Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Westinghouse seeking a new principal

From the PG:



Anonymous said...

Am I the only one confused by this?

"She said Ms. Crenshaw does not want to return to Westinghouse in the fall but will help with the transition. Ms. Lane declined to say to which school Ms. Crenshaw will go.

Ms. Crenshaw, however, said she planned to reapply to lead Westinghouse."

Anonymous said...

Interesting. At last week's legislative meeting, the Board approved a payment of $3,000 to Ms Crenshaw to develop curricula for next year at Westinghouse. The time frame for the payment included April, May to June 30th.

Questioner said...

The Tribune's article says S Crenshaw accepted the Westinghouse position on an interim basis:


But there doesn't seem to have been any mention of interim at the time.

Anonymous said...

Part one:
In light of the latest recruiting efforts for Westinghouse, I offer you a rather extensive cautionary tale for anyone considering employment in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
At the end of the 2009-10 school year, Mark Roosevelt unveiled his plans to revamp and revitalize the ninth grade classrooms in the city of Pittsburgh. It was a grand plan to be sure, full of promises and pomp. He called it the PRC (Promise Readiness Corp) and promised to lavishly fund it. The premise was great—a group of teachers would be hired to teach incoming ninth graders at each high school. Those teachers would meet every day, as part of an extended day schedule, to work collaboratively towards relationship building with both students and parents. The teachers would also “loop” with the students, meaning they would teach them as a whole in both ninth grade and then, again as a team, as the students moved to tenth grade. Built into the program was mentoring, field trips, team building activities and a plethora of events meant to foster a family like atmosphere. There was, rather coyly, a $9,000 stipend mentioned as monetary incentive for these positions. Roosevelt called them “Career Ladders” and threw good money after bad to tout them as the best thing since sliced bread.
The first issue arose when it was realized that there was very little time to staff these PRCs in each building. Since time was of the essence, the upshot was that teachers could volunteer for the positions, or, as happened in many cases, they could be “recruited”. These “recruited” teachers were, in some instances, teachers who had no interest in working an extended day. The kick off for the program was scheduled at Phipps Conservatory, and the cocktails flowed freely as teachers there were informed that they would NOT get the $9,000 stipend for the first year. No, since many teachers were “recruited” and not “chosen for their superior abilities”, the first two years would be considered a pilot program for these teachers. Not to worry, however—both Union leadership and PPS administration promised these teachers a rich bonus—up to $20,000 dependent upon factors that hadn’t quite been nailed down just yet. And so, the new school year started in 2010, with PRCs in many high schools—PRCs staffed with some teachers who had volunteered and some who had been volunteered. Each received an extended day differential (approx. $10 a day) and the promise of a lovely bonus.

Anonymous said...

Part two:
Let’s move to November of 2010. The PRC teams in each building were struggling to find their way, navigating new territory and breaking new ground. The PPS administration called them “pioneers” and applauded their work. Except…..except, well, that the applause was short-lived. In late November, every PRC faculty member received a letter AT THEIR HOMES stating that the current PRC teams would be disbanded at the end of the school year. The administration cited numerous reasons for the change of heart, including the fact that some teams had teachers who had been “drafted” and didn’t want to continue. Not one PFT union representative or a single PPS administrator had bothered to speak to the PRC teams directly to break the news—they left it up to each member to find out via the letters sent home. No one at any level told the parents. It was a slap in the face--and it was only November. New teams would be hired at the end of the year for the 2011-2012 school year. The consolation prize, however, was this: the bonus that had been promised (the $10k per year for a total of 20k based on yet unknown criteria) would still be given to the current teams—and it would be doubled. “Continue your great work,” teams were told. “The bonus will be there—it will be worth it in the end.” For those who were more concerned about the promises made to students and parents—the promises of team building and a two year teacher/student relationship…well, for those teachers, the “carrot” was that ( and don’t tell anyone), but SURELY you’ll be one of those hired for next year’s new team!
Cut to February of 2011. The call now went out for the new teams to be recruited and hired. Everyone, or nearly everyone, on the current PRC teams rushed to take part in an application process that would bring even the most enthusiastic employee to his/her knees. The interviews were first; then the classroom observations; then came the most damaging employment scheme ever to darken the PPS doors. The new PRC teams were chosen, and the number of teachers with little to no experience was alarming. Perhaps even more alarming, however, was the PPS administrative propaganda that insisted that it was the younger, less experienced teachers who were “highly qualified” and more capable of doing the job of teaching ninth graders. Teachers with proven track records and 20-30 years of experience were, for the most part, passed over for the PRC positions in favor of those with far less time and no track records at all. In fact, some schools were told that they simply didn’t have enough highly effective teachers to staff a PRC at all. It was truly a blow. In order to appease those who weren’t hired, however, the mantra remained—“Don’t forget about that big bonus!!”

Anonymous said...

Part three:
Cut to last night. One year and seven months after the first PRC teams were put to the test of piloting a program that had been poorly executed at the District level, they finally decided to reveal the bonuses to those “pioneers”. The criteria were convoluted and required a six page explanation. Grades, passing rates of students, student attendance, CBA scores and PSAT scores were all considered. Allow me to take a brief moment to address two of those areas. CBAs are tests that are constructed at the District level for students in math, Social Studies, science and English. They are tests that assume that every teacher in the District has, in spite of the number of advanced or remedial students, maintained the same pacing allowing the same objectives to have been covered in a limited period of time. They are poorly constructed, are rife with errors, and are completely unfair to every student who is forced to endure them. As for the PSAT scores….the current managed curriculum in NO WAY prepares students for the PSAT test. In fact, the entire test is never addressed as even being IMPORTANT to students and has been shown, in a number of research studies, to be in no way indicative of a student’s academic achievement. Pardon the diversion…back to the PRC. And so, the bonuses were announced. And here we go….
Carrick teachers? ZERO. Perry teachers? ZERO. Brashear teachers? Well, two teams did well—at least $4,000 each. One team? ZERO. Allderdice? Again, some teams did well—one not so well: ZERO. Oh wait, Peabody? The school with 28 freshmen? The school with NINE PRC teachers for those 28 freshmen? $6,800 EACH.
And so colleagues arrived at work today to either lament the fact that the “pioneers” of PRC were, once again and fully, screwed. The final nail in the coffin. Others arrived at work to look at their colleagues teaching across the hall and wondering what that teacher was doing that was so much better when, in fact, the teams had been working collaboratively the whole year.
I can’t believe that there hasn’t been more outrage over this program for the past two years. Parents, where ARE YOU in this? You have come to your schools and praised the work that teachers are doing with your children. You have seen the challenges and obstacles, and you were promised a two year commitment—that was overturned without even CONTACTING YOU. Now those teachers are again being told that they aren’t doing their jobs. YOU KNOW THEY ARE! Speak up, parents, please! Denounce the CBAs. Denounce the fact that your child’s teacher was held accountable for the PSAT scores. Denounce the fact that the District is single handedly ruining morale in each and every building.
And those of you considering application for the job of the “visionary”? Can you say “sacrificial lamb”? Don’t be duped.

Anonymous said...

The posting states "must be able to develop, articulate, implement and sustain a vision of learning that is shared and supported by the school community."

Does this really mean that a new principal will have the autonomy, free of central office control, to actually assume leadership for a "vision"?

If so, how will this be ensured; AND, will other struggling schools be afforded the same opportunity?

Read more: Westinghouse principal sought after last is reassigned - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/breaking/s_788581.html#ixzz1qMSfCmRp

Anonymous said...

What a joke!

Anonymous said...

OMG not again. What are the reguirements to be a prinicpal? I have a master degree is that enough? Cant I take a few classes and get certified to do it. Dr. Lane was told that Crenshaw was not a good choice for WHS. Our union Rep protested it and she didnt listen.

Now that she has bullied and harrased the staff, she is ready to go. What! Since when does a Principal get to say where they will or will not go? Dont get us wrong she cant leave fast enough but she has screw it up worst. Oh and what about her boot lickers she leaves behind? How will they survive her leaving?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Thanks for part 1, 2 and 3 above.

Rather than a PRC (Promise Readiness Corp) or 9th Grade Nation -- how about turning Westinghouse into the place for all east end 9th graders and then turning Allderdice into the school for east end kids for grades 10, 11 and 12.

Five or 10 teachers and staffers could migrate with the students as they jump from 9th to 10th grade too, if that is still the hot thing to do this week.

Those kids that can't pass 9th grade academics can repeat 9th grade, staying at the same building.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Westinghouse may go with some CTE areas as offerings to students. Time will tell.

Green jobs,

Health care,

Teaching, Didn't Langley have such a concentration?

That process of school retooling is a quagmire that takes time, yes?

Anonymous said...

New Article on Westinghouse

Linda Lane states that Shameca Crenshaw is welcome to stay on at Westinghouse . . .

Anonymous said...

As usual at PPS Central Office, nobody knows what they are doing, including the Superintendent.


“School Superintendent Linda Lane said she had thought Ms. Crenshaw didn't want to stay at the school but said, "If there was some misunderstanding here, she's welcome to stay ... If Dr. Crenshaw is interested in staying, that's great."
other is

Anonymous said...

Something fishy. If these ladies have not communicated sufficiently to know what each wants from the other there is something wrong.

If you want to improve the end product reaching the kids somebody better fix the morale issues.

Anonymous said...

Why are things always so weird with PPS, especially when it comes to personnel?

Questioner said...

Even Crenshaw's title is unclear in the article- the reporter refers to Ms. Crenshaw while Dr. Lane refers to Dr. Crenshaw.

Anonymous said...

Questioner: Please note that the PG never uses the "Dr." title in any article. In this particular article both women are referred to as “Ms” (which is always the case).

The exception in this article comes in a direct quote from Linda Lane referencing “Dr. Crenshaw” where the rules for a quote require the exact words of the speaker.

Questioner said...

Well here's an article found right off by the same reporter, repeatedly referring to "Dr. Lane":


Anonymous said...

I have seen D. Lopez referred to as both Dr. and Mr. ever since he came to town.

Anonymous said...

Derek Lopez does NOT have a Doctorate. Those who know usually correct it when he is referenced as Dr.

That is a different issue from the PG policy to not to use the Dr. title, and you will see Ms or Mr. used for educators in the PG.





Anonymous said...

Mr. Lopez would never correct the misuse, preferring to be addressed as Dr. in spite of the fact that he had not earned a Doctorate.

It was frequently corrected by those who were aware that he did not hold this title.

Questioner said...

Because not everyone is aware of the new PG policy the clearest thing would probably be to replace the "Dr." in a quote with "[Ms.]" in brackets. Otherwise people may not know if it is a Lopez situation or what.

Anonymous said...

Yes, agreed. Please let Eleanor Chute know.

Anonymous said...

Another version of story discussed here:

The Tribune Review on Crenshaw/Westinghouse. . . .


Anonymous said...

Pps consistently sounds like keystone cops-especially compared with other local districts.

Walter said...

Anon 12:10, yep, the PPS sounds like the Keystone Cops, but there is a difference.

The Keystone Cops never hurt anyone. The PPS leadership is destroying the careers of many good teachers, and ruining the education of many students.

Anonymous said...

Great description 12:10. "Keystone Kops"

"The term has since come to be used to criticize any group for its mistakes, particularly if the mistakes happened after a great deal of energy and activity, or if there was a lack of coordination among the members of the group."

Also, a great way to teach analogy and metaphor, two PSSA skills.

Questioner said...

How does the work of the person hired to design a new school fit in with the search for a visionary principal? What if the principal arrives several months from now and wants to design something different?

Anonymous said...

That's the question that Board members who approved the $3,000.00 to S. Crenshaw last week need to ask. They rubber stamped this without a single question.

Why would the Superintendent put this before the Board for a vote when she KNEW that she and HR would post the position for a new principal 4 workdays later?

Incompetence is rampant at Central Office OR perhaps there will be NO OPPORTUNITY for recruiting someone with the "vision" that is specified in the posting for Westinghouse Principal.

The Secondary Superintendent has stated emphatically at a community meeting that "all schools must follow the PPS core curriculum."

So, clarification, is needed before there is another Bailey/Abbott/McNeil fiasco. True leaders need to have autonomy to do what works for their student population. They know that "one size fits all" is disastrous!

Moe said...

Questioner 12:54, I commented about that earlier, but for some reason it didn't get posted.

Of what value is being a visionary if central administration micromanages every last thing?

Either the visionary is going to get frustrated and quits, or he/she will just follow orders (and so no longer be a visionary), or he/she will get written up for insubordination.

Three possibilities, all bad for the school.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that PPS PELA trains and places ONLY principals that they can CONTROL?

Is it perhaps the purpose of placing only PELA-trained young people in PPS schools?

Will the real search include leaders outside of the district PELA program?

Applicants need to get a GUARANTEE from C. Otuwa that she will not interfere (as is currently the situation) with the decisions made by the Principal and/or School Leadership Team.

Questioner said...

If Shemeca Crenshaw just had an interim appointment why is PPS waiting until now, 5 months before the start of the school year, to START the search for this very special candidate? None of the comments made by Board members at the time she was hired suggested an interim appointment.

Anonymous said...

What is the designer of Westinghouse doing? Is it designing a model different than what is operational under Principal Crenshaw?

Anonymous said...

3:06 - A non-educator was hired as the Design Director at Westinghouse several months ago. Last week, the Principal was allocated and additional $3,000 to do the work.

Do we know what has been "designed" since the hiring of a non-educator? What will the Principal, whose position has already been posted do to enhance or supplant the work of the current design person? And, what does this mean in regards to community input or the hiring of a new principal?

The Board needs to provide these answers to the community as well as the alumni association, each of whom have great interest, investment, expectations
and concern.

We get a lot of talk about accountability for staff and parents, but NONE for Central Office or the Board of Directors. This should be unacceptable. Who will hold the decision makers accountable?

Anonymous said...

3:02 - Do you believe that PPS is actually looking for a "visionary" for Principal at Westinghouse? Or, is this just part of the PR with news articles, etc. to convince the public that there are opportunities in PPS for "visionary" leaders?e

The PR department at PPS is the only department that successfully fulfills its function. PPS PR has been very successful in convincing Pittsburgh that PPS is improving achievement, closing the gap, leading the state in teacher effectiveness, etc. when, in fact, NONE of these claims are a reality.

Anonymous said...

**We get a lot of talk about accountability for staff and parents, but NONE for Central Office or the Board of Directors. This should be unacceptable. Who will hold the decision makers accountable? **

The Board of Directors is accountable via elections. Dr. Holley was a good addition to the board, I can only hope other areas find suitably qualified and knowledgeable people.

It's not a quick or easy route to accountability, but it's what we've got.

Current board members should certainly be encouraged to put in more measures of success for administration. It seems that just saying you're going to do something great gets you the same as ACTUALLY accomplishing it. We've had too many dollars thrown around for talk rather than results.

Anonymous said...

So far no luck in connecting with people I know who attended the saturday summit sponsored by A+ on the 24th. Can anyone give a summary? Much of what is on this thread could have/should have been discussed at the meeting.

Anonymous said...

5:34 - It was pretty much another P.R. event for PPS. There was a lot of nice talk about how wonderful PPS schools and teachers are, selectively. No tough questions or answers.

The attendees were mostly PPS people--many from Central Administration, with select teachers, and a lot of A+ Schools people. It was a relatively small group of participants.

There will be a report on results from A+ Schools.

Anonymous said...

How dysfunctional is this whole episode?

It's clear that Linda Lane was quite surprised by Principal Crenshaw's desire to remain at Westinghouse.

It's equally clear that Principal Crenshaw was shocked to see the job posting.

Eleanor Chute did not simply stumble upon the story. This would had to have been positively promoted by the communications and marketing team.

How ironic is it that Pps will let a reporter in on what is happening, but not give the principal, faculty, parents and students the same courtesy?

Anonymous said...

There are other possible scenarios too actually. The discrict can't dismiss another administrator at Westinghouse. How would that look? what do parents think of the the principal?

Anonymous said...

It is natural to be surprised at the parade of events in PPS as they play out in confounding ways. Yet, how many such surprises need to occur before a lack of competence becomes the expectation from Central Office?

PR covers most problems, pre and post, but when the truth is revealed from neutral sources we see the deluge of incompetence and PPS is drowning in it.

Where are the good decisions that establish confidence in any of these people?

Anonymous said...

The three part post about the PRC tells a story a few parents predicted when they first heard the plan. Maybe we were skeptical because our kids would be graduating before they had the chance to experience the experiment or maybe we just knew the plan would create an unhappy atmosphere among staff. This is not how you motivate students and sure as hell no way to treat people doing the job of teaching. All is not equal. There was once a teacher my son had that kids felt sorry for because he always got stuck with the "bad" kids. I wouldn't be surpised if he was on a team that got ZERO. The only word I can think of to describe the system is destructive. This needs fixed and if left to continue will be just one more reason young parents look for options outside the public system.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it speak volumes that there is not one individual within PPS administration--especially PELA---that can right the Westinghouse ship?
It's truly amazing.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely on target 1:12! But, many of us are not surprised. Frankly, the current PPS Administration has not been successful at any initiative or any school with a general population of Pittsburgh students.

The "we have to do something" approach will never be successful. The "one-size-fits-all" approach will never be successful.

Central Administration has no true educators, no true thinkers, no creative abilities, no understanding of the African American community, no real affinity for teens, and no commitment to Pittsburgh.

Yes, their lack of competence speaks volumes!

Anonymous said...

Otuwa should be made to run Westinghouse since she believes its simply a matter of following her instructions.

Anonymous said...

Why waste all this time on Westinghouse? Close it and send the kids and Crenshaw to Allderdice. It will never be a high achieving school under this current leadership, because they have not figure out the right personnel mix and community input.

Dr. Lane is embarrassed about the last report in the news paper searching for a new principal when the old principal wants to stay. Great job Eleanor Chute for making making us realize they dont know what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

And yet, they will escape he cuts that will affect 400 teachers shortly.

How can this be allowed to happen?

How can a group that is paid by the public be allowed to be accountable to no one? These people---from Lane on down through Bellefield Avenue and Greenway---are laughing at all of us.

Anonymous said...

"Otuwa should be made to run Westinghouse"

Anon 5:02, that's a great idea. Otuwa talks the talk, let's see if she can walk the walk.

Anonymous said...

Great point! It's time for Otuwa to 'show up' and teach her subordinates how its done. That's what education is all about teaching and learning.

And, put a time limit on it. The kids have already endured more consequences than anyone should pay for the decisions/actions of the Central Office Secondary Staff with Otuwa as their leader, responsible ultimately for this travesty.

Anonymous said...

Please reprint the other side of the "History of What Happened at Westinghouse" that was previously printed on this blog.

It must be reviewed and considered, with all sincerity, so that these very, very, serious mistakes are not repeated.

Given this report, it is critical that Christiana Otuwa is removed from any decisions regarding Westinghouse.

Anonymous said...

Yes, do not assign Otuwa as principle and continue to torture the staff and kids of Westinghouse. PELA's through BROAD are only trained to fire teachers through RISE. The entire philosophy is to clean out experienced teachers (Highest salaried) and hire kids who will be overwhelmed by behaviors only seen in movies and on TV. The only solution that will save Westinghouse is to re-hire veteran teachers/administrators that have bolted because of the tyranny being orchestrated by a bunch of non teachers who think kids learn by teaching themselves. This will not happen because those that could save WHS are the same people the current Admin wants to and have forced out . Their theories and philosophies are not based on true and successful teaching methods but created by adhering to the studies that back their beliefs. Beliefs that are subjecting the kids of Pgh to a grand experiment that is failing.

Anonymous said...

Better yet, place the wonderful team of French and Lippert in charge. They have all the answers and should easily be able to turn things around, despite the fact that unfortunately, there will have to be teachers on staff.
These people make fabulous salaries, so why not have them show their skills? Time after time, they offer their knowledge of cutting edge techniques and strategies at work in US schools, well, now is a great time to show what you can do.
And hey...why not bring Judy Johnston on board, too. Here is an individual that draws a pension and a consultant fee. Just ask her...she has all of the answers. Let's bring her in. She can right this ship.
At the end of the day, this threesome can be beacons for all teachers and be the turning point for Westinghouse.
I'm sure all three would jump at the chance to roll up their sleeves and help out.

Thinkin' out loud said...

If Otuwa, French, Lippert, and Johnston get involved in fixing Westinghouse, I would insist that they all teach at least one class there daily.

Not a gifted or honors class mind you, just a run-of-the-mill mainstream class. Let's see how their test scores would compare to those of other teachers.

By the way, I once taught at a private school. The principal herself taught one class there daily.

At one time, that was not unusual. "Principal" is actually short for "Principal Teacher."

A hundred years ago, many principals also taught classes as part of their responsibilities. Not a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Surprisingly, it is likely that Johnston could teach at least one class daily. There is not a chance in the world that Otuwa, French, or Lippert could manage even one class.

It certainly would establish credibility for Administrators if they could manage or teach (to a standard)even one class per day.

It would be interesting to see if they would be willing.

(And, Lippert would have to teach an academic class, not a gym class.)

Anonymous said...

Better yet assign Dr. Lane there for a semester to teacher a class. The only thing she could control would be teachers because of her position. I bet not one student would increase because she taught them.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Dr. Crenshaw is returning to Westinghouse next year?

Does she want to return?

Is she sharing her thoughts and concerns and ideas with the community?

What is the plan for Westinghouse?

Has the WAA been included in any planning process?

Anyone out there know anything? Anything at all?

Questioner said...

She is rerurning

Anonymous said...

Dr Crenshaw does not want to return. She wanted to go back to her previous school Weil but the teachers through the union would fight it. Also many teachers would put in for a transfer if she came back so she is stuck at Westinghouse.

She has not shared her thoughts with the larger community as a whole but has with a few people. She wanted to try a cte program and eliminate sports but she was shot down.

As far as sharing with the community, that will not happen. The community and prior board members wants her to move on and and wants someone in there who has the respect of the community and understands their needs. An alumnis wife who is a master artist was turned away by Crenshaw as a volunteer and she was made to feel unimportant. Others have been told that they are not needed and made to feel un welcome as well

I am not sure if the WAA has been included in the planing process, but if not they should be. There is alot ot WHS alumni in this city and from what I see they really do care about there school. ( Go Archers, anyway!) What I do know is that WHS Alumni have been there from the begining and expressed to Dr. lane to slow this reform down and get it right the first time. They have also been very active at board meetings and on here as well. They were the first to lay out a budget plan and been right on point on alot of issues.

Athough I am not an alumni of WHS I had kids that were and I live in Homewood. I attended several of the WHS Alumni meetings and am very impressed and I know they could make a difference in WHS.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 6:24. There are so many stories floating around. It is never good to keep a principal in a school where she would rather not be. It has a far reaching negative impact on staff, students, parents and community---and there are few who would not agree that Westinghouse needs someone who is fully committed and believes and knows that they CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

It should be put to Linda Lane right away that the community wants someone totally committed and with a real vision for creating a successful school. It must not be about anything but the educational welfare of Westinghouse students which has been put greatly at risk under the control of Christiana Otuwa

The posting, which has been taken down from PPS website, stated the qualifications.

Let Shemeca Crenshaw return to Weil or wherever she would prefer. Westinghouse is not the place for her given the current turmoil. Westinghouse deserves the very BEST ___ NOW!

Anonymous said...

"Creating a successful school" is absolutely doable at Westinghouse.

However, you have to implement a process that has all of the "good school" components. You can't just say we can't do this or that because of the union, the neighborhood, the cost, the time needed to design and recruit, professional development, etc., etc., etc. The list of
why not is long, long, long at Central Office, mostly because of the complete lack of creativity, competence, and commitment.

There are educators that CAN create a very successful school at Westinghouse, but they do not work for PPS!

Anonymous said...

Dear Shawn,

I just want to tell you how proud I am of you for persevering through this year. I jumped ship and am blessed to land on my feet at a place that accepts my passion, love, and desire to uplift for poor kids! But you stood tall for what you believed in and weathered the storm. I am proud to see you get back to mentoring young people as well as transforming urban public education. They can never keep a good brother down. NEVER! Especially a man with God by their side.

Just wanted to express my feelings towards you in writing!

Peace and Love,

Your Brother in the Movement