Saturday, May 21, 2011

Reality based budgeting

The Westinghouse Alumni Association and Fiscal Friends of PPS' 40 point, $100 million Action Plan to Save Our School District

For no less than five years the Board, Superintendent, PFT, administration and community of the School District of Pittsburgh have received repeated and frankly monthly warnings that drastic measures would be needed to balance the budget as the impact of health care inflation, PSERS contributions, two recessions in the last decade, poor State and Federal funding outlooks ran, like two trains on a track, into very costly elements of a "reform" agenda such as pay for performance, principals emerging leadership academies, teacher academies, additional boutique high schools despite rapidly declining enrollment.

The Superintendent continued to downplay the risks, repeatedly saying that the State would never let us fall and that the Federal Government would step in to fund our initiatives. In the meantime, our annual academic gains have not outpaced our neighbors or the State as a whole. Only Mark Brentley paid attention.

1. It is time to go Back to Basics and institute Reality-Based Budgeting:
No tax increase. None. No need to talk about it when our cost per pupil is over $20,000.

2. Cancel our contracts with the Broad and Gates Foundations. Their influence, in creating ultimately unsustainable functions, bonuses and plans have been nothing but a cancer on this district.

3. Request that Mr. Roosevelt waive the remaining obligation to buy his life insurance coverage. The district - which for no less than five years has always projected that our budget gap could be as large as $100 million by 2013 unless it stopped trying every single new and great idea coming out of Seattle - needs a life line. Let your guilt guide you Mark. Estimated savings $200,000.

4. Eliminate the Board Office secretary. Board members are elected volunteers. Other urban PA school districts simply do not have this luxury. While the individual employee is solid, her functions should be consolidated with the Superintendent's office. Just to be clear, keep this good employee, but drop out the one or two lowest performing secretaries at the administration building. Estimated savings: $100,000.

5. Eliminate the elected internal auditor, the Office of the School Controller. When the City Controller is elected now, he or she is automatically the School Controller. This will require an act of the State legislature. As the 2005 Performance Study of the district noted, similarly sized school districts were performing the essential functions of this office with half or less than half the staff of Pittsburgh. A much smaller crew of maybe three, with the ability to directly report to the elected Board could do the essentials without the full cost. Estimated Savings $500,000.

6. Consolidate the collection of current real estate taxes with Allegheny County, appointing the Treasurer of the County the collector for the school district. This may require an act of the State legislature unless the City takes like-kind action. The district under prior leadership already took action to outsource the collection of delinquent real estate taxes (joining the County with Jordan tax services) and to outsource the collection of earned income taxes (Jordan tax services through Act 32). Estimated savings $1,000,000.

7. Eliminate all external communications consultants. Appoint a very streamlined function to report directly to the Superintendent of Schools. As a much larger district, Pittsburgh used to be capable of having honest conversation with its constituents when it was just Pat Crawford, Lynne Turnquist and a secretary. It's time to return to that model. This model includes blowing up the Office of the Chief of Staff. The office currently includes roughly ten unnecessary positions, such as a deputy chief of staff, a special events specialist, a manager of media relations, a manager of community relations, a call center manager, etc. We can no longer afford to behave as though we have 100,000 or more students. Estimated savings $1,000,000.

8. Move the Minority Business Enterprise functions and staff in with the Purchasing Department. RFP all external consultants over $10,000 using a short form quotation system. Embed participation language and goes into all quotes, bids and RFPs at the point of control. Estimated savings $200,000. The estimated savings is not from eliminating the positions, it is from a lower cost of business on consultant contracts.

9 Eliminate the Research office (approximately 8 staff), except for two staff who simply would continue to distribute and manage required and desired testing documents. Start using the very same already delivered and packaged State reports that every school district in PA that is making AYP uses. Estimated savings $500,000.

10. Auction all closed school buildings to the highest bidder. The average cost of just cutting the grass, plowing the snow and keeping a gas, electric and water connection to each closed school building has to be in the $50,000 range. Stop pretending that every closed building is a South Vo Tech, located in a prime market (South was sold for $1 million because of its prime location on Carson Street). Even if you dump every property for a $0.01 we will save on the soft cost of keeping them. Estimated savings $1,000,000.

11. Streamline academic administration into just four departments: Elementary Schools, Secondary Schools, Pupil Services and Curriculum/Professional Development. Eliminate every manager - every non-secretary - with less than 6 to 7 direct reports. Estimated savings $2,000,000. This includes the elimination of the office of strategic planning with Derrick Lopez.

12. Merge the MT. Oliver Intermediate Unit with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. The benefit will be tapping into a network of educational leaders not beholden to national foundations. Estimated savings $200,000.

13. Merge Murray, Arlington 1 and Arlington 2 into two buildings. Estimated savings $700,000.

14. Keep Obama at Reizenstein, avoid the cost of moving to Peabody, move special education administration out of Overbrook and into Reizenstein. Another alternative is move Obama to Westinghouse, which could free Reizenstein to be the consolidated administration building or to even sell Reizenstein (with the funds being used to pay down debt in accordance with the tax code). Estimated savings $700,000, plus whatever capital projects can be avoided as a result, which could stem into the millions.

15. Consider closing Oliver and merge with Perry or Langley if safety issues are addressed unlike what it happening with the east end merger plan that includes Westinghouse and the Peabody and black students from East Hills made to leave Allderdice. Oliver is too small (student population) to offer the kids a meaningful education. Langley is air conditioned. Estimated savings $700,000.

16. Eliminate all non-Head Start pre-k (keeping only those who meet the economic guidelines set forth by the state and federal government) and use any Accountability Block Grant funds that might be restored in the Governor's budget for kindergarten. Families that can afford to pay their way into pre-k who are not eligible for the remaining federal and state programs would be welcomed with open arms. Estimated savings $2,000,000.

17. Use Open Office or Google as the district wide platform for word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Estimated savings $600,000.
Cancel this year's Summer Dreamer's Academy except for free/reduced lunch students and below basic students. All others to pay tuition. Use the savings to make the 2011-12 purchases of reading and math textbooks and supplemental materials and/or look backwards at any and all expenses during the grant period that can be attributed to this funding source without supplanting. Estimated savings $2,000,000.

18. Cut the human resources department in half. We will be laying off, not hiring. As a sign of the current dysfunction at Bellefield, PPS is actually trying to hire another HR employee right now. Estimated savings $1,000,000.

19 Invite all unions back to the bargaining table to offer creative methods to save money, which could include wage or benefit concessions. Estimated savings $4,000,000.

20. Invite each bordering school district to merge with the Pittsburgh Public Schools (examples include Sto Rox, Wilkinsburg, etc.). If just two take the offer, the estimated savings is $1,000,000.

21. Eliminate the contracted solicitor services and either hire him or hire two staff attorneys solicitors to do all but the most specialized work. Historically the district had only two staff solicitors and a lower cost of legal services. The district uses real estate counsel, workers compensation counsel, labor counsel, bargaining counsel, special education counsel, etc. Estimated savings $500,000.
Realign school times and more fully populate existing yellow bus routes, pilot expanded use of port authority. Estimated savings $1,000,000.

22. Eliminate the centralized gifted center and go to decentralized elementary gifted education/differentiated instruction with supports. Estimated savings $2,000,000.

23 Cancel the balance of the Two Bell LLC contract, who is now doing financial duties. He's getting $50,000 a month. We had a very talented CFO that repeatedly warned us of what was going to happen and offered solutions like those incorporated in this plan. Where is he? Bring him back now before we go bankrupt. Estimated savings $100,000.

24. Cancel the external contract for lobbying and just leverage the joint power of the Pennsylvania School Board Association. This is exactly how almost every other school district in the state engages in lobbying efforts. Estimated savings $100,000.

25. Eliminate all reading/math coaches. Use qualified tutors, for instance, from the PACT Program at Duquesne University to work in small groups with Title I students. Duquesne has provided free service to our students for years, now its time to engage them and rely on their expertise to expand their services. Estimated savings $5,000,000.

26. Increase retiree contributions for health care benefits for future PFT and administrative retirees. The does requires renegotiation but to save or schools its worth it. Estimated savings $1,000,000 for each cohort of retirees (amount of savings would grow each year).

27 Eliminate CAS and PSP classes for gifted secondary education. These classes are duplicative and are not a state mandate. Other school districts right here in Allegheny County offer secondary enhancement through AP and IB only. Use AP and IB offerings, plus some differentiated instruction, to meet the needs of secondary gifted students. Estimated savings $5,000,000.

28 Cancel the employment contracts of all remaining Broad residents (approximately 5). This includes, for instance, the athletic reform manager, whose duties from day one should always have just been part of the responsibilities of the current Athletic Director. Estimated savings $500,000.

29. Raise the remaining student to teacher ratio from 14:1 to 20:1, keeping smaller class sizes in K, 1 and 2, plus special education and alternative education. Use precious Title I dollars to provide direct services to those students in need. Estimated savings $50,000,000. This may require further school consolidation.
Eliminate the PELA program to train new principals and the Academies to train new teachers. We should partner with our local universities to provide support and quality administrative and teaching candidates. There will be lots of qualified, displaced individuals across the State that we could hire to fill vacancies in specialty areas, if need be. Otherwise, we will be in furlough mode any way. Estimated savings $3,000,000.

30 Eliminate duplication of alternative education. Keep the Student Achievement Center and get rid of CEP. Estimated savings $2,000,000.
Consider a four day school week (increase hours per day). For transportation and facilities alone, the estimated savings is $5,000,000.

31. Use the balance of the central duplication services fund to pay a portion of this year's copying bill. This fund was created to capture the internal cost of color printing and it was meant to be used to pay for the cost of the central printing equipment and staff. The balance at year end should have been drawn down to pay for part of this year's bill. Estimated savings $100,000.

32. Adopt a 10 year cycle for curriculum renewal. First we had Kaplan, then we had the Assistant Superintendent continuing to tinker with curriculum and rewrite what had just been done. Do it once, do it right, do minor maintenance, but leave it alone for 10 years. Estimated savings $1,000,000.

33. Eliminate the use of recurring and duplicative educational services contracts to include consultants such as the Institute for Learning, Paula Bevin and others. Estimated savings $1,000,000. If our leaders and Assistant Superintendents are incapable of coaching other administrators, its time to find new Assistant Superintendents.

34. Consolidate Pittsburgh's career and technical education efforts with those of the surrounding districts. If our classes are not large enough, let's plan with the surrounding centers to share offerings that are fully enrolled. Estimated savings $1,000,000.

35. Because this plan shaves the district's cost per pupil dramatically, it will also reduce our charter school tuition rate. The rate Pittsburgh pays charter schools is simply a function of Pittsburgh's cost per pupil. As we generate savings, the cost per pupil will go down, thereby reducing the charter school tuition rate. Estimated savings $8,000,000.

The projected annual savings listed here exceeds $100 million. That is on purpose. The incremental savings that exceeds $100 million will be annually appropriated into an Innovation Pool from which individual teachers, administrators, joint labor management committees, etc. will competitively apply for mini-grants or one time costs to keep the District growing intellectually or to even fund certain costs that might be incurred in order to achieve greater efficiencies or economies of scale (such as a follow up to the very comprehensive 2005 study of all administrative functions that the Commonwealth's Legislative Budget and Finance


Questioner said...

Some of the suggestions are certainly open to debate, but an excellent starting point from WAA for a real discussion about the budget.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! A very fine beginning to a community process that, as it stands, could potentially, solve all of the problems currently facing the District. Elimination of egregious and widely acknowledged excesses in central office personnel and exorbitant costs blatantly extraneous to students' education and academic achievement.

Let's support this at a city-wide level! Get the word out locally, state-wide, and nationally ____ by any means necessary. Pittsburgh can lead the way with this carefully conceived and thoroughly presented plan for K-12 educational reform in a District that has long since lost sight of goals and processes for preparing Pittsburgh children for successful and productive lives

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Attorney Reggie Bridges and the Westinghouse Alumni Association colleagues for an extremely well-executed plan. Hopefully, PPS Board and Administration will take heed and jettison the BROAD/Gates influence. Let's get back to education in our schools. This is a Budget Proposal that can work!

Questioner said...

How does the new Teachers Academy fit into the budget? The district had hoped that funds to match the Gates grant would come from the federal Race to the Top, but Pittsburgh was not a winner of the Race. Where are the funds coming from? Do we really need to tranin new teachers while furloghing other teachers?

Questioner said...

Here's what the district has set up for staff, families and community members to share views on the budget:

There is a form for submitting feedback online:|&NodeID=6044

To have a real discussion and an accurate picture of community comments, feedback should be available unless the submitter requests confidentiality. In comments to the district, please ask that the comments be promptly posted to facilitate discussion.

Anonymous said...

Confidentiality is critical for anyone with any connection to PPS. Honesty is not well-accepted to put it gently.

Questioner said...

Comments can apparently be submitted to PPS on an anonymous basis, provided you don't give your name and, to be safe, that your email address does not identify you. For those who do not want PPS to share their comments with the public, that should also be an option. Most people however would probably not mind having comments posted, at least on a no-names basis.

Anonymous said...

I suggest we take these ideas and "march" on Bellefield the day of the Board meeting. Notify the media and get this all out in the open. There has always been too much backroom wheeling and dealing ahead of time. We need to take back our school district. (and our union)

How much would it cost to take out a full page in the P-G, Trib., and Courier to list these suggestions?

Questioner said...

Some of the specifics need to be hashed out first, though. For example, number 27- it would be difficult to offer only AP and IB classes for gifted education in secondary schools because AP classes are college level and not appropriate for grade 9 and 10. For example, what AP math class could be used for 9th grade? IB is only at one school and for the most part does not seem to drive the content of a course like CAS math.

Anonymous said...

They are going to raise our taxes! Are we getting our monies worth to necessitate this? I don't think so...

Anonymous said...

Obviously I would have to read the 40 points several times and really think about each one before voicing an opinion on it. WAA has invested a great deal of time in the proposal's research and presentation. Since much affects all students in all schools and feeder patterns, all stakeholders should have an opportunity to weigh in. I will use the example of #27. For clarification, CAS has its own curriculum, but PSP and mainstream use a common curriculum. As a parent my understanding was that there is the possibility for PSP students to work at a faster pace. If this is in error maybe some teacher reading this will help with a better explanation. Now, the district is already making modifications that could prove to be very similiar to the proposal from WAA's #27. WAA needs to take IB out of the discussion entirely since only IB schools can be IB. My point is that there may be other items in the 40 points that need another pass from another set of experts.

For many, CAS is the equivalent of Honors classes offered in our suburban and parochial schools. Include a cap on the number of kids in an AP class at 15 and then talk to us about eliminating CAS curriculum.

Anonymous said...

This, too, is a wave of change in many districts. Which always makes me suspicious that it's got the guiding hand of big money education reform behind it.

The article above points out how it's actually causing kids to take classes that are probably less challenging than they could handle.

Anonymous said...

Those are relatively minor details if you are considering "reform" in education. All courses at all grade level, particularly at the secondary, should be "open" to any student who is willing to take it on, regardless of grade level. Those teachers within the district who are teaching those courses could share/coach/mentor/facilitate the development of other teachers with preliminary qualifications and certifications required. Most students will rise to the level of course and teacher expectation and the desire to demonstrate competencies can and will motivate students to take on the challenges. Instead of dumbing down with low expectations for the majority, opening as opposed to closing or limiting student options will incentivize many of those just drifting through or opting out. We need to think very differently about what we offer and allow students to make choices.

All of the 'reservations' that center around adult perceptions of what is appropriate or not for students must be set aside.

Think outside the box! Challenge! Be creative! Honor individual hopes and dreams! Inspire with options and choices that defy the current norms!
Bring students, all students, into the conversation and planning! Close your ears to the narrow-minded, cynical, non-believing dissenters!

We only limit ourselves and our children with constrained and regimented thinking!

Anonymous said...


There is a public hearing on Monday night, May 23rd. A line of folks could register to speak and one by one deliver the 40 item, or maybe two or three items per speaker.

I like one at a time ___ more emphasis!

(With nothing deleted or eliminated___ just concerned citizens exerting their power/influence in the only way currently available.

Fill the room the way the Charter Schools do!

How about a room full of Westinghouse Alumni T-Shirts?

Anonymous said...

"All courses at all grade level, particularly at the secondary, should be "open" to any student who is willing to take it on, regardless of grade level."

This is a nice sentiment, but has no basis in reality. If a student is placed in a course without the required prerequisites or the skill sets necessary both student and classmates suffer. In such mixed classes the instructor is left to either reteach the needed prerequisite skill or leave some students behind to show fidelity to the curriculum. No amount of cheerleading or desire can overcome a deficient knowledge base when learning new material.

For example, it would be cruel to throw a person into the deep end of the pool without a thorough background in swimming techniques. It is also counterproductive to put first time swimmers in with olympic hopefulls, the needs of both parties cannot be met. Without prerequisites or course requirements our students will be doomed to mediocrity. Bad classroom placements often lead to students acting out and everyone suffers. A balance can be struck, but in a way that matches the course with the particular needs of the student.

Questioner said...

AP classes are college level classes. In college, students who are not ready for college level classes are assigned to remedial classes first. The same approach would seem appropriate for PPS students taking college level courses.

Anonymous said...

Some students are pushed into AP classes. See Advanced Misplacement

Anonymous said...

Again and again we hear the call for EQUITY and EXCELLENCE for ALL, so . . .

Why would we want to put a cap of 15 on an AP class while PSP and Mainstream are not even capped at 30?

Why during the Agenda Review today did they deliberate over the cost of computers MAC vs PCs with several Board members objecting to MACs for Westinghouse because PCs are cheaper. Yet, CAPA and Sci-Tech were given all outfitted with MACs because of the inherent advantages.

In some schools we have elaborate playground equipment and in others nothing.

At schools in the poorest areas the Board has eliminated Foreign Language, Music, the Arts, and other extracurricular advantages that provide strong educational foundations and access to magnet programs. Yet, in White, more middle class schools the have all of the above as an integral part of the academic programs.

Can anyone explain how this is consistent with the PPS mission of EQUITY and EXCELLENCE for ALL?

Questioner said...

Which schools have no music classes or no art classes?

Anonymous said...

1) 6:25 and 2)6:35

1) Not once did you read "placement" or "throwing in" or any abuse of "prerequisites." Rather, the post was about "low expectations" and the lack of options or choices which begins with tracking and lack of opportunities to learn at broader, wider, deeper levels, as well "challenge" that does motivate many to heights not predicted or even conceived.

2) "Remediation" for the majority of student is a misnomer (see definition), since the skills were never taught in the first place, which is not the fault of student(s).

Anonymous said...

Deficit perspectives abound which is why there is no progress with certain student populations.

Unfortunately, elitist and racist perspectives, similarly, prevail.

And, who is responsible for being "doomed to mediocrity"?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the more remediation needed, the smaller the class should be. Well-run honors/gifted/AP classes could have larger numbers of students (25 range) IF the students' want to be there.

I have no problem with opening high-level classes to all students with these caveats:

1) Any student, no matter the label placed on them (GIEP, IEP etc.) can and will be removed if their behavior interferes with the learning of other students in the room.

2) The teacher is not expected to have all students achieve at or above a certain level. That is, teachers are not pressured to ensure that every student in the class is getting a grade that makes them "promise eligible."

ALSO, the teacher should not be expected to change the speed, rigor or contents of the class to make it suitable for *any* student who wants to take it. The pacing and depth of the course should be geared at the top-performing 15-20% of students and provide them with challenging work.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Sell the BOE building in Oakland. Move admin into a school building, such as Langley or Westinghouse.

Mark Rauterkus said...

For those who do not want PPS to share their comments with the public, then go to private school. This is a public process.

Just to be clear, the messenger can be cloaked, but not the message.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Who was responsible for this body of work? Is there a different place on the web for this or only here?

Questioner said...

The Westinghouse Alumni Association put together the list. So far it has only been posted on PURE's website, but we are asking that the district post on its "Fiscal Challenge" page all suggestions and comments including the WAA list.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Good to know. Thanks.

Furthermore, I LOVE the idea of the district fully supporting as a platform. Get away from Power Point, Word documents and other high priced software that can be better understood with open source software.

Go get it:

Anonymous said...

WAA seems to be light years ahead of the District at this point. Kudos Reggie and friends! We may not individually like each strategy, but what a bold and comprehensive step you have taken to move the district beyond paralysis.

Anonymous said...

Some interesting ideas here.
Please note, while a tempting target in this era of budget cutting, the Gates Teacher Excellence initiative is not part of the regular budget, nor is the $38 M in matching funds PPS did receive from the Federal Govt. Canceling this effort won't save money, it will only deprive the students of the better teachers they needs.

Anonymous said...

The top successful educators in this state would argue that the many of those providing these services, are less than quality, short on effectiveness, and more than questionable as providers of professional development that will "better" our teachers.

Thus, the money is being wasted and our students continue to be "deprived" of what they need.

So, "canceling" the current use of this funding and putting in place effective, quality, professional development, personnel and programs could lead us to the goal of better teachers and programs.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the key words used in the 40 points was UNSUSTAINABLE. When grant money runs dry we will have to disband academies for teachers and stop paying any bonuses and restructure pay scales and...

Questioner said...

Re: # 15 Close Oliver- the facilities consultant recommended this step. The Langley area apparently complained, but it sounds like PPS is again considering this closing. DLopez had presented plans for a Gateway Center, Big Picture learning and mandatory CTE, but students may well be better off at a school with better enrollment and more existing, well-established electives and activities.

But, what if Propel then asks to take the building? It would almost certainly attract strong enrollment.

Anonymous said...

But, what if Propel then asks to take the building? It would almost certainly attract strong enrollment.

Seems unlikely -- it's a huge, sprawling school, on a huge site. The upkeep and needed improvements would make it an odd choice for them, I think. While they can attract students, it's unlikely they could scale up to the needed size quickly and be successful, too.

But, all that said, I don't think that we should keep open a poorly performing school in a decaying building just so that someone else doesn't take it!

Questioner said...

With PPS buildings going so cheaply- sometimes for free- it might be economical to reduce the size of the building, who knows. But any decision about Propel should be based on what is best for students.

Anonymous said...

Currently, Propel is leasing Columbus; but I'm sure they could fill Oliver as well. Although, expansion of Manchester Charter might be the best choice.

Pittsburgh is going to lose most of its students because it is incapable of providing a good education for any but those 'designated' as "gifted" in a particular area supported by certain parents and certain others.

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh is going to lose most of its students because it is incapable of providing a good education for any but those 'designated' as "gifted" in a particular area supported by certain parents and certain others.

Trust me, those kids/parents are fleeing just as fast as all the others.

And don't worry, I did understand the snark behind the remark, so don't feel compelled to add to it!

Anonymous said...

Odd response, 5:00.

Anonymous said...

Are you confused to learn that parents of "gifted" children don't find the PPS to be doing much of value with their children?

That even those in "that part of town," excuse me, "particular area" don't feel that they're getting anything all that useful?

I get sick of the implications here that anyone who thinks that ALL children should be met at their level and challenged from there is some sort of selfish, ill-informed elitist.

I know of several kids who have lots of problems once they get to college and actually have to put forth some effort to do well -- that was something that was hardly ever needed in all their years in the PPS.

Anonymous said...

I would also like to suggest that the PR department gets a smaller budget. The number of full color heavy cardstock invitations, postcards, and "reminder cards" produced for advertizing the career ladder positions alone was staggering.

Anonymous said...

Amen. I know that the answer is always that it was a grant or a foundation or whatever -- but stop taking money for stupid stuff!

Pitch things that kids actually need instead!

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh is going to lose most of its students because it is incapable of providing a good education for any but those 'designated' as "gifted" in a particular area supported by certain parents and certain others.

Trust me, those kids/parents are fleeing just as fast as all the others.

And don't worry, I did understand the snark behind the remark, so don't feel compelled to add to it!"

Me either.

I just think It is sad that Allderdice is viewed as nirvana or viewed as the creme de la creme. It is a far cry from that. The bar and our expectations have been lowered by PPS and caring parents throughout the city are trying their best to limbo for their kids.

We ALL want our kids to be SAFE and get a decent education. Our kids ALL deserve it.

If Gates and Broad really want to help they would put their money into social work, community, parental education and
early intervention. This is not about teachers, it is about poverty, rascism, and how divided we are. Until people understand that it really does take a village, (sorry Hillary haters, but it is true) to raise a child and to help lift up parents in need nothing will change.

Allderdice is probably the safest high school. Safety should be a given not a luxury. My child is caucasian, gifted and we live in "that particular neighborhood".

Anonymous said...

What is the "snark" everybody is getting from what was quoted?

Sometimes people create problems that don't exist? Minds are a terrible thing to waste.

Solving problems is what we should be doing here.

Anonymous said...

If you don't recognize the "snark" you either don't have any kids in the schools or you are part of the administration!

The snark says that average performing and above white students have parents who are only concerned with their very own little darling and are out to actively ruin the educations of poor, black children.

This gets extended to the idea that *any* complaint about behavior, about curriculum, and certainly about children being bored or not challenged in the least by the curriculum means you are racist and actively working against the district and the goals of education.

It also ignores that *many* of the parents most concerned about the behavior in the schools are not these same parents!

This is also seen in Broad/Gates districts across the country. It's as effective as "No Child Left Behind" was initially as a slogan. If you pointed to weak aspects of that legislation, questions were posed to you that suggested you really did want to leave children behind -- or why would you question?!

It's now moved up to include charges of racism as well -- if you dare to challenge the wisdom of these reforms, you must hate the black children.

This doesn't work well on the black parents, obviously, but since the district is doing an increasingly good job of having segregated schools, that's less and less of a problem. They can be all sickly sweet, we're so concerned about your babies at some meetings -- though the parents I've seen there are not buying the act.

Anonymous said...

Well anonymous 3:41, if we could only explain why the "funders" have not reached the conclusions you have we might get somewhere. I get tired of any arguements where stones get thrown at "that particular neighborhood" and wonder how nobody notices the decades of parental engagement of the highest level. And I am not from "that particular neighborhood."

Mark Rauterkus said...

City to go w google and drop M$.