Monday, May 2, 2011

Meeting tonight on plans for Westinghouse

Meeting of the Board's Education Committee, addressing plans for Westinghouse. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at Reizenstein at 6:00 pm.


Anonymous said...

New plans to attrack students to Westinghouse single-gender schools - Lane said, "Assign students...and let them opt out during their first 30 days at the school, if they wish." "Our goal is to make them so happy there, they'll want to stay."

Make them so happy how?
Opt out and go where then? If enough opt out, there won't be room at U-Prep. These parents and students just keep getting jerked around. What poor planning.

Anonymous said...

Linda Lane was asked by Dara Ware Allen to explain "why" this decision had to be made "now" and could not be postponed.

The response was "The staffing of schools . . . is what matters most. . . it is the most compelling reason." Lane indicated that they needed to "solidify effective teachers."

Question: Wouldn't a postponement (one year) give the Administration more time to work on staffing that would "solidify effective teaching"???

wLL said that the primary reason that the plan could not be postponed was "Staffing must be done now." (?? But not if it is postponed for a year. Right??)

Anonymous said...

What did Board Member Thom Sumpter mean when he said "people were throwing monkey wrenches" at this plan that has now been revised four times in an effort to get "buy in" by multiple communities?

People from all of the communities represented just want the best education for their children.

The Board just wants to change the name of the schools so that PPS will not be held accountable by the State for the low achievement.

A educational plan that works for CHILDREN needs time and planning. The planning has no evidence, no details and the time has run out!

The communities must find a way to have their VOICES HEARD and HEEDED!

Anonymous said...

As far as I know the staffing is done -- current teachers have already applied and been given positions. Or does she mean that they'd have to cut people? Add people if it gets to capacity? If the latter, I'd be surprised if they didn't hire to their plans rather than to reality.

Worst case, more of those specially picked teachers could follow the kids to UPrep (good day name)/Milliones(bad day name).

Anonymous said...

Heh, my word verification is "inumbio" and I'd have to agree that I am numbed/numbio by their thrashing around trying to get these plans to appeal to people without actually changing them.

Agreed that the "make them so happy there" phrase is worrisome. If I were going to be a teacher there, I might consider scheduling surgery for those first 30 or so days!

anony said...

Could it be other staffing at buildings about to experience change such as the Brashear Terachers' Center that makes the Westinghouse situation critical? To those of us who are not employees this whole thing is so confusing it adds to the possibility of us lay people losing interest.

Mark Rauterkus said...

So, I hear that Mark Brentley asked a question at the meeting, something to the effect of, "Shouldn't we consider opening old Schenley HS again?"

It went over like a lead balloon.

Wasn't there. ???

- - - -
I figure that the 'opt out' part is that Westinghouse will be a co-ed school that can force kids to attend there with feeder patterns. Then there will be options to get the kids into 'single-gender classes' for many subjects, but not CTE, advance level stuff, etc.

So it sounds like there are boys, girls, and co-ed. Plus there is a feeder pattern that gives preference. But, all from anywhere in the city can go to U-Prep.


Annette Werner said...

I was not at the meeting but was told that Dr. Lane mentioned a community member asking about Schenley and Dr. Lane replied that the same issues remained.

I'm not sure if I am the community member referred to, but I recently asked Dr. Lane about use of the Schenley building. She responded that the asbestos issue was not a myth. I noted that while it may not be a myth, I had reviewed the AHERA (Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act) reports in great detail and could see no difference between the situation at Schenley and the situation at another school currently in use for the Miller African Centered Academy (formerly McKelvey/ Gifted Center), except that the ceiling plaster had been removed at Miller. I requested an independent inspection/ comparison of the two buildings. This request was also submitted 2 years ago in a petition signed by 200 city residents.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Dara Ware Allen's question to Dr. Lane, doesn't the Board have the final say/vote/? The members can just vote "no" to this new plan. Why do they always just go along with whatever the administration powers want/decide? Show some guts for a change! We don't even need a Board for all they DON'T do for the people they supposedly represent.

Anonymous said...

ALL of the quoted responses from Administration show a lack of an rational thinking, planning, purpose, preparation, etc.. What exactly has been put in place at either Milliones or Westinghouse that ensures either EQUITY or EXCELLENCE for the Black students who must "voluntarily" (by law according to the attorneys) attend either of these "magnet" schools.

"Magnet" used to mean students had the desire and motivation to attend because of the special program that had been developed. Where can we find a description of the unique aspects of curriculum, and methods that teachers have been prepared to deliver at these schools?

Where in PPS school can we find "40" minority students whose achievement is NOT 30-40-50 points behind White students? Where in PPS has a program been developed that demonstrates equity and excellence for Black students?

In the last 5 years the achievement gap has grown wider. What is it about the uncertain numbers, undefined academic programs, unidentified students and staff for Milliones and Westinghouse ensures anyone that this is not another prospect for failure?

Anonymous said...

2:42 - Yes, they have the VOTE, but it seems that they believe that they MUST DO what ADMIN is recommending even if it does not make sense. They act as if their role is to represent the ADMIN instead of their constituents. It is extremely puzzling. The Board members' stated goal so often is that they must ensure consensus and support Admin even at the expense of the children's education.

This whole Milliones/Westinghouse situation DOES NOT MAKE SENSE at so many levels that there is no alternative but CONFUSION.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't it be the case that elected Board members set up times and meetings with those who elected them to learn how they can best serve the children represented; and to advise parents/community of what is being planned so that they can gather feedback to inform administration's planning and decision-making?

Why is it that if it were not for a few concerned parents setting up a meeting, the community would never hear from its Board member? It is the responsibility of Board members to represent concerned parents? Why is this not happening in the East End?

Instead, the Administration selects certain 'influential' community members to support them, mindlessly, and then creates a committee that they 'say' represents the community and uses that hand-selected group to push through ill-conceived agendas. It is the reverse of what should be happening!

Randall Taylor said...

I am sadden by the Board going through with an obviously dis-organized plan. The real shame is Westinghouse made it to the top of the agenda with this plan, it will not remain at the top of the agenda. The community must live with this plan for at least 4 or 5 years. But, what is it? What is going to happen differently in September than is happening now? There is already single-gender classes. Unlike, the ALAs which had new teachers, America's Choice-- something. What is different here except more children in Westinghouse.

Also, How is illegal for children to be forced into a single gender school, but they can be forced into a single gender class offering. I believe the District is legally exposed which is why these changes like opt out are being implemented. And opt out to where?
There are no miracles to operating a successful school. This plan asks for better results while doing the same things. Again, what will be academically different at Westinghouse in September 2011.

Anonymous said...

The biggest question of all is the legality of this. Not given a choice regarding a single-gender school is illegal, but not given a choice in a single-gender class is legal?

Why? What constitutes the difference? Can an attorney explain why there is a difference?

Linda Lane directly stated that ALL students would take "single gender core academics and electives."
She stated that only Arts and CTE would be co-ed.

Attorneys help us out here. What law is being referenced?

Anonymous said...

Who is going to make any of this clear to ALL parents, especially parents that are not informed and will not be aware of what is going on until after school opens?

This is more that a bit deceptive, don't you think? WOW. Are there any limits to what PPS will do to mislead the public?

Questioner said...

Required gender classes are as much of a problem as assignment to a gender school (see cases cited on this blog from last April when the plan was first announced).

The district has had 2 years now of single gender classes at certain grades at Westinghouse and Milliones. Information on whether GPA's in gender classes are higher than GPA's when those same classes were mixed has been requested but never received.

Questioner said...

And what about the issue that Milliones/ U Prep needed to stay at a certain size or lose its small school grant? Are any of our board members watching out for that issue? A couple of million here and a couple of million there makes a difference when there are teachers paying for copy paper out of their own pockets.

Anonymous said...

Well, that could explain it! If they have been doing single gender for 2 years without anyone being given an option, then they have every reason to believe that they can continue to do this. Why not?

The only way they will be able to fill the classes at Milliones and Westinghouse will be to ASSIGN the students. That way if students do not attend it will be the parents, not school officials, that will be held accountable.

Changing the name and theme of the school also allows officials to escape accountability for failure to meet the PA Academic Targets as well as failure in "making AYP."

Questioner said...

The first year they did it very quietly- organizations like the ACLU and Women's Law Projecct didn't know about it. Then for most of this year they have been saying students will have a non-single gender choice.

Anonymous said...

Have the ACLU, the Women's Law Project, and the Education Law Center been informed about these anticipated changes?

It would be good if they could be informed by letter
(or send the power point) prior to the Legislative Meeting on Wednesday night. Copy it to the Board.

Waiting until "implementation" as suggested by Kramer and Weiss will just exacerbates an already bad, bad situation.

Anonymous said...

I guess my only question to Annette would be....if they were to re-open Schenley, who would you have going there? Under what name?
Please don't think I am baiting you. I don't Schenley should ever have been closed, nor do I think the Schenley name should ever have been padlocked. I'm just wondering how things could be undone.

Annette Werner said...

There are a lot of options. U Prep facilities are inadequate for HS students. U Prep could be placed at Schenley and even named Schenley U Prep. As a Schenley successor it would gain alumni and community support, and the great location would attract students.

Or, IB could be placed there since there are problems w/ IB's facility options as well.

Or, 9-12 IB and U Prep could be placed at Schenley, w/ the 6-8 IB and U Prep schools at Milliones or Reizenstein.

Or a CTE academy could be placed at Schenley, with special efforts to draw back all the students who have dropped out because they are not finding their school experience meaningful and relevant to real world job opportunities. Put robotics back at Schenley.

Or we could just undo the new configurations that MR put into place and instead work to strengthen the programs at the schools. Apparently the Spartan program was quite successful, at least when given sufficient resources.

Anonymous said...

Given what is being said here about Schenley, it sounds like Miller African-Centered Academy will be the next school on the chopping block. A "good excuse' has been created; and, better yet, its coming from a "community member.

Questioner said...

PPS actually moved Miller to the McKelvey building at the same time it was saying Schenley was a danger. With Vann closing and Milliones/U Prep at capacity PPS needs the McKelvey building.

Anonymous said...

Vann School will be re-opening as a combined school for St. Benedict the Moor and St. Agnes. Vann was purchased this year for $350,000 by the Catholic Diocese and will be an option for Hill children. (Scholarships are available.)

Northside Urban Pathways is adding early grades and Propel is opening on the Northside.

There will be several options for those who want to flee the inadequate schools in PPS.

Anonymous said...

The experienced Principal at Miller has just been replaced with a PELA. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

The new "PELA" principal at Miller is not your usual PELA. She has been in the PPS system for many years in various positions. She was a V-P at Allderdice for several years and has earned her stripes and this position. I have no idea why the current principal is being replaced. I just want to set the record straight that the incoming principal has paid her dues and will do an excellent job at Miller. Students, faculty, and staff will love her.r

Anonymous said...

Annette, I truly like your ideas. They make a great deal of sense. I wish that you were calling the shots.

As for principal movement, there is a rumor going around that several schools will have PELA's placed as "directors" in schools next year. They are not going to be replacing the principal, mind you, but simply enforcing compliance.

Our tax dollars at work.

I'm saddened to say that Dr.Lane has changed nothing. There is still some force at work within this district--among the Otuwa's, Lipperts and Frenches--that is dangerous in that it has forgotten the best interests of children to instead push for micromanagement and compliance.

It's a dogma and it is pervasive on Bellefield Avenue. If my children were of age, they certainly would not be associated with this type of mindset in any way, shape or form.

Anonymous said...

Where are all the PELAs from this year going? I know there were a lot.

Anonymous said...

This feels like a shell game run by incompetent uneducated con artists.

Mark Rauterkus said...

What if Uprep middle grades stayed at Uprep and Uprep high school grades moved to existing Schenley. Plus, move IB high school grades to existing Schenley and keep IB middle grades at Reizenstein.

Go figure.

I agree w A above that there are plenty of options.

Anonymous said...

"As for principal movement, there is a rumor going around that several schools will have PELA's placed as "directors" in schools next year. They are not going to be replacing the principal, mind you, but simply enforcing compliance."

Sadly it looks like this program will take precedence over class size children and teachers. PPS is owned by Eli Broad & Bill Gates. The incentive is failure so private charter schools can swoop in.

Lane has always been as Rooseveltian as Roosevelt. She will retire comfortably back in Des Moines while the rest of us are scrambling and trying to figure out how Jerri Lippert or Derek Lopez magically became the new rubber stamp


Anonymous said...

What would you see as "help"?

What can citizens, parents, communities do to provide "help" that will reverse this slide into oblivion at the hands of these very, very, wealthy non-educators?

Realistically, what will it take? I hope that we won't wait until we are looking back wondering what happened. The time for action on behalf of the majority of our children in PPS is now.

Anonymous said...

If Pittsburgh really cares we need to go "Wisconsin" on Bellefield ave.

Peaceful huge protests might get some attention to how top heavy this joke is.

Anonymous said...

The Special Legislative Meeting that will pass this Westinghouse/Milliones Plan into action takes place this evening at Reizenstein.

Everyone who cares should be there tonight to protest.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, wasn't it necessary to have a certain number of kids enrolled in order to have a VP position in a building? But now some schools will have directors, too?

Anonymous said...

It's the same theory as training your teachers. Can't you remember Roosevelt talking about the "pipeline" of administrators he was going to need, hence PELA.

So now every year when there are far more PELAs available than jobs the District creates jobs for the PELAs.

I guess the simple reality of enrollment decline was never accounted for in this plan.

Anonymous said...

"So now every year when there are far more PELAs available than jobs the District creates jobs for the PELAs.

I guess the simple reality of enrollment decline was never accounted for in this plan. "

Simple realities have not been taken into account in their planning -- not for UPrep, not for the East End, not for High Schools.

They truly seem to think that schools and students are like game pieces -- you can just move them, change them, do whatever you want with them and they'll all just sit there and take it.

Truth is that people are constantly reassessing. In many ways they're lucky the economy has been this bad -- it's likely kept a few extra people from fleeing.

Anonymous said...

Do you think "enrollment decline" is aided and abetted by the lack of poor schools and programs?

Might enrollment not increase if education and achievement were the priority in PPS?

The priorities, rather, seem to be personal aggrandizement, power, prestige, and financial gain for those who are 'short' on the educational experience and knowledge.

The purpose of the PPS system does not seem to be academic achievement for students (except a selected few). The people who can make that happen are not at the table.

Anonymous said...

So, if we are to believe that, in the words of Dr. Lane, "staffing of schools is what matters most" and that it is the "most compelling reason" for not postponing the Westinghouse/Milliones re-organization until it is 'right' for students "assigned" to these two schools, then being "fair" to teachers is the highest priority, NOT students, NOT parents, NOT taxpayers, NOT academics, NOT achievement, NOT education, NOT excellence and equity for ALL.

Suddenly, the disappointment of teachers around positions for next year (which has never been ensured for any teacher, ever) out weighs the consideration of all of what follows the above "NOTs".

This excuse really stretches credibility to the absurd.

anony said...

The additional positions, such as Directors at schools, will cause the biggest stir when there is any tax increase. This will especially be true of the population with no kids in school who stay quiet until they feel things in the wallet. Only then will the general no-kids-in-school public start a fuss about the top heavy management.