Friday, May 4, 2012

Foundations, mayor weigh in on seniority

From the Tribune:


Questioner said...

Let's see, what are the chances that a senior, high paid foundation director like those weighing in would be replaced by a young, energetic recent college graduate with recent training in all the newest best practices for foundations?

Anonymous said...

Amazing-the rich bureaucrats from foundations breaking unions down on the voting deadline day May 15th for PFT election ballots.

PFT should have the old time Union rally at the same event. Shout them out or a real sit down in protest.

Let us feel beyond sorry for poor furloughed teachers .

Did they not see the signs.

No firing of Dr. Lane for the debacle at Westinghouse-or as the PPS Adm whispers at the Board-that school was that bad to begin with. Dr. Lane gets a nice pass to keep her job.

Well, let’s have a real shouting match?

Anonymous said...

To the parent of PPS student. You are right on. When the Empowering Teachers program was first discussed I thought - good finally a program to support teachers in the class room. Behaviors in PPS are so distructive it is almost impossible to teach. But when the program was developed it became obvious it was not to help teachers but to set in motion a device to fire them. There was no extra support in the class, no extra social workers to intervene, no community outreach to help parents prepare their kids for school, no programs to teach civility or proper etiquette to allow learning. Not one single aspect of EPT addressed the real solutions that would improve the educational Opportunity for Pgh kids. Instead we were given a scam of a program backed by Gates and his billionaire friends to destroy urban school districts and divvy up the pie of money.
As far as seniority, do not believe the propaganda. This is not about losing young teachers. It is about money. At Fasion, half of the experienced tFirst and second grade teachers walked out because of the conditions they were forced to endure. 25 kids in a class with no aides, no support and noThing but the threat of improvement Plans. These were teachers with credentials and experience that would put admin to shame. They left because conditions were so bad and non support was so bad they gave up their careers instead of being humiliated by being put on an improvement plan.
People of Pgh. Do not listen to the propaganda. This is not about putting best teachers in a class. It is all about saving money by firing experienced teachers. Experience that is the most important factor in teaching our kids

Anonymous said...

The PFT has a long history of working with central to avoid bumping for schools like Montessori and ALAs where special requirements, like Montessori cert, matter. This has always been done within the current contract agreements with no threat to seniority. Same thing is available now. Faison as an example is not ani example. Central could deal with that separately just like types did with the other school examples. These articles are just war mongering to get younger teachers , most of whom are elementary, to vote in Esposito and Hileman. Once in, they will agree to eliminating seniority. Hileman is run by Sam Franklin. Do not believe otherwise. These are not smart people. They do not have experience in settings outside of schools and are easily manipulated. As for the foundations, how can anyone say with a straight face that a person with 4 years of experience has more wisdom and skill than a more veteran teacher. Talk about false analogies and hasty generalizations from people who should know better. Shame on them for permitting themselves to be manipulated. WHS is not a fluke. WHS is a warning siren of what is happening here. I wonder what Dr Faison would think of Her name being attached to a school that is being used to eliminate public education and to attack teachers. Shameful behavior.mdo not vote to re elect Esposito and crew. These are not smart people. They will sell you out and turn your schools into charters just like Philadelphia is doing. This is the agenda. Then you will see what will happen to our students who have the most distressed background, parents who can't or won't negotiate the school system. Those kids will be on the street and probably headed to prison, while only the kids who already are able to get an A,B, or C will remain in what will soon be an all charter school system. The city should hang its head in shame at such roguish behavior that will be sending huge segments of its citizens further not poverty and misery. Shocking, shameful, immoral, disloyal, stupid,millogical, and such great, great vanity among these large fish in a small pond.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a parent, layoffs based solely on seniority are definitely NOT fair to the students. There are high performing PPS teachers at all levels.

There are also some real stinkers out there with high seniority (who we can only hope will retire soon). My kid has been stuck in that kind of bad situation for an entire year and it basically sucked.

The tricky part is finding a teacher evaluation system that works. Clearly a seniority-based system is not getting the job done, and it is only right that parents start pushing on PPS admin and PFT to get off their butts and do something about it.

Complain all you want about Gates, but at least part of that grant is being used to challenge the teacher evaluation problem. PFT's seniority position does nothing to address the problem.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:39 AM

I am sick of hearing and reading layoffs based solely on seniority are definitely NOT fair to the students-People are using this is bargaining chip in the wrong contest.

Our MAYOR is not concerned about the PPS teachers. Majority of the teachers live outside of the city and cannot vote for him. He’s no dummy get on the bandwagon-he should take care of City Hall matters. He knows the parents live in the city and majority of teacher outside of his voting rights.

As a taxpayer of the city-I have seen enough of parents all over the teachers and the lower end of the seniority are the best. They should take care of their own children teaching them social and citizenship skills at home. And our schools augment the traits.

As for your child’s situation,you sound like another poster who used the word SUCK and was a teacher ready to be furloughed. As a apparent educator-try to use another phrase. But, if you are not, it is the Principal's fault with your child's teacher.

Is this education the best seen through the lens of foundations and politicians?

For the teachers being furloughed-that is life-because one day you will be on the other end in this job or another job as a senior employee.

For the most it is not about good teachers-it is the rating system, tenure and the high pay scale with Principals and certified Administration head hunting teachers. The Unions started the crazw in the 80's and they will end it for themselves by giving or caving in.

It all depends on Who’s the boss and the game you play-that is like it in the real world. But, with unions they can give objectivity.
All jobs-the last hired the first to go or that favoritism of the system that foundations are using as good teachers. The favorite subjective traits of a good teacher.

Anonymous said...

The problem is NOT the teachers. The problem is NOT the administration. It has nothing to do with seniority. The problem is that the majority of students from inner-city schools don't have the support/discipline that comes from a good home life. Teachers can only do so much. If learning and caring is not enforced at home then what's the point? The students have the same eff it attitude as their guardians. This will never change. There are no programs to solve this. IT ALL STARTS AT HOME. I applaud the teachers that still care enough to try, at least there are some students that still care and want to learn.

Anonymous said...

None of those 4 people have ever worked for a living. Politicaly that was a stupid move by the Mayor. This is still considered a union town.

Foundation leaders, kept your money, it is not filtering down or helping the children. Its keeping pathetic do nothings like yourselves employed. Go get a real job and work for living. I would like to see any of you or you friends in the PPS actualy work.

Do not tread on my senority

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that not one of the voices that are weighing in on this seniority issue has ever had experience in an urban school. The mayor is a product of private, catholic schools. He is pandering to the parents not the teachers. He truly has no idea.
They are not educators, they have no idea of the issues that are dealt with every day by teachers who are in the classrooms. Kudos to those who have stayed the course. A majority of the young teachers leave the profession in about 5 years. The PPS experience looks great on their resume.
Teachers have gotten on board with developing a new evaluation system but the process is not yet complete (mostly due to changes requested by the board). Once again the board is being reactive and not proactive. They knew this situation was coming and waited until the last minute to have a problem with a system that has been in place (throughoutthe entire state) since 1949. This truly is typical of the entire group at Bellefield.

Anonymous said...

I'm for keeping seniority.

It's important that we remind parents over and over again that this already IS a mechanism to remove ineffective teachers. There always has been. Principals can do the legwork and have a teacher fired. They have to be fair and diligent but it can be done. SEVERAL teachers were fired this year for being ineffective.

So why does this myth persist that it's impossible to fire a public school teacher?

Questioner said...

It seems like there have been more than several teachers fired. In the past teachers would be removed at the end of the year. Recently that seemed to change so teachers were removed at the semester break, and most recently to mid semester. The idea that it is impossible to remove a teacher may have come from stories of "rubber rooms" in NYC, where teachers found guilty of serious offenses reported to these rooms to do nothing for full pay. But, there is no indication of "rubber rooms" in Pittsburgh; they must have been based on provisions particular to the NYC teachers' contract.

Questioner said...

Here's one of those articles, ie "Teacher making 100k in rubber room refuses to retire"

Anonymous said...

What IS evident in Pgh are administrators who are uncomfortable doing the work of firing a teacher that they may like personally or may have worked with in the past as a colleague. Or feel that it would be easier to make their life difficult enough at the school that they transfer to another school and become someone else's problem.

I don't envy a principal's position. I would hate to have to fire someone. That's why you'll never see me working on my admin papers. I work hard in my classroom but I don't want that burden of having to fire someone.

But that IS their job. The problem lies with administration, not the union or teachers.

Just Passing By said...

These "rubber room" stories are never as cut-and-dry as they first appear.

In the case from the 10:17 post, the teacher was accused of a crime, but there was not enough evidence to convict.

Is this the teacher's fault? No way. It's innocent until proven guilty in this country. And I know of many false accusations made against teachers.

So is it the school board's fault? Again, no. If the board returns such a teacher to the classroom and something bad happens, it will be lawsuits galore.

I blame the state for this. Specific language needs to be written into state law to cover these situations, yet protect everyone's rights.

Perhaps the teacher could be transferred to another productive job, at current pay. Maybe he could earn his pay by collecting tolls at a tollbooth, by washing city vehicles, or something like that.

Anonymous said...

And even in the rubber rooms -- those people are waiting for their hearings -- that is, their due process. Some are truly bad teachers, others are teachers there for misunderstandings, stupid things or basically, principals wanting them out.

But, in NYC if they wanted to move their hearings faster and get those people either removed or back in classrooms, again, they could.

Somehow when administrators don't do their jobs, it's still the teacher's fault.

Anonymous said...

I have no kids left in school. Posting here is good therapy and helpful to people like me, so thanks to all who do it. If you disagree with any move away from seniority based furloughs you might want to email A+ since they are touting the number of calls they get in support of a new process. Too many times a few parents get to be loud about a topic and it gives an admin the ability to say they made a change in reaction to parent outcry. An email is better than a call sicnce it provides a record of the action.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to believe that our parent customer base wants a school full of novices-- when most veteran teacherscstarted in pps it qas at a so called rough school -- and the staff was very very young. After thatvthey usually moved on to a "better bad school" which had a mixture of stable teachers who seemed to stay, and some rookies coming in. Alot of people did the rest of their career there- unless the school closed. These schools were better because of stable teachers, and bad because the neighborhood was still rough. But everybody knew they wereca teachervat the school, so they were safe and respected. Finally , people moved on to a so called good school--and one of the things that made it good was a stable, experienced faculty-- who knew how to teach-- no scriptno cookie cutter-- finding a way for each student to learn. As was said before pps looks good on a resume. What hasnt been said is that the suburbs still values innovative creative teachers. Many veteran teachers were totally shocked to be handed a script,canned wall display and told some one would be walking through to check on these things. And yes, some were exited because they chose to resist the script-- they were teachers. In this economy, if you are novice and told-- read the script if you want a job-- you figure why not? That is why programs like teach for america are two years-- again resume building. Urban schools have sold out to anyone waving a buck. And now it seems parents have jumpedon the band wagon--
People arent flocking to the city forvthe promise as they had predicted--suburban parents know what they have in their teachers-- both veterans, and enthusiastic novice teachers full of ideas to excite and inspire-- there is no excitement in the script or the script cops who walk through and pick at teachers.

Anonymous said...

good summary of the pps situation, 8:45 and your insights hit the nail on the head. pps central office is out of touch on what works, educationally, philosophically and PSYCHOLOGICALLY. we've come a long way since BF SKINNER, haven't we?

Anonymous said...

I've worked with several principals within this district. I'm fairly outspoken at work, but always respectful. Most of my principals have appreciated this and have turned to me to weigh in on matters.

But two principals in this district have not appreciated this. I am an effective teacher -- heck, I'd say most days I'm highly effective. So both principals went after me in other ways, clearly trying to make me uncomfortable at those schools. It worked. I transferred both times.

It's not lost on me that I haven't been fired because I do have union protections. When one of the principals cut my program to get me out of their school, I knew I'd have a job because I have system seniority.

I'm sure this sounds like paranoia or hyperbole to many folks out there who are not in the schools right now. Parents might be quick to dismiss this as a one-sided comment, thinking there must be another side to this that I'm not sharing. I get that but can only say these types of situations DO happen in PPS (and everywhere). My seniority was essential in being able to continue working in PPS (which I generally love doing) --- and getting a career ladder position to boot.

(I often wonder how those two principals would feel if they knew that other administrators felt that I was worth keeping around, even with my big mouth.)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

A+ Schools does not speak for ALL parents. When was the last time A+ disagreed with the Board on anything? Was it when Murphy was mayor?

Anonymous said...

I'm not a teacher nor do I have kid's in the PPS, but I follow the PPS as a tax-payer. This is a sensative question but I have watched many, many school board meetings and race seems to always be there in every issue. Here are my questions. Why bring up Faison and poor students in this issue? Are there many low seniority black teachers there and elsewhere who will be laid-off? Does Ms Shealy have family that teaches there?
does Westinghouse Alum. have an opinion?
It just seems that there is something not being discussed aside from the obvious.

Anonymous said...

The op Ed from the foundations focuses on Faison school and says the school will be harmed if seniority is permitted to stand. Faison is a pilot redesign because of its low scores under nclb. This school is almost 100% African American and serves mostly poor students. Most of the students did not perform well academically. The school restaffed because it failed nclb and had no choice. So the PFT had to go along with it.

Questioner said...

Many Pgh public schools failed nclb. Do they all need to restaff? Certainly PPS did not have to go along with this particular plan for restaffing.

Anonymous said...

12;23 - You are absolutely correct about A+ schools.

Foundations control A+ schools and it is a fact that the A+ people are not educators.

It is amazing that Broad, Gates, (and their PPS proteges), Pittsburgh Foundations, individually and collectively, are NOT educators. Yet, the do control what happens in PPS .

Could this be the problem?!?!


Anonymous said...

EXPERIENCE MATTERS: PPS teacher responds in PG, today.

In response to the April 29 Forum commentary "Protect our Best Teachers" by the leaders of three foundations: The argument made to ignore seniority to furlough teachers is flawed and offensive.
The argument is that the Pittsburgh school district and the teachers union have worked to create an evaluation process that assesses teachers' practices. The example is how a teacher with four years of experience changed the lives of students at Faison elementary.
If this evaluation tool is as spectacular as the district and the foundations believe, then any experienced teacher who meets the criteria of effective teaching will be able to do what the novice does, only better. There is something to be said for experience.
The commentary is offensive. It assumes that a teacher like I, with 34 years' experience, could bring nothing to the students. Good teachers work at their craft. It takes a long time to get good at it.
This board and its administration believe that the less experienced teachers are better teachers, when in reality what they are is cheaper. If the district can, under the guise of quality teaching, furlough 300 teachers at the top of the pay scale it can put off a budget deficit. It is a transparent objective.
The foundation leaders are experienced. God forbid that a 25-year-old should come along. He or she could run the foundation. Experience would mean nothing.
Ben Avon

Anonymous said...

"12;23 - You are absolutely correct about A+ schools.

Foundations control A+ schools and it is a fact that the A+ people are not educators.

It is amazing that Broad, Gates, (and their PPS proteges), Pittsburgh Foundations, individually and collectively, are NOT educators. Yet, the do control what happens in PPS .

Could this be the problem?!?!


May 5, 2012 3:07 PM"

Foundations, ( Gates & Broad) run PPS.

Anonymous said...

Any guesses on how long PPS will be inflicted/destroyed/exterminated by the Foundations, most particularly Broad & Gates?

Will it be too late when they lose control?

Will the city have no public schools for the most vulnerable?

Why is this allowed to happen?

How can our schools be successfully restored for urban children?

Solutions solicited.

Moe said...

Anon 10:48, you asked "How can our schools be successfully restored for urban children?"

Great question.

You don't need a long and complicated answer. You need a simple and straightforward answer.

And here it is: Begin by replacing the current school board. All of them, with the exception of Brentley and Holley, have to go.

I realize that this is not a quick solution. But the current board will not listen to parents or teachers, ever. They are corrupted by empty promises, bogus studies, and dollar signs. This board is a roadblock to any long-term fix for our schools.

So the neighborhoods have to organize. Citizen groups have to loudly voice their displeasure. Put pressure on the board: change your policies or we will vote you out.

If the neighborhoods are not willing to make this effort, then, sorry, your question has no answer.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response 11:02. It is a "simple and straightforward" first step. It will take organization, voices, pressure, and effort. The alternative, though, is to take your kids out of PPS and that's what people are doing, instead of an all out effort to remove all roadblocks to restoring education for urban children.

We need ACTION here and now in all neighborhoods for real answers. Taking children out addresses the problem selfishly for a few and leaves the rest in very dire straights.

Anonymous said...

PPS parents really do not have a voice. Nobody including the media cares. Many rich/influental/powerful families in the city send their kids to private schools or stay in PPS if their child gets into CAPA. Mark Roosevelt sent his daughter to a private preschool vs. PPS. Red flag.

What percentage of the city really cares about PPS? How many people even know who or why they are voting for a school board member, or even vote? The whole nationwide "school reform" issue is about making education a profitable "industry". Public sector to private sector. The Broad residency program is a well oiled employment agency that adds zero value to our children's education.

Sadly, money=power and many influential families just send their kids to private schools by 6th grade. I do know upper middle class families that send their kids to PPS, (Allderdice/Sterrett pattern) however they have no idea what is going on with wasteful spending and no clue their kids are being taught out of a can. Their kids get A's but they don't realize they could be doing so much more. The kids are sliding by, don't have homework so they appear happy. I fear for them when they go to university. It could be a really difficult transition for kids that are unaccustomed to homework, high standards and high expectations.

Should we do nothing? Of course not, but getting the city to react is a tall order.

Warren Buffet has a radical idea about urban schools. I find it thought provoking. I do not agree with is opinion & I think it is unconstitutional, but he as a point. If the majority of the community had a vested interest in public/ equal education for all children the district and the board would be held to a much higher standard.

Pardon my long rant.

Anonymous said...

(new topic?)

Esther Bush weighs in on seniority

Respectfully Ms. Bush-- you have NO idea of the hell that students asnd teachers went through at your Alma Mater in the past year. The $$ folks are snowing you and everyone else. IF the veteran teachers had been allowed to remain at Westinghouse- the travestiy of last year-- no bells, no schedules, no class lists no order what so ever would never have been allowed to go on in the name of change. Remember in the fall when alumni werent even allowed into the meetings! Students and novice teachers and adminstrators were struggling on their own to try to have real school - let alone a college prepartory program. Look at King's scores when they come out and then post about this great system.

Anonymous said...

I have to laugh that the student writers at the Obama Eagle ask questions that no one in the media dare ask. Why? Even the kids know that you don't fire teachers and don't cram classrooms to keep Lane's cronies employed.
There is nothing in the way of integrity in the journalistic ranks of city media. Gutless.

Questioner said...

Yes but notice that they feel they need to write anonymously as "The Ghost," which is not an option for the regular media. All the comments are anonymous as well:

Karl said...

To Questioner,

"Not an option for the regular media"


You make it sound as if the lack of anonymity prevents the local media from doing its job. What in the world does the media have to fear from the Pittsburgh Public Schools?

Three cheers for the Obama Eagle! Unlike the local media, the Eagle does have something to fear from the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Lane could shut them down in an instant.

Anonymous said...

I have heard there are almost 700 admin positions not in the classroom. How many of these have been hired with Gates money and are these now needed with class size expecting to explode?

Anonymous said...

Questioner, your lack of courage in this situation is astounding. I also wish to congratulate the staff of The Eagle. Damn straight.
700 administrators are laughing at this shell game, knowing they're untouchable.
And not a whimper from the parents.
Hey, as long as they give us a cup of coffee and a donut for "Appreciation Week", that should be enough, right?

Anonymous said...

Questioner and parents know all too well what is going on in the district. They just don't care to make a commotion. Call it complacency. Call it laziness. Call it gutlessness. Call it what you like. They deserve the education that the "new PPS" will provide. Not how to think, but what to think. Not knowledge imparted by professional educators, but regurgitated with the help of peers via pair share and 4-square. Not bona fide information, but feel good blurbs which are politically correct and can make every type of individual feel good about himself, his heritage and his role in making America the wonderful place it is.
And that the foundation wonks are happy to support this trainwreck is all you need to know.
They don't like dissent.
They don't like senior teachers who understand what is going on.
They want drones who nod and genuflect.
Truly, Questioner and the other "parents" on this site deserve what is going on in classrooms.
It's not education, but rather social brainwashing...and they're fine with it.
Just as long as it doesn't interfere with Steelers news.

Questioner said...

What a strange thing to say. Questioner, parents, community members and commentators on this site are constantly asking questions about and frequently challenging administrative decisions including those involving school configuration, schedules, themes, curriculum, personnel procedures, etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:58 is right--when there was a long strike in the community where I pay taxes, I called a different board member every night--and I was on the side of the teachers and money wasnt the issue.Yes, people write questions here, but all board members should be being pestered- about Westinghouse, about the number of consultants, adminstrators, etc- 700 really? Teachers used to have board members on speed dial, when adminstrators were acting nuts. These board members are the ones voting every month for yet another consultant. Even in M.R.'s time, the hot line went directly through him--snd questions were asked of all administrators when their schools came up. Nevermore! It is no surprise that foundations (management) are against unions (rank and file) What is a surprise is that the younger vibrant Pittsburghers- parents and teachers cannot see that they are being sold down all three rivers!

Questioner said...

This is a good forum to share information and hash out questions to pose to board members, or candidates for the board.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Questioner, but I don't see any allies to teachers here. If there were, you or someone like you would have sounded the alarm by now. But you would rather play devil's advocate and appear to be "fair and balanced."

Let's say it again:

700 administrators are going to keep their jobs, Questioner. 700!!!!
Then add the people who work ion the offices of those administrators.
We are easily over 1000!

What more do you need to know?
Where are you? Where are your parent voices?

This is a blatant attempt by PPS, Lane, like-minded administrators and the foundation parasites to save money by cutting the highest salaried TEACHERS.

Questioner...where are you????

We are well past the time of "hashing out" issues.

If the students understand what is going on, why don't you????

Moe said...

Anon 7:10

You said "I don't see any allies to teachers here".

Kindly read some of my previous posts. There are also many parents that post here. They don't have the complete PPS picture (understandably). I would not classify them as enemies of teachers, by any means.

And I really see Questioner as a moderator here. So I'm not surprised that he does take extreme positions either way.

But here is where I STRONGLY agree with you, Anon 7:10. You asked "Where are your parent voices?"

That's what I want to know. I'm not talking about this blog, I'm talking about the communities.

Why aren't the parents organizing against violence in the schools, against the horrible curriculum, against the cuts in electives?

Moe said...


"And I really see Questioner as a moderator here. So I'm not surprised that he does NOT take extreme positions either way."
aside: As soon as I hit the lottery, I plan to hire a secretary to check my PureReform posts.