Friday, June 22, 2012

PPS starting a cyber school

At this week's agenda review, plans were discussed for PPS to start its own cyber school to compete with existing cyber schools.  Tom Sumpter expressed concern about whether a cyber school can be put together in 2 months.  He also noted, and administrators agreed, that the Pittsburgh Promise would be the carrot that would lure students away from other cyber schools.

But... JLippert also noted that the students were a very transient population.  Don't students need to be enrolled in a PPS for all 4 years of high school to qualify for even a partial Promise scholarship?  If so, the Promise will not be a carrot for students who are already in high school at another cyber school, or who are for whatever reason "transient" in a way that includes attending schools outside of PPS.  It will be interesting to see how many students who choose the PPS cyber stay with the cyber or another PPS.  Will the cost of enrolling and ironing out technical issues, disenrolling, and possibly reenrolling all these transient students really be worth the savings?


Anonymous said...

Considering they can't put together a broadcast with sound, how can they put together a Cyber school in 2 months?

Too many adminisrative technical people were let go last year. This is impossible without qualified staff.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I'd love to see PPS work with me to start the year-round, Winning Swimming Rookie Camps.

And, with the kids in cyber school, the public swim pools can be a place for socialization too.

Anonymous said...

When conversations occur about The Pittsburgh Promise that mislead the public or those who are hearing about it for the first time it makes me uncomfortable. No talk should happen without the requirements being included in the discussion and those include the enrollment requirement and that the length of time enrolled determines the amount of the Promise scholorship.

A PPS cyber could be a success and heaven knows a stroke in the win column is needed badly. I heard 800 mentioned as the number of kids already doing cyber. Was there any mention of how the cyber kids would be included in extracurriculars and sports? Do we need to talk about the Tebow affect?

Anonymous said...

Mark Rauterkus said...

Tebow did home schooling.

The PA kids who opt for a home school K-12 education get to do sports at the public schools where they reside.

Cyber and Charter School students do not have the same rights for access to the public school sports teams. However, it has been known to happen.

Generally, the ideal policy is to be inclusive in the realm of more access to more kids for more activities regardless of where one is for 'home room.'

There is much to do to make our sports experiences and culture such that it is all very attractive for families and a great retention tool for PPS.

Anonymous said...

How does one really account for attendence in a cyber school for the promise when cyber school can be mobile and done at your own time and pace. Also how can they be sure its the student doing the work and not the parent of friend?

Anonymous said...

We are going to become a non-social, unengaged society.

Anonymous said...

They cant. It will be one of the biggest get over scheme in history. PPS does not care and are really getting disperate now. But it is there own fault. They have failed our kids now they want them to come back after they let them get away for failure to educate them.

Mark M said...

Please contact me directly if you would like additional information about the PPS online school.

Mark McClinchie
Coordinator of Virtual Learning

Anonymous said...

Dear Mark,

What about if any of the teachers are interested in working for the cyber school if this does go forward? I would be interested in learning more about it!

Anonymous said...

Mark, What exactly is your expertise in on line education? It is my understanding that you went from PELA, to principal, to ESL, to coordinating experiences for new inductees in the PELA program, back to ESL and now Coordinator of Virtual Learning for PPS. The public needs to know how PPS moves administrators in and out of positions. Could this be one of the reasons why there is so much confusion in PPS and one of the reasons why PPS continues to fail to narrow the black/white achievement gap?

We have Central Office appointing administrators with minimal expertise and experience to positions they are not qualified to hold. Then again as it has been pointed out on many blogs, this rings true in regards to Central Office administrators as well those underprepared PELA's who are supposed to be leading our schools.

It's easy to see why PPS is in the state we are in. No one in charge has any idea how to implement best practices that actually have and continue to work at various schools throughout the city. Instead of creating a think tank o proven practices, PPS continues to hire consultants to assist those in charge in determining what works. Just wait, PPS will be hiring a consultant to assist Mark McClinchie as he leads the Virtual Learning program. Better start writing another grant to support Mark's position and payment to the consultant.

Anonymous said...

Which of Gates or Broad's pals are we purchasing the online curriculum from? Pearson, Rand, McKinley? Or we just be hiring more consultants from them. It is hard to keep track.

Anonymous said...

Why are there so any openings for displaced teachers? I would have thought all the staffing would have been put in place before sending out notices. This seems backwards. Can someone explain the logic, if it exsist behind this?

Anonymous said...

Do not believe the openings listings. Right now, you have complete chaos in PPS, and there is no communication between building principals and Human Resources as to what is going on.
Can you imagine working for a district that chooses to fire 300 teachers but leave upwards of 700 administrators who don't work in the schools untouched?
Can you imagine receiving a displacement notice that is complete with errors---and with no one who will talk to you at PPS?
Can you imagine being displaced and then going into summer with no clue of where you might be.
Can you imagine a principal not knowing who will be on staff and who won't come August?

Right now, the information coming out of "Human Capital" or "Talent Management"--whatever the Gates/Broad people are now calling this branch of HR--is some rife with errors that I can guarantee you this:

in late August, you are going to see complete chaos in schools. A great many teachers being made to move--many erroneously. A great many schedule problems. A great amount of confusion.

And for its part, PFT types are constantly having to meet with "Talent Management" (whatever) and then the bigwigs of central admin to alert them that the underlings have it all, all wrong.


How is this all going to be fixed by the beginning of school???

The furloughs, the displacements, the bumping.....this is going to be a nightmare for one reason, if no other: those in charge at PPS are completely clueless.

Anonymous said...

At least you have a job.

Anonymous said...

Ten years to late, what great leadership

Anonymous said...

Our whole district will look like the Westinghouse fiasco last school year.

What a crime that these people are running our district

Anonymous said...

Got that right. Get out when you get a chance. Alot of it is linda lanes fault. She just didnt have the skills when PPS hired her. It was too much for her. They did this to apease the minority community with the hope that she would close the achievement gap, but she has not. And now she has cause a division on her school board as they are not voting along racial lines.

PPS is about to turn in to something real ugly and its because of Dr. Linda lane. Get rid of her before Black and whites who have been friends for years began to hate one another. She is causing this big divide. Trust me.

Anonymous said...

Oh no the Westinghouse fiasco will look like Capa or Shady side Academy compared to what is happening now to our district, teachers and students.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that we now view schools as a business instead of a community asset. PPS is now opening their own cyber school to recapture those dollars from for profit cyber schools. It's amazing how the Board Members altered their point of view. In the early 2000's, Superintendent Thompson proposed PPS forging a new frontier in cyber education. However, it was shot down by the Board. Some 10 years later, Board Member Colaizzi changes her tune by saying "the addition of a online school as one of the many ways the district can strive to carve out the way education's going to be in the future" as reported in the Post June 28. If the Board Members were truly visionary, they would have realized 10 years ago that JT was definitely on to something. He saw and understood how technology was moving forward as a powerful force in educating children while providing parents with another option under choice and a means of competition for dollars that would become scarce in the years to come. Too bad our Board Members of then, who are basically the same Board Members of today failed to share in his vision. Instead they ran him out of Pittsburgh and hired a non educator MR who single handedly DESTROYED the technology advancements that were an integral component of our schools. You say, how so? MR zeroed out funds that were in the district's technology plan. MR and the Board approved money being poured into marketing. Remember the dollars spent just in putting the word Pittsburgh in front of every school's name? This PR market strategy certainly didn't keep students in PPS!

Here's the difference between then and now. When JT offered the cyber vision, PPS was not in any hurry to pass such legislation for the sake of competition in the business of cyber education. The plan would have been massaged by district staff and the PFT. The plan would have been created and owned by PPS without spending one dollar to an outside subsidiary for implementation. We had the personnel, technology infrastructure and TIME to develop a quality product and not a rolled out canned program that is not consistent with PPS standardized curriculum.

Now what do we have? Since PPS is unprepared in this initiative, they will have to contract out to Waterfront Learning through the AIU for a cost of $3,500 per student enrolled. That being said, Board President Hazuda notes that it will still be a savings of $9,500 per student who remains or transfer back to PPS. Yes, clearly a decision of dollars and cents considering that PPS is unprepared to implement any online courses. Waterfront Learning will provide access to more than 300 courses, instructors, software, hardware and connectivity. Another point of interest is what if any role will PPS have in determining the competency of the online instructors over the next two years? I doubt that the cyber instructors will be scrutinized as intensely as PPS teachers. Then there is also the question of delivery of the PPS curriculum with fidelity following pacing guides. Quite frankly for the next two years PPS will have no hands onto the content or it's method of delivery by instructors.

The last point that needs to be made is that PPS has now created yet another administrative position at the tune of $140,000 for the position of Coordinator of Virtual Learning. Mark McClinchie will serve in this position. The question is what is his experience in Virtual Learning? I read in an earlier post that McClinchie's background was a PELA, Principal (Post indicates Weil Pre-K 5), ESL, PELA Coordinator, ESL and now the Coordinator for Virtual Learning. In six years this administrator has served in five different positions (2 years ESL). Does he bring any expertise in Virtual Learning or just like the RISE process that so many teachers have been evaluated under is he also "building the plane while he flies it?"

Questioner said...

There is a lot to think about in the post above, but diverging from the main topic- at the week's legislative meeting Mark Brentley was asking which consultant had the idea of putting "Pittsburgh" in front of every school's name and how much it cost. No one at the meeting could give him an answer. Does anyone know? The name calls attention to PPS as much when bad news is reported as good... although the media tends to emphasize the good.

Anonymous said...

If my memory serves me correctly, I don't believe it was any consultant that brought this to the table. It was Lisa Fischetti who was so incensed on Pittsburgh "branding" their name just like UPMC...McGee, Presby, Montefiore, etc. What a WAISTE of tax payer dollars and Fischetti is still on the payroll after Roosevelt hired her ad left town! Talk about throwing money out the window. What a fiasco this was in terms of dollars and SENSE!

Roosevelt got out of Dodge just in the nick of time but with a package deal of a CEO. What a shame. Run the organization into the ground and make out like a bandit even when you depart. Here's to the 1% mentality that he belongs too!

Yeah, Roosevelt planted a seed alright. Just like the politician he is, Roosevelt didn't stick around to watch the seeds grow. Then again, he knew the outcome for his initiatives (failed ALA's) and financial doings (such as media and marketing by branding schools with Pittsburgh in front of their name) were just about ready to implode. Too bad Lane continues on the same path with failed initiatives, high spending on administrative costs and paying consultants by the millions to keep accountability issues shielded from her and the other non-experienced administrators she has in her Cabinet as advisors.

The real hero's of the mess are the employees at the school level: social workers, counselors, teachers, para's security, clerks, custodians, cafe workers know the real deal! Note I didn't include school principals or assistant principals. These folks are schooled in the PELA mentality that is bringing down our schools. As Thompson used to say, "So goes the principal, so goes the school." it was about LEADERSHIP and making then change. Now, it's about placing all responsibility and accountability onto the individual classroom teacher and RISE is the avenue to do so. Just ask, how many administrators have been placed on an employee improvement plan and how many were demoted, terminated or forced to resign. The number is not even close as to what has happened to those in the classroom who struggle everyday with inappropriate student behavior that is tolerated and without consequences by school administrators!