Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Still talking about K-12

On the March "Start a new post" Anonymous wrote:

"He is still talking"


Questioner said...

From the article:

"Governance is also a problems, according to Roosevelt, because “school boards as a whole do not know what they’re doing.”"

- Why not just send them through 7 weekends of Broad training? That way they would know everything they need to know, right?

Questioner said...

Performance from a different perspective:

"When U.S. performance standards are used to measure the mathematics and science skills of 8th graders around the world, students in the United States substantially trail their counterparts in Singapore, Chinese Taipei, South Korea and Hong Kong but generally are equal to or outperform students in other parts of the World, according to a new study by the American Institutes for Research (AIR)."

Anonymous said...

Taking the risk of setting off the people who want to ignore poverty, I offer this:

In an extremely interesting analysis of the latest PISA test results, Mel Riddle, in his blog post, the Principal Difference, reported the results of a different analysis by National Association of Secondary Schools Executive Director, Dr. Gerold Tirozzi. Tirozzi “took a closer look at how the U.S. reading scores compared with the rest of the world’s, overlaying it with the statistics on how many of the tested students are in the government’s free and reduced lunched program for students below the poverty line,” according to Cynthia McCabe. The analysis led to this finding:

* In schools where less than 10 percent of students get free or reduced lunch, the reading score is 551. That would place those U.S. students at No. 2 on the international ranking for reading, just behind Shanghai, China which topped the ranking with a score of 556.
* Of all the nations participating in the PISA assessment, the U.S. has, by far, the largest number of students living in poverty–21.7%. The next closest nations in terms of poverty levels are the United Kingdom and New Zealand have poverty rates that are 75% of ours.
* U.S. students in schools with 10% or less poverty are number one country in the world.
* U.S. students in schools with 10-24.9% poverty are third behind Korea, and Finland.
* U.S. students in schools with 25-50% poverty are tenth in the world.

You can find the links to the cited materials in the full posting here:

In our rush to change everything EXCEPT poverty -- which is a catch all term for kids who hear fewer words, aren't read to very often if at all, are rarely engaged in "adult-style" conversation, have poor nutrition, poor sleeping quarters and schedules, etc. -- we have watered down standards instead of helping kids get the needed basics to achieve them.

The ONE thing I did agree with is that there is a role for memorization and rote learning. It shouldn't be the basis of a teaching style or curriculum, but without a basic set of facts in your head, you will never reason at a high school, let alone college level.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to set up an account with the Yellow Springs newspaper and comment on how the Pittsburgh Public Schools is in recovery mode from the damage that Roosevelt inflicted.

Anonymous said...

What are the indicators that PPS is in a "recovery mode"?

What, specifically, is changing related to the improved academic achievement of the majority of PPS students?

Questioner said...

Anon 10:58 seems to be saying that the district is trying to recover, rather than making any particular claims about the success of those efforts (it's only been 3 months!).

Anonymous said...

It's just that 'changes' appear to be causing further damage as opposed to even the smallest of improvements which might indicate "recovery" is a part of the process.

When will we see an end to "damages" when programs and processes are currently leading to chaos in schools and communities that are under siege, educationally?

Anonymous said...

i hearing a lot about enrollments low performance,poverty among other issues in which is affecting the PPS students learning ability after said that i think that there needs to be a roundtable discussion with PPS,teachers,parents other concern people how can we can best deal with theses issues so up coming school year we can continue about being in the business of educating PPS students if not we will be having this same conversation during the school year in which the students want be learning what they need to learn to be successful in life right now all we are doing is pointing fingers at each other and really nothing being accopmplish!!!!! other option let the state run PPS like Duquesene School Dist. believe me don't want to go there.

Anonymous said...

Rather than being in recovery mode, perhaps I should have said that PPS is still reeling from the damage that was inflicted on it by the new president of Antioch.

Anonymous said...

Yes, "still reeling from the damage" is more on point. Thanks. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that equilibrium is at hand.

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone should share this quote with MR (and the PPS communications and marketing team):

"Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth."
–Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President (1882-1945)

Anonymous said...

could have been worse what if he had 1 that governor's race and gone on to become president.

Calendar Watcher said...

I read the article carefully, and I must say that I was very impressed by Mr. Roosevelt's insightful remarks.

And I must tell say that it is remarkable how he was able to take over a struggling school district and turn it completely around.

And I must say that today is April Fool's Day.

Anonymous said...

April Fools are our school board members or board of directors more like ship of fools.
Colalazi talked about MR's Legacy?

He will be remember as the captain of the ship of fools that did not go down with the ship.

The Schools are getting more and more out of control. Kids are running the schools. No disipline, even at the best schools. Looks better on paper / No suspensions, but the kids are running the halls at even our best schools.


Mark Roosevelt

Been There said...

To Anon 6:29 -

You said "No disipline, even at the best schools".

That's the main problem, exactly!

Order is the foundation of any organization - a school, a factory, whatever.

But none of the initiatives I've seen over the years addresses this key point in any meaningful way.

So here's my rule: If any idea comes out of central administration without a discipline component, ignore it as so much fluff. It's doomed to fail.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone on the school board, besides Mr. Brentley figured out Mark Roosevelt just told them they are incompetent, and he has no respect for them.

Yes, you too Colaizzi! ;)

Questioner said...

He left himself wiggle room (sound familiar?) by referring to school boards "as a whole."

Old Timer said...

A couple of thoughts here:

-First, teachers learned a long time ago to worry first and foremost about their own classroom discipline and think of those rooms as an island. There's no reason to worry about the halls or the chaos going on in the classroom across the hall, because administration will do nothing to back or support you should you intervene. Granted, worrying about your own roost is a mixed bag, as some teachers know how to run their rooms and some just don't, but this is the thinking behind PPS and certainly, the thinking behind the school within a school mentality. Ignore the halls. Ignore the bathrooms. Ignore the chaos. At least you find solace in classroom A, B and C.
Sorry, that's a horrible justification. This is ALL attributable to public relations: keep kids in the school unless they kill or maim someone...and of course, cough, keep them on the pathway to the promise.

-I'm still at a loss to describe why people are shocked about the damage Roosevelt wrought. Didn't you read his bio when he first set foot in Pittsburgh? Didn't you question why the board why hire a corporate type instead of an educator? Nothing he did surprised me. Ever. I guess I read too much. I guess it takes more than a recognizable name for me to get excited.
In line with this, is it any wonder why a political hack like Colaizzi would talk about a legacy? What else would she say? We have a number of individuals currently on the board that likely would have a difficult time winning similar slots in Turtle Creek, and yet, here they are. Amazing town we live in.

Old Timer said...

Anon at 7:46, you miss the point.
Discipline will never be the goal. It's all about hype.
It's all about The Pittsburgh Promise.
Explain the state of discipline.
Explain the 50% 'law'.
Explain the incredibly horrific "curriculum" in all areas and grade levels.

No, on second thought...don't spend a second trying to explain.
It's good publicity--the only possible good publicity for the district--to say that all of our graduates are going on to college, even if they are not college material, have proven to be academically weak or are discipline problems.

Media doesn't question.
The average Joe just doesn't not care to listen beyond the headline.

Anonymous said...

The Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2003
Pittsburgh Public Schools

3. Thomas Sumpter, Pittsburgh School Director, District 3: April 2009 Thomas Sumpter is a member of the Pittsburgh Board of Education ... He is a Broad Felow in recognition of successful completion of The Broad Institute for School Boards
The Broad Residency Class of 2007-2009
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
M.P.M., Heinz School of Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University 
M.A., Teaching, New York University 
B.A., History, Loyola College
The Broad Residency Class of 2008-2010
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
M.P.P., Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley
A.B., Molecular Biology, Princeton University
6. EDDY JONES The Broad Residency Class of 2007-2009
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
M.B.A., The Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University 
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
The Broad Residency Class of 2010-2012
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
B.S., Marketing, University of Maryland 
M.B.A., University of Michigan
The Broad Residency Class of 2010-2012
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
B.A., English, Tufts University
M.B.A., Boston College

The Broad Residency Class of 2008-2010
Current Organization: Pittsburgh Public Schools
M.B.A., Harvard Business School
B.A., Economics, Northwestern University

Anonymous said...

Anon 4/2 9:38 am

Are these PPS Broad grads native to Pittsburgh or imports? I'm sure that there more Broadies than listed. Is it possible to find out?

Anonymous said...

The majority, if not all, are from out-of-town. I believe you are right that there are more, but these were listed on the BROAD website.

Anonymous said...

Check the salaries of the BROAD people. They are in the $80,000 to $100,000 range after just 1-3 years in the District.

Anonymous said...

PPS seems to be an employment agency for Broad non-educators. Notice the backgrounds are degrees in a wide array of disciplines, not connected to education.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Holley and other candidates,

I'd like to know if any of you were asked to drop out of the race by your opponent? I heard that this was happening. Can anyone confirm this?

What are they afraid of, an open debate? Apparently they (Broadies) do not want to be challenged. How many of the current board members been brainwashed, excuse me, trained by the Broad Foundation? How many of them received gifts from the Broad Foundations, and reported these gifts as income on their tax forms?

This all seems unethical to me!

Anonymous said...

Cate Reed, Eddy Jones, and Thomas Sumpter are all Schenley graduates. Ironic, isn't it? Broad pays 1/2 of its fellow salaries for the first few years, with PPS paying the other half. They come into the position with the agreement that they will have a permanent position fully funded by PPS.

Anonymous said...

That's not all that unethical.

Broad believes in "Networking" and has established a network of Consultants who are brought in to PPS to provide very 'generic' professional development that does not modify or tailor the "one size fits all" approach to the unique needs of the District, in this case PPS.

Lots of so-called "National" firms are profiting exponentially in this national "Networking" system emanating from Broad and Gates Foundations.

Anonymous said...

Re: Schenley grads- there are some back stories.

Questioner said...

Permanent positions?! What is there for all of these people to do? Can the permanent positions be as classroom teachers (if they go to the teachers academy)?

bystander said...

I have no recent experience as a parent in PPS. Mr. Jones and Ms. Reed are both PPS grads, although I can't name the high schools from which they graduated. It seems reasonable to say each work or have worked harder because of their PPS history. For example, regardless of how you might feel about any influence to policy Ms. Reed might have, or any plan she helped form, she works very hard for her superiors.

I am unfamiliar with the others mentioned on the list. My only objective in this comment is to keep the discussion from planting the seeds to grow inaccuracies.

bystander said...

Questioner, it is doubtful that the fellows are interested in teaching. A shame really since if any school or system is to be "saved" it has to begin inside a classroom.

Anonymous said...

From the Broad website:

Benefits to Partner Organizations
Those organizations who become Partners with The Broad Center enjoy the following benefits:

Added capacity from a highly capable individual with a strong interest in public urban education for future leadership roles.
Two-year job commitment from an executive chosen through an extremely selective recruiting process.
Limited recruitment effort required on the part of the organization.
Final selection decision is made by the Partner organization following an in-person interview in April 2011.
Leveraged Funding from the Broad Residency pays for 100% of the costs of recruitment, selection, and travel fo rthe professional development as well as subsidizes salary. Residents earn annual salaries of $85,000 to $95,000 in their first year. Partner organizations set specific salaries based on their organization’s pay scales. For the 2011-2013 cohort, The Broad Center will subsidize 33% of each Resident's salary up to a maximum of $62,700 total over the two years. Partner organizations pay the balance of the salary each year and provide benefits comparable to a full-time employee in a similar position.
Excellent track record of retention: 92% of alumni continue to work in K-12 urban education and 72% of alumni continue to work in districts, CMOs or federal/state departments of education.

Anonymous said...

The positions are all newly created. Formerly, anyone doing a similar position was paid a great deal LESS.

Example: Director of Talent Management

Questioner said...

Wasn't that position eliminated, or maybe it was just renamed.

Anonymous said...

Working hard for your superior is not necessarily a positive or admirable trait. Anyone can think of instances where this has not been beneficial to the audience being served.

Anonymous said...

Instead of saying Broad networks, I prefer pyramid scheme. Once one gets in, another follows, and on and on and on...

Anonymous said...

About PPS K-12:

The question may seem rhetorical or supercilious; but nevertheless, has anyone who has been familiar with this district over the last 30-40 years ever observed such ambiguity, confusion, anxiety, chaos, or pure panic about how to find a school that can or will educate any or all of our city’s children.

The options/choices become more scarce, more elusive, more questionable and more unacceptable with each passing day!

What can the ordinary citizen of the city with children do about the current state of affairs/education in PPS?

Waiting for the Last Bus Out said...

"What can the ordinary citizen of the city with children do about the current state of affairs/education in PPS?"

Whatever you do, you had better do it fast.

Skilled veteran PPS teachers are taking early retirements. Good new teachers are sending their resumes out to other districts. Some are leaving the profession altogether.

And student teachers are starting to avoid the district.

As I see it, there is only option left: the district needs a tough, back-to-basics Superintendent.

Anonymous said...

There's so much more influence peddling that has gone on in PPS. The largest - in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars - evaluation contracts go to whichever firm Paul Gill's (former chief operating officer for less than a year, a broad superintendent academy buddy of MR and Lane's) son is working for at the time; first it was Rand then it moved with the younger Gill to Mathematica.

bystander said...

It seems like a good idea to get some information before becoming involved in improving things. The PPS website contains resources like committee meetings presentations and although you don't know about the discussion that went on around each page of the power point it could be the basis for asking questions or giving your opinion during a PTO or PSCC meeting. The conclusions you draw can be discussed with other parents and district represenatives at the monthly Excellence for All Parent Steering Committee meeting. Some of these meetings can be viewed on the district website (under ppstube) and could serve to inform previously unengaged parents.

Other parents will surely have even more ideas.

Questioner said...

Has what is said at a PTO, PSCC or EFA meeting over the last 5 years had any real impact on any important policy decision? (Not just a detail or two on how a decision is implemented, but on the decision itself?).

Questioner said...

Then again, it is a new administration so it's worth a try.

Old Timer said...

Let me say this again at the outset: from what I have heard and read about Dr.Lane so far, I like her. I really think she is "in it for the kids."

That said, the sobering reality comes into play. She had the chance to make a statement to taxpayers and teachers alike---trim unnecessary positions in central administration. She did not.

That said, let's remember that although she may have been the 'tough, back to basics' leader someone up above talks about, there is that issue of somewhere between $30 to $60 million that targets teachers that is at her fingertips.

Sorry, since that money came to Pittsburgh and got so much play in the media, she is not going to upset the applecart. Not at this stage of her career.

In a perfect world, I believe Dr.Lane would have been a great superintendent. In this reality, in an administration with so many incompetents who are literally stealing a paycheck in so much as they have absolute nothing to do with the kids---nothing--I see her as limited in what she can do.

A lot of teachers will lose their jobs this coming summer. You can thank Tom Corbett--a man who blatantly rewards his business friends at the expense of education---and you can thank philanthropists like Gates, Broad and their disciples. I think Dr.Lane sees the problem but is powerless to get rid of the garbage that surrounds her.

Anonymous said...

It is very possible that Dr. Lane will not be able to make cuts necessary in central admin in the very near future. It is possible that, to avoid wrongful dismissal lawsuits, there has to be a very planned process designed to eliminate positions.

Forgive me if I use the wrong terminology, but the truth is that Corbett's budget will have a serious impact everywhere. Jobs lost not just in the frontline teaching area, but jobs that would have been created or maintained to complete capital improvements to buildings; engineers, tradesmen, designers, etc. Add to that agencies providing services to students such as tutoring. And so many more.

Disgruntled said...

I agree, in that if Dr. Lane had been our superintendent 5 years ago instead of MR, we'd be in much better shape now.

But, now she's just been set up to take the blame as it all crashes down.

Teachers will be laid off this summer, but there will be new teachers hired for...FIVE years via the Teachers Academy. Where's the sense?

a-parent said...

Questioner, somehow I do think what has been said at many meetings informed the planning process in PPS. Certainly not on every issue but some. Could the recent changes to the CTE reform plan have been altered as a result of what vocal parents discussed at an EFA or PSCC meeting? Seems possible. Parents asking for improvements to counseling services.

There are many other examples of where parents should have been consulted or more consideration should have been given to parent ideas but the point is not to give up.

One piece of advice as the year end gets closer, is for any parent who has been impressed with anything special or been impressed by anyone who went beyond what is expected,to write that note of thanks to the superior of the person who did the deed. It is a small gesture to show what is working and appreciated.

Questioner said...

Here and there details about how a program is implemented have been influenced by meetings, but not decisions about whether to adopt the program or policy itself- starting with the Kaplan curriculum.

Anonymous said...

The ONLY reason for very selective parent engagement meetings with PPS officials over the past six years has been to allow PPS Administration to state (repeatedly) for the record "we met with parents" however many times and places.

Questioner said...

Getting back to what can an ordinary citizen of the city with children do- please post concern and constructive suggestions here. The format offers an opportunity for discussion with and suggestions from others who care, and anyone concerned about retaliation can choose a screen name.

Questioner said...

Continuing the thought, it would be helpful to be as specific as possible while if necessary maintaining anonymity.


"The options/choices become more scarce, more elusive, more questionable and more unacceptable with each passing day!"

- What are the concerns about the various choices? Some say essentially that we should not air dirty laundry, and that concerns should be mentioned only to district staff. But, each individual parent has limited information, based on his/ her own experience and what is reported in the newspapers. And not everyone has time to go to meetings.

Anonymous said...

PPS is setting the stage to put forth a referendum to raise taxes in November.

City residents are already saddled with a dysfunctional board of 'puppets' and a Madoff-like central office. It would be suicidal to pass this referendum when the current board and PPS central staff have a poor track record. Their actions speak louder than their words.

Dr. Lane's proposal of 10% cut in central office is not sufficient. Top management has significantly grown since Roosevelt while school staff has been cut drastically.

Dr. Lane needs to show that she is capable of reeling in the spending, directing the funds where it impacts the students the most, and is willing to rethink the direction of the District. If she is not willing to drop expensive iniatives and programs that do not work or have a direct impact on the students, then the District does not deserve our vote of confidence in passing the referendum.

Has Dr. Lane walked the neighbors recently? Has she not noticed all of the abandoned homes and houses that have been on the market for years?

If the City needs money, then repeal UPMC tax exemption status. They are the major land owners and the biggest employer in the City.

If the City needs money, then the District needs to appeal to the middle class families fleeing in droves with well thought out, proven initatives.

Anonymous said...

To set the stage for the referendum, Dr. Lane attributes the negative balance estimated for 2012 to 'PSERS' rating and to anticipated stimulus money that never materialized. If that is not a ponzi scheme, then I don't know what is!??!

She also claims that the Board has known about the structural deficit for over 12 years in attempt to shift the blame. If the board has known about this problem for 12+ years, then Roosevelt had to know also. Knowing that the money was not there, Roosevelt continued to spend the District into debt. He pushed through iniatives that are not sustainable nor proven to work.

Dr. Lane and the current board are not without blame here. Registered voters let the current and past administrations and directors here your voice. Vote the board of directors out; with the exception of Mr. Brentley, he is the only director who is asking the tough questions without the support of the others.

A 'NO' vote for the referendum is a vote of 'NO CONFIDENCE' with the established administration.

parent1 said...

Perhaps more instructional time should have been devoted to fiscal management in the Broad Academy program. Some may also remember Dr. Thompson spending like the money supply never dwindles and complaining that we do not have a nice sports stadium like other districts. So the twelve years sounds about right.

What happens if the voters say no to raising taxes? And, yes it seems logical that the next move will be floating that idea. We got closer to it everytime 9 people sat around a table congratulating all as each year without a tax increase was celebrated.

Anonymous said...

More instructional time????? The Broad gives you a learn to be a superintendent course in like seven weekends. Kids spend more time in driver's education at CCAC!