Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXVII (February 2009)

On a "Start a new post" Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 27, February 2009

February 24, 2009: What says love more than another contract for the Institute for Learning?

The Board accepts “a grant award from The Fund for Excellence in Pittsburgh Public Schools in the amount of $511,000...Funds will support the following costs for a contract with the Institute for Learning to complete current curriculum work:

1. Math 6-12 Intended curriculum revisions and 60% on-site support: $156,000
2. English Language Arts Continued revisions to core curricula: $100,000
3. Science: Development of K-5 curriculum and revisions to 6-12: $55,000
4. Disciplinary Literacy Course: Copyright cost and district curriculum writer training: $200,000.”

I hate to point out the obvious, but if the reform agenda was really about empowering effective teachers, why not deploy the PFT's finest to accomplish the task?

Central office expansion continues through a series of three grants totaling $336,000 from the Fund for Excellence to support “three curriculum specialists - 1 Mathematics, 1 English/Language Arts, 1 Social Studies.”

Other Fund for Excellence grants would pay the first year costs of an additional curriculum coach for ALAs and another curriculum coordinator for CTE.

Dr. Paula Bevan also celebrated Valentine's Day 2009, thanks to “a grant award from The Fund for Excellence in Pittsburgh Public Schools in the amount of $112,700. Funds are awarded to support the design, training, and implementation of a new system of teacher evaluation supporting professional growth-a system consisting of an improved process and tools for evaluation (including observing and conferring), and the necessary professional development and support for the new system's implementation. This work is aligned with Excellence for All's emphasis on accountability for results.”

The district's fascination with Courageous Conversations would start with a “grant award from Fund for Excellence in the amount of $150,000. Funds are requested to support the costs of consultants and training from The Consortium on Racial Equity in K-12 Education, a partnership between Pacific Educational Group, Inc., and West Wind Education Policy, Inc.”

I guess if PPS were serious about Courageous Conversations around race, maybe a good starting point would be listening to and understanding the community frustration and anger evident in the repeated questions and commentaries from Board Member Mark Brentley.

For that matter (and fast forward to 2011), if PPS were really serious about Courageous Conversations around race, it might actually ask the President of the Westinghouse Alumni Association to sit on the committee charged with formulating a naming recommendation for the new combined Westinghouse?

The Board approves the recommendations of the Commonwealth's Common Cents study, a key piece of which was for PPS to serve as a regional bidding hub for copiers (about as far away as you can get philosophically from current good old boy approach of spending 3X more through a negotiated process).

Letters of intent and due diligence periods for the sale of Connelley and Washington are approved.

Bids for Concord totaling $14.7 million are awarded, as are contracts equaling $8.2 million for Milliones.

Broad Residents are transferred to the Office of Strategic Initiatives as Project Managers.

The academic leadership team (six individuals reporting to Deputy Superintendent Lane) is reclassified from Executive Directors to Assistant Superintendents and/or Chief Academic Officer, which grants them specific rights under the Public School Code, along with a personal services contract.

Along with the Chief of Research, Deputy Superintendent and Superintendent, the newly titled Assistant Superintendents/Chief Academic Officer all become eligible for bonuses."


Questioner said...

"Excellence for All's accountability for results"? Has there ever been any accountability for the EFA goals, or even a discussion of the extent to which they have or have not been met and why or why not?

Angry Taxpayer said...


My goodness Q, results aren't the focus. Pps busy touting projection-based growth models and appealing subgroups. With bonuses at stake, outright scores stopped being the currency of truth a long time ago.

Who cares that Pps is #470-something in reading and math?

Who cares that actual enrollment is going down while charter counts are climbing?

Anonymous said...

Who is charged with auditing or monitoring the contractual provisions such as "on-site"support?

can anyone point to successes as a results of the courageous conversations initiative? not adults talking to one another, but kids being more civil in classrooms and hallways and more sensitive in the way they speak to one another and just less angry and apt to react with physical force to minor issues?

are you getting what you paid for?

Anonymous said...

"along with a personal services contract. "

What is this?

Anonymous said...

"Courageous Conversations" generates lots of interesting discussion with people sharing thoughts that will be 'acceptable' to the wider group. The long-lived racist attitudes are never revealed nor are they changed.

There is nothing about this method that changes deeply held and sustained attitudes among adults. More importantly, it NEVER reaches students in any positive or constructive way.

Anonymous said...

It means simply that they have individual employment contracts, just like the Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent.

By using this approach, the district gave them statutory protections as sworn, commissioned officers that they did not have before.

Old Timer said...

Dr.Paula Bevan, head cheerleader for the RISE program. Go to an inservice with her in charge and wonder to yourself, 'How does this district get away with continually espousing the 'Empowering Teachers' spiel. Then take a look over at the other table and watch the PFT's Mary van Horn drooling all over herself as she listens.
It would be pure comedy if it wasn't so tragic.
Here you have a woman that is making an extra $127K to find fault in teachers--and let's face it, RISE is written so an administrator truly can call any teacher 'deficient', at any time--and over there, a "union official" who happily applauds doctrines that have worked to betray the rank and file.

We have union leadership who are caught up in the national ink that is continually calling the PFT "cooperative."
Let's tell it like it is. The PFT has capitulated. It has abandoned its members. It is stealing $800+ a year in union dues from those members---for nothing.
That it will sit and listen to people like Bevan is simply amazing. That it will applaud her and then say they are empowering us is pure propaganda, and apparently something only young teachers believe.
And that Pittsburgh taxpayers stand for this type of consultant arrangement --behind a board that signs off on it--tells you all you need to know:
No one outside of Pure Reform cares.
Teachers should know that come next year, there is only one choice when the ballots come to the door--vote this entire group of traitors out.

Anonymous said...

"Pure Reform cares." It is not always clear what PR cares about. While there is little evidence statewide that this consultant is effective in her work, the ranting and raving about anything close to PD from certain teachers is very discouraging. To publish this type of comment over and over reflects very badly on teachers.

How about comments on what has been or would be optimally effective for Professional Development so that we can begin to see improvement in student achievement. Ten years of failing to meet PSSA and AYP Standards is unconscionable. What kind of PD does a rant and rave teacher believe will produce results?

Retired Teacher said...

Anon 9:19 AM:

For starters, I think it might be valuable to have real PD on classroom norms and expectations.

Among others, the IRIS Center has done some good work on this.

- Teachers who establish and maintain norms for an effective learning environment spend more time teaching because less time is usurped by discipline (Brophy, 2000).
- Norms that engender a supportive learning environment include acting and interacting responsibly,
treating others with respect and concern, and fostering a learning orientation (Brophy 1998; 2000; Good & Brophy, 2000; Sergiovanni, 1994).
- Effective school-wide norms can be established through a school-based program that focuses on
supportive interactions among students (Solomon, Watson, Delucchi, Schaps, & Battistich, 1988).

I would find this more valuable than "Courageous", RISE and other "empowering" methodologies.

Old Timer said...

Wait a minute. How does it reflect badly on Pittsburgh teachers? Because it is your perception that teachers deserve to be sheep?
I would be glad to provide you with a litany of things I have done in the classroom for students whose parents are miquetoast, wanting to be politically correct meeley mouths who, pardon the pun, "feel empowered" by local, state and national leadership that have declared war on teachers.
According to your way of thinking, we should all just sit and like it.
Rather than provide you with "suggestions", I'd rather point to 30 years worth of students who have done something with their lives and "felt empowered" my myself and my colleagues. I'd rather talk about working with kids from the worst of the city's neighborhoods and watching so many go on to productive lives.
Maybe you...or Dr.Belan, or Ms.Van Horn, would care to compare notes.

Teachers aren't the problem in any way, shape or form in this district, and they never have been.

Instead of trying to be aplogist for administrative types who target the people who do the true work in education, I'd rather you just thank me, and be on your way.

Professional Educator said...

Old Timer, you speak for teachers everywhere.
This individual is either a central office administrator, or more likely a PFT executive board member.
I'd expect nothing less from either one and in the case of the latter, can only hope his or her days are numbered.