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.


Anonymous said...

"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."

Think about what you have said:

"I realize that the only thing I can control is how I react to a situation."

If you truly believe that then your following comment cannot be true:

"Teaching in PPS has destroyed me, both professionally and as a person."

Why let someone else define you, much less "destroy" you?

You are right about the few who blog here being unable to change the system, since it is only the hundreds of teachers currently in the system who can change it---not parents, community, etc. who are outside the system.

Only the courage of convictions expressed by those who live in the PPS system can change it. You have the numbers, but do you have the courage of convictions?

Questioner said...

Why can't the community, with its power to elect school board members, change the system?

Just Sayin' said...


Here's a question parallel to yours:

Why can't the teachers, with their power to elect union leaders, change the system?

I have no answer to either question, except to note that most voters and most teachers do not seem to care enough to elect new leaders.

It would be one thing if Lane and the PFT were resisting the will of the majority. But that is simply not the case here.

Why can't the majority see the obvious? Apathy? Ignorance?

It's sad on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you feel the way you do. I’m sorry that the system has broken your spirit. I am not a teacher, but I can empathize with you. I am a parent of former PPS students and an employee of the District. I’m sure those 50 students (and probably more) that you speak about highly value your leadership in the classroom. No one can take that away from you, so don’t let the upheaval that’s going on in the District discourage you. I do disagree with you when you say this blog is useless. To the contrary, it is very useful for people like me to help me understand what’s really going on. If it weren’t for this Blog, I would not know who to trust and who not to trust. Without this blog, I would not know that the Board members that serve my district and surrounding neighborhoods are being blindsided by administrators who know how to run a game. They blow smoke up their butts and tell them everything is going to be hunky dory if they support this initiative or that initiative. All the while, they are protecting their jobs, their cronies, etc. Tell me how HR continues to post these new jobs (Gifted Resource Teacher, Gifted Resource Liaison, Executive Director of Student Support Services - Cate Reed’s old job before she got a big promotion, Human Capital Manager – Meghan Murray’s old job before she got a big promotion) and many more when next week, Board members will be voting to layoff hundreds of teachers and support staff. This blog has opened my eyes and given me power that I never had before. Where else would I find out about all the crazy intricacies of the Board if it were not for this Blog? The power is at the voting polls. It starts with the Board members. Nothing happens overnight, but if people aren’t happy with the way things are going, they have the right to vote for new Board members - ones who have experience in urban education and aren’t easily persuaded to vote with the majority or because their constituents aren’t affected, etc. You see how many charter schools have cropped up over the last 5 to 10 years. There is nothing wrong with competition, but pretty soon, there will not be a Pittsburgh Public School system because the Board and administrators are allowing the district to float down one of the three rivers (Allegheny, Mon or Ohio – take your pick) in a hand basket. If you notice, many of the administrators who either started a charter school or work at a charter school used to be former administrators or teachers at PPS. I guess the grass is greener on the other side.

Anonymous said...

" Questioner said...
Why can't the community, with its power to elect school board members, change the system?

July 16, 2012 10:31 PM"


What percentage of the city votes for school board members? I would be shocked if more than 15% of the city could name the school board member that represents them. I know mine is Collazi and I don't vote for her.

Questioner said...

The community spoke and replaced Dara Allen with Regina Holley. The most important thing is finding really good candidates, persuading them to run and supporting them. Several current board members will likely be finishing up their time on the board soon. Now is the time to look for candidates.

Anonymous said...

On the contrary, what this teacher has related is something I have heard repeatedly over the past few years. My response--as a veteran teacher--is to play the game. Times are extremely difficult for teachers and this is the atmosphere on a national level, regardless of how one wishes to spin it.
For me, if the suits on Bellefield Avenue believe that effective teaching means giving every child an 'A' just for showing up and that good instruction means doing handstands each day, hey, so be it.
Teachers have no allies and I'm not going to work at WalMart at this point in my life.
I had to laugh about the comments regarding the PFT. There is always some element here within PureReform that think teachers are embellishing the real truth. They are not.
The comments I wrote under "script" give you an accurate portrayal of why our kids will never achieve on standardized tests.
This teacher is telling you why he/she feels crushed.
And it has been said repeatedly that the union has been complicit in allowing the rights and abilities of teachers to be destroyed. This started under Fondy, who gave away bargained-for rights for a few dollars more, then accelerated under Tarka who literally gave away the farm, and now continues under Nina.
Any teacher or parent who wonders about this need only look at your contract book circa 1998 and our latest one. The latter is not even half the thickness of the former.
I have the feeling that when Nina or one of her reps contact PPS admin about concerns, they are laughed at.
Parents are really the only hope teachers have and sorry as I am to say, save for this site, parents envision teachers as being the problem.

I would never allow my own kids to become teachers. I will never recommend any student that has a great deal of intelligence and ability to go into education.

You is not education anymore.

Anonymous said...

Who in the world is Meghan Murray? Sine when has HR in any organization called the shots? HR is a service function just like maintenance or transportation. HR should not be the top dog in deciding what should be happening in the district. What a ridiculous way to run an organization.

Anonymous said...

Murray. Kilduff. Doyle. There are others in this new area of HR which is condescendingly called "Human Talent" or "Talent Management." Somewhere, Roosevelt is laughing about that one. We are now using the terminology of corporations and make no mistake, this is a corporation funded by the public, by foundations and by entrepreneurs with agendas.

That said, these people have no clue about our schools, about school concerns, about accepted practices between the PFT and PPS when there have been displacements. I would much rather have had all of this in the hands of Marlene Harris but that's not the case.

Countless mistakes.
Countless placements at schools which make no sense.
Countless situations in which teachers have no clue where they will be.

And here's the best part.
The PFT will invariably get nowhere with these new folks, take it to Jodi Spolar and then get nowhere with her.

Here's the problem: the PFT signed away everything. Ms.Spolar is aware of that and certainly doesn't feel the need to negotiate anything. It's a win win for PPS and she'd rather side with administration, of course.

It's mid July and it's a real mess where personnel is concerned. And it's going to be worse--and uglier--come the start of school. As if six period days and classes of 30-35 weren't enough and as if the idea of having deans and VPs is gone isn't daunting enough, you have this.

we will have a great many Westinghouse-type scenarios this fall.

Anonymous said...

Marlene Harris and Jody Spolar are two people who not only know the system well and have, in the past twenty years conducted themselves in a decent, basically truthful, and committed manner. They have always executed themselves in an honorable manner. It is difficult to watch Jody try, try, try to answer questions in ways that avoid the truth directly and come just short of being untruthful. (She is learning from French who is quite skilled at this type of circumvention. Frankly, the pain on Spolar's face speaks volumes as she is not adept at concealing it.

I wonder how long it will be before these two ladies are eligible for retirement since they will have to go along to get along in the current PPS central office milieu.

Anonymous said...

I will agree with your comment about Marlene Harris. To some, she has this reputation of being difficult but any dealings that I or friends have ever had with her went well and she was beyond professional---she was empathetic.
I do not know Jodi that well but know her to be an intelligent employee. I am sure that there is a proverbial gun to the heads of both of these ladies in their current dealings.

Anonymous said...

Is Meghan Murray another 6 figure central office person?

Anonymous said...

Murray's job prior to working as a Human Capital Manager was writing content for a cyber school in Florida.

Anonymous said...

Both Marlene Harris and Jody Spolar knew PPS as a world class school district. Administrators came up through the ranks and proved their worth by solving problems at the lower levels. Apparebtly now we hire on resume' alone. And people stay only to build resumes for the next job offer.Marlene and the HR that came before her KNEW the schools. Personnel in those days of many more schools was an art as well as a business. Most people felt that in the end- their match of school and teacher was a good match. Today, schools and staff are just names for the carpetbaggers who pass through. What are the Broadies afraid of? Why not let someone who knows Pittsburgh staff a Westinghouse? Prior to last year, Broadies acted like it couldn't be worse-REALLY? Well, surprise! And with this crew in HR. every prediction is that Westinghouse will be repeated throughout the district. And besides Westinghouse we have the PELA disasters. Hard to believe that board members can continue to cover their ears. The mistakes in assignments are already out of control. Displaced teachers can do nothing from within. Parents-- read back and see what could be coming to your school. Many of us thought--oooo not here. We were wrong.

Anonymous said...

Amen. Amen. Amen.

"Both Marlene Harris and Jody Spolar knew PPS as a world class school district. Administrators came up through the ranks and proved their worth by solving problems at the lower levels."

If only we could bring back some of the former school leaders to mentor these bright, young, eager but totally lacking in experience and expertise.

Not outside consultant, enough already, but the Pittsburgh educators who learned the job from the bottom up and were very, very successful in leading (not scripting) our inner city schools.

Yes, if truth be told, Marlene and Jody know the ropes (and the people); and COULD change this deteriorating landscape of education in Pittsburgh

Anonymous said...

Jody has been a big disapointment and has lost the respect of the work force. She allowed a alot of things to slip by and has not handle the lay offs with grace and the respect that the people deserve who has put there whole heart and soul into this district.

Anonymous said...

These people at the top have no morals, they sleep perfectly fine.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Lisa Fischetti, Chief of Staff and Ebony Pugh, Communications and Marketing, and other Central Administrations, in light of Penn State, still think the right thing to do is to cover up the abuse of children in our schools under the theory that it is 'in the best interest of the child', when in reality it is all about 'image'?

Anonymous said...

Sadly it boils down to image.