Monday, July 30, 2012

Is algebra necessary?

From the NYT:

PPS job listings

On another post Anonymous wrote:

PPS has job postings on Monster...

I see there are several positions for those with ESL cert plus core areas...Couldn't they work with current teachers to get ESL cert while teaching those classes instead of hiring new teachers when so many are furloughed??

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Schenley not so asbestos plagued after all

From the City Paper:

- The article explains that the Schenley plaster has apparently only a quarter to a half percent asbestos- far below the 1% threshhold that makes it subject to applicable asbestos regulations. And that even before the building was closed these low numbers had been coming up in samples and PPS officials were aware of that fact.

Schenley not so asbestos plagued after all

From the City Paper:'

- The article explains that the Schenley plaster has apparently only a quarter to a half percent asbestos-  far below the 1% threshhold that makes it subject to applicable asbestos regulations.  And that even before the building was closed these low numbers had been coming up in samples and PPS officials were aware of that fact.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Disciplinary issues in today's schools

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Disciplinary vacuum (new Topic?)

"talking to the student isnt working"-- this as related to school police

John Rosemond's advice at the end is true

A disciplinary vacuum is quickly filled by discipline problems. Under these very trying circumstances, many good teachers are leaving the profession early. After all, they didn’t sign on to be abused.

Unfortunately, I have no pat answer to this growing problem. My advice to teachers is fairly pragmatic: Choose your battles carefully. My advice to parents: Wake up! My advice to administrators: Find your backbones. "

- On the link, it is the SECOND question that pertains to this post.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Money spent on testing

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Stephen Krashen is a very well-respected expert in education. But districts, including our own, choose to not listen to him because Broad and Gates give them money to do their bidding.

Replacing failing schools with "new schools"

The Daily News finds that in NYC, this approach has not worked:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Charters seek more funding

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post

PA Charters Seek More Funding from Traditional Public Schools- Could cost PPS $2 Million for 2011-2012.

The five charter schools -- Urban Pathways 6-12, Urban Pathways K-5, Environmental Charter School at Frick Park, Manchester Academic and Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School -- wrote that "improper" deductions cost them a combined more than $2 million for 2011-12 from the city district alone.

PPS legal expenses

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New post:

In the current agenda review under business and finance item #30

Ira Weiss's law office is on a $20,000/month retainer plus expenses ($240,000/year)with additional services (litigation, investigation, and other matters not previously categorized as retainer work) billed at $110/hour

This amendment to his previous contract is to save on overall legal expense as the Board is currently paying by contract (outsourcing) law firms $175-$250/hour.

Weiss's office gets more business because PPS has alot of lawsuits. He makes out like a bandit. Is this really about saving PPS money? Lawyers can certainly add up the billable hours.

Friday, July 20, 2012

School police/ kids

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Why does school police bring their kids to summer school in a police vehicle. I know why because there is know leadershipwithin the department..ever since chief fazion is know longer therethe school police do what ever they want. I drop my kids off for summer school and all I here is the officers bash each other I never see who there boss is I tried to call there office to report this but I get the run around. I even asked one of the officers who is in charge and they pointed to one of there own and then laughed about it. I wanted to report something dealing with my child. They can take there children to school in a police car. And that needs to be addressed with the school police boss but know one knows who is in charge and I today still do not know who is in charge. Another incident happened were 4 officers were swearing at each other very un professional. I would like to know who to report this to dies anyone know.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Agenda materials/ video?

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post please:

Did anyone attend the Agenda Review Meeting last evening? The agenda is not posted on the PPS website and the video is not on PPS Tube yet.

I've called the District already asking for both.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Here's what happened when Broad took over the board of an art museum

"It has been an honor to serve on the board," [artists Barbara] Kruger and [Catherine] Opie wrote. "But now we wonder if our position [is] just symbolic and that our ability to be heard and to suggest and make change has become a kind of inconvenience to the instrumental workings of the board."

This program is going well

The summer AP program seems to be off to a good start.  It was well publicized and is very well organized.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Moral compass

On another post Anonymous wrote:

I have always had a passion for teaching. The whole reason I got into teaching was because of the teachers who SAVED me as a child. I dreamed that I would come back to teach in this district and give of myself what I could because of the teachers that gave to me. I call my students my kids so much, my friends and family often get confused because I do have children of my own at home.

Having said that...

Teaching in PPS has destroyed me, both professionally and as a person. Very few people, and I mean parents, students, teachers, community members, and administration at all levels, care about the greater good. It's all about me, me, me. I realize that the only thing I can control is how I react to a situation. There is a breaking point.

It's a very simple idea which too many refuse to acknowledge. HAVE A MORAL COMPASS!

I have decided that morally, it's not right to give less of myself than kids deserve. After this year, if things don't turn around, I won't be involved with this district any more. It's criminal of me to stand by and let this district destroy so many children and adults. Money isn't everything if I can't sleep at night. What bothers me more is that so many others can during this abomination.

I love seeing the people on here who blindly follow the districts initiatives. Apparently, they've already sold their souls, so sleeping probably isn't an issue for them.

This blog has helped NOTHING. The number of people who actually contribute to the blog are too small in number to do anything. This district is run like the Mafia, except less efficiently.

Most importantly, feel free to ignore this post completely, as students test scores, grades, VAM, and Tripod surveys have deemed me ineffective. It's ok, I have over 50 students from the past 10 years who keep me in their lives because they feel I helped them. THAT is where I keep my moral compass pointed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


On another post Anonymous wrote:

new topic- the script?

"our curriculum is scripted and politically correct, but doesn't prepare kids for standardized tests

-our curriculum does not allot time needed for continuous repetition of worthwhile strategies"

This is exactly the issue--back to the one room schools, real teachers knew, as parents know, that some students take longer to learn some concepts than others. As educators we knew timing was different, modes of learning were different-some of our students are tactile and need the concrete, etc.

Educators knew also that not all students show learning in the same way- that is the different ways of knowing. We had teachers who knew that the problem solving skills needed for higher level math and critical thinking took time to develop.

Now we have grants to fund a script to teach the test--not working!

We have grants for RISE-- but some univerdities have pulled student teachers--not much for them to learn by reciting the script. Also the very basics of running a classroom are no longer

teacher-led. Teachers are told exactly what posters to put up, what to put on their doors etc. This teaches emerging educators nothing.No wait-- this teaches them to be sure to have their walls perfect for "walk-thrus"-even the ones that occur after hours to check your walls. Smart educators,whose great-grandparents taught in this city are now telling their kids-- go teach in the suburbs where you can do what real teachers do-- work hard every year to get concepts across to students- whatever time frame or method it takes-- not how can I say what the RISE people need to hear to save my job.

Remember tax payers, across PA in about 400 other districts, teachers will be setting up, anticipating a new year. Students will be wondering-what will my teacher be like? What will I learn that is new this year? What will the teacher have up in the room?

But not in Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Community input on Schenley

Quality, location, history and alumni support- come out and support use of Schenley as a school building!

Important updates- recent reports are that the Schenley plaster has only trace amounts of asbestos.  The athletic facilities have no asbestos plaster and are much needed by East End students.

Link to information about the community meeting as well as some great photos of Schenley:

The second of 3 meetings is tonight, Wed July 11, 7:00 at the United Cerebral Palsy building 4638 Centre Ave (near Neville).

"School as wonder"

Wonderfully written piece from the NYT:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Public schools in other states trying gender separate schools

From wpxi:

Summer school issues

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New thread please?

A Summer School Expose

Today a friend of mine called me at lunch time really upset about his job at Summer School at Allderdice. This is his first year, and he’s mad and disgusted. Some of the things he said I thought needed to be put out there for parents to know. It would be great if someone would verify. I tried to get him to write this but he says his job could be in danger.

1. Most teachers didn’t have any idea what they were teaching, or where, until they walked in on Monday. Some teachers who had been told they were teaching one thing were suddenly teaching something else.

2. Students only have to go 1.5 hours a day for 20 days to make up a whole semester of a class. If my math is right, that’s less than half of the hours needed in the regular school year. What is this saying to students like my daughter who work hard to pass when she could go for 20 days and have that grade take the place of the failing grade earned during the regular school year? 30 hours of work to pass a class that was actually 63 hours? Am I missing something? Is this so everyone is Promise ready?

3. There is no summer school lessons for teachers they have to make them up.

4. Students can’t receive a failing grade. The principal, Mr. Baldiser, doesn’t let teachers fail any students no matter how little work they do while they are there.

5. There is no air conditioning. The past two days have been hot, and kids are being put into classrooms with no air. He said one student had heat stuff on Tuesday and an ambulance was needed. Teachers are not being cut breaks either. He said he found out today that one teacher was fired for missing yesterday and today due to asthma that was worse because of the heat. Is any of this true?

6. Everyone is only given 20 minutes for lunch. He says that it’s supposed to be a half hour but bells ring early meaning they only get 20 minutes. During that lunch, students are given milk, not water. They are also told no food or drinks in the hot rooms.
7. He says that yesterday he was able to walk around the halls and was surprised to see that most of the teachers were sitting at their desks while students worked on papers with no help. Not that I blame them if it is that hot.

Why aren’t parents upset about all of this? Another Linda Lane nightmare that doesn’t do right by anyone.

Rand study about principals

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Rand studies Principals at $6.7 million over five years . . . .

“The study notes, "The quality of leadership provided by a school's principal is widely regarded as an important contributor to the quality of teaching and learning in the school."”

“Based on principal performance in 2010-11, the district awarded a total of $342,250 to 67 principals; the highest award was $13,270."

Read more:

Fascinating in view of the word that PSSA scores have plummeted for 2012.(Schools got their individual student scores this past week.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Does this sound familiar

The original principal at U Prep/ Milliones went on to head English High in Boston.  An update:

"An extraordinary three-quarters of English High’s teachers and administrators have quit or been let go during the past three years, school records show, as headmaster Sito Narcisse pushed through one controversial initiative after another — from school uniforms to single-sex classrooms to eliminating the grade “D,” forcing students to earn a “C” or fail. Teachers who did not go along with Narcisse’s approach were “not the right fit,” in his words, and he sent 38 of them packing, while dozens of others retired or resigned.

Now, Narcisse himself is leaving for a new job amid questions about the wisdom of letting someone so inexperienced carry out drastic changes. Standardized test scores rose slightly under Narcisse, but so did the dropout rate, the course failure rate, and the absentee rate — while the experience level and morale of his teachers plummeted.

State education officials are so concerned about the lack of improvement under Narcisse that they are withholding more than $900,000 in federal funds until the school comes up with a better plan to fix its problems. If that fails, one of the oldest public high schools in the United States could face state takeover as early as next year."