Monday, December 19, 2011

Westinghouse update

From the Tribune:


Anonymous said...

Yes innovations in education: s bell schedule, a student schedule, separating middle school age students from high school, a semester calendar that matches the curriculum, seasoned administrators- WOW-anyone who reads and writes on this list could have come up with these without going to Broad- students and teachers are doing better with "real school" -- this is a surprise?? Seriously a shameful situation of a semester lost.

Questioner said...

What has almost 6 years of Broad done for Westinghouse?

Anonymous said...

The students at Westinghouse are among the "brightest" in the city schools, bar none.

The chart from the article by Chris Young in last week's city paper is a powerful example of the PPS' current administration's inability to educate.

A month of visiting schools in West Africa among those whose "poverty" is exemplified by living quarters that are structured from the earth of the immediate vicinity tells a very different story.

These African children not only speak their native language and several regional languages, but read, write, and speak English at levels currently beyond the majority of American students.

So to say that "poverty" is the cause of poorly educated students here is clearly antithetical to reality.

Anonymous said...

How long will the principals be on paid administrative leave, or will they just keep getting paid until they ask for a hearing? Is it too soon to reassign them? If so why? Isn't there a single Board member who cares about how this looks?

Anonymous said...

My friends from West Africa do not speak English very well. But they describe a life centered around strong, nurturing extended families which provide children with nutritious meals, support and opportunities to learn.

Anonymous said...

For those readers, here (Westinghouse & "the main culprit"), who quest for better understanding and more information on "racism" and "achievement gaps" in schools with African American students in PPS, please consider beginning with the seminal work of Carter G. Woodson, “Mis-Education of the Negro.” More will follow.

Googling it will give you enough info to know whether you are open to continuing.

Anonymous said...

The students in West Africa who were referenced by 11:08 were reading American/English books at and beyond their grade levels in the relatively barren village schools__ and were witnessed, first hand, discussing and answering questions in English which was not their native language.

Just wanted to be clear and on point.

Anonymous said...

Another worthwhile text might be "Whose Education for All" which also, by title alone, begs the question at issue here.

Anonymous said...

To the West African commenter, I'd love to know the name of the program through which you were able to visit these schools. Are these state-run public schools or schools run by outside organizations? How are they funded?

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

In the US, drugs and gun violence and breakdown of families often accompany poverty. Is that the case in West Africa?

Anonymous said...

Let alone the one parent home. Or the no parent home. Is that the same there?

Anonymous said...

To 4:19:
The schools were state-run schools, and the program was a Fulbright Fellowship that ran for five weeks of all encompassing events and explorations inclusive of visiting schools, central school management, slave castles, historical, cultural, arts/music, crafts, religious, archeological, matrilineal communities, tribal festivals, forests, reserves, villages, fishing harbors, etc., etc. And, importantly, as well, attending ongoing seminars with professors at the University.

Questioner said...

Is there any society in the world today that is consistently and successfully educating children under the conditions that accompany poverty in the US today (addiction, violence, shattered families, inadequate and unstable housing, etc.)?

Anonymous said...

Questioner: Are you really asking that question in all seriousness? Those societies that truly educate the children, do not have the problems you cite. PPS is not educating the majority of its children to succeed in school and therefore, they children are taking an alternate route, success in the streets.

Questioner said...

OK then is there a society in the world that has consistently and successfully educated children under the conditions that accompany poverty in the US today (addiction, violence, shattered families, inadequate and unstable housing, etc.) so that those conditions no longer exist?

Anonymous said...

So please once again explain it to me. This sounds like the same people who ranted against Professor Davis and before him, Bill Cosby for crying out loud.
Quit playing the race card. It doesn't work anymore.
At the end of the day, you are either going to accept the idea of hard work and effort...and in this case, value an education....or you're not. I don't care where you're from. I don't care what color you are. Pass this thinking down to your kids and watch them flourish.
Have some courage. Tell it like it is.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone sit down with Linda lane and explain to her the problems that would or could occur with westinghouse if things were not done right? If so who and when?

Anonymous said...

Did the board listen to the Homewood residents and alumni? Did they raise issues and concerns?

Anonymous said...

If WHS is so bad why doesnt the district just close WHS and send the students from WHS to Allderice and have one school in the East End?
Would it be great(not) seeing the students catching the pat bus to squiril hill getting off in the business district and hanging out there after school.
Wouldn't Linda lane be applauded for closing another school and saving money and for adding diversity to Allderdice and the area(not)?

Anonymous said...

The PPS office of PR put out a report in the Tribune Review yesterday that was so false and misguided that the staff at Westinghouse was in an uproar all day. They continue to report that it is worse than ever. People are quitting outright and many will apply to leave as soon as they can.

Maybe the Community and Central Office need to visit the school and interview the staff, all staff, not just a "select few."

As was stated by Fred Logan in his letter to the Board. Westinghouse must get an "apology" from the Board for the debacle there. The problems stem from Central Office decisions or lack thereof, NOT the Westinghouse administrators, teachers or students.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they did. There were several "community meetings" with the administration. Derrick Lopez and Sharene Shealey talked about the great plans, they scoffed at people who thought there might be problems.

They "bribed" kids with trips to other cities to see other single gender schools. The bribe part was that to go on the second trip, you had to have already signed up for the magnet.

When the community continued to speak, by choosing to NOT enroll and go to UPrep (not a school to write home about -- it's been on a state-wide list of failing schools -- but it seemed like a better option than the plans for W'house), they changed the rules, rather than look at the complaints and worries.

Trust me, the administration was well-informed about potential problems. They just knew better than everyone else. As they always seem to do.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to have Fred Logan's letter re-printed here?

Anonymous said...

The district pushing single gender, despite even the PG noting difficulties, includes classic lines (lies?) like this, "Before opening the proposed academies at Westinghouse, Mr. Lopez said, the district will spend a year educating parents and training teachers about the nuances of a single-gender environment."

I haven't gone through all their archives -- often the meetings that don't go the administration's way don't get coverage in the paper.

Anonymous said...

Yes, "middle aged white guy" might not be the right person to give advice, BUT.. I gotta believe that "every black kid to master Google slavishly as suburban kids" wouldnt hurt. We were well on our way to technological superiority for our students prior to Gates-- people notices what our kids could do with business standard software. Marks says in Forbes magzine "technology is the great leveler" Not when we convince parents and school boards that rote programs-electronic workbooks are equal to real instructional technology as it WAS taught. They used to say PPS was either 10 years ahead- yes, that was then, or 10 years behind-- yes this is now.

Anonymous said...

You must apologize for Westinghouse!
Fred Logan

Pittsburgh Board of Education
341 South Bellfield Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Monday, December 19, 2011

For the record, my name is Fred Logan. I live in Homewood-Brushton. The Pittsburgh school board and the school district must apologize. You must make an official public apology to the entire city of Pittsburgh. And before a full assembly of Westinghouse students, you must apologize for the tragedy at Westinghouse.
That tragedy, and that’s exactly what it is, did not and should have occurred. It’s your fault. Just making a few passing comments or so to the media isn’t enough. That only encourages irresponsible planning in the future.
If you are ready and willing to take personal, professional, and political credits for your accomplishments, and you are, then you must take the blame for your totally irresponsible failures.
In September 2007, Derrick Lopez was invited to an afternoon meeting of the Homewood Roundtable at Westinghouse to discuss high school reform.
The 20 or so people present told Lopez to take this critical issue to the larger community at evening meetings. He did. Be very clear on this point. Lopez played a very important role in the Westinghouse tragedy. But his superiors on the school board and in the district administration are even more to blame for what happed than he is.
Now fast forward to May 4, 2011, after several years and months of turmoil and haphazard planning, the board met at Obama Academy and voted on a proposal it had received just two days earlier.
It voted to make Westinghouse a confused mix of co-ed and single gender classes. This overturned the earlier vote that converted Westinghouse into two single gender academies.
Less than three months after school opened, Superintendent Lane announced publicly, what the critics had predicted all the time, Westinghouse reform was a complete failure. She proposed that Westinghouse be reverted back to a traditional co-ed school in January 2012. That’s what it was in September 2007.
Your apology must be more than saying in public, I’m sorry. You must make an official public report on the academic sit-back it had on Westinghouse students. You must give a chronological narrative report of the faulty planning process. You must also give an audit on how much money was throw away on consultants, out-of-town bus tours, media PR, that is the entire dollars and cents cost of the entire three-year long Westinghouse fiasco.
You must do much more than just apologize. But you must apologize.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that the Westinghouse alumni and concern community members sat down with Linda lane in feb and laid out everything to her. I understand they presented issues and concerns to her along with a compehensive ten point plan to which she ignored.
She discounted there concerns and now the chickens are comming home to roost. Her answer was to blame everything on the past principals and put the new principal in there to clean it up.
But if I am not mistaken, the new principal was there before and didnt do much and was removed by Lopez. Does anyone know why the new principal was removed before?

Anonymous said...

People say she was transferred after a screaming match with Lopez. But Lopez can be enough to make anyone want to scream.

Anonymous said...

I dont remember his name right now, but that one lawyer from Homewood along with Mark Brentley continued to ask Dr. Lane not to cpen Westinghouse this way. They damn near begged her to slow it down and get it right. Dr. Lane totally dimissed their concerns.

I watched the Mark Brentley show and he had the lawyer on there and he he discussed and predicted all these issues. But from everything I seen the district ignored him and played them both off.

I mean for a community that already lacks educated professionals and resources, why would the district ignore the help and advice of educated volunteers.

Westinghouse is a very tough situation and it really is going to take some real special people to turn it around. But for God sake when you get professional volunteers willing to help WHS, please let them. The students and Homewood needs them.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Saying, I'm sorry, is significant. However, it is still not the solution for that school and those students.

An optional, 13th grade, with make-up classes, in a real classroom with real teachers, post-graduation, seems to make sense to me as a way to make up for the failure of the present.

I think some of our kids, at WHS and at other PPS schools, would benefit from the option of a PREP Year.

To be sure, that is only part of the fix. PPS still needs to get it right for all the schools prior to graduation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, 10:19 - Its obvious that PPS can't do it. What in the world do they have to lose by accepting help that is offered and welcoming it with open arms!

There have been a lot of good people pushed to the side. Why?

Anonymous said...

Well put Mr.Logan! However, with an apology- which should also come from the " I see nothing" board-- there should be a promise to students and taxpayers-change for change's sake isnt an improvement. What we already had should be the minimum standard- separating middle and hs students-gee we had k-8 schools separate from high schools in the 1890's. Schools need schedules and rosters- gee had that back then too! People babble about the "basics"- how about the basics for running a school. Once you lay out those basic elements to school order--then you can elaborate with other things. I once had a principal who said his goal was every student in their room by 9:30 on the first day of school. Not a grand goal- a very practical goal that he met most years. This would have been a monumental goal at Westinghouse.

Questioner said...

Admin's attitude is that almost nothing could be worse than the situation that already existed at Westinghouse. It's part of a pattern of a total lack of recognition that years of effort and experience at the schools meant something.

Mr Tibbs said...

Mark, your idea has no business being on this thread. You are embarrassing yourself by putting forth complete and utter nonsense. It's obvious that you don't teach. if you did, you never would have made such a ridiculous plan.
Look, the Promise forced 50% on teachers. It's almost impossible to fail. So in concocting a "13th year", just who are you trying to attract? What can you be thinking?
Stick with sports.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Mr. Tibbs, I guess you never heard of a "do over." In golf it is called a mulligan.

But, perhaps you should look up "gap year" too. That is more popular in Europe.

In other places around the US, we have "PREP schools" with a prep year.

West Point and the Naval Academy each make extensive use of the prep year. Up to 50% of the freshmen have been reported to be accepted with the understanding that they attend and succeed in their PREP school.

Or, perhaps you've not heard of the offer in the early days of PPS Sci-Tech. The students were to be able to enroll and take the classes from apprentice to craftsman years and such -- on a cycle that didn't match the typical 9, 10, 11 and 12th grade. And, students would be able to soar through HS in 3, 4 or 5 years.

Embarrassing is what it is.

A few city kids did go to the south to take a Prep Year before starting at colleges with sports scholarships. What if those kids, and their classmates too, could do that locally?

Mr Tibbs said...

You neatly evade the one salient point not present in any of your scenarios: the 50% grading policy.
It is almost impossible to fail in PPS, and in fact, it is absenteeism that would bring such a grade, to be honest.
You're out of your element, bud. In a time of no funding, school closures, teacher furloughs and 50%, this is your idea?

Mark Rauterkus said...

The 50% grading policy was neatly evaded in my original post. Yep, it goes right along with the price of tea in China.

Mr. Tibbs, it would be NEAT if you evaded name calling.

News flash from Mr. Tibbs; PPS = NO FUNDING. Think again. Less funding and no funding are different.

Mr. Tibbs, what is your idea?

Mr Tibbs said...

My idea is to retain teachers.
My idea is to ensure that buildings run smoothly and properly.
My idea is to ensure east end schools provide choices to hard working parents beyond the school within a school at Allderdice. Sorry. No thank you.
My idea is to provide teachers with the power to instruct within a framework that provides students with what they will need for college and life.
My idea is to refine CTE in one building because despite all of the PR banter, college is nto for everyone, nor does it need to be.
My idea is to empower teachers, but not by clamping down on them and essentially pssing down their backs then tell them its raining.
My idea is to ensure schools are safe at all costs.
My idea is to ensure that the love of learning and advantages of academic achievement are trumpeted at every turn from kindergarden on up.
My idea is to eradicate our district of people who are either trying to make a buck or a name for themselves on the backs of taxpayers and our kids.

Please Mark, you continue to embarrass yourself. Get a clue. Spend a week in a classroom with the requirements that teachers have, and then talk to us.

Questioner said...

Um isnt that criticism a little strong for someone who is just suggesting an extra year of school?

Anonymous said...

Mark does seem to attract a particularly virulent strain of responses.

While I don't think the 13th year is a good idea (unless it's kids/adults coming back for it when they're ready), the responses make me want to like it!

It's especially odd since he's one of the few people here brave enough to sign his own posts. I'm not. And his harshest critics are definitely not.

Anonymous said...

Signing a post, simply draws attention to the poster as opposed to the ideas in the post. We don't need self-aggrandizement here, we need an honest debate about ideas which is best accomplished when no name is attached

Anonymous said...

One more year of school in PPS (for the majority) is one more year of failure. What specifically will be accomplished in the one more year that could not be accomplished in (K-12) the previous 13 years. (Making it year 14.)

Your are placing the blame on the lack of education on kids, not schools. I did not say teachers, since in PPS, the responsibility for the very poor education lies with District Administration (not poverty, not students, not teachers/principals per se.)

Adding 5 more years for students in PPS is not likely to change the status quo.

Questioner said...

Regardless of the administration, there have always been a large number of PPS students who have not achieved. Does that mean that PPS has never had adequate administration?

Curious George said...

What is wrong with an extra year of school?

On the face of it, nothing. A 13th year at a public school is certainly cheaper than the first year at any college.

Here's the problem. The 13th year at the PPS would be designed by the same incompetent people who made that extra year necessary in the first place.

If it were my child, I'd take the Promise money and run away from any 13th year.

Off to Community College for my child.

Anonymous said...

Let's put it this way. We have never known as much as we know now about what is being measured by assessments; and yet we have more rather than less who are not achieving in our schools.

We have had ten years of progressively more cumulative research and development, more definitive standards, more interventions, more cumulative and deeper understanding of the skills being assessed, more practice and development for teachers and students, etc.

And yet, the curriculum and instruction mandated by administration takes us further away from the clearly articulated and well-defined goals.

Access to success is there in front of administration's face and yet administration chooses to go in another direction, a direction that financially rewards administration, national foundations and consultants.

So, answer the question based on the evidence. Yes, the current administration is far inferior to previous administrations since we are moving students backwards instead of forwards all while knowing more than we have ever known before today!

Questioner said...

But if students are sick of progressively more assessments and practice for assessments, and don't have much incentive to try hard on the assessments in the first place, then how reliable are the results and the research?

Anonymous said...

I agree Curious George-- that would be the best decision -- more time with these nitwit consultants would not help a student. CCAC has a proven track record-- especially for helping students who arent quite strong enough yet for a 4 year school. Students- do what you need to to get the promise-- and go to a school where instructors actually are allowed to teach

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Curious George about the 13th year concept. And far to expensive an experiment for today is one more reason to avoid the idea. We spent a lot of money, PPS and foundation money, to have the single gender initiative last for less than one year. Does nayone know the final price tag on that?

Mark Rauterkus said...

CG posted: "The 13th year at the PPS would be designed by the same incompetent people who made that extra year necessary in the first place."

That is an assumption that I would not subscribe to.

The 13th year could be determined by the student / family and NOT the administration.

For example, a graduate of Carrick (any school) could take a physics (any subject) class at Allderdice. A grad from Westinghouse could take World History at the IB school, (Pgh Obama).

Of course it (13th grade) is OPTIONAL. Something about "(for the majority)" goes to another planet. IMHO, this is for a minority, 3, 4, 5% of the kids interested.

As to being far too expensive, think again. Lots of empty seats can be found in senior and perhaps even some junior level courses in our schools. It is a way to retain teachers as well. Rain gear optional.

The CCAC course of action for a kid is fine in many instances. However, in other situations, it can work to prevent later enrollment in another, better college or university. For an athlete, going to CCAC means two years or lost eligibility. The college scholarship at St. Johns goes poof.

Other scholarships are good for INCOMING FRESHMEN, period. The tuition exchange program for dependents of some long-time university workers is absent once a student enrolls at CCAC as those with other college status are ineligible.

Mostly, it is an issue of PPS equity as kids at Sci-Tech were promised that opportunity.

Bullies attack the messenger and not the message.

Curious George said...

"The 13th year could be determined by the student / family and NOT the administration."

That would certainly be a good idea.

But don't forget that the current PPS administration is composed exclusively of control freaks.

There is no way that they would let a parent decide how a 13th year would be structured.


By the way, I'm curious as to who the "Bullies attack the messenger and not the message" statement was directed to.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, the bully behavior is from Mr. Tibbs with comments above such as " ... You are embarrassing yourself..." No need to repost his slime directed at a person.

Mr Tibbs said...

As someone who toils with your kids day after day, please understand my resentment of the continued rants of an individual who is out of touch with what is going on in our schools.
I've been witness to three teachers dismissed this year, all with more than 25 years experience.
I've been witness to continued intimidation via RISE and supported by the PFT.
I have been witness to an incredible lack of discipline in the classroom this year, with no correction by administration.
You sound like the kids.
Walk a mile in my shoes before you, too, embarrass yourself.
While I know that an appreciation for education begins in the home, so does class.
Here's hoping you and your friends find some this holiday season.

Anonymous said...

"please understand my resentment of the continued rants"

Well, no, I really don't get it. It makes you look bad for one. And you do realize that your list of complaints is a far worse problem than your being bothered by postings on a message board right? You understand that he has nothing to do with any of the things you mention?

You even realize that IF the idea were to come to fruition (which it seems most of us don't want, but we've been able to say it without your type of ranting) it would actually mean more need for teachers rather than less, right?

The anger needs to be directed at the administration, but teachers are too frightened to do that (understandably) and many, many parents don't realize how bad things have gotten, how horrible the curriculum is, how little learning is going on in classrooms anymore. Non-parent, non-employee city residents are even more clueless.

And yet, Mark seems to be *your* biggest problem. It's confusing.

Anonymous said...

mr tibbs, make no mistake, there is more than one person here who finds your comments, not only 'insensitive' ( kind word) to your students but to others who have a much more positive approach to education.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tibbs & Old Timer: While the many individuals that you target here, may appear to you to be out of touch with what is going on in schools, they are not out of touch with the 'attitudes' that you present here again and again, that are clearly exacerbating the situation you describe. Please, please remove yourself to a situation where you can contribute to a solution instead of the problem.

Vet said...

As a teacher, I will agree with Tibbs. A lot of people talking from around the periphery who are clueless or who just don't listen to or read what teachers are saying. Had enough of people who aren't in the classroom trying to make names for themselves. we have enough of that in admin already.Love how you circle the wagons here, even when you're wrong. Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I don't think either of them should leave, Old Timer, in particular, has some valuable insights.

It's just that it's hard to take the good stuff seriously when it's surrounded by over the top personal attacks.

Disagree, give your reasons and then your solution. It's pretty easy to avoid the personal stuff about other posters. And I still maintain that it's the height of cowardice to lob personal attacks at someone who has his name right there on the posting and then sign off with a pseudonym.

Anonymous said...

In PPS, it really is necessary for teachers to circle the wagons. But to do it here in the way that its done is useless. Gather your minds, your hearts, your courage and take on Rise and Pela and Central Office as a whole--if you have a real solution. Don't depend on or even permit those mentioned to set your agenda.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Thanks for the above statement about cowardice.

Funny, further above: "Had enough of people ..."

Good summary. Bad profession given the attitude and announcements of hostility.

Perhaps: Old Timer is Mr. Tibbs is Vet is a mile in my shoes too far.

Ho, ho, ho, oh, no. Enjoy your Christmas break. Sounds like you (if not yinz) need it.

Seen it All said...

Please permit me to throw my two cents in.

I have decades of Pittsburgh public school teaching experience. I have taught everything from remedial classes to gifted classes.

I have won a major teaching award. And I have been struck by students while breaking up a fight.

And I have been shouted down by the PFT staff at union meetings.

So yes, I have seen it all.

Now, I have no desire to start an online fight. But I must say that Mr. Tibbs is very much out of line.

Mr. Tibbs, you make many valid points in your posts. But much of it is negated by comments like "walk a mile in my shoes before you, too, embarrass yourself."

We need a free and open exchange of ideas here, by experts and non-experts alike.

Mr. Tibbs, I'm sure that you would object to a board member telling a parent: "We know more than you do about the big picture, so sit down and be quiet."

See my point?


While I gently object to your wording at times, Mr. Tibbs, I can certainly understand your passion. This is by far the most difficult time ever to be a PPS teacher.

It is extremely frustrating to be a part of a system that corrupts education and destroys the careers of good people.