Sunday, January 15, 2012

How we got where we are Part XXXIV (September 2009)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 34, September 2009

September 29, 2009: The Board approves “the Bureau of Technical Education Approved Program Evaluation Correction Plan and Status Update for 2008-2009 for the district and t he nine high schools with CTE programs to be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education as required by Chapter 339.”

2.5 years later, we still have no comprehensive plan for services and frankly significantly lag in quality and quantity compared to the suburban cooperative AVTS ventures. All PPS students and parents are reminded that the school code may permit you to attend one of those half-day programs at PPS' expense if they have an offering not available to you in Pittsburgh.

The Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration declares the Accelerated Learning Academies such a smashing success that the Board authorizes an amendment to the America's Choice contract to increase the amount by $100,000.

The Board authorizes Deputy Superintendent Linda Lane to spend three days in Baltimore at the Summit for Courageous Conversations and yet another two days days in Charleston for New Teachers for New Schools, both in the month of October.

Clearly not heeding the fiscal warnings, Human Resources is “reorganized” to include both a Chief of Performance Management and a Chief of Talent Management. All told in the September minutes there are 12 positions opened, but only 10 closed. When you add the director and manager positions opened in August, that's a 40 percent increase in management in roughly 30 days. The exponential expansion of human resources described here during Jody Spolar's reign does not even include the contract with The New Teacher's Project (a Gates' funded, anti-union outfit), nor the already existing positions not touched by this reorganization.

Not to be outdone, the Research office joins the central office expansion parade, with the creation of a “Project Coordinator, Measures.” A Director of Communications and Marketing is also hired.

All in the same month that the internal financial statements, swimming against the riptide of Roosevelt everyday math, remind the Superintendent and Board that “the delay in adoption of the State budget leaves our cash, equity and revenue positions lower than they should be”, although not yet in a position of cash flow borrowing because of the prudent reserves in place at the time. Once again the Board/Gates crowd is warned that “significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs.”

Mark Brentley gives a scorching critique of Mark Roosevelt's goals: “I think clearly what we see here is just these are real general terms...where are the measurables? We are getting ready to put our teachers through a very, very serious programming of checking, and monitoring, and measuring their progress. Where are they for the Superintendent?...our children are short changed, because we have nothing we can really hold should know by now it is awfully uncomfortable to disagree with this administration....getting some of these measurable things in there would have been next to impossible, because that's just the path that's already been put before us. I am disappointed on behalf of our students, disappointed on behalf of our parents, who are looking for this Board, and this administration, to really help....the masses of students in this District need some serious direction, some serious leadership, and something the parents can say, "Well, we can monitor you with, we know how to follow you, and check your progress as we go forward."....with these kinds of goals, almost anybody can obtain...very, very, very general terms, that nowhere, no how, can move it forward. So automatically, you know, someone automatically, at the end of the year or so, will give the appearance that they have met all of the goals....totally disappointed on behalf of those children who really need some real direction, and some real help in this School District.” "


West End Mom said...

Wow, the increase in Human Resouces central office growth documented here with the 2011 addition of three "human capital managers" is disgraceful.

Why isn't the PFT leadership screaming about this as teachers are being eliminated?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Like the line, ".... swimming against the riptide .... "

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mark you are wrong again.

The PFT leadership was and is complicit. They were never caught in the riptide and did not throw life preservers to their membership.

Some have even expressed the sentiments that 'better you than me.' How's that for solidarity.

Eat or be eaten. No thank you, I don't like smorgasbords.

Anonymous said...

LOL Anonymous above. You've really let your Mark R. antipathy get in the way. Surely you can see that he just liked a phrase of the posting? It wasn't an editorial comment on the posting -- and even if it were? Your argument would be with the author of the post not Mark.

It really does make it hard to take seriously anything else you say.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that I could make you laugh Anon 1:59.

However, what is taking place within the district is no laughing matter.

I have nothing against Mark R, but apparently you do. I was simply piggybacking off the metaphor he started.

Quite frankly, I am sick and tired of the naive readers here waiting for the PFT leadership to ride in on their white horses to save the day when they themselves aided and abetted this fraud.

A+ is complicit in these matters too. Watchdogs my ___! They are more like guard dogs for Broad/Gates/Weiss.

Anon 1:59 you are a bit touchy in these matters. Could it be that you are involved with A+ like Mark and are now realizing that you have been duped!

Please don't tell me that you are a teacher who still believes in the teacher's union!?

Wake up Pittsburgh! You are being taken over by pods!

Anonymousalso said...

Anon, I am not a teacher. I also think that the PFT has rolled over to the Gates Broad cabal (as has every other union in the country faced with the same tactics). I know that A+ is used by the administration to rubber stamp their initiatives and run their meetings. I think they are mostly like the school board -- too clueless about what's really happening to know better. Also, funded by the same people/funders (both national and local) so they're not a watch dog.

But, you really aren't making a whole lot of sense, why are you going after Mark rather than making substantive comments related to the posting?

That's the confusing thing here.

Every teacher in this district should be telling everyone they know -- parents of students, neighbors, board members, city council people, anyone working for a funding organization about the travesty of the last 6+ years.

Every parent should be doing the same.

Questioner said...

Agreed- instead of directing comments to Mark, please make substantive comments that further group discussion.

Anonymous said...

I was in another sustem that did not have a fixed standard like IQ for its gifted programs. What happened was that the gifted program at one school was at a very different level than the gifted program at another school. It allowed the schools to offer prgrams for students who were advanced for their particular school. Every school was able to fill a gifted program.

Anonymous said...

Anon who is not a teacher,

I sounded the alarm to parents when the school district began disassembling the science courses. As a result, I was focused. That was over four years ago.

I spoke openly at union meetings only to be shouted down.

I spoke at public forums in an attempted to be heard, but my words fell upon deaf ears. Those who did listen felt powerless.

Local newspapers and radio stations allotted me print and air time to address these concerns.

What did I get for all my efforts? A 'disgruntled employee' label by a board member and a termination notice.

Apathy and fear are Pure Reforms and public schools greatest enemies.

Parents, public school advocates, and taxpayers don't wait to exhale. You need to take action. Teachers cannot fight this alone. This is a group effort.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Thanks for the defense above from the bully.

One pin head here would jump on me if I made mention of the weather. Old time habits I guess.


By the way, I am not associated with A+ Schools. Never was. I even called for the resignation of the A+ Board member, Michael Lamb. I was not "wrong" on that front either and it came to pass. I didn't even need to file an ethics complaint against A+ Schools as my public statements helped win the day on that issue.

And I second your stance against "smorgasbords." Do stay away from them since they require lots of thinking and choices while on your feet. I'd hate to come to find out that your head exploded near the salad bar.


Looks like rain.

FormerHero said...

400 teachers will be let go very shortly. 400.
Numerous teachers will be bounced around the district. Numerous programs will come to an end.
Doesn't anyone care?

Questioner said...

It's incredible to think that only about 6 months ago, PPS was about to launch a program to train MORE TEACHERS.

Anonymous said...

Here's what I foresee, for what it's worth:
-Gates money is gone by the end of next school year. (What do we do with all of these administrators?)
-Pittsburgh Promise money seriously compromised to the point that subsequent classes can't count on Promise money as it is counted on today.
-Even more teacher cuts. Even more schools closing. Even more flight from the city.
And yet, administration is barely touched.

Anonymous said...

5:47 - More and more schools will close as Propel and other Charters have declared intentions to open schools. Who can blame parents for choosing other schools for their children. The reality is that PPS will continue to fail its students under the current administration who are clearly very ill-equipped to run successful schools in urban areas.

The influential and powerful people in Pittsburgh have protected the schools in their communities OR created CAPA, Sci-Tech, Obama to meet the needs of only their own children.

The leaders in the disenfranchised communities have NOT risen to the task of demanding quality and equity for this group of children.

The Superintendent appears to be a good lady; however, she depends on her chiefs (her "girls" as they are often referred to) and clearly those closest to the Superintendent have little interest or ability to serve the majority of the District's students.

Charters are taking full advantage of a wide open opportunity to create schools better than most PPS schools. Yet, PPS gets more money per pupil than all but one or two others of the 500 districts in PA.

Where is the MORE money per student being spent? On Central Administration? On RISE and PELA? OR on Schools?

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:46,

Insightful. Permit me to connect more dots.

The events orchestrated by the shadow administration/goverance is cummulating in the privatization of education. We could blame it all on greed as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, but it is more than that.

We could blame it on the snobbery of the elitists who believe that they are smarter than the locals, incapable of governing themselves.

The blame is placed on the elitists and their fear of the independent thinkers and of the inalienable rights granted by this Country's Constitution. If they can squash the independent thinkers, then the obstacles on the road to absolute totalitarianism are cleared away.

Why manage curriculum and its pace? Why a NATIONAL curriculum? Why merge all levels of aptitude? Why RISE and VAM? ....and so on.

Why? Manage everything in an individual's life and the individualism is managed out, one 'mind set.' The individual is now taught not to ask questions (no time in the pace) but to follow....and try to keep up. Step out of line and .......

If you disagree with them, then they will hate you, ridicule you, and marginalize you.

The name of the game is 'control.' Privatize education and the company's of the elitist's gain control of education, the teachers, and the students. Now the Country will be easier to manage.

Stretch? I don't think so. Why do you think that the education of our children has been the battle grounds since the 1950's.

Anonymous said...

12:49 - There is no doubt that you are on the mark as you connect the dots. The 6:46 comments are not so much insightful as rhetorical based on what is more and more blatantly 'in your face' as we watch the machinations of PPS administration.

What is not so clear, is why and how did the people elect Board Members who have command of the language, but are unable to use that 'command' to think independently. Psychologically, what need is being satisfied by the total acquiescence of Board Members to a group of Central Office lightweights who are also non-educators (and that is what Central Office is regardless of university degrees in one field or another) but, are unable to make decisions that advance the education of Pittsburgh's children?

Central Office admin are clearly about self-promotion, professionally, and financially, and they have PR experts who are making it happen; but, its difficult to attach the same motives to Board Members (or is it)?

I suppose the only reason to think aloud here is to generate a need in others to think independently and
and share thoughts and evidence with a wider public.

Anonymous said...

It's a closed community, an echo chamber.

All that most board members know about the schools, the tests, the current practices comes straight from the administration.

The administration warns them that parents or others who disagree are doing so out of personal and selfish motivations, a desire to have their own child/own self get an unfair advantage. They are racist or elitist or ill-informed or stupid or some combination thereof.

They are told about the "complaints" they might hear and the admin "explains" in advance. For example, they're told teachers might complain about pacing, but that just means that those teachers don't have high expectations of the kids or they are lazy and don't want to follow it.

In this way the board members can stop listening as soon as they hear "evidence" of teachers/parents/community members having these bad beliefs. They just know that that person is ______ (see list above).

This is also, I believe, in part how they've gotten the P-G to roll over and play press secretary for them. Any questioning or investigative reporting is labeled as [see list above] and they are told how bad this looks and what horrible people they would be to report such nasty things.

Anonymous said...

Parents who are interested and who are true advocates for their children must form Community Advocacy Groups with an Organizer who facilitates the process. Check out the Hill District Education Council (website). This is a community group that is a model for what under-served communities would do well to rally around, develop, fund and begin an informed process of advocating for their children.

Parents, in numbers, and informed, and passionate about their demands for a better education for their children must join together, unified and again, informed about what is happening in schools.

Regular meetings with Board Membrs, Central Administration, Principals, Directors, etc. can get to the root of the problems and unite around solutionns

Questioner said...

Tom Sumpter and the Milliones principal go to those meetings and no one challenges them. PPS has contracts with community groups there. It's not really a good model.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, Questioner, that is NOT true, even to the slightest degree. There are many, many meetings every month and many issues are discussed at levels that you know nothing about with results that you know nothing about. While it may seem, on occasion, to outside or casual observers/participants that some things are not challenged, publicly or confrontationally, there is ALWAYS follow-up behind the scenes (Issues are not always resolved when you put all of business in the street).

Questioner said...

If nothing can be said publicly, the results will have to speak for themselves. Results?