Sunday, July 31, 2011

How we got where we are Part XV (April 2008)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 15

April 7, 2008: The April 2008 Business/Finance Committee meeting featured a presentation on the District's finances. Anyone surprised by this year's layoffs and those to follow should read this carefully.

The 3rd slide poses keystone questions including: “Do we have enough resources to support Excellence for All?” and “How much do we need to reduce our budget by?” and “How do we set priorities for allocating resources?”

The 5th slide points to one of the problems with resource allocation, that PPS spends roughly 33% of all of its resources on support services (and this is even before Mr. Roosevelt would create the Office of Teacher Effectiveness).

The 6th slide highlights the adequacy of Pittsburgh's resources by demonstrating that PPS spent $4,000 more than 15 other PA school districts with more than 10,000 kids.

The 7th slide further illustrates the adequacy of resources by comparing PPS' cost per pupil with a national selection of districts, with Pittsburgh again spending far more per pupil than other similarly sized districts, such as Milwaukee.

Slide 8 is a warning that state and local revenues were not and will not be growing quickly.

Slide 9 pictures the growth in expenditures over the last five years. The commentary around slide 10 features employee benefits as a trend that would continue, led by PSERS employer contributions (which were expected to grow from single digits to nearly 30% in less than a decade) and health care (which doubles roughly every 10 years). In fact, slide 11 charts in absolute dollars the benefit increase in five years of nearly $20 million.

Slide 12 draws attention to the operational inefficiency of running so many small, under enrolled high schools, with the utility cost per pupil at said high schools being nearly three times that of other PPS locations on average.

Slide 13 shows that staff reductions did not keep pace with enrollment decline.

Slide 14 illustrates the local debt burden growing, albeit slowly.

Slides 15 to 19 highlight a long range financial forecast where the only way to stabilize the budget in the long run was to trim the payroll by 10% for two years in a row and then by 3% thereafter.

Slide 20's summary points include “Expenses are growing faster than revenues”; “Continued enrollment decline fuels excess capacity”; “Underutilized facilities create inefficient cost structures”; “Our 10 year outlook requires strong stewardship and
prioritization of spending demands including restraint...”

Slide 21 implored the Superintendent and Board to reduce costs in the fashion suggested by slides 15 and 19, concluding that “By imposing greater discipline, we will spend proportionately more on the things that matter, yet still reduce the overall size of our budget and make substantial progress toward controlling our cost per pupil and delivering Excellence for All.”

Not surprisingly, Roosevelt would eliminate the practice of holding a monthly Business/Finance Committee meeting. It's no wonder that our former CFO Berdnik was silenced to prevent him from announcing, repeatedly, “I told you so.”

The actions of the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration after seeing the next 10 years laid out for them speaks much louder than words:

1. More capital and operating dollars spent on small, boutique schools, such as Uprep and Sci Tech;
2. More spending on administrative costs, such as the creation of the Office of Teacher Effectiveness and what seems like an annual event, the reorganization of Human Resources;
3. More Broad residents;
4. More PELAs becoming “directors” or placed in created central office slots;
5. More chasing one-time or short-term revenues (Broad, Gates and TIF) that carry huge local contributions over time, despite the fact that PPS already has plenty of revenue per pupil.
6. More Communications and Marketing to numb our senses and pain."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Additional job cuts

From the PG:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A+ community meetings on budget cuts

On another thread Anonymous wrote:

""Cutting teachers and classes is not the way to solve this problem," she said.

Education Watchdog A+ Schools wants to send a clear message to Pittsburgh Public Schools officials about what the community thinks is most important when considering budget cuts that could affect the classroom.

Read more: Education watchdog monitors school cuts - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Layoffs of another 100 in the works

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Requesting a thread for

I have a friend in technology who was told to start showing other people how to do his job. He thought he had survived the big layoff last month.

How we got where we are Part XIV (March 2008)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

How we got where we are, part 14, March 2008.

March 26, 2008: Just when you thought they couldn't have hired any more communications consultants...

”Submission of an application for $250,000 from the Heinz Endowments across a twelve month period from July I, 2008 - June 30, 2009 in order to implement our
Pathways to the Promise Communications Plan. Specifically, $250,000 of implementation costs are requested to support key materials that must be written, designed, printed and delivered to various stakeholder groups. The allocation of the $250,000 implementation will be refined once the communications plan has been completed. The allocation of resources has been estimated as follows:

A consultant who will help to manage the implementation process; $25,000; Graphic design and writing services $50,000; Printing, copying, and mailing and media costs $160,000; Refreshments and materials for community-based outreach-such as parent trainings and community meetings $5,000;
Assessment of the effect of this plan $10,000.

This request relates to a previous item approved by the Board of Education in January of 2008 approving the submission of a grant request for $50,000 to The Heinz Endowments for communications planning, which was awarded by the Fund for Excellence. This request also relates to a Consultant, Carolyn Kerr, approved by the Board in February of 2008 to create the communications plan. The funding period shall run from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.”

But why stop there?

“In order to effectively introduce the Science and Technology program in August of 2008, Marketing/Communications Consultants, Ed Barr and Chris Labash, and their supporting team will work from April 1 to September 30, 2008 with the Pittsburgh Science and Technology (PST) Project Team and Steering Committee and the PPS Marketing team. They will create a marketing communications package that must clearly articulate the benefits of this program to each relevant audience and create a plan to attract a diverse student population. They will provide input and participate in any primary research efforts
the District undertakes.”

Think the PR spend is done for the month? Think again...

Blanc Printing Company is hired “for printing, assembly and mailing services for the 2008-09 welcome back to school materials” at a total cost not to exceed $237,032.

Metis Associates is contracted for $221,490.93 to conduct a magnet school audit.

A grant is submitted to the Heinz Foundation to create a brand new central office for after school coordination. So typical. Instead of assigning essential work to existing staff, capacity was created to hire either Broad Residents or friends from Massachusetts.

The Board tables a vote on a Code of Conduct for Board Members.

Kaye Cupples, Executive Director of Student Services and a long time PPS employee, announces his retirement effective the end of the school year.

The Deputy Superintendent's goals reflect a clear desire to create space for PELAs: “Principals unable to function as instructional leaders are identified and their work is monitored through improvement plans, and that those who cannot make sufficient progress are recommended for demotion.” Fresh off of Dr. Cupples' announcement, Dr. Lane's goals include a provision to expand the number of administrators in Student Services.

Richard Fellers, also a long time employee and former Chief Operations Officer, is exiled as a Special Assistant to the Superintendent.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ELMOS for Colfax classrooms

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Also from the agenda review materials comes an item on Colfax's PTO donating over 3500.00 to purchase ELMOs for Colfax classrooms. Congratulations to Colfax."

Policy on single gender proposed for PPS

From the Tribune:

As background, see pages 111- 113 from the agenda review materials:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Performance bonus program discontinued in NYC

On another post, Anonymous wrote:

"Great article in the New York Times that should call into question an awful lot of the Pittsburgh Broad/Gates design:

("New York City Abandons Teacher Bonus Program")

A New York City program that distributed $56 million in performance bonuses to teachers and other school staff members over the last three years will be permanently discontinued, the city Department of Education said on Sunday.

The decision was made in light of a study that found the bonuses had no positive effect on either student performance or teachers’ attitudes toward their jobs.

The department had already suspended the bonus program in January amid tightening budgets and concerns about its effectiveness.

The study, commissioned by the city, is to be published Monday by the RAND Corporation, the public policy research institution. It compared the performance of the approximately 200 city schools that participated in the bonus program with that of a control group of schools."

Infrastructure/ sewers

From the Tribune:

Pittsburgh is facing a whole range or serious infrastructure problems. It is not clear that the city can affort scholarship contributions in lieu of (rather than in addition to) tax payments needed to maintain city infrastructure.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

How we got where we are Part XIII (January and February 2008)

On another thread Anonymous wrote:


How we got where we are, part 13, January and February 2008:

January 23, 2008: The first action of the new year is approval to submit a grant to the Heinz Foundation for $50,000 to hire a consultant to “assist District staff in creating a communications plan seated around the key transition points in a child's Pre K-12 education.”

The Board approves the purchase of 50,000 custom lapel pins to be used in Communications and Marketing.

Chief Operations Officer Richard Fellers is forced to announce his retirement, effective November 2008.

January 25, 2008: The Board approves a three year contract with the PFT (July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2010).

This is a more traditional contract and contract negotiation, with some salary increases, reductions to post-retirement health benefits and a 10 minute extension of the work day.

February 27, 2008: Communications' leads off the Board agenda with “Submission of an application for $101,475 from the Fund for Excellence for the Pittsburgh Public Schools over 12 months for costs associated with Communications and marketing materials for implementation of Excel 9-12. Specific Excel 9-12 programs benefiting from this support include IB World, University Prep, Science and Technology, Academy, Robotics, 9th Grade Nation, and Pittsburgh Promise. Funds will support various brochures, fliers, mailing costs, banners and stands, ESL translation services, and refreshments/supplies for family and community meetings. The funding period shall run from March 1, 2008
to June 30,2009.”

The Board enter into an agreement “with Focus on Results to coordinate the training and development of central and building administrators on building a high performance culture to support the realization of the District's goals. The contract amount will be paid across a negotiated schedule developed by the Consultant and the District. The total contract price
reflects 18 months of professional development for staff...from March I, 2008 to April 30, 2009. Payment shall be at the rate per schedule, total cost shall not exceed $532,220.” The Board tab brags that “the services will be provided at a deep discount from Focus on Results regular rate.”

The Board approves a contract with a graphic designer “who will revise existing artwork in order to update the Welcome Back-to-School Program materials for the 08/09 school year.”

Another consultant is hired to generate “a communications plan that will create awareness and understanding of the District's "Pathways to the Promise," which focuses on key
milestones within the PreK to grade 12 continuum of education so students are "Promise-ready" and avail themselves of The Pittsburgh Promise scholarships. Communications plan will include development of a written concept supported by key messages that will serve as the common language so that all stakeholders can be on the same page. The plan will include tactical recommendations regarding outreach to key stakeholders, including a high level time line and budget. Implementation of the tactical plan, including writing and design of any materials, is not included within this project scope. Consultant will conduct interviews and participate in meetings with staff to obtain input/feedback to
develop written concept and messages. Message testing with parents is part of the process.”

Fallout from “the Schenley matter” continues. For the fall 2008, the Board approves moving the robotics program from Schenley to Peabody and adds a 9th grade to Frick. Schenley's 10, 11 and 12th graders will move to Reizenstein. Uprep is scheduled to open with only a 9th grade.

An Executive Director of Communications position is opened.

After an exhaustive search lasting about two minutes, Broad Superintendent's Academy graduate Paul Gill (yes, father of the principal researcher from RAND and Mathmatica) is hired as Chief Operations Officer. The Board approves reimbursement of $12,500 in relocation expenses for Gill. He would stay less than one year."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Large payment to New Teacher Project

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Maybe this should be a new topic:

"This district paid an outside company (the New Teachers Project) more than a million dollars to hire 38 teachers that would never step foot into a classroom and scheduled executive raises ONE DAY before the Governor released his budget"

It is so easy to connect the dots.
"In 2009, a Gates-financed group, the New Teacher Project, issued an influential report detailing how existing evaluation systems tended to give high ratings to nearly all teachers. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan cited it repeatedly and wrote rules into the federal Race to the Top grant competition encouraging states to overhaul those systems. Then a string of Gates-backed nonprofit groups worked to promote legislation across the country: at least 20 states, including New York, are now designing new evaluation systems." "

NYT article on "No Excuses"

From the link just posted by Mark Rauterkus on another thread:

"As Paul Reville, the Massachusetts secretary of education, wrote recently in Education Week, traditional reform strategies “will not, on average, enable us to overcome the barriers to student learning posed by the conditions of poverty.” Reformers also need to take concrete steps to address the whole range of factors that hold poor students back. That doesn’t mean sitting around hoping for utopian social change. It means supplementing classroom strategies with targeted, evidence-based interventions outside the classroom: working intensively with the most disadvantaged families to improve home environments for young children; providing high-quality early-childhood education to children from the neediest families; and, once school begins, providing low-income students with a robust system of emotional and psychological support, as well as academic support.

School reformers often portray these efforts as a distraction from their agenda — something for someone else to take care of while they do the real work of wrestling with the teachers’ unions. But in fact, these strategies are essential to the success of the school-reform movement. Pretending they are not is just another kind of excuse."

Education secretary orders review of 2010 PSSA's

From the PG:

Techology materials using borrowed language

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"There doesn't seem to be a new post thread, so requesting a thread for this:

It appears that Mr. Campbell in Technology has plagiarized the "Code of Ethics" to which the very document states in item 4 that plagiarism is not tolerated.

PPS Document:

Originial Document:

This continues a long series of Mr. Campbell plagiarizing documents. All of his job postings have been stolen for other sources.

This is just another example that demonstrates that he is a fraud."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Raising the standard of teaching

Trying to keep the GPA thread devoted to that issue... On that thread Anonymous wrote:

Question for anonymous: how do you raise the standard of teaching when it is governed by a horrendous managed curriculum in PPS that dictates every step a teacher must take?

Please explain.


Proposed change to GPA requirement for participation in sports and activities

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Despite the Pittsburgh Public School District’s requirement that students participating in athletic programs have a 2.0 grade point average, schools have been allowing students to slip through.

In an effort to remedy this inequity and as part of an overall review of the district’s policy manual, the school board will vote at the end of the month to lower the required grade point average to 1.5 for the 2011-2012 school year.
“We know there hasn’t been a consistent across the board use of the policy. The 2.0 is what’s required and what has been required. In order to not unfairly disadvantage students they’re given this probationary period to get their GPA up,” said Ebony Pugh, public relations coordinator for the PPS. “We know it wasn’t followed consistently across the schools. There were students we know who were participating without a 2.0.”

Under the new policy, up for vote by the board at a July 26 meeting, students with a 1.5-1.99 grade point average will be placed on probation, but allowed to continue participating in athletic programs. District 8 School Board Representative Mark Brentley said this policy may keep students from earning a Pittsburgh Promise scholarship which requires students to have a 2.5 grade point average.

“If the Pittsburgh Public Schools require a 2.0, but you are now dropping it to a 1.5, everyone knows that the majority of students who participate in athletics are African-American. If you are now taking a whole segment in the district out and disqualifying them because you’re lowered their requirements, that’s racism,” Brentley said. “It is a lazy educators way to address the large issues with this race gap. I believe it is also a way to take students out of ever qualifying for the Pittsburgh Promise.”

This revision is one of several being considered by the school board as part of the board policy committee’s review of district policies that have not been revised since 1990. The district says the goal is also to make the policy manual more user friendly.

“I don’t know where you got the information about changing grade point averages,” said William Isler, board vice president, when asked about the changes by the New Pittsburgh Courier. “This is a process that we’ve been going through with the board for about three or four years to redo the policy manual. It has not been redone since the early 90s. Everything we do obviously is geared to the goals of the board including student achievement.”

Students placed on probation under the revised policy will have to complete an academic intervention program. Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, the grad point average requirement will be raised to 2.0.

“Even in the colleges there are basically things that students must be able to do. You can outrun the speed of sound but there are things you must be able to do. One coach told me we know we can get good athletes but if we had our chance, we’d like to get a well-rounded human being as well,” Brentley said. “We should be the last ones lowering the bar. It goes against this whole thing of excellence for all.”
It is anticipated that the board will vote on the proposed revisions to Section 100 at its July 27 legislative meeting."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Randi Weingarten pushes back

On another post Old Timer wrote:

"Questioner, check this link and publish it as a separate thread:

This is AFT president Randi Weingarten doing an about face where education is concerned, much as Diane Ravitch recently did. Now, she is remembering who her constituents are. Now she is feeling put off by non-educators making policy and taking aim at teachers. Now we see her aiming her anger at Bill Gates.

Like John Tarka, you were happy to kiss rings and make happy faces with these parasites. You were happy to sell your teachers down the river. Welcome back."

PSSA scores of some Western PA schools under investigation

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Report on PSSA scores raises possibility of cheating

Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Last updated: 11:55 am

Schools in six Western Pennsylvania districts, along with the state's largest cyber charter school, are flagged in a 2009 report indicating possible cheating on the PSSA.

Schools in Uniontown, New Kensington-Arnold, Connellsville, Monessen, Gateway and Pittsburgh, along with Midland-based PA Cyber, all appear on the newly surfaced report that Pennsylvania Department of Education officials say they're examining.

The data forensics report examines results of the 2008-09 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. The annual tests measure math and reading skills in students statewide in grades 3-8 and 11.

The report flags exam scores in about 35 districts, plus some charter schools. It does not assert cheating occurred, but says that certain answer patterns and erasures make the results suspicious.

The report by Data Recognition Corp. was first obtained and published this week by The Notebook, an independent news service covering the Philadelphia school district.

It's unclear whether the report, which The Notebook posted on its website, is complete. The news service reported that the Education Department commissioned the report.

Read more: Report on PSSA scores raises possibility of cheating - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How we got where we are Part XII (Christmans 2007)

On another post, Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, Part XII, Christmas 2007

December 3, 2007 – Bill Isler is reelected as Board President.

Note Isler's connection with the national folks (see prior postings about the national role played in the Washington DC and Atlanta scandals).

Theresa Colaizzi is elected 1st Vice President.

Tom Sumpter, a recipient of Broad training for Board members, is elected 2nd Vice President.

Mr. Brentley stated: “I have shared my concerns, over the years, about the speed of the District, how we are moving, how we are locking out, and leaving hundreds, possibly thousands of students, and allowing our administration to move forward on quite a few initiatives, with no accountability...Mr. Isler, I will be not supporting your candidacy, sir, because I believe we are still moving so, so fast. It's painful. We are hurting a lot of people, and I'm still asking, begging in some cases, that we slow the process down, and allow everyone to have access to fair quality education.”

December 19, 2007 – Duquesne University receives a 6 month contract for $75,000 “to design the principal certification program as a component of Pittsburgh's Emerging Leadership Academy. The partnership between Duquesne and Pittsburgh will yield a true academy for aspiring school leaders driven by research on real problems in urban schools and developing urban school leaders who are practitioner researchers.”

Board authorization is requested to “enter into a contract with the Institute for Learning for Dr. Johnston to be the lead principal facilitator for Pittsburgh's Emerging Leadership Academy. Dr. Johnston will provide no less than 24 days of on-site supervision, evaluation and training to
the PELA residents from January 2008 through June 2008...Dr. Johnston has been selected...due to her expertise in learning theory and curriculum, successful national urban principal training through the Institute for Learning, and demonstrated expertise in training Pittsburgh principals through the Leadership Academy. The contract period is from January 1, 2008 through June 30, 2008 at a cost not to exceed $70,000.”

Grant Communications Consulting Group receives a $53,714 contract to work on the Pittsburgh Educator, PPS' in-house newspaper.

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, “a national law firm headquartered in downtown Pittsburgh,” is hired for expert counsel and consulting services through their Government Relations Practice Group, which is comprised of both attorneys and government relations consultants.”

The 2008 Compensation Plan for administrators is approved, including pay for performance. A very subtle change to the work calendar principals is included which changes the number of days a year they are supposed to work. Linda Lane claims this will allow Principals to run their own summer schools, something in practice that only a tiny few, like Regina Holley, ever will. The shift and realignment of those salaries comes at a steep price tag, roughly $500,000 a year, not including any impact from pay for performance.

The pay for performance plan lines academic executive directors, assistant superintendents and deputy superintendents up for a bonus more or less contingent upon the bonus levels they grant to those that report for them. Nice incentives if you can get them.

The District's agreement with UPMC related to the Pittsburgh Promise is approved. The 2nd and 3rd whereas clauses make quite clear what this is all about: “WHEREAS, UPMC and the School District wish to enter into an agreement providing for an understanding of the tax status of the non-profit entities comprising UPMC and its affiliate organizations which are currently exempt from taxation under Pennsylvania law; WHEREAS, said agreement continues the standard provisions contained in the Payment In Lieu of Tax (PILOT) agreement between the School District and UPMC dated October 22, 1997.”

Mr. Brentley points out that he is being asked to vote on the UPMC agreement having received it just 35 minutes ago."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

How we got where we are Part XI (Thanksgiving 2007)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, Part XI, Thanksgiving Edition 2007

Thanksgiving 2007: Supermarkets are promoting turkeys, Pittsburgh Public Schools is giving away Communications contracts.

November 20, 2007: It was the season to give thanks in Pittsburgh, especially if you knew the Chief of Staff (Fischetti).

The Board enters into the following Communications and Marketing contracts:

1. “with \/eritas Communications Advisors to provide strategic communications consulting
services to help the District's constituents gain the best understanding possible of
its circumstances and position on key issues in order to support the Excellence for All agenda.”

2. “Essex 3 Tabulations, an independent market research company.”

3. “with Campos, Inc., an independent market research firm.”

4. “with Meade Johnson, a marketing and communications consultant.”

5. “with Mizrahi Design to review the District's website to identify improvements in how
information is organized and presented to increase the site's effectiveness as a
communications tool.”

6. a change order “to cover the cost of additional services by Fredette & Associates related to the District's identity package.”

The Schenley crisis is in full swing, with the Board approving “rental costs for 16 dehumidification unit ventilators, necessary duct work, accessories and utility connection costs to alleviate the high moisture levels and minimize plaster deterioration at Pittsburgh Schenley High School for 6 months. This is necessary as per the recommendations contained in the Astorino report for Schenley dated 10/19/07. Total costs shall not exceed $218,000 from account line 6300-010-2610-442.”

The district awards bids for copiers (what a novel idea to actually bid something that can be provided by dozens of firms instead of just awarding a contract to Xerox that costs more than twice as much as your current arrangements and providing an absurd explanation that it will save a $1 million when your total cost of copiers in the district is not even $1 million). No less than 11 companies bid and on copiers with a rated volume of 200,000 images a month, Xerox is the HIGHEST bidder (on the 200,000 per month units), almost twice as high as the low bid.

A budget transfer in the amount of $815,741 is processed to cover the “District's Share of the Pittsburgh Emerging Leaders Academy (PELA)” for 2007. As more time passes, a greater and greater share of this initiative's cost would be become the district's."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Teachers receiving furlough notices

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Teacher's recieving furlough notices Today"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

School configuration and structure found not to affect middle school results

Noticed after the Christian Science Monitor article on Atlanta:

Researchers found "no difference based on how schools were structured – grade configurations or trendy organizational philosophies such as advisory periods, small learning communities, or interdisciplinary classrooms."

- We tried to tell them!

Atlanta cheating scandal/ Broad connections

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"NEW POST: Atlanta Cheating Scandal

Under the headline "America's Biggest Teacher And Principal Cheating Scandal Unfolds In Atlanta," the Christian Science Monitor (7/6, Jonsson) reports that Gov. Nathan Deal (R) announced on Tuesday that some "178 named teachers and principals" had allegedly perpetrated "what's likely the biggest cheating scandal in US history." Noting that 82 of the alleged individuals have "confessed," the Monitor adds that the charges "point an ongoing problem for US education, which has developed an ever-increasing dependence on standardized tests." The Monitor describes the deleterious impact the scandal has on the image of outgoing Superintendent Beverly Hall, "who was named US Superintendent of the Year in 2009 largely because of the school system's reported gains."

Just so we are all on the same page here, Atlanta's Board was trained by the Broad foundation in 2006: ("Broad Institute Trains 29 New School Board Members on Leadership Strategies to Improve Student Achievement")

The connection does not end there: RANDOLPH BYNUM, The Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2007 Associate Superintendent for High Schools.

But we are not done yet! PANYA LEI YARBER, The Broad Residency Class of 2006-2008, is the Chief Strategy Officer for Atlanta Public Schools.

And yet we need not stop with the Broad connections: Beverley Hall, APS outgoing superintendent, is chair elect of the Council of Great City Schools (long Pittsburgh's partner of choice when Superintendent Roosevelt needed a third party to study a problem for 24 to 48 hours and print a report that reached his conclusions).

In fact, in 2009, the Council bestowed its Richard R. Green Award, "the nation's highest urban education honor," upon Atlanta Public Schools.

Won't you sleep better at night knowing Pittsburgh Public Schools keeps the same company?"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How we got where we are Part X October to November 2007

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW POST: How we got where we are, Part X, October to November 14, 2007

On November 14, 2007 components of Roosevelt's high school reform agenda were written right into a state-mandated Improvement plan, really with shockingly little opportunity for public input into the process.

Inept concepts, such as re-creating a robotics lab at Peabody for the formerly Schenley students to use (why not just use the labs at Allderdice instead of spending $3 million on labs that would hardly ever be used?) and keeping Schenley (without IB) intact no matter how few students would graduate from Reizenstein (how mortifying were the paltry class offerings for the remaining Spartans?) were born from the plans initiated and/or approved in the window of time.

Keep in mind that by the fall of 2007, the Broad Foundation had not yet called off its grand plans around small high schools being the end all and be all, so PPS' Roosevelt/Fischetti/Lane/Lopez team could not develop such concepts and spend enough capital dollars on them quickly enough. All at the same time that our enrollment numbers were continuing to plummet.

So much else has been written here that I do not need to repeat, just mention in passing: do you really think the students at Milliones/UPrep are any better off than they would have been as Schenley Spartans? Could we have saved Schenley if not for the millions spent creating lots of little high schools when we had plenty of pretty empty high schools already? Is it any wonder that these smalls schools have left our comprehensive high schools devastated?

October 4, 2007: Focus on Results receives a $198,000 increase covering about five months of work: “Approval for Focus on Results current contract to be extended through March 14, 2008, with an additional cost not to exceed $198,000 for a total contract not to exceed $551,500. The purpose of the contract is also extended to include Executive Coaching for Executive Directors, Mentor Principals working with Principals in Training, and the Deputy Superintendent in order to support full implementation of the Principals Performance Evaluation Metric and the PULSE system.”

Keep in mind that for roughly $40,000 a month PPS was receiving only part time support from three consultants, not really even one FTE. It would not be until a new Squirrel Hill company was formed nearly four years later - on the very day that it was starting work for Pittsburgh Public Schools - that we would see a richer contract on an FTE basis (Two Bell LLC at roughly $50,000 per month).

November 14, 2007: The district buys additional space for CAPA for $2.2 million and hires no less than eight architectural firms for work related to High School Reform.

Also approved that evening is the District Improvement Plan which was required to be filed with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Roosevelt and Lane spend significant time at the meeting deflecting the connection Brentley and Taylor draw between the numerous high school reform actions listed in the improvement plan and what Roosevelt refers to as “the Schenley matter.”

Brentley summarized: “it is a little misleading to the public to include that in any document, that we are voting on, that is going to govern this board or to be used to govern this board in its improvement, when a lot of these issues are still unanswered? It clearly gives the indication that there is an attempt to backdoor this whole high school reform.”

The juxtaposition of the “delamination” crisis and the announcement of whole host of 6-12 programs in the district is nothing short of remarkable. Roosevelt explains: “There is a significant body of research we believe supports the creation of 6-12 learning communities.”

The commentary at the table is quite rich. As it relates to Sci Tech going into Frick, Taylor argues: “So I ask the question, why would you spend 15 million dollars to create space, when you can easily accommodate a science and technology at Westinghouse high school?”

Retiring PTF president comments on PPS

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Retiring teachers union chief looks at big picture

“The problems of Pittsburgh Public Schools -- a persistent racial achievement gap, declining enrollment, abysmal graduation rates for certain groups of students and a projected budget deficit of as much as $100 million in 2012 -- are problems for the union and its membership as well, according to Mr. Tarka.”

The Data on these issues reveals that each year since 2005 the problems have continued and many cases have been exacerbated rather than improved.

Read more:

Read more:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Recent attempts re: vouchers

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Why vouchers failed (this time) even though Students First attempted to financially influence the lawmakers.

These are the lawmakers we need to call because Students First will be back in the Fall with a bigger purse.

Effect of Dreamers Camp on reading scores

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Interesting Tribune-Review article today on the Summer Dreamers Camp.

If the study showing that the campers picked a full grade of reading in last years' camp is valid, you would expect to see a dramatic spike in this year's 8th grade scores."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Save our schools" march

On a "Start a new post" Anonymous wrote:


Should PURE Reform consider being an official endorser for this event?"

Friday, July 1, 2011

Additional terminations

Word is that there are additional terminations today, involving teachers and staff. They are being referred to as "site based" as an explanation for why the Board would not have to vote.