide "on-call" graphic design services for the Communications and Marketing Department, schools and other District departments. Services may also include photography, writing print, broadcast, web production services specialized printing/promotional services, research, placement of media space and direct mail services.”

Also finding a seat at the Chief of Staff's Thanksgiving table was graphic design firm Kolbrener USA for $270,000 to “provide "on-call" graphic design services for the Communications and Marketing Department, schools and other District departments. Services may also include photography, writing print, broadcast, web production services, specialized printing/promotional services, research, placement of media space and direct mail services.”

And just when you thought you ate enough turkey, the Board approves a $370,000 engagement with graphic design firm CPI Creative to “provide "on-call" graphic design services for the Communications and Marketing Department, schools and other District departments. Services may also include photography, writing print, broadcast, web production services, specialized printing, promotional services, research, placement of media space and direct mail services.”

The financial statements again warn that “significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs”, urge “an even greater premium on cutting expenses”, and call for sale of closed school buildings to be a “priority.”

Mark Brentley questions Mark Roosevelt's 2008-09 goals: “Anywhere else, any other corporate world, where a director requested information, that employee would have some major, major problems, with not providing information. But under this present atmosphere of this leadership, it goes on. He can do whatever he wants. And so when you do something like that, I am asking, what is our role here, why don't we just all go home and just say, "This is Mark Roosevelt, go do what you want, make the mistakes that you want, we will blame it on somebody else," because there is no accountability here, and so where do you go when you want to at least ask a question, without getting beat up.”

Randall Taylor adds that “I think that we have come up woefully short on our Superintendent evaluations for the last three years.” Taylor makes a motion “that the Board begin a process, within contractual obligations, to create a more public and inclusive Superintendent evaluation process, with the first report by March 2009.” The motion fails with only Brentley and Taylor voting yes."

How we got where we are Part XXIII (October 2008)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 23, October 2008:

October 22, 2008: We start this edition with a $32,000 amendment to the Campos Research marketing contract to “to expand the services provided through the original contract to include the addition of two statistically valid representative telephone survey projects among parents/caregivers that will inform the assessment process for the District's ALA schools as well as the assessment process being done to gain a deeper understanding of the reasons why parents may be choosing other educational options or leaving the City."

Miller and Vann are reconfigured to send all grade 6-8 students to University Prep.

Board authority is granted to “make the necessary arrangements with the David Lawrence Convention Center (1000 Ft. Duquesne Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15222) in order to accommodate approximately 3,000 PPS employees for a common half day professional development session on January 27, 2009 for a total cost not to exceed $89,000.00. Having all District professional staff together at one time will build coherency and continuity around the district-wide academic initiatives as we support and commit to ensuring that students will be Promise-Ready.”

Old friends from Boston paid us a visit, with the Board voting to “enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with High School Futures, Inc. for the purpose of developing leadership teams in our high schools consisting of principals and teachers. Services will consist of developing a curriculum for leadership training and data-analysis training to provide over a period of 15 days of professional development.”

Mr. McCrea points out that High School Futures is “it is a new program, it has no history at all.”

Feeling short-handed in the Office of the Chief of Staff, the Board approves “a contract with four (4) Journalism and Communication Interns from local colleges and universities to provide assistance to Communications and Marketing staff in gathering and preparing information for publication of good news stories about District and school activities and events. Stories will be submitted for publication in community newspapers, Pittsburgh Educator and the District website. Additionally, interns will take video and digital photos to accompany news stories.”

Not satisfied yet, the Board also hires another secretary for the Office of the Chief of Staff.

The District enters into an agreement with the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh to assist with the marketing and sale of closed school buildings.

A $294,000 bid is awarded for masonry restoration at Fort Pitt.

Roughly a month before Broad Superintendent's Academy graduate Paul Gill, Chief Operations Officer, announces the end to his less than one year tenure at Pittsburgh, the Board rushes to approve a reorganization of the Facilities and Plant Operations divisions.

Derrick Lopez is name Acting Executive Director of Secondary Schools, but keeps a monthly stipend as Chief of High School Reform.

The financial statements again warn that “significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs” and urge “an even greater premium on cutting expenses.”

Mark Brentley speaks against the continued shuffle of Hill District students: “it would really be helpful if -- at some point, if it is the leadership of this Board, or if it is through the Broad Foundation, or wherever it is from, that they tell us early on what is the plan for the poor black children in this District, and just tell us straight up. Because to continue to move, and move, and then change, has negative impact on those students....it is unspeakable, it is outrageous, it is terrible, and it definitely does not fit under the slogan that is thrown around here, the Excellence for All.”

Mrs. Colaizzi cheerleads for the Board majority: “U Prep is an unbelievable educational opportunity, we should be very proud of it, we should be looking at it as a future opportunity for our children that otherwise maybe they would never have received.”"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sheraden residents plead to keep Langley

From the Tribune:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_756663.html

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXII September 2008

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 22, September 2008

September 24, 2008: The Board establishes Uprep “as a magnet program beginning with the 2009-10 school year."

Central office bloat continues with the opening of not one but two project manager positions for University Prep.

The Chief of Staff submits another contract with Dennis Moran Design to work with the Marketing and Communication team. “The firm will create secondary graphics including: (1) color palette, (2) fonts, and (3) imagery. They will deliver marketing materials including: (1) a capabilities brochure, (2) a multipurpose pocket folder, (3) website graphics, (4) insert sheets, (5) presentation materials and (7) additional materials as needed. Responsibilities of the contractor include print production coordination and management, layout, image creation including illustration or photography, and delivering these complete materials on time and in accordance with the marketing and communications plan.”

The financial statements again warn that “significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs”, urge “an even greater premium on cutting expenses”, and call for sale of closed school buildings to be a “priority.”

Randall Taylor, on changes in the magnet policy, raises “issues about maintaining the diversity, the gender and racial diversity that we have in our magnet admissions and our magnet schools, and so my sincere hope as we go along is that, one, that we will have the involvement of groups like the NAACP of Pittsburgh, the Advocates for African-American Students and other groups who may want to be a part of creating a process that at the end of the day that we maintain the gender and racial diversity that we've enjoyed in this district for over 30 years.”

Mark Brentley, knowing that Uprep had only 138 students, questions the need to two project managers: “Can you tell me what is the -- what is a project manager for the University Prep?”

In a tag line more worthy of Cosmo (“50 is the new 20!”), Mark Roosevelt explains the grading of all E's as 50%: “I, myself, am not a statistician, but to those who are, there is a great body of evidence to show that if an E is treated as anything less than that, it is over represented in a student's grade accumulation and, therefore, is unfair to the student....let me just make it clear. If a student takes an exam or takes a test or hands in an assignment on which they earn a 20, when they're handed that back, they are given a 20, and that is how it's described and that is how it's presented to them. It is only when the grade point average is compiled for that course that it would be represented as a 50.”

Mark Brentley counters that “it would be very, very hard for me to believe that seasoned, established educators would support this....a false hope that he or she is really progressing when they're really not...the biggest and most important thing here is that it never accurately measures that student's achievement, and when you're playing those kinds of shell games, it's unfair to the students....when you really, really look at it, it simply makes no sense. These kids are shortchanged if this process is being used, and somewhere, somehow somebody's got to give some of these students some tough love....it is not only our job, it is our duty to make sure that we're open and honest and fair with all students.”

In a real gem that we will revisit later, Bill Isler states emphatically that “I can tell you this: Mr. Roosevelt has no authority to sign any contract or negotiate any contract without board approval. This board approves every single contract. That's part of the school code.”

Brentley discusses Roosevelt's whereabouts: “Mark, we are going through some trying times here. We've closed so many schools. We have so many new that you would need all hands on deck at all times, and it was just stunning to see that on the very first day of school you were teaching and not within our district.”"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Westinghouse enrollment

Enrollment numbers are normally updated on the first of every month. Westinghouse started school early, in August, but there is no information on enrollment:

http://www.pps.k12.pa.us/15212011160423557/site/default.asp

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tribune article on achievement disparities

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_755254.html

Monday, September 5, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXI (August 2008)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 21, August 2008

Happy Labor Day to all of my brothers and sisters in the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, AFSCME, and Pittsburgh Building Trades. In your honor and in thanks to all that you do for our students, we present “How we got where we are, part 21, August 2008.”

August 27, 2008: Dr. Judy Johnston is hired at the rate of $1,500 per day “to provide support and consultation and recommendations for executive directors and principals in support of the PULSE program, specifically principal evaluations.”

Like the Focus on Results contract the month before, this contract begs the question, if we have executive directors, why are we paying consultants to do their work?

But the duplication of services was only getting warmed up.

The Board also approved a contract with Dr. Paula Bevan at the rate of $1,800 per day “to provide consultative support on the development of a comprehensive document describing the performance improvement process for school leaders...Dr. Bevan will also work with executive directors and principals to identify appropriate evidence which principals may provide to demonstrate proficiency on standards and components.”

With consultants to be hired, the Communications & Marketing team would not be left behind. The Board approves a contract “Valerie Becker to provide support to the web development team during the redesign and launch of school websites.”

Who can stop at just one more Marketing contract for the Chief of Staff? The Board also authorized “its proper officers to retain a graphic design firm to rework the magnet booklet and provide final production artwork for the 2008-09 magnet program and school options guide, which consists of approximately 64 pages with 4-color cover pages and 2-color on inside pages.”

The Chief of Staff also receives approval to purchase 260 retractable banner stands, including single-sided, double-sided, plus applicable banner stand graphics.

Have you ever wondered how many retractable banner stands are on display in Mt. Lebanon or Upper St. Clair?

The financial statements again warn that “significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs”, urge “an even greater premium on cutting expenses”, and call for sale of closed school buildings to be a “priority.”

Only Randall Taylor and Mark Brentley seem to heed the warning, with Taylor stating that “I continue to grow very concerned about the level of spending in this District, and the amount of money that continues to be spent, and the amount of resources, particularly in buildings that continue to be wasted.”

Mr. Taylor also comments on the raise proposed for Superintendent Mark Roosevelt: “One of the main reasons I cannot support this is I do believe that the PSSA state scores should be incorporated into any evaluation. Right now, that is not allowed in this Board, though I requested to receive PSSA information prior to us having to submit our evaluation, that was not possible, and I think it's important to the public to know that this Board did an evaluation with access, full access to PSSA scores.”

Mr. Brentley notes that “We owe it to the taxpayers, and we owe it to those parents, especially to those students that we are placing in experimental programs, that we just put together, not sure of its outcome, but we are hoping its going to work out, “But don't worry, because we will have a great press conference there, we will take great pictures, we will get good press, but we don't know what the outcome will possibly be for your children.” That is almost borderline criminal in terms of what we are doing to this District's neediest student body.”

Similar problems in K-12 and university management

It is interesting to see that many of the problems we are noticing in PPS (bloated administration, vague and wordy strategic plans, administrators who lack teaching experience) appeared first at the university level.

See this review of "Fall of the Faculty" from the WSJ:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903461304576526353648342500.html

Sunday, September 4, 2011

How we got where we are Part XX July 2008

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 20, July 2008

July 23, 2008: The Board approves yet another contract with Focus on Results, this time for $2,400 per day to provide “training and consulting to 18 K-5 principals and their leadership teams around The Seven Areas of Focus - A Strategic Framework for Whole School Improvement. Through this initiative, principals and their teams will develop and refine the skills and strategies they need to lead effective, results-driven efforts at whole school reform. Three consultants will meet monthly for 8 months with principals and their leadership teams. These meetings will consist of professional development training in content and process so that the school based teams can return to their schools better equipped to engage in whole school reform. The consultants will also make school visits to provide additional support as the teams work with classroom teachers on the school's area of focus. The consultants will also plan and debrief with the K-5 executive director. In between visits, the consultants will provide distance coaching, planning, preparation, coordination and collaboration with principals.”

This contract of course begs the question, if we have Focus on Results for $268,650, exactly what are we paying the Executive Director for Elementary Education to do?

The Communications and Marketing team was back at the table, this time recommending a another contract with Dennis Moran Design to “create secondary graphics including: (1) color palette, (2) fonts, and (3) imagery. They will deliver marketing materials including: (1) a capabilities brochure, (2) audience inserts, (3) school summary, (4) letterhead and envelopes, (5) presentation and display boards and (6) electronic mechanical art, and (7) additional materials as needed. Responsibilities of the contractor include print production coordination and management, layout, image creation including illustration or photography, and delivering these complete materials on time and in accordance with the
marketing and communications plan.” All yours for the special price of $150 per hour!

The Fund for Excellence provides $614,000 to pay for an additional half year of cost for the America's Choice model for Accelerated Learning Academies (ALAs) and yet another $612,411to fund the Office of High School Reform (Derrick Lopez) for another school year. Memo to Fund for Excellence: how are you feeling about both of those investments today? Total busts.

The Board hires an Executive Director for Marketing and Communications. Patricia Kennedy would last less than one year working with Chief of Staff Lisa Fischetti. In a move that defies logic, the starting salary of this position is close to $30,000 more than Kennedy was paid for similar work at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

Although Pittsburgh had an Office of High School Reform staffed by a highly compensated Chief of High School Reform, duplication of services was the theme of the day, as the Board approves a contract with an Acting Executive Director of High Schools. How is that for organization chart design – the Chief of High School Reform reports to the Superintendent, the Executive Director of High Schools reports to the Deputy Superintendent. Makes perfect sense.

The financial statements again note that “significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs”, urge “an even greater premium on cutting expenses”, and asks the Board to make the sale of closed school buildings a “priority.”

Mr. Brentley votes no on the entire Committee on Education report, explaining that “my vote represents zero confidence in the leadership of this Board, as well as this administration.”