Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Teacher Academies nixed

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Training academies for Pittsburgh teachers won't open.

I wonder if GATES is happy about this>>>>"

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Fiscal Challenges. Once again the District makes a late decision and tries to spin it as though they have done something worth applauding. The Central Administration today announced that they were not going t6o move forward with the Techers Academies at Brashear and King as a cost savings, but no mention of the fact that these projects were already bis through the states Co-Stars program and that the contractor's that won the bids will most likely have to be paid for the projects anyway, another waste of more than $300K. Also, apparently the way to save money is to announce a hiring freeze and then advertise for not one, not two, but three new Directors positions for the Technology Department. Typically Directors positions within the District start at approximately $90K a year. If three Directors are needed, what exactly is the Chief of Technology going to do."


Questioner said...

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Training Academies for Pittsburgh Teachers won't open

A budget crisis or a crisis of leadership?"

Questioner said...

According to the article, 38 teacher candidates who had signed on for the academies, set to begin in 5 weeks, will instead be furloughed. Also per the article the district apparently gets to keep the Gates money and use it in other ways to promote teacher effectiveness.

Is it possible that Gates will leave it up to the district to decide how to promote effectiveness?

Anonymous said...

Will central office teacher academy & PELA layers of Broad management all get promotions? I ave no idea what the Gates Foundation will do, but the district owes them a lot of money and now are backing out of the deal.

I am waiting for Lane to bare bone Bellefield.

Anonymous said...

Just so there is absolutely no confusion about the "glowing" report Aspen published on Pittsburgh's efforts, please take a moment to go to this website:

Type "Aspen" in the search field to see just how much money the Gates has paid the Aspen Institute to publish otherwise seemingly "independent" analyses that support the iniatives Gates' funds.

What a scam. PPS and PFT should be embarassed.

Anonymous said...

...and just to make sure we close the loop, go back to this website:

...and type the word "Antioch" into the search field.

Think it is a coincidence that our failed superintendent was given a quiet post at the college Antioch shed to keep his performance off the Gates and Broad radar?

Think again.

Questioner said...

Looking quickly, the antioch search on the Gates Foundation page seems to just show grants to Antioch back in 2002 and 2004, along with grants to other colleges and universities. Isn't it a little difficult to connect that to Mark Roosevelt obtaining a position at Antioch in 2010?

Questioner said...

PG article:

- The district attributes the decision to the fact that it would be unable to protect new hires if experienced teachers are furloughed.

But, wasn't the academy also going to work with existing teachers to improve their skills?

Anonymous said...

Where is the announcement that PPS had cancelled the contract with the New Teacher Project?

Wasn't this cost more than $1 million to help them staff the Academies?

Somebody owes a very good explanation to those 38 now furloughed individuals and the public as to why they were offered contracts after the Governor released his budget proposal.

Nothing remotely touching the comprehensibility and thoughtfulness of WAA's 40 point plan - you don't have to love every idea, just that somebody stepped up to say here's how to stop you paralysis - had come from Bellefield.

Instead, the new edition of the Pittsburgh Educator has an article touting the Teacher Academies!

Do you think maybe it is time to stop printing your own newspaper? Another fine example of a cost that started innocently as a grant and us now a white elephant in the Communications budget.

Questioner said...

Speaking of the furloughed individuals, remember how one reason given for continuing single gender education at Westinghouse was that teachers had already signed up and changing the program would disappoint them.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Stay the course..... Think again.

Perhaps the killing of the teachers centers puts a lid on the whole idea of staying the course.

janeqpublic said...

This is awful for the 38 recruits but going ahead with the plan would have been the wrong message to send. Hopefully redirecting the Gates funds will bring new ideas to reach goals.

It seems a lot of agonizing and discussion occured before this decision; it would be interesting to know what ways to protect new hires were explored and dismissed in the talks between the admin and union. And, when a recruit uses the word "guarantee" you wonder what will happen next.

Anonymous said...

Having heard about the interview process (and quality of interviewees) for the new teacher positions, this seems like a good idea. There was no way the district needed that many new teachers in a time when they need fewer teachers. (And fewer PELAs.)

The part they aren't addressing is the experienced teachers who were chosen to staff this experiment. What happens to them now? They were promised a salary bump, they left other positions. Do they get them back? Do they have to redo transfers that have already been accomplished?

Questioner said...

Also, budget issues may provide a good excuse for not staying a course that has problems.

Anonymous said...

If I'm one of the 38 new hires with a contract, and the contract has been broken, I'm suing. The man they quoted passed up other jobs and was moving to Pittsburgh! Surely PPS has to compensate these people for this mess.

Also, there is bound to be a "snowball effect" as to current employees who changed schools for one reason or another.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Perhaps the experienced teachers who have a new assignment at Brashear HS or King will stick to those posts. That might be an upside to this for students at those schools. They'd get solid teachers that have been hand-picked.

Extra duties, extra pay, extra noise --- who knows.

As I've said, it is going to be a bumpy ride around here (PPS & K-12 education in PA) for a while.

I would question if a lot of agonizing and discussion occured before this decision, -- BEYOND the reaches of the ADMINISTRATION. What of the "public" part of the greater school community?

No doubt, "All the king's horses and all the king's men won't be able to put Pittsburgh together again."

(King pun unintended.)

Where was the vote?

Once the citizens, families, and even, gosh, the students are put into the mix -- then I'll cheer. We've now got a few at the teachers union and a few district administrators doing it all. They are calling the shots.

Citizens say, "Air ball, air ball, ..."

Questioner said...

Weren't the experienced teachers only going to Brashear for a semester or so before returning to their regular schools? There would seem to be no reason for the disruption now.

And where is the Board in all this? Did the Board vote for the teacher academies? If so, wouldn't it need to vote not to have them? Or did it just need to vote to accept a gift from Gates, with just general goals (teacher effectiveness) specified?

Anonymous said...

Re: the Board

Once upon a long, long, long time ago the Board ran things. Now the administration dictates and the Board nods their heads yes.

Anonymous said...

True. The unfortunate part of this is that the Board seems to think that is what they are supposed to do - support administration. That is how they have been trained. Consensus is the objective, not achievement for students.

For a long time Boards knew little about education and often made very bad decisions. Now, neither administration, nor Board members, nor Foundations in control of the money know nothing about the academic advancement or achievement for students. Instead the goal for all is a successful BUSINESS plan/agenda/financial advancement.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, "know anything," is how it should read.

As I heard it said...

There are two sets of "experienced teachers" being talked about here.

One set is the "CRIs" who applied for and were offered positions at the Teacher's academy. Those teachers do not yet know how this is all falling out for them. Will they be able to return to their previous positions, for instance?

They were also given extra money for this job, which, one assumes is now gone.

The other set of experienced teachers are the teachers still in their classrooms who would have cycled through the program in several week chunks.

As I understood it here was the deal:

Beginning of year, CRIs teach new teachers how to teach AND how to manage a classroom. When they are ready, these new teachers go out and cover the classrooms of the experienced teachers who are cycling through. You know, in the months leading up to the PSSAs -- so teachers leaving their classrooms would have their class' scores affected by the quality of the new teacher...

As I heard it said...

Wasn't ditching the Teacher's Academy on the Westinghouse list?!

Questioner said...

So many of these plans from the past 5 years are just too confusing to have ever survived...

Questioner said...

Yes it was. The "reality-based" name is proving to be very true.

Anonymous said...

Other unanswered questions -- until someone sees a copy of what those new teachers were given as a contract, I wouldn't worry about lawsuits. They can call them furloughed and proceed to hire qualified (as opposed to unqualified, which many of them were to be!) teachers in their places.

My biggest question was the 4 years after this requirement. If the teachers didn't work for the district for that long, they would owe them back money (up to 20K I believe).

What no one ever answered, as far as I know was what happens if the new teachers aren't ones you end up wanting to hire? Then the district (it would seem) would have lost that money training them. You can't really get rid of someone and then charge them for their bad training!

Also, it was never clear how it was that the state was going to allow teachers to be certified with so little classroom (master's level classroom that is) experience and how they would finesse the lengthy student teaching requirements.

Until a teacher is certified, they cannot be alone in a classroom, or alone with a class.

Anonymous said...

2:59 and 3:04 -
OMG! How can any of this have happened? Is this really the current state of affairs?

Who cleared it, agreed to it, signed off on it from Central Office Admin, the PFT, the Pennsylvania Department of Education?

There is a total lack of clarity, competence and contractual agreements!!!

Anonymous said...

Are the technology positions new or is there a mass exodus?

Anonymous said...

These people were not trained to be teachers, they were looking for failures in other fields. If you were educated by a university to be a teacher they did not want you.

Good ridence, A district that can not run their schools, should be training teachers? The District should be teaching our children.

This whole PPS reform is a mess, a window dressing, waste of money and time and worest of all, it hurt our kids.

Time to clean house of all Broad foundation connected people starting with Lane herself down to current PELA's

Anonymous said...

"These people were not trained to be teachers, they were looking for failures in other fields. If you were educated by a university to be a teacher they did not want you.

Good ridence, A district that can not run their schools, should be training teachers? The District should be teaching our children."

I agree that is an insult to teachers, but I believe the people that were hired had good intentions and most likely were not aware of what they were getting themselves into. They have been "just another" group of people screwed over by PPS. I blame the administration, not the people who accepted the job offer.

This is such a clustermuck, and Lane is keeping central admin so top heavy it borders on insanity.

Anonymous said...

Who is the Chief Technology officer? It is not listed on the PPS website.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the 38 candidates. A couple points to note:

There were no signed contracts. The summer training was unpaid, and we would only be put on the PPS payroll after completion of the summer training. (Additional training was to take place during the school year.)

As for the comment about being a failure in another field, it's attitudes like this that make people who could be good teachers say, "Why should I even bother?"

Questioner said...

Anon 9:55, the way you and the others were treated is an embarrassment. Please understand that most in the community would have wanted the situation handled far differently, and also do not believe that candidates left other professions due to failure there.

Hopefully the district will give the 38 preference for positions that open (if the candidates are still willing to consider PPS). There are some areas of chronic shortages (such as foreign languages) where openings would seem likely.

Anonymous said...

Oooh -- One of the 38, did they ever address the question about what would happen if they didn't keep you on for the full number of years? I know you would have had to repaid them if you left, but did they ever address what would happen if they "fired" you?

That always seemed to me to be the iffiest part of this for the incoming class.

I can tell you that right now? You're better off not being a part of this, umm, trying to not use profanity, so I'll just go with "big mess" of a district.

Anonymous said...

Questioner --

Remember, many of these candidates aren't certified to teach. They can't be hired!

Questioner said...

Aren't there alternate paths other than a teachers academy? Or, maybe then can send them to a teachers academy elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

No, not really. The alternate path is to get a Master's degree in education.

It was never clear how they were going to meet state standards for certification for this academy in the first place. Likely it was going to be another "we'll make an exception and see how it works out" deal -- rather like allowing Roosevelt to be superintendent.

Even TFA teachers are supposed to be taking classes during their two year commitment and if they finish those classes and complete summer stuff and do their teaching, I *think* can end up certified, at least in some states.

There isn't a teacher shortage in PA, and certainly not in Western PA.

Anonymous said...

Why should the 38 be given preference to people who are certified, prepared, and have submitted applications in the normal process?

What ever happened to hiring ALREADY qualified, certified (and maybe even those with successful experience) who are legitimate applicants?

Anonymous said...

"What ever happened to hiring ALREADY qualified, certified (and maybe even those with successful experience) who are legitimate applicants? "

Oh, that's so old school! So much better to get people who feel beholden to you. And best if you can indoctrinate them to your beliefs, rather than let them be exposed to all those different opinions and techniques and depth of knowledge that schooling provides. :-p

Anonymous said...

Does ANYONE ever think about educating the kids?

Do you think that (educating kids) will EVER again be the reason for having "schools"?

OR, is has 'schooling' become a money-making venture, creating jobs and business opportunities for adults?

If so, we have completely lost sight of our future since the children are our future and without a good education for them, we all suffer in more ways than we can even imagine.

Anonymous said...

One of the 38 here again.

There was no mention of what would happen if we did not gain employment. We had to "commit to teach for 5 consecutive years in the school district." The way I interpret that specific language was if I offered to teach but was not offered full time placement, I had fulfilled my part of the bargain. There was no language in our agreement that said I *had* to teach or else pay back $20,000. Subtle but important difference or they could otherwise refuse to hire me *and* come after me for $20,000.

As for certification, the program was designed to provide the training/education necessary to obtain a level 1 certificate (for both your core area and special education) at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. We were not to student teach until the spring. The summer and fall were to be spent on seminars, classes, observations, etc. Additional education/training would also take place in the spring during the student teaching phase.

This was not a "here's a book, here's a class, here's a cert. waiver, go teach" set up. It was not like TFA (as I understand it) where people get a drink-from-the-firehose orientation and then are thrown into classes on their own.

After the summer training, we were to be issued "emergency certifications" which are only good for one year and not renewable. This was to let us into the classroom, essentially.

To address another comment, we cannot be hired by the district as things now stand. We'd have no certification at all and thus would not be eligible.

Questioner, some of the other candidates are going to other similar programs. I know of one who's already been picked up by one in Rhode Island. And the program did offer to use their contacts to help candidates secure positions in other programs. However, several of us are older and have kids, houses, spouses with jobs, etc. We can't pick up and move like them.

Something else to keep in mind is that the program had two distinct parts. Alternative certification (for people like me) who hadn't taught before and currently certified teachers who would be working on adding special education to their certification. A good number of the alternative certification people lived outside the area and left/passed up jobs to attend the program. (Luckily, I found out about its cancellation a day before I was going to resign.....whew!)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (one of the 38), boy did you do a good job explaining the situation! Best of luck.