Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Westinghouse article in City Paper



Questioner said...

Also an article in the Courier:

Questioner said...

What kind of organization would offer a bonus to the person ultimately responsible for a fiasco like this? And who would start a school without a basic knowledge about the training the teachers would be receiving?

It is worth noting, again, that the East End Panel that recommended this plan held closed door meetings and were reportedly not informed about the challenges by the ACLU faced by other single gender public schools. Links to these materials were posted on this blog the day the plan was announced in April 2010.

Veteran Teacher said...

If half as much attention was paid to essential details like a master schedule as was spent on frivolous matters like the Westinghouse billboards our children would not have suffered two months of total chaos.

This blood is on your hands Dr. Lane.

Ashamed to Work Here said...

Q 8:22:

What kind of organization provides raises to it's top administrators a day before the Governor releases his budget?

What kind of organization doesn't rescind those raises after laying off or announcing further layoffs of 700 employees?

What kind of organization buys lawn furniture after laying off 300 employees?

What kind of organization doubles it's copier bill while laying off 700?

What kind of organization approves three communications & marketing contracts the same night it authorizes school closings and layoffs?

Anonymous said...

Didn't somebody at the last board meeting say 75% of the Communications and Marketing contracts are paid for by grants?

Anonymous said...

As I read I had to wonder when Dr. Lopez's name would be brought up and was relieved that his involvement was finally mentioned. Some might consider him the architect. If he never returns a call on the subject might that be giving more credence to the thought that he is interested in creating a charter to serve many of the kids in his Zone program?
Should we hesitate to turn to Dr. Barnett for opinions since she served the kids as principal at one time? Were scores and more better under her principalship?
Finally, there were also several parents who might share some blame for their strong support, might the former superintendent have relied on the vocal number for the cheerleading to make a successful building even if their own kids did not attend there?

Questioner said...

Derrick Lopez and John Wallace are proposing to start a charter school in Homewood next fall! Lopez was very involved with plans for U Prep, which has not gone well, and the main force behind the 6-12 format in PPS and single gender education. His explanation for why he should be given a third shot at a new school seems to be that PPS didn't follow his designs closely enough. It WOULD be interesting to see if this time he would place his own children in the school he is proposing rather than in PPS magnets.

Questioner said...

Oh and time spent in a PPS charter would apparently count toward the 5 years he needs to receive a monthly pension for life.

Anonymous said...

From the Pittsburgh Courier

“There’s a budget crisis as you know. Closing a school saves $8 million dollars so that’s a bleep compared to what they have to balance. The wages for teachers and administrators is where we need to cut back because we’re overstaffed,” Bailey said. “So what happened is they started to put pressure on performance. I honestly believe in my heart, this was a way to downsize. In schools where there’s a collective bargaining agreement, you have to rate people out.”

What we already knew but now it is in print. According to the Westinghouse Principal, He was pressured to 'rate' teachers out of the system because of over staffing/budget crisis. The only way, according to administrators, when teachers are unionized.

This new rating system is extremely subjective, unfair, political, and unconstitutional.

Friends of principals and vice principals would never be 'rated out' regardless of how bad a teacher they are, neither would the 'ass kissers.'

Ass kissers are desired in a district that manages by fear and threats of losing one's job. It is the only way to force employees to tow the line. How else would these destructive policies and horrible curricula last as long as they have.

Futhermore, politicians truly know how to take advantage of a crisis, 'budget' crisis, to get what they want.

Teresa Colaizzi(?) is the master of crisis advancement. I see her son has managed to get recent employment while others are losing their job because they were purposefully targeted.

Sherry Hazuda is another skillfull politician of crisis advancement. I wonder if her daughter-in-law, Rachel Hazuda, was re-hired after she retired in August. This retirement would have nothing to do with Sherry's re-election, right?

Rachel, who was on the teacher list for 4 years, amazingly gained employment with the district shortly after Sherry was first elected. This isn't abuse of power or self-serving, right?

It isn't self-serving to make sure that you and your children receive a higher education while you don't pay your school taxes, right? How many children and families are now suffering because of these self-serving board members?

I won't even go into Fink's legendary abuse of power and self-serving behavior.

Anonymous said...

Just for kicks, check this out.

Word of advice to PPS employees, update your resume.

A Word from Bellefield said...

Anon 10:26:

Mark Roosevelt was really a blend of two of the types:

The Smartest Guy in the Room
This is the guy who has all the answers and can never, ever be wrong. He doesn't just breathe his own fumes or drink his own Kool-Aid, he makes and mass-markets it, as well. He wants everyone to agree with his grandiose vision of how things should be and makes sure of that by surrounding himself with yes-men and women and ruthlessly beating down dissenting views.
The reason these people fail is they're blinded by the power of their own vision and therefore lack objectivity. They tend to be rigid and inflexible in their thinking and unwilling to see what's really happening until it's too late. Unfortunately, markets don't behave according to anyone's plan. They're populated by competitors and customers with free will and have a funny way of determining their own outcome.
It's All About Me
Some people never grow up but get stuck in one phase or another of human development. They look just like normal adults, but inside, they're petulant, narcissistic children with oversized egos. Since their overriding goal is to get attention, to be adulated and worshipped by all, they're often charismatic and charming, almost chameleon-like in the way they appeal to all sorts of constituents. And their positions and strategies can flip and flop from one day to the next based on one data point, meeting, or conversation.
While a healthy ego is necessary and good for leaders, business isn't really about any particular individual. It's about meeting customer needs, achieving long-term growth and success for shareholders and employees, and being passionate about your products and services. People who think free market capitalism is about selfish greed couldn't be more wrong. Every company, board, CEO, executive team, serves its stakeholders and constituents. If it doesn't, it'll fail.

Old Timer said...

Do not forget the PFT in this discussion and in particular, Mary van Horn, who is the union "leader" most aligned to the RISE system. There is simply no way--no way-- that Tarka, Esposito and Van Horn, among myriad others, didn't know that such a rating system would provide an opportunity to get rid of anyone that the principal sees fit to get rid of.
I am appalled at the wording of RISE and have read and studied every word until my eyes hurt. I am shocked that any teacher--young or old--would see this process as "empowering." Who in God's name could possibly feel "empowered???" Read carefully and you understand that this process cannot possibly be objective.
In the same way now one sees that the VAM--value added method--of rating that will provide "raises" is like something you'd see in a dictatorship. You know, placate the masses into thinking that there is some sort of good in all of this, while actually turning the screws on the entire population.
I consider myself someone who does not go for conspiracy theories and I am loathe to believe that some master scheme is being perpetrated behind the scenes, no matter the discussion. But what we have seen in this district over the past 6 years is the closest thing to the idea of dominance and submission than I have ever personally been witness to. Add the fact that local media outlets of high regard refuse to investigate and you have a situation in which the powers that be feel they have carte blanche to do as they please.
What's most disturbing in all of this is that young teachers have allowed the brainwashing to take hold. They will not fight. They will not object. They will continue to be good little boys and girls who vote for their PFT incumbents and approve contracts. In their hearts, they truly believe that there are many teachers who need to be fired and that having a union--even when it's in name only--is a good thing.
I entered this career with many teachers who were radical in their beliefs. What you recently saw in Tacoma would have been the PFT's way 30 years ago. They would not have stood for dictatorial leadership, strong-arming policies or divide and conquer techniques.
And in an instructional vein, they knew their kids and knew how to teach them. As did old school principals.
But we are led by cowards now who obviously have had a long swig of the kool aid or are in on the scheme, themselves.
Radical change is the only way to get through to dictators. Standing and fighting is the alternative now.
But true, courageous teachers have long retired, and people like me--who came in with them--are all that's left. Leadership knows this and often will target us.
Tacoma should be a case study for all teachers. Stand. Fight. Have some courage.

Anonymous said...

Props to Heath Bailey for speaking out! "16 new teachers put on an improvement plan and the 3 principals also." I thought those teachers were "hand-picked" for the Academy? And why would the principals placed there be put on improvement plans? Sounds like another PPS plan to get rid of people.

Questioner said...

Mark Brently asked about the HCV charter plan. Dr. Lane said that HCV has not expressed an interest in a charter school and Ira Weiss said that the deadline has passed. Mark Brently asked for notification as soon as the district becomes aware of intentions for a charter. There was also discussion of possible conflict of interest given HCV's memorandum or understanding.

Anonymous said...

What confidence should we have that Mr. Lopez could plan and execute a charter school any better than he did UPrep or Westinghouse?

Anonymous said...

"I consider myself someone who does not go for conspiracy theories and I am loathe to believe that some master scheme is being perpetrated behind the scenes, no matter the discussion."

This is a business model -- though its effects are that of a well-planned conspiracy. If this were happening only here in Pittsburgh, I'd figure that our Broad people were just confused and not doing what they'd been taught. But when you look at districts big and small with Broad and Gates influences, this is a plan being carried out.

But, "leadership academies" and setting schools up to fail and then reconfiguring them, closing and opening and closing schools, it's all part what they were taught.

Younger teachers know that they are lucky to have a job -- for every new teacher that gets hired, s/he likely knows well 5-15 other people who are not working as teachers. OF COURSE they are going to jump through any hoop and do whatever they're told so that they can get their level II certification.

If anyone is going to be changing things, it has to be the old guard teachers. Teachers with tenure, teachers who have been around long enough to know it wasn't always like this.

Old Timer said...

I understand the point about younger teachers and jobs. I came in at a time when there just weren't many openings and was lucky to latch on. But I learned quickly about the idea of safety in numbers. That's the entire modus operandi of unions--strength in numbers. Solidarity. Unity.
The corporate model that was employed by Roosevelt is well known, that's certainly true, but only works to weaken and ultimately destroy a union when individuals start thinking and acting for themselves. To a great degree, this union's leadership not only allowed that to happen but pushed the idea by getting into bed with the corporate bosses.
And that, anon, is my point.
Worrying about your job is one thing. Seeing things from the corporation's point of view---buying into the propaganda--is another. I've been to too many meetings at Greenway in which young teachers actually make it clear that numerous teachers--almost always "older teachers" --should be let go. I've heard to many of them make comments that they really feel that there is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, and that RISE is a great thing.
Your last comment about older teachers is on target, but it's very telling to me that the great majority of teachers who are placed on "improvement plans" via RISE are old veterans.
You tell me: did they suddenly forget how to teach, or are they looked upon as either useless baggage or 'dangerous' to the regime in charge?
To me, the train is rolling off of the tracks. I knew what Roosevelt was all about from day 1. Many old timers did. Without a union to fight for teachers...and without a rank and file willing to oust a group of people that run a union and act more like a wing of PPS than they do for the good of are talking about wildcat types of resistance. Even then, how many people like me have the drive at this point of their careers to act, or even care?
The great strength of PPS for the first two decades of my time in PPS has been its teachers, and I say that from a student and parent point of view. That started to erode in Al's last few years, and has been the focal point for administration over the past 6 years, as it tries to take teachers OUT of the equation in the classroom, amazingly enough. Look at every department's curriculum, and it is exceedingly clear.
Speaking for people who are the cusp of retirement, I could go another 10 years. I love kids and am still able to motivate and communicate to help kids achieve to their potential, but why?
Roosevelt and Lane have shown me that I/we owe it to ourselves to leave when we can, or risk stress-related illness that will compromise our health in the years to come.

Anonymous said...

And on Sunday Old Timer you'll see your union leader in action - or should I say in-action? She'll be with her buddy Lane. Don't eat before the show. You might throw-up.

Sunday's KD/PG Edition at 8:30 a.m. has Dr. Lane, Nina Esposito-Visgitis, and Sharene Shealey on talking about the budget. Should be interesting... Of course the PG mentioned that Lane turned down a $15,000 pay raise. They didn't mention that she still makes $200,000.

Anonymous said...

I am a recently retired teacher from PPS. One of the main reasons I retired is that the path that my own union has followed has made me mad, sick and dejected. I also from day one asked "exactly how are teachers empowered?" But lets be honest here, many members went along with this idiotic plan and keep their mouth shut for fear of losing their jobs. Most of them know that many of the things done by the Roosevelt/Lane Gang would not work but they kept quiet and followed along like sheep. I have spoken up many times both in school and in union meetings and that put me on the track to be persecuted at school and ignored by my own union. Tarka and Mary Van Horne were never any help to me no matter what happened. I also
have many harsh words for all those sheep that joined the RISE teams. That was clever of PPS to get our own fellow teachers to work against us. Several of them told me when I questioned them as to why they were on the RISE team, that they hoped that it would keep the principal off their backs. Why would anyone give Lane a raise after this disgraceful mess that has happened at Westinghouse? These children cannot afford to have a disorganized and unsettled year as they are having this year. A crime has been committed here but it seems very few people care.

Questioner said...

At the legislative meeting Bill Isler complimented Dr. Lane for doing a "phenomenal job." Would he have felt the same if he had had a child at Westinghouse?

OT2 said...

I'm an old timer as well. RISE isn't evil in and of itself. It's how principals out there play to its ambiguous parts that's really evil. RISE, while flawed, has helped me look crically at mt practice and has helped me identify areas forme to work. That said, my present principal is wonderful, smart and supportive. My principal two years ago is the exact opposite and used RISE like a weapon to go after noisy old timers like myself.

So much of how secure we teachers feel in our job depends on how effective the PRINCIPAL is in doing his or her job.

Anonymous said...

The performance goals set by the board for Dr. Lane and read into the record by Mrs. Fink include in the number one position "provide support for..." principals. Will the goals for principals include the same directive in regard to teachers? To those lucky teachers who serve under tremendous principals/leaders, congratulations.

Old Timer said...

If you look at Roosevelt's methodology, everything that is now transpiring with teachers had its trial run with principals. Many, many old school principals who knew their communities, families and kids were shown the door. They were essentially forced to retire.
I understand that principals meetings are very much now a situation where those few old school, non PELA principals who are left are on one side of the room and still question central administration, while PELAs are on the other side, nodding in agreement with their superiors, talking edu-speak and drinking more of the kool aid.

Old Timer said...

I understand the thinking that says to teachers, "You let it happen" with regards to how things have changed within the district. In its purest form, that thinking is true.

But let's revisit the past 15 years of the PFT. Keep in mind that because every school is something like an island, we rely on our elected leaders for communication that will keep us united. We rely on them to remember and fight for our best interests. We rely on them for representation.

Because of the nature of our work, we cannot do it ourselves.

We "let it happen" because we did not seek legal recourse in what can only be considered shady elections. We "let it happen" because we did not seek an audit of votes for the last two contract negotiations under Fondy. We "let it happen" because we continued this in both directions under Tarka. And we "let it happen" because we did not march on the PFT building with torches and pitchforks after 4 teachers who were not on the "recommended PFT slate" won positions in the last election and two of those members--who should have been taken out of the classroom and been able to work full time at the PFT as has always been the case in the past--were subject to caveats and codicils within the PFT wording that precluded them joining the full time staff.

Now, the PFT is working on wording that will prohibit individuals who are running for PFT positions from meeting with faculties AFTER SCHOOL HOURS in their buildings.

What do you call this type of entity? La cosa nostra? A dictatorship? A third world government?

How clear does it have to become until each teacher sees what is going on? How does any teacher with half a brain vote for current PFT leadership, individuals who have been complicit in the demise of our union?

I have to laugh at the rhetoric coming out of Esposito, who would label her opponent Mark Sammartino as "radical." Why? Because he dares to question??? Mark is an intelligent gentleman who remembers who the union is all about. For my money, he's not "radical" enough, as he would choose to calmly discuss and come to agreement rather than argue and choose some other path.

But in the end, I have no doubt that our cowardly rank and file will take the easy way out---not vote at all or vote for the PFT slate. In this regard, we deserve what we get for leadership.

Veteran Teacher said...

OT, I sure don't feel empowered working for a school district that feels no shame employing an archivist while laying off teachers.

Old Timer said...

Veteran, there are numerous people in the employ of PPS that should not be earning a wage at the expense of a teacher's job.
But hey, it's not like central administration actually cares.

Cigol said...

Pittsburgh Public school DOES have three levels of administrators many who have never been principals or teachers. Therefore, they have no understanding of how to educate students or support teachers and principals. The Westinghouse process lacked vision, support and appreciation for young African American students. The hiring (and layoffs) of all PPS staff is totally illegal and based on who THEY want in a particular position. The Director of Student Services and other jobs have been created for certain people; Central Administration does not care and they never will.

Anonymous said...

It is the week of December 1st-- 10 weeks into school-- and Westinghouse is on their SIXTH schedule another time or another district ther would have been crisis teams in to solve whatever is wrong-- union officials, board members, Dr. Lane- you have allowed this situation to go on way too long-- make school happen for these students!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, they at Central Office,do NOT KNOW HOW to solve the problems in our schools.

As was mentioned here previously, MANY have no background or experience for the positions they hold---much less expertise.

It is a serious problem, but since the Board Members know even less, they believe 'whatever' they are told which is far from factual.

The Broad/Gates/Heinz ETC. people are not educators and have little, if any, training or experience in schools.

What is happening to students in PPS (exception CAPA) is egregious and unconscionable---but the beat goes on----------

A turnover or turnaround is not in the foreseeable future.


Anonymous said...

If enough parents "strike" and refuse to send their children to PPS on a predetermined day (a PSSA day would be great) it might catch some attention. The downside is only if CAPA, Allderdice, Colfax, & some of the magnet schools join in it will probably be ignored. At some point the parents have to make a difference, nobody else cares.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:37,

Parents have been speaking with their feet. That explains the mass exodus and declined in enrollment.

PPS and the board just choose to ignore them just like they ignore testimony at the board hearings.

Our schools lost all opportunity to rebound with the last election. Families that left were willing to come back with a change in philosophy.

By the next election, there won't be any anger to harness. They would have given up any hope for change and moved on.