Thursday, March 15, 2012

Looking back at the plan for high school excellence

Excel.9-12, dated April 10, 2007- just about 5 years ago:

See especially the plans for Westinghouse beginning on page 63. What went wrong?


Questioner said...

It is interesting to see that the partnership w/ the University of Pittsburgh was originally considered for Westinghouse rather than U Prep (see page 65). Contracts on the whole topic of university partnerships were apparently entered into (see p 68); wonder what happened to that. All in all a whole boatload of ideas and initiatives going off in all directions at once; more experience would have brought a more focused and realistic approach.

Anonymous said...

Partnerships, ideas, initiatives all advancing adult money-making agendas. Moving on to educating our kids is not in the contracts.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Thanks for finding it.

I wonder if the alumni group is aware of this. Im sure they would be interested in knowing that PPS was supoosed to do all these things with WHS and then they changed courses. Wow what a disapointment.

Its time to get some people in pps who really care and know what they are doing. This school and ccommunity should be so tired of being used and abused.

Anonymous said...

Can someone who was there post a review of the Teachers for Change meeting on Thursday?

Randall Taylor said...

I would like to encourage everyone to encourage their Board Member to go back and look at 5 years or older initiatives. A lot of good ideas, but very hard to make happen. Unfortunately, it looks as if very little of this came to fruition. Yet, Excel 9-12, like ALA's, are still referred to as if they exist. If I was still on the Board, I would ask for a 5 year evaluation.

Was at the Meeting said...

to anon 4:48

Regarding the Teachers for Change meeting on Thursday, here's what I got out of it:

1. Mark Samartino said that the number one priority of teachers must be helping their students. He was very clear about that.

But the number one priority of the union must be helping the teachers.

No more of this PPS-PFT "partnership", where Bellefield leads the union around like a pet on a leash.

2. Samartino also said that the union should do what the majority of the membership wants it to do.

Samartino said that he would regularly poll the membership. The top priorities of the membership would automatically be the top priorities of the union.

No more of the "your union leadership knows best" style of leadership. Samartino promised to give the membership a real voice in how the union opperates.

3. Samartino made a point of saying how wrong it was for students to rate their teachers as part of the teacher's overall fitness score (the district wants student ratings to be approximately 10% of a teacher's overall score - tough, demanding teachers would probably get lower student scores).

Samartino noted that Nina Esposito-Visgitis, the current PFT president, did not speak out against this student rating scheme. Samartino said that he most certainly would.

Anonymous said...

Nina just like Tarka is a puppet for PPS failing their constiuents on every front. The time for a leadership change in the PFT is now! Teachers are now being used as the escape goats through RISE evaluations for failed Central Office policies.

Principals are failing to implement the District's Code of Conduct and teachers are now paying dearly through RISE evaluations that indicate below basic performance in classroom mnagement. The principals are supposed to ensure that appropriate consequences for student misbehvior is implemented. Instead, our PELA principal believed that conferencing the student was the best recourse. Now the students have come to learn that talking to them is the consequence. As we are in the 2nd semester of our new leader, it's apparent that we are in an uphill struggle with trying to control inappropriate student behaviors.

We were a well managed school. Staff, students and parents knew exactly what the expectations and consequences were by our previous principal. Staff went above and beyond because our principal did so as well.

You can't be expected to lead if you were never taught the importance of how to manage. This is the #1 failure of the PELA program that is having a devasting impact on our schools.

Since the current PFT leaders have put on binders and nod their heads in agreement with anything PPS says, it's time for us to select new leadership who will listen to the collective voices of our members. Vote YES to SAMMARTINO and NO to Esposito!

Anonymous said...

I will vote yes for Mark because Nina is either a coward or someone who capitulated, as was and did Tarka before her. I pray that the Nina's, Hilemans and van Horns get to experience the same hardships that they have allowed countless teachers to suffer.
But let's be real: the only trump card a union has is its solidarity. And through its solidarity, you get walk outs and strikes. And where injunctions are concerned, you dare the courts to arrest 2000 of you.
That's courage, that's what union is all about, and that's the only thing which is going to get the arrogant, smart-ass "negotiators" at the PPS administrative level to table, especially when it has raped you for a number of years.
It worries me that elementary teachers largely back this facade of a union and leadership. It bothers me that Mark believes that he can still negotiate with these people.
Ask yourself: if you were in a position in which you had taken away so much of the teacher union's power and consider it extremely weak, why would you ever bother to negotiate? For what purpose?
As a teacher, I've paid my dues. I've worked hard for the kids. I always have. I have no apologies to any administrator who fears being in a classroom, or to any "philanthropist" who has championed the targeting of teachers with boatloads of money. I don't have any apologies to a school board that has continually failed the children as it has looked for a scapegoat.

Anonymous said...

Just a question from the non-teaching, average joe, peanut gallery: is there any possibility that even if the current officeholders get voted out of office they will maintain their staff positions?

Anonymous said...

Was Mark's meeting at the Sokol Club well attended? If not, that's not a good sign.

Was at the Meeting said...

anon 10:46

There were perhaps 150 people at Mark's meeting at the Sokol Club. The huge majority were very supportive of Mark and his message.

Now, here's something I found really odd.

Billy Hileman was at the meeting. Yes, the same Billy Hileman who is on the opposing slate.

The same Billy Hileman who is part of the current PFT leadership, the leadership that stands by while good teachers get harassed, focused, and fired.

The same Billy Hileman who bitterly denounced Samartino at the staff hearing awhile back.

(Two of Mark's allies were elected to union office. Tarka and his cronies refused to give them the staff positions they were elected to. Mark demanded a hearing. Mark and his allies lost the hearing as Tarka had the majority of the votes, including the vote of Hileman.)

Of course, Hileman has every right to be at the Sokol Club, as it was an open meeting. And Mark was very gracious to him.

It's no big deal, but I just found it odd. Sort of like seeing Santorum sitting at a table at an Obama rally.

Anonymous said...

He was obviously "spying." I wouldn't put anything past Nina and Co.

Anonymous said...

I too was at the meeting. Billy sat directly behind me taking copious amounts of notes. I suppose to inform Nina as to what was said at the meeting.

Mark will have his challenges no doubt but the membership has to have courage.

I've made huge sacrifices knowing that it would end my teaching career, and I'd do it again. What the board and union leadership are doing is a crime against our civil liberties. Last time I checked harassment, discrimination, intimidation, threats to destroy ones' livlihood are against the law.

YOU may feel untouchable because YOU ARE doing your job. I thought so too.

Administrators are like predators seeking the wounded prey. Inevitably there comes a time when you let your guard down out of weariness......

Anonymous said...

I heard there were hecklers from the Nina camp--honestly, if someone has time to heckle the opposition-- they really have way too much time on their hands or are really runnin' scared

Anonymous said...

Billy has to go. He is really hurting us over here at Westinghouse. My self with many other teachers and staff have complained about this very rude and disrespect principal we have here and he has done nothing to help us. I had to call him ten times my self before he evenn returned my call.

We need new leadership. He should retire and or quit in shame. Westinghouse is horible for teachers, staff and students. No one cares at the board or at the union. The more we complain the more we become the target. Lets face it, coming here volunteerly or as a displace worker force to come here is a death sentence.

Anonymous said...

Once Tarka left Billy lost his desire to fight. He is a smart guy but he doesnt really have it in him any more and as a result we are not getting anything for our money.

The board even pays the salary of empployees for our union. This was never the case before. SO if they pay their salaries who do you think they will be loyal too. I think we need to know from Mark how he plans to gain independence back from PPS if he wins.

Anonymous said...

There are 60 people signed up for the public hearing tonight. Mainly people from Allderdice upset because they may lose their music teacher. Lets see how the board handles this one.

Gotta love it when a school has that kind of community support. WHS used to have music too. Ha ha, but Dr. Barnett took their music teacher and sent her to us a CAPA and she is great. Thanks I guess the kids at the HOUSE dont deserve music.

Please close Westinghouse and send those students to Allderdice where we know the school board will insure they get a good education.

Was at the Meeting said...

anon 3:14, 3:23, and any other PPS teacher:

Please go to Mark Samartino's website and check it out. If you have any concerns or comments, or want to help, use the "Contact Us" tab.

The tfc in the address stands for Teachers For Change, the name of Mark's slate.

In particular, anon 3:14, please share your experiences with Hileman at Westinghouse. Mark seems to think Hileman is doing a decent job as VP, even though Hileman is on the opposing slate.

Anonymous said...

It is very very selfish for teachers to take the thread away from a discussion of our children!

"Looking back at the plan for high school excellence" is of critical importance. It should remind parents,concerned citizens, and especially Board Members that it is vital that we continue to ask questions and gain updates of major initiatives. This is beyond promises broken. This was an Administration either incompetent,out of control, or chasing the next new thing. SAD.

Questioner said...

When starting a new topic, it is always helpful to begin the post with "New topic"- otherwise the comment might slip by and lead to a discussion that would be best on a new thread.

Anonymous said...

Billy may be doing a decent job in other schools. I can only speak about how he is dealing with the staff at Westinghouse and Uprep. In these two schools the staff are really disapointed in him and want another union representative to take over. Its just time for change.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:39. I don't think you realize that the previous posts about union issues IS actually for the students. This union has made it possible for PPS to take away a teacher's freedom to actually teach kids. Since teachers can only fight the incompetent PPS administration (who is crippling teachers and ignoring students) with their union, it makes a lot of sense to bring up the atrocities against efforts teachers are making to teach kids because they care.
It's really not a simple issue. Many of the discussions I've had with teachers are about how they feel stifled by PPS (which the current union blindly follows) in their abilities to make a real difference in the lives of their students.
Teacher who take it upon themselves to speak out against what PPS is doing to their students is like speaking out against the mafia. Because there is no union backing for the passion many teachers have for their students, they are often "gotten rid of."
I know of at least one CRI who taught a total of one year in PPS. How are they considered a master teacher? They were willing to two the company line instead of towing the student line.
There is at least one high school with a reputation for "causing trouble" because they refuse to sit by when they feel like PPS is doing a disservice to the students.
Consider that the only outlet teachers have to fight against what PPS is doing to the students is through their union. So when the union is corrupt, it is just as important to fix that problem as well if students are to become the focus again.

Anonymous said...

What is the one high school that is consider to be causing trouble? What is the high school that fights back when the students are done wrong? Please tell me.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:04

I did not say ONLY one, I just said I know of at least one, because it is through my own experience with that school. I am in no way making a statement that other schools don't fight back, so I hope you aren't thinking that's where I was going with it. I'm not going to post the name of the school, because I refuse to be part of pitting schools against each other (as I've seen on here before, and it's sad). I was simply stating that in my experience, I am happy to say that the majority of teachers I know in a particular school have tried to fight in many instances against PPS initiatives that negatively affect students.

I hope, and believe, there are other schools out there with a staff that does the same. Sorry for being vague with the name of the school, but I know how PPS works and wouldn't doubt that it would make matters worse for teachers there if they saw this.