Friday, September 23, 2011

Current plans

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"I don't understand why Peabody's location and condition will attract more familes to send ther children there.

I honestly believe this part of a 10 year "failure plan". Spend, disrupt, anger the community & city to the point of convincing everyone that teachers are the problem, public schools suck & everyone throws their hands up and caves in and we become pro charter school & vouchers.

Remember Broad & Gates are into "Venture philanthropy" this is not charity, they expect a return. Privatization of public services is the goal."


Questioner said...

Since Schenley and Reizenstein will have been sold there will be no other option if Peabody doesn't work out. Why not wait and see how things go before making irrevocable choices?

Anonymous said...

The importance of windows, daylight, fresh air and access to sun, sky, wind, trees and the world beyond should never be underestimated as a powerful influence people in buildings especially schools. Teaching and learning in schools is tremendously enhanced by a prevailing openness to the world beyond.

This does not exist at Peabody and is minimal at Reizenstein.

Needless to say Schenley is the ideal for and institution of learning.

Questioner said...

Parents know this intuitively and will over time gravitate away from schools with poor learning environments.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this why Allderdice is so overcrowded this year? Everyone is fleeing Westinghouse and UPrep and windowless Obama. Schenley with it's large windows and great views would have been a popular choice for parents and students.

Questioner said...

And the Oakland location couldn't be beat. Most taxpayers would prefer to invest in a quality building rather than spending money on extra administrators, consultants, marketing, etc.

Obama Teacher said...

I get a little tired of having to be the individual who brings truth to this site but often times, the commentary seems to come somewhere from the lunatic fringe.
As an Obama teacher, I have to love the idea that "everyone is fleeing windowless Obama."
Please...provide some facts. Just what constitutes the "everyone."?
At the end of 8th grade, some families have always seen fit to send their kids to Allderdice. This has been a "problem" since we were in Oakland...and had windows, I might add.
As usual, I have to wonder why there are a couple of individuals here who see fit to send torpedoes in the direction of the IB school.
What's the end game here?
No, the school is not at capacity but saying that "everyone is fleeing" is an outright lie, period.
We've come to grips with it: Schenley is closed and isn't coming back. We've come to grips with the idea that buildings like Reizenstein could have been better designed.
Why haven't a few naysayers?
We have a great many successful programs going on within the IB programs, and a great many success stories. Why is it that no matter what we have or do, some people with just continue to be malcontent, and to spread the bile?

Parent with questions said...

Obama teacher -- how many kids will there be in this graduating class?

How many do you think will be trying for the full diploma? Will there be noticeably more than when only part of the school was IB?

Anonymous said...

Isn't everyone required to try for the diploma?

Anonymous said...


That's what they said originally (with the creation of this all IB school), and they also said they'd pay for it. They promised a lot of things, back in the days of all the big changes to 6-12, new schools, etc.

But testing for the full diploma costs over $600. It has always been that the parents had to pay that (or try to work something out) and then if the child did receive the diploma the money was reimbursed to them by the district.

Everyone there has to take IB classes, because it's all they offer, but there is no testing requirement/expectation. As you can imagine, that may make students in classes more and less motivated to work hard.

Questioner said...

Someone said the principal found a bank to pay for everyone to take the exams. Everyone needs to write the extended essay.

deegazette said...

Obama Teacher and others, As if discussing the multitude of educational issues isn't enough, I just gotta ask---What the heck is the fascination with hyperbole? Obviously you are seeing the effects and how it is applied to arguments and discussion of schools, might you have a clue? Talk radio is another arena where exaggerationa is rampant. This is a problem and one that I would hope that education might cure. You know what I mean? Teach kids to be more reasonable in how they express themselves. I think that would be a goal, if we would leave educators to their own devices. Look, I know your plate is already full and you are at the mercy of what you are told to teach, but if you could sneak this lesson in under the radar so to speak and in-between any learning walks people like me would be grateful.

Anonymous said...

"Someone said the principal found a bank to pay for everyone to take the exams."

I couldn't make it to the meeting for Seniors/parents last week, but the person who I asked to relay information to me said that was NOT the case and that there were many parents very shocked to learn the cost.

No one should be learning this information NOW, either, they should be telling 9th grade parents to start saving, not springing it on 12th grade parents.

I believe the extended essay will count as their grad project.

Questioner said...

The 10th graders already do a project that counts as their graduation project. Word is that the IB test is in the $800 range now. In the past some parents took out bank loans. Obama teacher, can you tell us if the test is paid for.

deegazette said...

anon 10:09, payment for exams for kids who made it to 12th grade under the weight of the IB requirements should be something that the Promise might be willing to pick up. I can't imagine that a kid who is now just learning of the cost should have to worry about that. We yak about incentives all day long and them pull the rug out from under a kid who worked hard with a goal in mind when he can't afford the cost?
Uconscionable and an embarassment.

Anonymous said...

Details such as test cost should be included in the magnet information handbook that comes out yearly. Until it appears there, it should be free to any kid who has the grades and desire to take the test.

Anonymous said...

I did not live in PA when my oldest was in HS. We did have to pay for AP courses, everyone in our community could afford the costs so this never entered my mind. Who pays for AP & IB credit courses when families can't afford it?

Anonymous said...

Obama teacher: "No, the school is not at capacity but saying that "everyone is fleeing" is an outright lie, period.
We've come to grips with it: Schenley is closed and isn't coming back. We've come to grips with the idea that buildings like Reizenstein could have been better designed.
Why haven't a few naysayers?"

I don't think anyone read "everyone is fleeing" as a factal statement, nor do I think it was intended to be a factual statement. I do know a few kids that have attended Obama, and the few I know left. I am sure some families are happy.

I applaud you defending your school, however I worry because you don't comprehend what parents are concerned about and over generlize.

Obama Teacher said...

dee, I tend to associate hyperbole with dissent. That is, I tend to see the exaggeration here either as some bitterness about the Schenley closure that still remains--and is somehow tied to Obama (which had nothing to do with the closure)--or as some sort of commentary about the principal and his decision to not have a school within a school, as one sees at Allderdice. It's funny that in the case of the latter, you have folks who will come on a public message board and distort facts in an effort to cast aspersions or lead people astray.
I could list the numerous positives going on at the school beyond the simple idea that it is a 'safe school', but why bother?
Those who want to wallow in misery, dissatisfaction and negatives will only continue to spread the vitriol, and they won't let the truth get in the way.
The truth is, Obama is a very good school, with very strong, visionary leadership, a solid teaching faculty, tremendous students and a wonderful group of families.
And if that wasn't the case, I would not even respond.
Building the numbers of students will be a challenge in coming years, and this is especially true as the board eliminates foreign language programs at the elementary and middle school levels. Some sort of revised thinking needs to be embraced.
I can't be sure of the numbers of seniors this year or in the various grades. I'd guess 125, if not a bit more.
And I also know very little about the cost of the test, etc.
I know the DP is rigorous and know that akin to college level work. I know that the emphasis is that ALL of our kids can achieve within the DP . And I am amazed that so many colleges are accepting of IB credits that will go a long way towards college studies and in some case, virtually erase a college year altogether or at least some part of it.
In and of itself, that is a tremendous benefit of IB, a program that most of us think very highly of.

Obama Teacher said...

Actually, anon, I do comprehend. As a parent myself, I do sympathize with valid issues. I do understand concerns. I always try to walk a mile in the shoes of others before making a judgment call.
But walk a mile in mine, if you will. Rhetoric that has an agenda is a bird of a different feather and not constructive whatsoever. It seeks to falsely castigate or blame, and as dee said, it tends to exaggerate.
That's the point.
Thanks for your comments.

Questioner said...

Speaking of exaggeration- how is someone on the lunatic fringe just because he or she questions whether Peabody's location and condition will attract families? Long before Obama was created the condition of Peabody and the buildings surrounding it was a problem. If we all say it's just fine nothing will be done, greatly diminishing the long term chances of success of ANY school in that building. Eventually money (serious money) will need to be spent, so how is it negative to suggest that we evaluate now while we still have options the best way to invest that money?

Questioner said...

"I know that the emphasis is that ALL of our kids can achieve within the DP ."

- All kids can achieve to some extent within virtually any program at an accredited US public school and will surely do better at a DP program than most non-DP programs. However, the DP is a good match for some but not others. If the normal Schenley rate of 20 diploma recipients a year can be matched the school, teachers and administrators will deserve high praise. Where the DP program is not a good match, families need options they can count on regardless of lotteries and magnet applications- options other than U Prep and Westinghouse.

Anonymous said...

Some high school principals are using their discretionary funds to fund test taking. Some feel that in this economy, kids are taking the course all year, and then using lack of money to note take the test ( could be real hardship, could be students doesnt want to take the test-but this puts some accountability into the AP program and again seems humane with the economic downturn etc.
Also however, some principals are using these same funds to pay for EVERY student to take the PSAT.
I have great respect for students who are not college-bound, and intend to train and work in the trades, technical, etc. I feel that this disrespects THEIR goals, and clouds the purpose of PSAT. Should all the college bound students take the test for a CDL permit, because hey, they might need it?

Obama Teacher said...

Questioner, the lunatic fringe comment was with regards to the implication that there is a mass exodus going on at Obama. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In its 'purest' sense, pardon the pun, I believe that Pure Reform and most people who post have the improvement of PPS at heart. Unfortunately, there are some that seek to upset the applecart with a blinding array of gossip.
Lastly, I tend to believe that the number you speak of certainly can be eclipsed, if for no other reason that the focus is not placed on a 'portion' of a school that is going for the diploma, but the entire school itself.
Like anything else, this will take time and students will need to become well versed in how to achieve in such a demanding environment, but it can happen.
Thanks for the comments.
It's Panther time.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I like the idea of the PSAT for everyone (twice no less). It is a MUCH cheaper test than either AP or IB exams -- $18 range per student.

If 10-20 kids per school find out that hey, I did pretty well, if I keep good grades, I might be able to go to college for free or nearly free, that's a good thing, right?

AND if another 10-20 kids per school find out that their scores are a lot lower than they thought, they have time to deal with that turn of events and get tutoring, work on their grades, etc.

Also, if your kid is scoring well below average on the PSAT, you might do better to save your money on the more expensive exams!

Questioner said...

Well taken and time will tell but the building issue still needs to be addressed! And a close look at enrollment trends- numbers per grade, from what zip codes, etc.- may help to make that case.

Anonymous said...

I agree that currently Obama is better than many PPS choices. However, to me, that doesn't say much. 5-10 years ago, it might have meant more, but currently it means very little to compare like that.

The fact that Obama teacher him/herself talks in grand but vague terms:

"a very good school, with very strong, visionary leadership, a solid teaching faculty, tremendous students and a wonderful group of families"

doesn't bother me nearly as much as the lack of specifics:

"I could list the numerous positives going on at the school beyond the simple idea that it is a 'safe school', but why bother?"

Why not bother? You rail when people ask questions or state problems they've had, but then offer platitudes in return. Or state that you really don't know about the tests or the DP, etc. That may be enough for people who don't have skin in the game, but not for those of us who want to be committed to the public schools and find it harder and harder to do without greatly sacrificing our kids' educations.

I'm glad you like your job, but that doesn't mean that ALL children at your school are being challenged and growing. If you can't keep kids who have been in that environment for three years (before the kids had to move buildings, now they'd just continue in a program they already know), how good a program are you really running?

If you are able to fill in with kids at 9th grade only because the other choices are so horrible, you are not getting kids or families who are bought in to the program. If you can't make the kids who are there 6-8 buy in, how will that happen with kids coming in at the high school level?

I'm sorry that you feel that having a real discussion about this should be forestalled with your reassurances. I've heard too much PR and reassurance from the PPS in the last few years to ever believe it without actual details.

Questioner said...

PPS has definitely destroyed its credibility. Ironic when the whole goal was to create a good impression.

solutionsRus said...

Obama teacher, you pointed out correctly that most posting on this blog are truly committed to and concerned about public school education. Also, you are correct that there is negativity here at times that serves no purpose, except maybe for venting of frustration.

However, you are not the only one "in the know" about what goes on at Obama. This is the reason that this blog is incredibly important, so that many people can share experiences/knowledge. Yes, sometimes there is unsubstantiated rumor. But here are a few facts:

At a recent parent/teacher conference, no less that three teachers apologized to a parent because of the substandard education (substandard as it relates to IB) that her child was receiving at Obama. An Obama student states that at least one third of the students in his/her classes are clearly out of their element and simply put their heads down on their desks during class.

Another point that I would like to address is the labeling of any conversation about Schenley as "bitterness". Does the closing of Schenley still sting? Absolutely. But more importantly, what the closing of Schenley, the only school operating at capacity, the only school with a semblance of integration (yes, other schools have mixed populations, but not with the relative camaraderie that was happening at Schenley) the only school in a prime location for an educational facility, the only school with historic landmark status and architecture conducive to learning, has taught us is that this administration is misguided and must be questioned. That is what what we learned from the schenley debacle and sadly, the missteps from this administration have continued. Bitter? No. Wiser? Yes.

Questioner said...

The Schenley debacle is a prime example of failure in governance that should be studied closely in years to come. While federal and to a lesser extent state government receive most of the attention, the same forces and shortcomings can be seen at a local level (maybe in a way that is more understandable and meaningful to many). Improvement of local government is of vital importance.

Anonymous said...

It is a fact that allderdice enrollment is at a 5 yr high even after removing the east hill feeder.

Anonymous said...

solutionsRus could not have put it any better. I one time spoke highly of the PPS and the education that could be gotten by selectively finding the appropriate school for one's child(ren). But now that the choices have narrowed and the existing options have suffered from poor direction and reckless spending or have been hopelessly cut off at the knees by endless reprogramming and and relocation- I can not. Would I still recommend enrolling your child(ren) in the PPS? Not without much trepidation.

Anonymous said...

I had the same experience (apologies) at Obama.

There are some truly excellent teachers there and they are trying their very best to provide what is being asked of them AND to also not shortchange kids who, in 11th and 12th grades in the DP, would have gotten the first truly challenging and intellectually stimulating and rigorous education of their lives.

Is it still better than most of what's done in the rest of PPS? Sure, but that's gotten worse in many cases too. Is it better than the AP/CAS options at Allderdice, as it used to be, due to its emphasis on thinking and writing? I don't think you can say that anymore and with fewer options and activities going to be available with fewer kids, I know a lot of people who really want to like the magnet programs at Allderdice.

Anonymous said...

Are there magnets at Allderdce other than engineering? There was supposed to be more choice but somehow it feels like there is really less.

Anonymous said...

This is what I know. I am a teacher at another high school (so, no Obama). We've had quite a few students come to our school out of Obama. They are not leaving because of an ill environment or because of the teachers. The reason they left, and yes, it is the same among the five students I talked to, is because they couldn't hack it. Because they didn't feel like doing the work. Because they didn't feel like going to school.

Might I add that these same five students have missed four or more days of school so far this year...after only three weeks!

What makes Obama nice is that students are who are not willing to do what they need to do leave, giving teachers there the opportunity to actually teach. The thing that sucks about it is that the other high schools (not CAPA or Sci-Tech) get all the students who simply refuse to do what they have to do. So, while the board touts wonderful PSSA numbers for CAPA, Obama, and Sci-tech, it's unfair to teachers in the other schools who MUST deal with students who don't care about their education.

So, I wouldn't knock Obama. They make sure that they are keeping high standards. Too bad we can't remove the disruptive elements from all schools.

Obama Teacher said...

solutions, I don't think that I ever said I had a corner on the information market at Obama. You'll have to excuse me for saying this...and perhaps you are a colleague, I don't know...but I would think lesser of any colleague who would "apologize for substandard education" to a parent.
That type of statement is beyond reprehensible and can only be called unprofessional.
Perhaps you are being taken out of context. Perhaps the commentary was made by a teacher who must intersperse IB curriculum with the horrendous PPS curriculum, but it would appear that this is not your point.And it would still be unprofessional.
Your commentary about the student who notes that "one third of his/her class is out of its element" is very telling, of course, as there is a segment of parents..and I am sure a few teachers...that believe the school within a school method Allderdice employs should be adopted here.
Perhaps that is the point of your posting.

Anon at 10:23, the point is and remains that there is a segment of the population that will simply not give credit to the school, no matter what good is going on at the school. It's regrettable that you would see me as the Chief Information Officer or that as simply a teacher, I am privy to all facets of each individual grade. No, my focus is on my classroom and my students. You'll have to contact the IBMYP or IBDP coordinator for the details. Perhaps you can report back.

And please know that there is nothing here that makes me "rail", friend. I enjoy the information that I often read here, and often chuckle in contemplating the motivation that goes into writing things that I simply know aren't accurate and yet put here to influence parents who want to see a better day in PPS. You know, people like yourself.

Anonymous said...

I am a parent who finds the workload at BOA excessive. Some do not seem to mind it though.

Anonymous said...

"And please know that there is nothing here that makes me "rail", friend."

Sorry, I got a little carried away in my amusement at that statement. Here are a few gems just from the posting in the last day:

--individuals here who see fit to send torpedoes in the direction of the IB school.

--some people with just continue to be malcontent, and to spread the bile?

--folks who will come on a public message board and distort facts in an effort to cast aspersions or lead people astray.

--who want to wallow in misery, dissatisfaction and negatives will only continue to spread the vitriol, and they won't let the truth get in the way.

--seeks to falsely castigate or blame

--seek to upset the applecart with a blinding array of gossip.

--That type of statement is beyond reprehensible and can only be called unprofessional. (about colleagues

Using bile, vitriol, castigation, reprehensible (actions), blinding gossip, and wallowing in misery to describe people who don't agree with you is just your normal everday sort of conversational gambits?

Anonymous said...

"They are not leaving because of an ill environment or because of the teachers. The reason they left, and yes, it is the same among the five students I talked to, is because they couldn't hack it. Because they didn't feel like doing the work. Because they didn't feel like going to school."

Interesting! I do think the district is allowing people to bump around more than they used to, that is putting kids in at places where there are open seats (like Obama) in hopes that some sort of miracle will happen and the kid will turn around (even though they likely aren't even coming to school!)

I'm guessing that most of the kids are kicked out on the absences, though.

What I've heard about last year's 8th grade class (which lost a LOT of kids) was that both the "high" end and the "low" end of the grades/attendance/motivation groups left.

The high GPA, motivated for college kids (or their parents) felt they were not going to get the education they would at Allderdice and also had grown to dislike/fear the inattentiveness/unresponsiveness of the principal to their concerns.

The low GPA, this school's academic focus and lack of other options don't appeal to me kids also left -- whether they were encouraged to do so or not, I don't know. But it was interesting to see that both ends of the curve were unhappy.

solutionsRus said...

Obama teacher,

I guess that no amount of factual counter information will dissuade you from your tireless trumpeting of Obama as a flagship school that is working for all students. I am not trying to dump on Obama, but the "head in the sand" method that you are employing does not help your credibility.

How is having a conversation with a parent that you have had a relationship with for many years "reprehensible and unprofessional"? Guess this teacher should put his head in the sand and encourage the parent to do so as well...

Not sure what your point was regarding the students that are underperforming in IB classes. And there is nothing wrong with the school within a school concept as long as there is true opportunity for movement into and out of certain programming. This idea that every child can perform to the same level is silly. If that were the case, the professions of astrophysics and neurosurgery would be glutted!

I'm glad that you love your workplace and your job. It would just be nice if you could acknowledge that the "IB for all" concept is not working "for all".

Obama Teacher said...

solutionsrus, at last you acknowledge what the bottom line is in your thinking: adopt the school within a school method, period.
This is the thinking that few 'CAS' families within Obama think, but I give them credit: they stay the course and stay at the school.
As far as the IB for all mentality, wouldn't you say that it is a bit too soon to make a judgment whether it is a viable approach? I mean, Obama's first graduating class hasn't even crossed the stage yet and you're already making this call? And you're basing it on hearsay?
with regards to teachers, again, you provide a clear view with your last post. Undoubtedly, you are referring to old 'Spartan Classics' teacher who enjoyed that school within a school method and have closed their minds, after a few short months.
Shame. Yes, it is reprehensible and unprofessional, regardless of the relationships you write about. Sorry, but a great deal of what you are referring to is elitist in nature.

Head in the sand? Hardly. I'd bet that I represent the majority of teachers and families in our school. In fact, I'd bet the house on that.

And anon, again, it's good to know that you "are working for a brighter day in Pittsburgh Public Schools." Your methods entail taking short pieces out of context, copying and pasting, and then making pronouncements. I don't need to "rail" friend, and it's disappointing that you equate certain words with anger. That's never been my style, and never will be. You see, it's all good and it's fascinating that you'd rather put stock in the voices of malcontent--all 3 or 4 of them--who have some "problem" with the school, rather than those who actually work there on a daily basis.

But as long as you are working for that "better day," right friend?

Questioner said...

A Sci Tech parent came to the public hearing last week and complained about her son's math placement. She said that her son had been at the school for three years (this must be his third year since it is only the third year for sci tech) and that the "bad kids" (not bad behavior but "bad" performance) were put in one algebra class while the rest went to another algebra class. She asked him who was in the class with him and he said mostly African Americans. When she complained he was given a test and because he could not pass he stayed where he was. The issue of how to handle students in a given grade working at different levels seems to be something PPS is still struggling with, even after students have been in one of the district's new schools for a couple of years.

solutionsRus said...

Dear Obama Teacher,

You know what I will bet the house on? That there will be no more diploma students and students actually passing the IB tests then there were at Schenley.

You think you have caught me in some kinda of "gotcha" moment regarding what YOU call "school within a school" . I'm simply offering an opinion that trying to pretend that ALL students have the same capabilities is nonsense, I have 2 children whose capabilities are vastly different! Please don't pull the "elitist" card. (BTW the Spartan classics program to which you refer was working til the money ran out. Better to spend that money on moving kids around and PR, I guess!)

I am just not sure why people can't have intelligent discussion/debate. You see any dissent or concerns as bashing Obama and that will not be tolerated! Sounds an awful lot like the official PPS administration of the last six years. Me thinks he doth protest to much!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Solutions, it does get tiresome discussing anything when the answer is always going to be that you are

1) uninformed or getting bad information (even if you've seen it with your own eyes)

2)"elitist" or discriminatory

3) stupid (despite the fact that clearly no one on earth could be that or could be smart either, since we're all exactly the same)


"(BTW the Spartan classics program to which you refer was working til the money ran out. Better to spend that money on moving kids around and PR, I guess!)"

I enjoyed that reference too, since Obama Teacher (who has implied s/he taught at Schenley as well) uses it as an example of bad/elitist programming, it seems. In fact, it allowed for ANY kid in Schenley to receive IB type teaching, even if they weren't in an IB class (though they also had that option).

When these changes were discussed, there were IB parents all over the board -- for every parent who felt the DP was their child's reward for 11 years of boredom prior to that there was another who was horrified at the idea that their child would be shoved into a full IB program, without any other choices.

All of those parents wanted a RANGE of choices and a RANGE of outside the classroom activities (not assigned and limited ones during an abbreviated school period).

We've gone from more choice and individualization possible to almost no choice and that's just not an improvement

Obama Teacher said...

solutions, I thought we were having the intelligent debate you are referring to. No? It is with "anonymous" and his/her ilk that I have a problem. Their agenda is about as see-through as they come, from saying that everyone is fleeing Obama because there are no windows to our halls are out of control, to some fight that took place well down Penn Avenue just must have involved Obama kids. Please.
I've heard it all before and let's face it, individuals like that, who "are working for a better day in PPS" must enjoy the fact that they provide misinformation on a public message board.
I would hope that parents of prospective students would place little stock in such propaganda, and the facade about "working for a better PPS." What a laugh.

That said, you've set your bar pretty low in this bet, haven't you? I mean, Schenley had I believe only 4 or 5 kids even take the test last year, with no one actually earning the IB Diploma.

I'll go back to the original point: Obama is a work in progress. To look at what happened at Schenley and what transpires at Allderdice, and then make a blanket statement about Obama's methods--even before a class or two has even graduated--lacks logic. You may end up being 100% right, but doesn't shouldn't the idea of an all-inclusive IB have a chance??

Questioner said...

If that was true it would be an incredible decimation of the IB program, which as recently as 4 years ago had 40 take the exam and 20 receive the diploma. The EFA goal was to DOUBLE the number of diplomats in just a couple of years.

If memory serve, however, the Pgh Educator put out a list of those receiving certificates and diplomas as an award ceremony this winter. Strangely, the article did not identify which students received the diploma. A special achievement deserves special recognition.

Anonymous said...

"You may end up being 100% right, but doesn't shouldn't the idea of an all-inclusive IB have a chance??"

Well, it's still not all inclusive, right? It's got magnet requirements that one assumes are being met.

However, as a parent? NO, you don't have the luxury of graduating two or three or four classes before you find out if your experiment works, or decide you didn't get it quite right.

Last year's Schenley class was screwed over, plain and simple. Teachers they should have had in the IB program for senior year were moved down for ONE year to teach the junior year of DP. Your "visionary" leader made those decisions for teachers -- putting them into a one year and out or move and teach an all new class for one year bind.

But, you didn't see fit to mention that did you? I guess *those* PPS kids aren't the ones you want to be inclusive -- or even fair -- towards.

Checked with a friend in 2009 (kids who only had one year left in HS after the change) and they had 12 diplomas awarded out of 14 who attempted and many certificates received. They also ended up having to test at different locations -- taking a bus, not having good lighting, etc.

I believe 2010 had a similar number (between 10-20) of diplomas.

deegazette said...

See, it is people like anon 5:38 that we need to hear from. Insiders. Might this blog one day host any online chat? Scheduled and with a specific topic to be covered? And again, thanks for providing a home for the exchange and discussion.

Anonymous said...

I started ths thread. It was not my intention to blast Obama, teachers or the Schenley Saga. That ship sailed a long time ago.

As a taxpayer & Mom I am worried about what the underlying goal is at PPS. It seems like we are being force fed failed costly experiments, a school board that appears to be suffering from stockholm syndrome, and zero press coverage.

I honestly believe Broad is in this for the long haul for all the wrong reasons. If we "fail", education will no longer be equal. Vouchers and charter schools (for profiit) who have the luxury of picking & choosing students will have a distinct advantage over public schools. This leaves city kids & familes who can't afford private schools with a bare bones education.

I did not intend this to be about you Obama Teacher, you hijacked it. (This is about reckless spending) So I am asking you a direct question.
Is Peabody a desirabe building for IB to migrate to? If so, why? (if you decide to answer please include the expense
of Reizenstein's upgrades/fixes for a very temporary school, then include the costs of making Peabody IB worthy.)

As a parent I can't ignore the fact that Peabody is in a high crime area. I also am uncertain if bus routes are optimal for high school kids either.

Anonymous said...

The question of whether Peabody is the right place for the IB school has been answered. Years ago, with the IB Site Selection committee report, then a year or so after that, with the board voting to accept the recommendations of site selection committee (which recommended Peabody ONLY WITH NATURAL LIGHT RESTORED -- however, the caveats for the building were never mentioned in the vote). Now that there is absolutely no money for renovations, IB is at Peabody.

Peabody has a auditorium, Reizenstein does not. Through the entire tenure at Reizenstein, the award winning Schenley musical bussed to Peabody. Reizenstein, designed as an "open classroom" building, has horrible levels of noise in some classrooms -- the classrooms above the band room are like being in the band room. Reizenstein also has parking, Peabody doesn't have much. But now is the time to work together, identify the challenges at Peabody, and work to fix them. (Parking - get a special teacher permit to park on Highland in front of the school, it's currently 1 hour. Natural light - I don't know.

Peabody is half a mile from Reizenstein. Half a mile. It's neighbors are the Home Depot, the Theological Seminary, and Vintage Senior Center. The street behind Peabody has crime, but a neighborhood group has a community garden there, and there's good possibility it's on the upswing (of course, some coordinated efforts from the Pgh Police would help.)

We're not getting Schenley back. I don't know how we could've fought any harder to keep, for all the good reasons that are mentioned again and again, but it's not an option. I don't even believe Reizenstein is an option any more. IB needs a permanent home, with well-communicated plans, both to it's inherent strengths and how problems are being addressed.

Anonymous said...

I heard that the committee liked Westinghouse the best. We could get Schenley back if the majority of the board was impeached and current board members weren't offering it to friends from out of town at a bargain price.

Anonymous said...

Allderdice is not as good as it used to be. It is still a school with in a school. But the lunatics are running the halls. There is fight every other day.

Obama Teacher said...

Doesn't matter. As long as it is allowed to continue its school within a school methods, you will have parents here who will happily wear the blinders.
And to anonymous parent...I see that you enjoy poring over statistics. That's nice. Please tell me how many Schenley students earned their IB diplomas in the past five years...and please, spare me the "they were screwed mentality." That's a given, but even kids know that at some point, one has to push forward with their lives and not wallow in 'malcontentism.'
After you've provided those numbers, please let me know how many of those who earned the IB Diploma were African American students.
Then get back to me with your commentaries and rationales.
I really can't wait.
Yes, I teach in a good school, with good leadership, good kids and good families. The whining we hear is on the periphery. Thank goodness for that.

Anonymous said...

In the Schenley class of 2009, weren't both the valedictorian and salutatorian african american ib students?

Anonymous said...

The valedictorian was for sure, I can't remember the salutatorian.

Anonymous said...

The valedictorian was African-American, the salutatorian was Caucasian, 22 students took the full diploma exam out of 44 full IB students- 11 received the diploma. One or 2 missed by a single point.

Questioner said...

How many African American students arrived at Schenley ready to study for an IB diploma? Before any changes were proposed for Schenley the district was in the process of applying for the middle year IB program. The program essentially involves doing college level work by 11th grade, and so a strong foundation is needed. The ideal time to begin preparation is kindergarten. It would be a truly miraculous school that could take the average PPS graduating 8th grader and have him or her ready for IB work by 11th grade. That's why Obama is 6-12, right? (Although, there is no reason to think that an IB 6-8 program would be less effective in preparing students for the 9-12 program.)

Anonymous said...

Schenley, Schenley, Schenley. Why didn't Schenley supporters file a lawsuit against the Board? Is it too late? Why? Why not? Too much talk! No action!

The people here need to take action and quit complaining ad nauseum! You have lawyers among you; what's the problem?

This needs to be about SOLUTIONS. PPS admin has NONE! How much do you really care about the kids in the pipeline? Let's see some ACTION!

Questioner said...

This Schenley discussion wasn't a complaint, it was in response to the request for information about the number of AA students who earned IB diplomas at Schenley.

Obama will be graduating its first class this year- students will have spent all 4 years in the new program- will there be a large number of AA students earning IB diplomas? Or will we need to wait to see results in the classes that had the necessary middle school preparation?

Anonymous said...

Schenley was mentioned more than 25 times. Schenley is gone unless . . .

Only Obama was mentioned more. Too bad there is not more support for other schools. ALL of PPS should be supported by challenging the decisions of the PPS leadership, admin, and Board.

Anonymous said...

Feel free -- to talk about other schools or what it is that you want people to do.

What exactly to do you envision lawyers doing, for instance?

What I see here is parents trying to keep what was a valuable education available to all kids. It's very hard to see past the constant self-congratulatory PR coming out of the central office and sometimes the schools themselves to what is really happening and changing in the schools.

The Broad administrations have talked an excellent game. Things everyone wants to see happen. But what has really happened at the classroom and student level is not pleasant or a cause for optimism.

Anonymous said...

About African Americans in IB another factor is that the private schools really want to avoid being all white. So, top African American students very often receive scholarships to private school.

Anonymous said...

You nail the problem when you talk about the Broad approach, this administration's approach, the PR approach, since it is clear that none of the above is about what happens in classrooms with those who inhabit the classrooms. There are schools, many schools, public and charter that have people in classrooms who create successful learning environments. In PPS there is a "control" who inserts itself into the environment but does not work in the environment. It prohibits anything except what Broad, Administration and PR has scripted and mandated none of which is conducive to a successful education for children.

If we were lawyers with children forced into unsuccessful environments, we would probably know what to do and proceed to take the action needed. Certainly, there are laws against what is happening here that lawyers should know about, Hopefully, Hopefully, lawyers would also know what action to take, other than taking their children out of such schools and placing them in successful environments. The legislation is in place, but we need people like Thurgood Marshall and his Team to take it on, instead of simply removing their children from the situation or turning their heads in another direction.

Steve Perry talked about what his school is doing just last Saturday here in Pittsburgh. Were you there 10:14? There are many, many, many individual urban schools who successfully educate children. And there is not one, identified single model that will work in any and all situations. What works is committed, creative, knowledgeable people who make it happen in their own domain. Even our most low-achieving school would turn around in one year with the right people, in the right seats, on the right bus, so to speak.

Talk, talk, talk will not make it happen. It takes the WILL, the COMMITMENT and ACTION to challenge the status quo, legally if necessary,

Why not give communities the autonomy to control their own schools, certainly they could not do worse than what is currently happening in Pittsburgh.

Obama Teacher said...

2009???? That's what we have to do...skip two classes?
I said within five years, expecting someone to give me something a bit more recent. But 2009? This is the best you can do?
How many kids earned diplomas last year? In 2010? Any African American students?

Questioner said...

Obama teacher! Don't they discuss this type of statistic at staff meetings at Obama?

Anonymous said...

I was going to say, I hope Obama teacher isn't trying to teach research skills.

Obama teacher, why don't you mosey on over to the IBDP coordinator and ask these questions? Seems pretty simple. In fact, weren't you the one who said there weren't any diplomas last year?

Or perhaps this is easier: "Among the IB students from 2010, nine will receive IB certificates for high marks on individual exams. Twelve others aimed for and will be awarded the full IB Diploma."

Here's the link that came from, if you want to examine the names:

Questioner said...

Thank you for the link. It does not identify students by race, but the list includes student names more prevalent among African Americans.

Anonymous said...

Questioner, we've only just begun to be a total high school. Can Obama do better than the last few years of Schenley? I don't know about other staff, but I think so.

Questioner said...

It's surprising that Schenley had as many IB diplomas/ certificates as it did in 2009 and 2010 after the turmoil of the school closing and move.

But why not compare to 2008 and earlier, when diplomas and certificates totalled about 40 a year?

Anonymous said...

The total of diplomas was always in the 20s. The numbers quoted earlier for 2009 did not include certificates.

Anonymous said...

Certificates are not diplomas -- diplomas require taking 6 tests (and getting high enough scores) along with completing an acceptable or better extended essay and completing all 150 hours of CAS (basically volunteer hours and hours spent in creative or active pursuits).

So, actually, the number of certificates is usually, but not always, higher than the number of diplomas.

I've also known of several families where an older child went for and received the diploma but a younger sibling *didn't* because the parents and younger sibling knew how much work and stress it was!

The class graduating in 2009 was the first one that tried to make everyone who was considered to be in the program take a full IB schedule.

There was pushback from many parents (both white and black) -- why should my child who loves English and their foreign language be forced to also take an IB level science/math class that they really don't want to take OR the reverse -- kids who loved the science and history say, but really didn't like the language. Also in those days they'd miss out on other classes offered at the school (this was pre- all IB) that they'd heard about and wanted to take.

This spring's class, 2011, was the year in which two or more teachers were removed from the 12th grade year where they'd successfully guided kids through exams for years and moved down to 11th grade. Kids were taught by people in their first year of teaching IB (and uncertified as well, in at least one case) -- not an easy task to learn the curriculum, the format and the expectations AND be able to pass them along successfully in your first year. Another teacher left (sick leave?) before the exam...

Anonymous said...

"The total of diplomas was always in the 20s. The numbers quoted earlier for 2009 did not include certificates."

Diplomas aren't certificates and vice versa. The combination of certificate and diplomas may have always been in the 20s, but not just the diplomas. Years ago, I remember seeing a list of about 15 years of diploma graduates by year -- it ranged from a one year low of maybe 4-5 to a year of 20+, I think. Most often in the 10-20 range.

It was a while ago, obviously now information is much more closely held!

Questioner said...

It would be ridiculous for information on the number of diplomas to be withheld. After all, doubling the number of dipolomas is an Excellence for All goal!

Anonymous said...

After the move to Reizenstein, the IB Diploma exams were not given in rooms up to the standard regulations of quiet and removal from other school business as spelled out by the International Baccalaureate Organization. Since the walls at Reizenstein are not soundproof to begin with, they are impossible to follow! Who knows if other IB schools follow these regulations, but before the move, these were strictly adhered to.

Anonymous said...

Let's tell it like it is, shall we? There are a great many holdovers on this site who still cling to the Schenley days. The school's closed. It was a horrible decision. It was the wrong decision. It's not coming back. Period.
Schenley's old ways of doing things--that seem to have echoed what is going on at Allderdice--aren't coming back, either. It doesn't matter how much you try to torpedo the people in charge on a message board.
And you have people here who foam at the mouth for an Allderdice set-up at Obama--and are willing to whine loud and long--as they want to send their kids to a smaller and much, much safer school.
Tell it like it is.
The amount of complete and utter baloney being put forward here--and now this latest gem about IB Diploma testing--is an embarrassment to what Pure Reform is supposedly all about.
Tell it like it is.
Someone up above mentioned the word "elitist" and it's way beyond that here.

Sim Karstairs said...

I think a great many of us would have much more respect if the school within a school crowd would simply say, we want our kids being in classes with other kids of similar ability and could care less about ethnic make-up and issues like balance and narrowing achievement gaps.
Problem with education's not all about you.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why some bloggers get so upset about other people's ideas and opinions, but still continue to submit to this blog. Are there right and wrong ideals or is this forum supposed to be an open ended discussion of education critiquing the methods and madness of the PPS? Why does it bother some to make historical references and comparisons to what others consider to be a model excellence and diversity?

Sim Karstairs said...

It's quite simple, anon. Some people want to affect change for the better across the board, and that entails getting rid of a horrible curriculum and even worse leadership that dwells in an ivory tower and thinks that it can google the answers for the district, without even stepping in a school. And some want change affected only for their kids and the like-minded.
This district had what, 60,000 kids or so 25 years ago? The make up has changed so drastically that references to the past are silly, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

The assumption that one only wants change for one's child is short sighted and at the same totally true. One may want change for one's child. as do all parents want change for their children- we want change for all of our children. Much is to be learned from can prevent maddening changes that are made for the sake of change and not for the benefit of the children that are being educated.

Anonymous said...

You're twisting the issue, of course, and not being forthcoming where this thread is concerned. Read it and have the courage to admit that a great many of the flamethrowers here have their own best interests at heart. Lou Holtz said it best about being in the rowboat. "It's hard enough rowing to shore let alone when one guy stands up and puts his life jacket on."
Your logic is sound, but not applicable to many here.

Anonymous said...


You'd respect us more if we said something that wasn't true?


But then that's the kind of backward thinking that one would expect from an apologist for this administration. Which of the changes over the last 5 years do you think has made the biggest difference in closing the gap and helping to achieve more parity? Opening UPrep?
Cutting East Hills off from Allderdice?
Westinghouse's new format and discipline issues?
The ALAs?
The Kaplan curriculum?
The Tinkerbell, Clap your hands, Say the script, and Believe method?

Anonymous said...

Thank you 8:13-Your comments hit the mark and marked the hit in your last few paragraphs.

Anonymous said...

Bet you don't post 9:32/

Sim Karstairs said...

Apparently, reading was not one of your strong points. Did you read my comment about the curriculum and central administration, or are you just ignoring it?

Anonymous said...

"Marked the hit"???

Anonymous said...

Uhh, if you haven't noticed, the posts don't post in real time. I'm not refreshing my page while reading and then typing. (If you'd thought for a minute, perhaps you could have figured that out for yourself rather than insulting someone else?)

I have to admit that I'm a bit confused by you then -- because half your party line is the one size fits all crap coming out of the administration and's not.

Anonymous said...

"I honestly believe this part of a 10 year "failure plan". Spend, disrupt, anger the community & city to the point of convincing everyone that teachers are the problem, public schools suck & everyone throws their hands up and caves in and we become pro charter school & vouchers"

I STILL believe this.