Friday, April 29, 2011

Post Gazette endorses Holley for District 2


"...these tough financial times require school board members who are determined to deliver good education while keeping a lid on taxes. If Pittsburgh is to flourish as a city and attract new residents, it deserves nothing less."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rightful valedictorian, Westinghouse 1936 recognized

From the PG:

New admin and principal appointments

From the PG:

- The PG is continuing to report that "Westinghouse is scheduled to turn into single gender academies" without mentioning the fact that the district has found this plan to be unworkable without modifications which have not yet been agreed on.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Schenley musical

From the PG:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Broad in Detroit

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

"Pay close attention, this could easily happen here. Robert Bobb is an Eli Broad "Graduate".’s-last-hurrah-in-detroit/"

North Side candidates for school board

Part I:

Part II:

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Incident not far from Peabody

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

"Another incident not far from Peabody:"

"The limits of school reform"

Op-ed from NYT:

"Going back to the famous Coleman report in the 1960s, social scientists have contended — and unquestionably proved — that students’ socioeconomic backgrounds vastly outweigh what goes on in the school as factors in determining how much they learn. Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute lists dozens of reasons why this is so, from the more frequent illness and stress poor students suffer, to the fact that they don’t hear the large vocabularies that middle-class children hear at home.

Yet the reformers act as if a student’s home life is irrelevant."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Athletic meeting

On another post Anonymous wrote:


not to change the subject, but there is a meeting for all School AD's and coaches next Wensday May 4th.
As a member of the athletic reform cohort, can you shead any light on this meeting.

Thank You"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sci Tech enrollment limits

On another post a parent discussed the lack of space in the Sci Teach school for her son, who is enthusiastic about science and math. It has got to be frustrating to parents when the district offers a program that perfectly matches their child's interests, but limits space so severely.

For just this reason, at the time the sci tech school was proposed many people called for a larger program. With enrollment declining every year, the district needs to offer more of what actually attracts students and families. Instead, the primary consideration seemed to be fitting the school into the former Frick middle school (formerly Frick elementary school). It was pointed out that many students who are interested in science in 9th grade change their minds within a year or so, making it likely that 9th grade 100 student enrollment could shrink considerably by graduation time. The district's webpages shows that there is in fact space at this time for next year's 10th grade class but not next year's 9th grade class.

What can be done? Other locations for the school should be explored, but even within the limits of the Frick building there are options. For example, anticipating attrition the district could enroll more 9th grade students. The eventual graduating class would most likely be much closer to the 100 student goal.

Analysis of the Pittsburgh Promise

Professors from the University of Pittsburgh's Center on Race and Social Problems have done an analysis of "place-based college scholarships" including the Pittsburgh Promise. No link to the report has been located online, but here is an excerpt from the April 2011 paper, "PLACE-BASED COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS: AN ANALYSIS OF MERIT AID AND UNIVERSAL PROGRAMS":

"The Pittsburgh Promise and other merit aid programs primarily help students already planning to go to college to attend better quality colleges and reduce debt. These programs also produce a small increase in college enrollment, persistence, and completion rates, but they do not substantially improve K-12 student achievement, stop public school enrollment decline, or reduce poverty. Merit programs are also likely to substantially increase racial disparities in social and economic conditions since much higher percentages of white than black high school graduates receive the scholarship."

To improve K-12 achievement the report stated: "Most low-achieving students in center city school districts are minority and low-income. The best way to help these students is to provide comprehensive health, social, economic and educational services continuously from pre-birth through high school and additional assistance through college, as is done in the Harlem Children’s Zone."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

High achieving middle schools noted

None part of PPS.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Candidacy of Dr. Regina B. Holley for School Board

On the April "Start a new post," Kathy Fine wrote:

"I know that you are all actually paying attention and have been worried by the lack of oversight on our school board. We have an opportunity to start to make a difference.

Dr. Regina B. Holley has over 36 years of educational experience, both in the class room and in administration. Most recently she retired as principal from Lincoln Elementary in Homewood. She is willing to continue her advocacy for the children of our city by running for school board and pushing for real educational policy. She will ask the questions needed to ensure that ideas are sound and thought through BEFORE implementation. She will ask for checks throughout the implementation process to make sure that reforms are on track. Check out her website at

But we need your help. Dr. Holley is running against an incumbent that has been endorsed by the Democratic Committee in Pittsburgh, meaning she will be well funded and politically connected. We need you to:

Spread the word about Dr. Holley by recruiting 10-20 voters
Put a sign up in your yard
hold a coffee for Dr. Holley
spend some time knocking on doors
Volunteer on election day
Contribute to her campaign (teachers, contributions under $50 dollars can remain anonymous)-make checks payable to :

Concerned Citizens for Holley
901 N. Highland Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Please help in any way that you can. Dr. Holley has the experience would be a true advocate for common sense. Please email and let's start the process of real reform."

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".

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Most public school reformers are products of private schools

On another post, Cynical wrote:

"Add Mark Roosevelt to this list:

Most of today's education reformers are products of private schools. My favorite quote:

Bill Gates (Lakeside School, Seattle) has donated billions of dollars to public schools with the proviso that they carry out his vision of reform, including tying teacher tenure decisions to students' test scores. In November, Mr. Gates and Mr. Duncan (University of Chicago Laboratory School) called on public school leaders to increase class size as a way of cutting costs in these hard times. The two men suggested that schools could compensate by striving to have an excellent teacher in every classroom. The private school Mr. Gates attended has an average class size of 16, according to its Web site. The home page says the best thing about Lakeside School is it "promotes relationships between teachers and students through small class sizes." Mr. Duncan's private school has an average class size of 19."

New management at CEP

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"At a cost of 3.8 million, will the 315 students at Clayton be made "promise ready" under the new management?

City changing operator of alternative school"

Video released of shootout near Peabody last Friday

From WPXI:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Promis Readiness Corps

From the PG:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Diane Ravitch blog

On another post Anonymous wrote:

N"ew Diane Ravitch blog.

She worked for Bush and is so open minded she changed her mind."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Teachers have not unbalanced our budgets

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"For your teachers who are readers and writers here, may I suggest you print this commentary:"

- Subtitle: Teachers have not unbalanced our budgets, wars have"

IB discussion

The thread about U Prep has morphed into a thread about IB. Too bad more people with knowledge about U Prep do not post. Please leave IB related comments here. In any discussion of a school there is a danger of demoralizing those connected to it (although really, only a tiny fraction of those connected are likely to ever see the posts). But, there does not seem to be any real forum for collecting or sharing thoughts about PPS schools, with the result that parents and the community must take them or leave them (and with PPS enrollment going down much faster that Pittsburgh's population, that should be a concern).

From another post, Obama Teacher wrote:

"So many questions....
Most IB courses have PPS curricula, as well. Most have PPS books, as well. Since they are IB, they augment PPS with various IB areas of interaction on a daily basis. They tie the instruction into areas like health, environment, social, human ingenuity, etc. Materials, instruction and books augment PPS. Ancillary books are often read. In the IBDP, IB IS the curriculum used. In the lower grades, PPS sets the framework but IB ties that curriculum into a global way of thinking each day.
It is a very enriching and rewarding process and one that makes lemonade out of PPS's lemons.
I would want my kids to go this route if I had children of this age, to be frank.
Methods of teaching are much different than PPS---expectations are higher, teachers again are looking at a bigger picture, the element of rich conversation is much better utilized....

As far as the original question as to 'why would a parent cast disparaging comments at a school, etc...', please know that I liked the Schenley principal and her way of conducting IB. I also like the Obama principal and his different take of conducting IB in grades 11-12.
Some simply do not like him or his methods.
It seems to me that this is the reason why a few teachers and a few parents try to torpedo a good school.
A very good school.
Lastly, your comments about the middle school are rather humorous. I don't have a lot of dealings there but I'm obviously in the vicinity quite often.
The kids are not evil, they are not mean, they are not in halls after bells. The VP in charge of that area has to be...has to be...the most proactive administrator I have ever seen. She is literally everywhere, at all hours of the day. I've seen this now for two years.
After reading your comments about 6-8th, I have to wonder just which school you are referring to. It's not Obama. Is it Fantasy Island, are you simply hallucinating or is there something else behind your posts?"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shots fired behind Peabody

From wpxi:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Officials try to address mounting problems" at U Prep

From the City Paper:

According to the article the district is reexamining its relationship with the University of Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Plug pulled on single gender academies

Due to lack of signups the single gender academies will be pulled. There will be a single gender classroom option offered as a magnet.

"The children left behind"

Fascinating article on efforts of middle school students who due to social, emotional or behavioral problems have had to leave their original schools:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Corporate style reform

On another post, Anonymous wrote:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reported gains in DC schools questioned

From USA Today:

"This is not some sort of urban experiment"

NYT Magazine article on "The fragile success of education reform at one middle school in the South Bronx":

The article shows how poverty, numerous underperforming students transferring in, and constantly changing policies together make a school with 60% of students testing at grade level in math and 30% at grade level in English (many are native Spanish speakers) a success story.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Teachers chosen for "career ladder" positions

On another post Anonymous wrote:

City teachers set to start new roles to be more effective

Read more:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Board candidates speak at forum tomorrow (Saturday)

11:15- Pittsburgh School Board Races- District 2, District 6, District 8

District 2: Dara Ware Allen, Regina Holley, Celina Basant

District 6: Sherry Hazuda, Lisa Jones

District 8: Mark Brentley, Deloris Lewis, Arita Gilliam Rue, Lisa Freeman

Above is the school board candidate portion of following Voter Education event:

Press Release

Release Date: Immediate

What: A Non-Partisan Candidates’ Forum

When: Saturday April 9th, 10:30 PM – 4 PM

Where: Pittsburgh Schenley High School formerly (Reizenstein) 129 Denniston Ave

Hosted by: Western Pa Black Political Assembly (WPBPA), Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), The Alleghenians LTD, Inc, Talk Magazine and the Institute of the Black World (IBW)

Contact Person: Rich Phipps 412-243-1583

CAPA a finalist to have Obama speak at graduation

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "PPS district financial condition":

Pittsburgh CAPA finalist to have Obama at commencement

Friday, April 08, 2011
By Eleanor Chute, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh CAPA is among six finalists nationwide vying to have President Barack Obama speak at their commencement.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

PPS district financial condition

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"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."