Monday, August 22, 2011

Public hearing on school closings

From the Tribune:


Anonymous said...

Does it really matter?

Anonymous said...

If huge numbers of people call and come out to testify; and the press is notified, it could make a difference.

At least it could not be stated publicly that there was no response or opposition from the community.

The EDUCATION of our children is too important to let this district slide into oblivion or to turn it over completely to charters.

PPS (with the monies it has access to) with the cost per pupil should be offering a far, far, far better education than any charter, any neighboring district, any other public school. The public has a right to demand, to demonstrate, to call for an audit, to ask questions about why the district refused State-financed assistance from experienced, experts educators in the field which was a result of being one of the 4th lowest achieving district in the State of Pennsylvania!

Anonymous said...

Did it make a difference for Schenley or any of the other schools that closed?

Told you so is such an ugly phrase said...

I'm still convinced that was part of their insistence on closing Schenley and sticking with their plan.

IF they closed a high-performing school, that was successful, had good enrollment and provided both a comprehensive high school experience AND special programs (Robotics, IB, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater program)for its students, THEN there would never be a case that people could make against closing underenrolled, poor performing schools.

Game over. The problem Schenley parents ran into was that many saw the bigger picture consequences, but with the aid of the press, the administration was able to paint them as one-issue crazies. There were MANY calls at the time for a comprehensive (meaning district-wide) plan for closing schools, for dealing with school enrollment levels that provided similar levels of programming for all schools, for planning for both population loss and population gain.

But, no.

Anonymous said...

No it didn't make a difference; but, why would you want to continue down this road without protesting or fighting. The kids are worth it, are they not?

If parents give up, if teachers give up, if communities give they why would student do any differently?

We teach by example all of us! Is "giving up" the model, the example, the concept we want to teach?????????

Questioner said...

Yes, MR felt he had to stick to his guns, or else others in the future would argue "you listened to those Schenley parents but won't listen to us." A wiser leader could have recognized and admitted his error and dealt with the consequences.

Anonymous said...

Some people seem to care only about what happened to Schenley. Now the same thing is happening everywhere and the District blames in on declining enrollment, as if enrollment doesn't decline when schools are not meeting the needs of students and communities?

Schenley should not be forgotten, nor should it be a reason to give up on anyone or anything having the power to address, stop, and/or reverse decisions coming out of PPS.

They are PUBLIC schools only if the PUBLIC invests itself on a continuous, continuing basis!

Questioner said...

There were very, very few people who cared only about what happened to Schenley but many who saw that the problems exposed by the Schenley situation meant that the district as a whole was headed for trouble.

Lisa Jones 4 School Board said...

Perhaps Schenley was different because the economy at the time was better, but the school closings this time around are much different! We are talking about disenfranchising an entire community. We can make a difference by banding together. There are many lessons to be learned here, but the most important one is for the Board and the PPS administrators to learn. We will not give up! We will not back down! The students and our schools are worth fighting for! We don't want their reform!

Anonymous said...

How does a worse economy and worse budget situation equal keeping more schools open?

Remember, it wasn't just Schenley closing, Schenley was a coda on the closing of 22 other buildings (including Reizenstein and East Hills).

Most of those closings were made on the basis of enrollment. How would you say these closings are different?

If people were out for the good of the district, everyone there today would be asking the board for a FULL DISTRICT-WIDE plan addressing current and projected enrollment, with plans for both adding on if enrollment is up and how to deal with continued loss.

They would be asking for a full accounting of the money spent in the last 5 years on consultants, new and then revised and then redone curricula, etc.

UNTIL the schools are better, the loss will continue. It's a simple and clear fact. Many people, myself included, can no longer recommend the city schools like we used to. Now I have to hedge and say to look around carefully, there might still be something that's really an education in a couple of schools -- not just a scripted read-through of a script.

Anonymous said...


So, now what are WE going to do about this?

Lisa Jones 4 School Board said...

Anon 3:53

I cannot agree with you more! In fact, I have been singing with the choir! We need to improve the education; however, the current Board could say that is what they are doing with their reform efforts. We know that what they are doing is not working but they will argue differently and preach to stay the course.

We need to keep forcing the 2x the administrators/manager positions since Roosevelt and the teacher/student ratio remaining the same regardless of enrollment. These hearings are the time to push the issue b/c the economy is sooooo bad. I would not want to be in management at this time, especially when it comes to public money. I would want my money spent the most efficiently; where it would make the most impact in the classroom! Teachers teach, not management.

Let's take advantage of the crisis and demand that management get cut at least in half, merge the managers/administators/nonteachers into one building....Greenway, and sell off Bellefield and the other 3 buildings. Now is the time!

Questioner said...

Tribune article on the hearing:

Stan said...

I was no fan of Darlene Harris as a community activist, no fan of hes as a school board member and no fan of hers as a city council member. It's too bad that a "politician" is all that the community can put together to come and speak.
That said, we're in a period in which residents from all parts of the city are going to have to come to grips with the idea that their neighborhood schools are going to close. It's puzzling that there is a segment of the population out there that on one hand doesn't want more taxes but on the other, wants their kids to go to school that is three-quarters empty.
They won't say a thing about district policies, about bloated administrative positions, about inequities in curriculum, but they'll yelp long and hard about ideas like "the community" et al.
The selfishness of some is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Lack of turnout will always be considered lack of interest. For all stakeholders let's hope the community meetings happen soon and are well-attended. Even those of us with no kids left in school have to pay attention to the qulaity of life issue that come both with a school and without a school in our immediate community.

Middle Class Hopelessness said...

I think that teachers and the general public--whether parents or taxpayers--are similar in this regard.
Many teachers see their union as being a hopeless cause. Contract proposals come, everyone gets together and complains, you talk to colleagues and know of no one voting 'yes', and somehow, amazingly, the proposal passes.
You realize that with such a small 'raise' over the life of a contract, you've actually lost money in terms of the cost of living and medical expenses.
Then elections come and either your vote means little as the same old names get in, or four people win via a mandate from voters and your union leadership devises ways not to listen to the people but rather to squelch these new voices by invoking deep, dark aspects of the union paperwork which will ensure that on one hand, the two members who won full time slots will not have those slots and all four, together, will have little say in the proceedings.
Now we have a union president retire and another member of the secret society taking over.
Why bother attending meetings? Why bother voicing opinions? You're going to do what you want anyway.
The same goes for our central administration. Our superintendent and assistants are well aware of the concerns of teacher--and not via union representation. They are well aware of our concerns about the lackluster curriculum, about an insane 50% policy, about school discipline, about a RISE program that targets teachers rather than "empower" them, about the lack of resources available.
How do you feel when you provide your thoughts and higher-ups do what they want, anyway.

We could all benefit by a proactive media but look at what's happened to media in the past 20 years. Investigative reporters are targeted. those who dig and report information are chastised---just look at Dan Rather. Government is not questioned. Press releases become news. And Rupert Murdoch and FOX proved that any "privacy" can be breached, so why be a whistle-blower.

And Roosevelt? He was cognizant of all of the hopelessness, the power in owning the media and the fact that while dissent will come, it will be made only by a few, and it will die out quickly.

Look at the Schenley discussions.

In the end, Dr.Lane and her assistants are just more of what we have had over the past 5 years. Politicians who think they have all of the answers and don't want your opinions.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Schenley and that battle was part of a larger war. Sure, what went on mattered greatly.

Case in point, Mark Roosevelt is gone.

Plus UPMC does not have a tax credit too. Remember how that was a detail with the Pgh Promise that was voted upon by the PPS board.

Roosevelt won w Schenley closed, but he made many enemies who did not go away.

To fight with dignity and handle defeat, yet stand with principle, can crush today's victors soon enough.

Questioner said...

Great sentiment!