Sunday, September 11, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXII September 2008

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 22, September 2008

September 24, 2008: The Board establishes Uprep “as a magnet program beginning with the 2009-10 school year."

Central office bloat continues with the opening of not one but two project manager positions for University Prep.

The Chief of Staff submits another contract with Dennis Moran Design to work with the Marketing and Communication team. “The firm will create secondary graphics including: (1) color palette, (2) fonts, and (3) imagery. They will deliver marketing materials including: (1) a capabilities brochure, (2) a multipurpose pocket folder, (3) website graphics, (4) insert sheets, (5) presentation materials and (7) additional materials as needed. Responsibilities of the contractor include print production coordination and management, layout, image creation including illustration or photography, and delivering these complete materials on time and in accordance with the marketing and communications plan.”

The financial statements again warn that “significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs”, urge “an even greater premium on cutting expenses”, and call for sale of closed school buildings to be a “priority.”

Randall Taylor, on changes in the magnet policy, raises “issues about maintaining the diversity, the gender and racial diversity that we have in our magnet admissions and our magnet schools, and so my sincere hope as we go along is that, one, that we will have the involvement of groups like the NAACP of Pittsburgh, the Advocates for African-American Students and other groups who may want to be a part of creating a process that at the end of the day that we maintain the gender and racial diversity that we've enjoyed in this district for over 30 years.”

Mark Brentley, knowing that Uprep had only 138 students, questions the need to two project managers: “Can you tell me what is the -- what is a project manager for the University Prep?”

In a tag line more worthy of Cosmo (“50 is the new 20!”), Mark Roosevelt explains the grading of all E's as 50%: “I, myself, am not a statistician, but to those who are, there is a great body of evidence to show that if an E is treated as anything less than that, it is over represented in a student's grade accumulation and, therefore, is unfair to the student....let me just make it clear. If a student takes an exam or takes a test or hands in an assignment on which they earn a 20, when they're handed that back, they are given a 20, and that is how it's described and that is how it's presented to them. It is only when the grade point average is compiled for that course that it would be represented as a 50.”

Mark Brentley counters that “it would be very, very hard for me to believe that seasoned, established educators would support this....a false hope that he or she is really progressing when they're really not...the biggest and most important thing here is that it never accurately measures that student's achievement, and when you're playing those kinds of shell games, it's unfair to the students....when you really, really look at it, it simply makes no sense. These kids are shortchanged if this process is being used, and somewhere, somehow somebody's got to give some of these students some tough is not only our job, it is our duty to make sure that we're open and honest and fair with all students.”

In a real gem that we will revisit later, Bill Isler states emphatically that “I can tell you this: Mr. Roosevelt has no authority to sign any contract or negotiate any contract without board approval. This board approves every single contract. That's part of the school code.”

Brentley discusses Roosevelt's whereabouts: “Mark, we are going through some trying times here. We've closed so many schools. We have so many new that you would need all hands on deck at all times, and it was just stunning to see that on the very first day of school you were teaching and not within our district.”"


Joe the Barber said...

From reading all of this, Mark Brentley sounds like the only voice of reason, a man who has refused to fall in line with Roosevelt,Lane, central administration, the board itself and the administration of the PFT.
He's a lone wolf.
God bless him for that.

Anonymous said...

The obvious disrespect directed towards Mr. Brentley from other board members and administration at meetings is inexcusabl frequent and blatant.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it takes courage, real courage to be a lone wolf standing firm for the children in the face of such overwhelming arrogance and narcissism. GOD BLESS HIM and KEEP HIM STRONG.

Anonymous said...

Please know that many teachers and parents feel that Mark Brentley is the only voice of the citizens of Pittsburgh.

Angry Taxpayer said...

This post just reminded me that while Pittsburgh was still celebrating Arne's visit, the Secretary was in Detroit noting that the system now has "all of the building blocks in place to do something remarkable."


This is clearly the cover the backside of Broad/Gates/TIF/SIG tour.

Just two years ago (I imagine right before Broad placed one of their superheroes) the Secretary called Detroit "arguably the worst urban school district in the country."

Friday's (9/9) Wall Street Journal noted that a number of metrics indicate that there has been little quantifiable improvement during that period.

No point in letting the truth get in the way of some good PR, either in Pittsburgh or Detroit.

Seen It All said...

Joe the Barber,

I agree 100% with your comment about Mark Brentley being a voice of reason on the Board.

Someday, someone will do a case study of the Roosevelt years at PPS, to show just how badly a district can be mismanaged. And Brentley's actions will be one of the few bright spots in that story.

But don't forget that Randall Taylor also tried to put the brakes on Roosevelt's crazy train.

As for the rest of the Board, they were inexcusably negligent.

Anonymous said...

Duncan's visit was meant to validate what this administration has carried forward from Roosevelt.
Education has become akin to la cosa nostra, a secret society of people who are making nice salaries and having little to do with children.

As for Detroit, I just watched an investigative, heartbreaking report on HD NET a couple of months ago.

A billion dollar budget with all kinds of graft and corruption. Complete chaos in buildings.

Amazing that Duncan would make such comments.

Mark Rauterkus said...

What was the news of the Pittsburgh Promise update, today (Monday) at 10 am at CAPA?

Just wondering

Anonymous said...

Randall Taylor should have never left the Board. We need people on the Board fighting for the students and not afraid to speak up and out against the admin.

Seen It All said...

To anon 4:23

You said "Randall Taylor should have never left the Board".

How right you are!

I certainly would like to see Brentley, Taylor, and those that are challenging the other incumbents (like Lisa Jones in District 6)form a unified slate against the other Board members.

Wouldn't that be something!

Anonymous said...

Who is the person that replaced Randall and what is the problem with the person's representation?

Anonymous said...

Sharene Shealey ran as a parent in the district with an accounting (is that right? some sort of business-y thing) job.

But once she got in there, she became a part of the go along majority. And they do more than go along, they have bought in and will happily imply that anyone who disagrees must be a racist, ignorant child-hater.

Questioner said...

She has an engineering job. But despite the science background Board decisions are not backed by strong evidence and logic. Instead, the Board is happy to accept whatever explanation is offered by the administration. There continues to be a great deal of time wasted at Board meetings and a relaxed, humorous approach that is inappropriate in light of the issues the district is facing.

Anonymous said...

The problem Shealy is she does not see her self as a representative of Homewood or it schools. She grew up in friendship and went to and graduated from Peabody. When she was a senior her parents moved to point breeze where she currently resides. So she really doesnt have any ties to the neighorhood she represents.

She was elected because the people thought she was related to a family with the same last name that lived in Homewood. She has allowed the schools in her district to be used as an experiment and as a result of it our kids are suffering. She realizes she is a one termer and is trying to do what she can tear apart the schools and commnity she despises and was a rival with all her life.

She is concern about one thing, and that is her own kids, who are in the alderdice feeder pattern. Thats why she wants those easthills kids of our alderdice and sent to Westinghouse.

Yeah Buddy said...

All I have to say is that teachers play a role in this as being the biggest group the history of the city. There's no competition. There is no measure of guts.

Want courage? Look to Tacoma: