Saturday, December 31, 2011

Roosevelt hiring

On another post Bulldog Forever wrote:

"1. You give Mr. Isler far, far too little credit for the current state of affairs. Do not forget that for nearly Mark Roosevelt's entire tenure Bill drove MR home after each and every board/committee meeting.

When MR was floundering at getting a job at a school district for a time much longer than it took him to complete the rigorous 7 weekend - weekend, not months, not years - Broad Superintendent's academy, it was the John Kerry/Teresa Heinz camp that pushed Bill Isler very directly to lead the test of the Board to hire Roosevelt.

By some great act of coincidence, the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College receives a very very very sizable foundation donation that completes it's capital campaign and literally the house the Isler built is, well, built.

Tit for tat here folks, follow the private money in this."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Change to elementary hoops policy

From the PG:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Race to the Top Money

On another post Anonymous wrote:


Pennsylvania just received 41.3 million of Race to the Top money. Hmmm? PPS received more than that from Gates. It seems as thought the intent for the money is teacher evaluation. How much would you bet that they use the "Pittsburgh model."

Too bad those who know a little about education are not in a position or do not have the time to go beyond the P.R. when making decisions about effective programs."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Teacher age discrimination suits can be expensive

From the Tribune:

Teachers offered buyouts

From the PG:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Westinghouse update

From the Tribune:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The main culprit

On another post Anonymous wrote:


From today's P-G:

Don't blame teachers for the racial achievement gap - blame poverty."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Survey given to teachers

At the agenda review a $137k "teaching and learning" survey given to teachers is also discussed. One question raised was how this survey differs from the previous in house surveys. The response was that it "organizes it into constructs" and then a quick offer to provide more information (sigh of relief that the questioning was over).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Summer Dreamers

Based on the agenda review, it sounds like what is happening is that all kids who are not proficient and who want to attend Dreamers will be placed in a lottery. The program will be in 3 locations only, Milliones, King and Carmalt, and it will supercede the longstanding successful program at Lincoln. If by some chance there is some space left kids who are proficient might be allowed to attend.

CTE being shuffled around

This week's agenda review has a great deal of discussion of confusing information, shuffling around CTE again. The approach seems very patchwork.

Survey given to students

On another post Anonymous wrote:

I was hoping somebody could enlighten me about the survey my kids took earlier this week. I plan to ask questions at my PSCC meetings but one won't even be held until 2012. Does anyone know what this cost us?"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Certain sports at some schools may join WPIAL

From the PG:

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Feeling that a district has become a testing lab for wealthy outsiders"

Critics complain of "[unilateral imposition of] a controversial agenda — replacing principals, opening new schools, placing charter schools inside district buildings — dreamed up by outsiders and consultants who do not understand the needs of their children, and that there is not enough opportunity for input by parents and community-based advocates....'There are so many new things happening, it’s like the idea is just throw it all against a wall and see what sticks.'”

- NYT article about complaints against state control of Newark public schools:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXXII (July 2009)

On another post Anonymous wrote:


How we got where we are, part 32, July 2009

July 27, 2009: Central office expansion continues as the Board “accepts a grant award from the Fund for Excellence in Pittsburgh Public Schools for $841 ,773. Renewal support is awarded from the Fund for Excellence in the amount of $841,773 over 16 months for costs associated with the Office of Strategic Initiatives: The High School Plan for Excellence. Specifically, funding is awarded to support salary costs associated with the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI).”

It was a summer of giving, as the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration recommends “an agreement to renew a contract with Dr. Judy Johnston to provide training, support, consultation and recommendations to Assistant Superintendents and up to 20 principals in support of the principal-evaluation program. This work will require direct work with assistant superintendents and principals in the form of one-on-one instructional coaching, school and classroom visits, interaction with the Teaching and Learning teams, and the gathering of evidence for performance standards. Services to be provided between August 1st, 2009 through July 31 st, 2010. This support will be provided to meet district proficiency standards as identified on the leadership evaluation rubric. This work is in conjunction with the principal
evaluation project. Total cost not to exceed $107,750.00 for up to 90 days of work in the district.”

Yes, you did the math correctly. At well over $1,000 per day Johnston's compensation was greater than the Superintendent's.

Patricia Kennedy, Executive Director of Communications, resigns, lasting less than one year under the iron rule of the Chief of Staff.

The Board votes to add a K-12 Gifted & Talented Coordinator, a luxury we did not have at 30,000 students.

Focus on Results also finds PPS to be a day at the beach, with the Board approving a contract “to provide 84 days of training and consulting to 5 secondary principals and their leadership teams” with an operating period from August 1, 2009 to July 31,2010. The rate of payment which includes consulting $2,300 per day, planning $650 per day, books and materials $1,000 and travel shall not exceed $257,670.”

The Board, except for Mark Brentley and Randall Taylor oblivious to the repeated warnings in writing that the trajectory of administrative costs and program expansion would jeopardize the district's solid financial footing, reward Superintendent Roosevelt with a raise.

Mr. Brentley's commentary is scorching: “During these tough times -- remember just this month we passed a very, very high increase within the communication and marketing. In some areas it's selective on who determines and who gets what.....It's been extremely difficult to get the superintendent to focus on equity....I raised concerns over the years about the program, the community educational partnership program. It's a problem. I had asked for this administration to address it....we cannot get caught up into the slick media campaigns....we found out in some cases recommendations that are made in terms of who gets what principalship has been or may be influenced by some former board members and some folks within the foundation community....We've watched as changes will be made, and Mr. Taylor and I would be left out often. And so yes, it's great you have the majority here, but what good is it for the district?...the fact of the matter is that I am still an elected official here. I still have a responsibility to the constituents who put me here, and regardless of the negative things that continue to happen, we know that this -- this community and this district is still a district in crisis....When asked about we're losing we're losing so many students, well, [Roosevelt] said well, we're managing decline. If we're managing decline, and if enrollment is constantly going down, why are salaries constantly going up? some point somebody's got to begin to ask some questions.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

Review of "Teaching America"

A new book about civics education, reviewed by the WSJ:

Civics education is an area that has been improving in PPS in recent years. Maybe, eventually, there will be an effect on PPS itself.

Does PPS discourage reporting of employee crimes to police?

From WPXI:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Board passes budget

It's strange that the article did not report what the vote on the budget was (ie, number for, against and abstaining).

Obama admin issues guidelines to promote diversity

From the NYT:

“Diverse learning environments promote development of analytical skills, dismantle stereotypes and prepare students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

PPS seeking a director to "Design Westinghouse"

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New posting for "director, design Westinghouse!"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Consultants eat up Pittsburgh schools' gift

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Consultants eat up Pittsburgh schools' gift

“Two years after Pittsburgh Public Schools received $40 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to increase teachers' effectiveness, the district has spent or allocated nearly a third of it on consultants and contractors, mainly from outside the state.
Administrators told board members that they need consultants to perform specialized work outside the expertise of district personnel.”
Can anyone document improved achievement or benefits for students as a result of the more than 13 MILLION reportedly spent here?

How was the remaining 37 MILLION spent? With what results for students, specifically?

Read more: Consultants eat up Pittsburgh schools' gift - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review