Friday, June 10, 2011

How we got where we are Part I (July 2005 - July 2006)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"This lack of planning is nothing but the fruit of a tree planted in 2005. Perhaps we should slowly, but surely trace the roots of how PPS landed in the fine mess it now finds itself in.

Here's a short list of the greatest hits during the 2005-06 school year:

1. July 27, 2005: Board hires Mark Roosevelt as Superintendent of Schools. Roosevelt had no formal experience as a Superintendent.

2. September 28, 2005: Board breaks its contract with Andy King, demoting him from Chief Academic Officer to Special Assistant to the Superintendent. This will lead to the first of a series of expensive HR settlements.

3. November 22, 2005: Roosevelt begins his stream of carefully controlled studies, hiring the RAND Corporation to prepare a school closing analysis for $97,400. Like so many to follow, the underlying models assigning ratings to specific schools would never be made public, only the conclusions and a summary of the findings.

4. February 28, 2006: Board accepts a $1.5 million grant from the “Fund for Excellence” for start up costs for the Accelerated Learning Academies. Like so many programs during the Roosevelt, the Board would chase the immediate cash and give no regard for the long term sustainability of the program. America's Choice is hired for $3.6 million to support implementation of the ALAs. This is the same night the Right-Sizing plan is approved.

5. March 22, 2006: Kaplan is hired to write curriculum for $8.4 million.

6. April 26, 2006: The Institute of Learning receives a $400,000 contract to provide professional development to principals. An IFL or successor contract would become an annual item; the first one is funded by a grant, hiding the district's long term ability to support it. Expansion of central office in full swing with the creation of a Chief of Research.

7. May 26, 2006: The primacy of all things marketing begins with the Board opening positions for a Media Relations Manager and Community Relations Manager, all in the same year that 22 schools were slated to close.

8. June 21, 2006: The curriculum shuffle progresses with the DSF Charitable Foundation giving $1 million for new pre-k to 5 reading materials. Math wars remain with $120,000 spent for a Harcourt pilot and another $600,000 to other publishers. $50,000 is awarded for construction curriculum software at the same time that said CTE offerings were beginning to be phased out.

9. July 19, 2006: The Pennsylvania Department of Education hires PPS to run the Duquesne City School District. PSSA scores would drop dramatically during Mark Roosevelt's tenure as Duquesne's Superintendent of Record.

Next up: 2006-07"


Questioner said...

Someone has been watching. Really watching.

Anonymous said...

Someone is an excellent writer.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Kaplan hired, and then what? What were the outcomes? And, what was replaced?

When did that thing in the car happen?

It would be great to make this an open source and interactive history lesson.

South Vo Tech, and it's promised replacement needs continual mentions throughout. Vo Tech and CTE had a lot of drawing board time from a few, but the efforts never got to first base.

Anonymous said...

The thing in the car was way way way before AK was Acting Superintendent. In fact, way before AK became Chief Academic Officer the 1st time.

South Vo Tech Annex almost made this list. That school year a $12 million plan to rehab the annex for use as a smaller, citywide resource made it into the capital budget, briefly.

Mark Rauterkus said...

So, to some watching, bewilderment occurs at many turns. Some are institutional decisions. Some are personal. Some are geographic. Some are weird race, age, or field specific. But they are all in there.

A PPS history lesson like this could really resonate among families, taxpayers, residents, employees and even politicians. It will overwhelm, for sure.

If we could just shake away the crazy crap of PPS, that is the stuff that 99 percent of the people would all agree is crazy, we would be half way home. That is a big "if."

Multiple promotions come after the thing in the car. Go figure.

Veteran Teacher said...

Regarding Andy King and the car incident.

I'm a big believer in holding public figures accountable. And to promote someone after a scandal does send a wrong message.

That being said, I am a teacher who has worked under Mr. King's supervision.

In my dealings with King, he always made it clear that he valued my opinions, judgments, and contributions. When I needed administrative support, it was there.

He knew the value of employee morale.

When King walked into my classroom, I knew he was there to help, not to nitpick and find fault.

King would not accept poor teaching. But a good teacher would welcome a visit from him or any other administrator.

I will leave it up to others to contrast this with the situation of today.

Anonymous said...

one reason PPS never does research,
fact finding they always believe
whats looks good on OUTSIDE looks
good on the INSIDE my point is a old saying don't judge a book by it's cover sounds familiar that one
of the problems because works for
other school dist(s) might not work
for PPS does that make sense? than
the other thing they rush right in
when you bring something new there
needs to be a road map
other than that we always keep kicking the can down the ROAD likewise in the pass i don't mind
changes but there needs to be a reason for making changes.
after all ROME was not built in one
day but it took a day to tear it down!!!!!!!

Questioner said...

The rush approach was very characteristic of Roosevelt's time as superintendent. It was said during his first few years that he really wanted to show quick results (and move on; it's hard to imagine now but positions such as Secretary of Education under a Hillary Clinton administration were mentioned as possible goals!).

Randall Taylor said...

I hope people add to this list. There were many strange occurances during that first year. Does anyone remember Lynn Spampinato?
(like Berdnik unsubstantiated rumors suddenly appeared)

Mr. Roosevelt refused to tell the full board what were the specific reasons for her resignation. All the while he let the Board speculate among themselves. The Board approved $250,000 yet never demanded an explaination.

My belief was she confronted Mr. Roosevelt, about exactly what WE can only speculate. Mr. Roosevelt offered to privately speak with me, but I believed the full Board should be informed as to why the number 2 was being dismissed. The Board should have wanted to know if our Superintendent had made a error in his first important decision as the number 2 person in the District. Did Spampinato see something, know something, that the Board should know? In the end the Board trusted Mark Roosevelt, and refused to verify.

Randall Taylor said...

Anyone remember Lynn Spampinato?

Anonymous said...

Only what I have read in the papers. Looks like Roosevelt may have done a poor job of vetting her?

Stephanie Tecza said...

What about Paula Butterfield?

Anonymous said...

I did not know Lynn Spampinato was a Broadie too!

Good blog questioning her mysterious departure.

Questioner said...

This is starting to feel like those episodes near the end of a Survivor season, when the last 2 survivors walk by posts or signs with the names of the fallen.

Who will be the last survivor at PPS?

Anonymous said...

To pick up a bit where Veteran Teacher left off...Dr. King was acting superintendent for only about 6 months if memory serves me. Keep in mind I am only a parent who was active at the district level during the time he held the office. What I do remember fairly clearly was that he knew we would need to do some serious belt-tightening and was ready to consolidate responsibilities at the central office and eliminate positions there. Does anyone remember this too? And how we got so far afield from those ideas?

Anonymous said...

How about this one?

Anonymous said...

I like the Survivor analogy.

Jerri Lippert is the Richard Hatch of PPS in the game of Survivor. Too bad she is back stabbing and incompetent. She may outwit them all, unless she sees she has mo future here.

Old Timer said...

There are rumors from very good sources that upwards of 200 teachers will be let go at the end of next year.
Even if Dr.Lane did cut half of the administrators in the district, she did not cut enough.
No teacher should be fired in favor of keeping a do-nothing administrator who hides or a PELA that has no clue.The kids should come first, not protecting the jobs of the terminally useless.
I can appreciate the comment about about Dr.Lippert. You can include French, Otuwa and others in that category. Their contributions are not necessary and have been negligible, at best.
As for people like Tarka, Mary van Horn and others at the PFT, I can only say that any teachers who sees this ilk as an ally true ought to have their head examined. I can only surmise that moral corruption, if not worse, has led these people to selling out their rank and file.
Traitors. Cowards. What other descriptor comes to mind?

Anonymous said...

Somewhere, somehow, monies, perks, positions have been exchanged maybe?? One day let's hope it will all come out in the wash.

Anonymous said...

Well, this one isn't terribly hard to figure out.

The PFT office staff is funded by member contributions. As enrollment declined and membership declined with it, so did union dues.

It's not been well advertised, but the PFT is in money trouble. They have already refinanced the mortgage on their Southside offices.

The federal TIF grant provided a solution. Two of the PFT officers are now paid through that grant.

Anonymous said...

I thought the PFT main officers were paid their "teacher" salaries by PPS? Even though they no longer teach, they still receive their salary plus benefits, pensions, etc. from PPS. Am I wrong?

Nevertheless, just like the Bellefield group, PFT needs to cut their full-time staff as well. Tarka and the gang aren't doing what they should be doing for their dues paying members so why keep paying them?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:20, except for the two PFT officers now paid through the grant, the salaries and benefits are paid by Pps, BUT THEN REIMBURSED BY THE PFT.