Sunday, December 30, 2012

Common core

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW POST for Parents' FYI:

"Pennsylvania on board with Common Core standards for students."

"Starting next school year, public schools in Pennsylvania and in much of the country will use a more rigorous curriculum aimed at unifying educational standards."

"The Common Core Standards seek to make U.S. students more competitive with increasingly proficient students from other countries."

"These standards emphasize teaching math more in-depth, and teaching English and language arts through not just classic books but also historical documents and technical manuals."

"States and school districts can decide specifics."

"Pennsylvania State Board of Education, . . . approved their adoption in 2010.

“That‘s because the standards are not really in any conflict with standards that Pennsylvania already has,” said Ron Cowell, president of the nonprofit Education Policy and Leadership Center in Harrisburg."

Read more:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Certain PPS teachers reprimanded for cheating

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Pittsburgh teachers reprimanded for 'testing irregularities'
“The investigation focused on excessive erasures that changed wrong answers to right ones.
In the letter, Ms. Dumaresq named 11 schools for which the department found at least one grade had "a high number of students with a high number of wrong-to-right erasures in at least one of the identified years."
The schools are Pittsburgh Arsenal PreK-5 in Lawrenceville, Arsenal 6-8 in Lawrenceville, Dilworth PreK-5 in East Liberty, Faison PreK-5 in Homewood, Fort Pitt PreK-5 in Garfield, Fulton PreK-5 in Highland Park, Liberty K-5 in Shadyside, Montessori PreK-8 in Friendship, Roosevelt PreK-5 in Carrick, Schiller 6-8 on the North Side and Stevens K-8 in Elliott.
Ms. Dumaresq's letter did not say how many teachers were investigated nor how many would receive training . . . . .”

Read more:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Get involved

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post?

The holidays are almost over and now might be the time for parents to start paying attention. Oh, I know there is a lot to absorb and picking and choosing areas of pps that deserve your focus alone sounds like a big job. If in fact your taxes go up to support the district might that be an incentive to sit up and take notice of all that is happening? Starting small could work, go to a PTO meeting with just one question about a program. Go to a PSCC meeting and ask if the same discipline standards apply at all high schools? Take your A+ Report to the Community and pick one topic for deeper discussion. If there was a teacher or staff member who made a difference for your kid in the first half of the school year, tell the principal now either in an email or in a note. Don't stand at the bus stop with the other parents complaining when they can't do anything about it. Take your issues to those who can. Contact your board member or the board office (be sure to track response time). If your on-line staff list for your school hasn't been updated in 5 years and you do not know who your FACE person is, call the office. Make 2013 better than 2012.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Grading parents

On another post Anonymous said:

I'm unsure where I should post this editorial. BRAVO to the retired teacher who wrote it!

Parents should be graded on home support...

Monday, December 17, 2012

PPS seeking consultants for academic, financial issues

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New post please:
Pittsburgh schools seek advisers for planning
December 17, 2012 12:09 am

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If Pittsburgh Public Schools keeps doing what it's doing, officials expect it will run out of money in 2015.

Read more:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

PPS grads/Pittsburgh Promise/ catching up

On another post Anonymous wrote:\

This editorial written to the PG is very eye opening and sad. No graduate of PPS should have to attend community college for 3 years to catch up. So much for their "promse" money, it isn't being used for the degree they want to get, just preparing them to get into a 4 yr college. I thought that was what high school was for. Very few kids are as determined as this one. Great kid.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"When foundations go bad"

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Maybe another blog entry-this article is a must-read!

"When foundations go bad"
Philadelphia Daily News

... in corporate-style management practices) as well as the Gates Foundation (which has given Pittsburgh Public Schools $40 million for teacher evaluation ... "

Monday, December 10, 2012

Principal/ bully

On the may 2012 post on this topic Anonymous wrote:

I am a first year teacher, and both the vp and prinicipals are bullies. I thought teaching was suppose to be about the success of the students! I was told today to either resign or apply for a transfer, not because I am doing a horrible job but because I am not doing what they want me to do. I stay for study hall on my own time but I was given a bad report because I don't stay the days they want me to. Also they pick at teachers for no reason.. I was told to our my data one place only to be told now its in the wrong location. I am sooooo stressed. It's not healthy and everyone is talking about transferring I hope something happens soon because I love my students. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Administrator's classroom experience

On another post Anonymous wrote:

new post:

today's P-G:

Barbara Rudiak: School officials don't lack classroom experience

section B-2 

Pps responses to state of the district questions

New post please:

Here is a link to the District answers to questions asked at the State of the District. You have to open several PDF's so it's not very convenient. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Blog's page views

Almost at 400,000 page views for the blog!  So, we are averaging about 100,000 a year or 2,000 a week.

Plan to publicize school level data

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New topic please:
If you attended the EFA meeting last night.....I'm curious to know what you think of the District's plan to publicize school level data.

Self directed learning

Sure enough, just google this term and a slew of links come up.  Maybe someone will have time to sort through them and see if any controlled studies have been done on the outcomes  of this approach.  In terms of PPPS there  does not seem to have been any input obtained in advance from parents. From teachers? From students?  Does anyone know?

Monday, December 3, 2012

New school board president

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New post please…...Pittsburgh Public Schools vote Sharene Shealey to be new president

Read more:

I'm very disappointed. As a parent that either attends every board meeting or watches them on PPS Tube, I believe Dr. Holley would have been a much better choice.

My question: Since Ms. Sheeley's term is up, if someone new is elected in her place, what happens? Does the Board vote again or does one of the vice president's step up? 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Principal bonuses

From the PG:

Friday, November 30, 2012

PIIN / A Plus Schools meeting

On "Start a new post" Kathy Fine wrote:

I attended the Town Hall Meeting sponsored by PIIN and A+ Schools at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary last night. Lots of energy, extremely diverse crowd of over 150 people from all over the city, including Michael Lamb (city Controller), who seems to have a genuine concern regarding public school issues.

After opening comments, we broke into groups to discuss critical needs of our schools, barriers to meeting those needs and ways to get around the barriers. I applaud the enthusiasm and earnest passion that the attendees lent to the discussions. However, it was the same format, same discussion and same result that have been repeated over and over at stakeholder meetings.

I think that a better understanding of the workings of the district would guide these meetings toward a more productive result. I would love to have the opportunity to channel the energy from this meeting into recruiting and electing truly qualified school board candidates. School board directors set educational policy and hire and oversee the superintendent, the most critical factors in public school reform.

Thanks to PIIN for organizing the event and let's hope that the passion of the attendees for our public schools stays strong. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

State of the District

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post

State of the District

You can view the State of the District video at the link above. The presentation/panel discussion was Nov. 15, 2012. Today is November 29th. It is very concerning that the video to date has had 9 views. What might this tell us? Might we all be looking at the bigger pictures of national concern; elections, cliffs, compromises? We seem to have created a climate of fear in so many respects. Fear of not making AYP, fear that the money will run out, fear of being suddenly unworthy of our positions, personal fears of being unable to maintain our already thrifty lifestyles and fear that we have less to give to help others. Is there any good news today? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Procedures/ kindergarten

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post

What new security provisions will be put in place to eliminate the risk of Kindergarten kids roaming away from school? At what age does the procedure of an automatic call notifying home of an absent kid kick in? I am sure budget cuts causing staff cuts contributed to the Mifflin incident. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Libraries and writing scores

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW TOPIC-Librarians, scores, and black students

" For black students,it found six times as many who have flexible access to their school library during the day scored advanced on state writing tests as black students lacking such access."
The article mentions that with budget cuts across the state, some districts have fewer full time librarians than in the past. It doesnt mention that PPS is way worse-- taking out the director of school libraries so that there is no central organization and then, having elementary and middle school ibrarians one day out of every 5 or even 6 in the schools shows absolutely no knowledge of the information that this study and countless others have found. 
Part of this is a direct result of the "script." The managed curriculum folk certainly dont want the kind of "free range reading" that occurred in the past. 
They want boxes in books in classrooms- chosen by the companies who write the script.
The last thing the "good soldier" principals want to hear is that students are free to select books to read from a well- stocked library, guided by a certified school librarian. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

PPS leadership

On another post Anonymous wrote:


All of the research supports the comments of this experienced teacher from Pittsburgh Public Schools.

It is time that both PPS Administration and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette begin to seriously look into the obvious legitimacy and credibility of these comments. 

This city cannot afford to ignore the obvious for the sake of our children's and the city's future. 

Educators, philosophers, psychologist support the critical nature of experience to the success of our educational system. 

Mountains of accumulated evidence are incontrovertible at this point in time. We, as a citizens, as a community cannot and must not continue to ignore the decline of education in Pittsburgh Public Schools. 
From PG letters:

The article "City Schools Rewarded for Student Academic Growth" (Nov. 20) was a nice, positive view on the state of public schools in Pennsylvania. However, the passing comment that Mathematica Policy Research "adjusted expected achievement for certain factors, such as poverty, which would lower the amount of expected growth" greatly disturbed me. As a teacher from a low-income elementary school, I feel strongly that a major reason many low-income students struggle to make significant gains is because nobody expects them to!
Could those researchers tell students face to face that they do not expect them to improve at the same rate as their high-income peers, just because their parents make less money? The whole article is about how overall proficiency levels tell more about students than it does the school. Just because those students are starting at a lower proficiency level does not mean they can't improve at the same rate. In my experience, with targeted high-quality instruction and positive reinforcement, students starting at low levels often improve rapidly.
Why should expectations for improvement be lower for schools and students that desperately need to improve? If we do not start holding all schools accountable to change students' trajectories, we will feel the long-term effects when another generation joins the work force.

Read more:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Four new charter applications

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Here we go! 4 NEW charter schools may open in Pittsburgh next year. Granted, one is very small but is smack in Sq. Hill.

The vanishing public schools are disappearing at a rapid rate. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Some teachers receive bonuses

On another post anonymous wrote:

A mustread for a new blog entry-Is this a "Shooting STAR" or a "falling STAR-a real waste of money? 

en schools get awards that include bonuses for teachers

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

For the first time, Pittsburgh Public Schools is awarding about $2.1 million in bonuses to teachers and other union workers at 10 schools as well as one closed school that are showing so much growth in student achievement that they are among the best ... 

Friday, November 16, 2012

PPS seeking additional consultant

On another post Anonymous wrote:

PPS as usual has a solution for their fiscal woes... Hire a consultant! How inept are they, what are they being paid to do?

"Pittsburgh Public Schools seek consultant for financial planning" 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dates for spring break

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post

The November agenda review materials include the school calendar for 2013-14. Spring Break is scheduled for April. Do we really need a spring break? If so does it have to be in April? Why can't it match the spring break for colleges? If it were necessary to burn off days for weather related emergencies how do you feel about giving up days of spring break as opposed to tacking on days to the end of the year? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PPS fiscal cliff

On another post Anonymous wrote:

PPS' Fiscal Cliff

it took a long time for it to get to this point. now, how do we fix it?

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Plus report on progress or lack thereof

On another post Anonymous wrote:


A+ Schools Releases 2012 Report on School Progress

Pittsburgh Public Schools Stumble as Achievement-Gap Widens and College and Career Readiness Drops 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Schenley petition at 700

Number 700 wrote:

I graduated from "Dear Schenley High". It is a wonderful building and a landmark. I am sure there could be some use for it for the children. Just don't sell it (to UPMC). thank you & good luck!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

PPS soon out of money

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Parent survey results

On another post 15 per center wrote:
New Post

The news item link from the PPS website reports on the parent survey response and can be found on the main page. I can't think of a single person I know; kid, teacher, parent, administrator, community member who wants the district to do poorly. Progress is being made all the time and although victories come slowly, they are coming. 

Some readers may take exception with the reporting of survey results. If 15% was the rate of return on the survey isn't it misleading to report "73% of parents know who to contact"? Really its 73% of the 15% who returned the survey, right? A survey, no matter how thorough, is only valuable if those responding represent a true cross-section of the family population of our schools. Please, I am hoping someone will invalidate my theories. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

School board candidates

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post

Can anyone offer an update on the possible candidates for board seats up for the next election cycle?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How are things going?

On another post Anonymous wrote:

One quarter of the school year is almost gone. Parents, how do you think being a part of WPIAL is going so far? Parents of 2012 grads how are your kids doing? What recommendations would you have for those of us with kids currently in PPS? Anyone, is class size affecting student performance?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Schenley petition reaches 600

The goal now is 1000.

Those who want to know whether information about the extent of asbestos was withheld from Board members and the public prior to the vote to close; the cost of the temporary move to Reizenstein; and an updated estimate for a basic renovation of Schenley should contact their Board members, city council members and other elected officials, share the petition and comments and ask them to sign on.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Schenley petition/ 500 signatures reached

Number 500 was Toni Haney, who wrote:
"It was the place where my children and their friends received their educations while they matured and it deserves to be treated with respect and to shine on!"

Value added methods for evaluating teachers

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New topic:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Schenley investigation petition reaches 400

Those who would like to see an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the closing of Schenley should visit

to add their voices to this effort (or go to and browse Schenley).

(Or go to and browse for Schenley.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Reizenstein building

On another post Anonymous wrote:


I was just watching the city channel where city council was having a meeting and they are rezoning the part of the city include Reisenstein school. Can someone refresh my memory and tell me how many millions of dollars we just put into that building a couple of years ago? Think of how many teachers etc....that could have paid for. Another Linda Lane/Mark Roosevelt "light bulb" moment.

Schenley petition

Kathy Fine's signature brings the number to 250 since the petition went out on Thursday.  Please keep it up- more signatures = more strength!

Kathy's comment:

Kathryn Fine
Pittsburgh, PA
We have to redirect the misinformed reform of our schools and save our public school assets before it is too late. Schenley is just the tip of the iceberg!

To sign, go to

 Or go to and browse for Schenley

Teacher evaluation

On another post Anonymous wrote:

new topic- even esteemed Harlem Village charter admits-- if we go by scores, you wont keep the good and get rid of bad teachers:

New student survey at approx $900k

On another post Anonymous wrote:

From the Board Action Information Sheet:

Did you know that the Pittsburgh Public Schools is paying $896,3000.00 to Cambridge Education, LLS to do the Tripod student survey that will be used to evaluate teachers.

This tab was submitted by Sam Franklin and Jerri Lippert and passed at the Legislative Meeting in September, 2012.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lessons from a top rated charter in Minnesota

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Lessons from a Top-Rated Charter in Minnesota...

Link to Diane Ravitch's Blog:

If you swapped the teachers with those from Upper St. Clair

On another post Anonymous wrote:


PPS Central Office needs get off the bandwagon and stop blaming their teachers...

From Brian O'Neill's Article in Sunday's Post-Gazette:

"If you took the teachers from Upper St. Clair and swapped them for a full year with teachers in Wilkinsburg,'' he asked. "Do you really think there would be some miraculous difference in each school's test scores?"

No, nobody would. Teachers matter. They matter quite a lot, as anyone who's had a great one would tell you. But teachers aren't the biggest factor in low -- or high -- test scores.

Just ask Diane Ravitch, who was in the White House East Room with President George W. Bush in 2001 when he announced the reforms that became the No Child Left Behind Act. Since then, Ms. Ravitch has made a 180-degree turn, writing a book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System,'' that decries a "simple-minded focus on standardized testing'' and the "punitive'' use of test scores.

"Part of what is going on is to try to blame low performance on teachers instead of recognizing that poverty is the single greatest determinant of low scores,'' Ms. Ravitch, an assistant secretary of education during the first Bush administration, told the Economic Policy Institute a couple of years ago.

Read more:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Three shot near Peabody/Obama

The report says "in a field near" the school.  Was this on school property?  Is there a field near the school that is NOT part of the school outdoor athletic area?

Survey/ student conduct

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Topic:

Interesting the disconnect between what the teachers observe in their schools and what the principals perceive is happening.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Schenley petition going viral

Go to and browse "Schenley" or click on

You can add a comment as well.  Comments can be sorted by "latest" or "most popular"- try both options to see them all.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Still heading in the wrong direction on Schenley

From the PG:

Still need a complete investigation and report on how the plaster contains only trace amounts of asbestos and how the risks and renovation costs were overstated.

Incident near CAPA

On another post Anonymous wrote:


New Topic? I just saw on channel 4 news that my good friend and colleague, Jim Addlespurger, was knocked out cold by a teenage boy among a group of boys in a Capa High alley after school. I'm curious how CO will spin this. But more importantly, I'm curious how CO is treating Jim. I knew Jim during his stint at Carrick High. He is an excellent, caring teacher whose students think fondly of him.

Stand tall Jim and know some of us got your back.

Now, who here thinks it was the teacher's fault?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Expecting the same from every student

Start a New Post Please:

Pittsburgh Mirrors LA Unified's Themes: "We're going to expect the same out of every student"

Jaime Aquino mentioned in Mary Morrison's article was hired by PPS a few year's back as part of the failed ALA reform efforts. 

Quote from the article: "The LAUSD has tapped its new, $250,000-a-year deputy superintendent Jaime Aquino—from the Dominican Republic, no less—to engineer and implement the Common Core State Standards Plan. As he explains: “We’re going to expect the same out of every student,” meaning that all students—including those in Special Ed classes—are supposed to perform at the same level."

Read Entire Article @