Sunday, July 8, 2012

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.


Anonymous said...

I drove by Allderdice last week and every entrance had a police car outside. It seemed really strange.

If summer school is this messed up, I can't imagine what the new school year will bring.

Anonymous said...

linda lane is getting tire of hearing people in squirill hill complain now and dears them to say anything. She has gotten to the point no one matters as the board allows her to do what she wants. It used to be a time where squiril hill, shady side and point breeze would not tolerate such. But she has even broke them.

Anonymous said...

Please Linda lane is a joke. She is just a figure head. She was appointed because the powers to be knew lane was going to be the superintedent durring this time of controversy and dismay. Its better that she take the hit for all the failures that Rosevelt. He out smarted everyone and got of here in time. The real person who is runing this is Lisa Fichette. But now that French has be promted, Lisa is on her way out because French hates her.

Anonymous said...

Lisa Fischetti is the PR person (Oops, she was promoted to Chief of Staff).

And Jeannine French is a Psychologist.

Interesting competition. A real power struggle going on here?

What do either of them know about education?

Never taught a day in their lives?

Anonymous said...

What PPS needs is a dose of common sense! You're right about Roosevelt getting out of town just in the nick of time. The house that Mark built is crumbling and Lane is taking the hit. If she was smart, she would have departed shortly after Mark. Instead she chose to stay for pension reasons. Five years gets her vested in PSERS! This carrot appeared to be to tempting for Lane to walk away. When year 5 is up, she'll be gone in a flash back to Iowa. Nice lady but not skilled in urban education.

As for French nice person but does PPS really want someone at the helm again with no classroom experience and one year as a principal? Use French's talents at the Director for Student Affairs. That's her real strength. As for the other Directors of School Performance, they are all out of their league in terms of succeeding as the next Superintendent.

PPS needs to complete a national search for someone who has urban experience as a seasoned successful teacher, a principal who was an administrator in a challenging middle/high school, served as a curriculum specialist in math, science or reading and experience as a central office assistant superintendent or actually held the position of superintendent. Looking for a graduate of BROAD well it didn't work the last two times so why would the Board think it would work a third time? Our students can't afford three strikes, because then they’ll be out!

Questioner said...

Dr. Lane's pension is already vested- the 5 years have passed.

Anonymous said...

It won't happen with our current school board. It will be status quo. Look at the national trends, teachers & unions are evil, and "reform" is the big new fake crisis. This will take a long time to recover from. I have educated friends who send their kids to PPS and they have no idea what is going on. Probably because their kids are getting great grades without doing anything.

Anonymous said...

I am a PPS Summer School teacher and have been for three years at Langley and now at Allderdice. I am not an administration lackey, but the initial post here is just so wrong and off base that I can’t let it go without response. Your friend’s choice to air his grievances here through a third party also speaks to the primary problem which is he and you, not PPS summer school.
In response to the initial post, there is no way to verify that information because it is (no hyperbole) at least 90% false. The other issues the post raises can be understood in the context of trying to conduct summer school while PPS is undergoing major budgetary and logistical issues during this summer. I suppose the best way to respond is to go line by line and address each of the items.

1. Teachers were notified on May 16, 2012 if they were hired for Summer School. They were notified on June 22, 2012 about building availability for classroom setup and such and were given contact information to address any concerns about class schedule, supply availability, etc. Mr. Baldasare was in the building during the week of the 22nd in order to facilitate the start of Summer School. No, teachers were not required to attend until the morning of July 2, but they were afforded the opportunity to plan prior to that if they wished. Students were still enrolling on day one, so staff had to be flexible to be sure, but I don’t know this to be different than the start of school in August either.
2. Your math is right, but the hour requirements are issued by the state, and summer school is approved by the PA Department of Education. Your daughter can feel free to fail classes during the regular year and enroll in summer school if you believe that to be a more efficient use of her time. Classes cost $50 and the grade is averaged in with her failing grade. So, no, the goal is not promise readiness but rather graduation, and grades do not replace failing grades thereby creating an opportunity for students to pass but not providing students with an unfair advantage.
3. This statement is incorrect again—teachers are instructed to use district curricula in planning instruction. There is certainly room for adaptation for the setting and needs of the students but curriculum is available to teachers online just like the regular school year.

Anonymous said...

Regarding #3 -- is there a specific summer school curriculum or is the teacher supposed to just use the regular year curriculum and "adjust" it?

Are teachers paid for a set-up day or is that on their own time?

Were teachers told they were teaching one thing and then teaching another? (That would mean any time they spent on preparation, on their own dime and time, was...wasted.)

Anonymous said...


4. Students most certainly can receive a failing grade. Students earn the grades they receive. Teachers are not instructed to pass students who do nothing. Teachers are encouraged to help students and to do everything they can so that students can pass, but students must work to earn the credit.
5. True—there is no air conditioning and it has been hot. Students can bring water into the classrooms. As to the teacher’s being dismissed, teachers are given one sick day for the twenty days. There is no budget for summer school substitute teachers and so summer school sick days are handled differently than the regular school year. When teachers signed up for summer school they knew it was going to be in July and at a building without air conditioning.
6. Teachers and students have a 25 minute lunch. Again, it is what it is. The schedule is necessary to fulfill hour requirements as addressed in issue #2. There were plenty of teachers who were willing to cope with the requirements to teach summer school. I’m sure that if your friend doesn’t like the length of his lunch then someone else would be willing to replace him in his role. As for the students, 25 minutes is ample time to eat and go to the bathroom, and the lunch is free for all students. In order to avoid insect problems, students are asked not to bring other drinks or snacks out of the cafeteria. The idea that this would be inhumane in your friend’s eyes is beyond me.
7. I don’t really understand this criticism. There is certainly time for students to work on assignments in class, but there should be a variety of assignments and instruction occurring. I am not sure of this in other classrooms, but mine this is true. I also don’t know why your friend is complaining about his short lunch if he is able to conduct his own informal observations of teachers in the other classrooms. I suppose he could use that time to eat and relax.

Finally, I am generally in agreement with much of the blogging here and follow it regularly. But malcontents with incorrect information disrupt what is best for PPS students. This post isn’t about reform but acts as an opportunity to vent. Linda Lane has proposed the elimination of summer school, so ironically enough, your post is in support of Dr. Lane while it criticizes her at the end. Linda Lane did not create summer school as it is currently constituted, but it is certain that inaccurate and incendiary posts like this one will give her fodder to eliminate it. Additionally, it is not noble to post this here for parents’ awareness as you suggest. Rather it is counterproductive and embarrassingly incorrect.

Anonymous said...

Teachers are to use the regular curriculum and adjust it if need be. Teachers are not paid for set up days--it would be on our own time. That's the same with prep periods. I have to get to school early to run copies or prep my curriculum. It's just the nature of the program--there isn't built in time like the regular school year.

Yes, there are instances where a teacher's classes have been changed due to enrollment of students (this happened to me). Again, just the nature of the enrollments makes this necessary and it can be frustrating. However, the alternative is not to teach summer school, so I've always felt like the inconvenience was worth it.

Anonymous said...

it is not the 5 years linda lane is holding on for she already got that. She is wanting the benefit of her higher salary years to factor into her retirement. Her retirement is also based on what you earned your last three years.

This is also one of the reason Lopez is so mad at linda. She prevented him from getting his 5years in, that is why he wants a charter school. This way he can get his 5 years in too. Since Charter schools are public schools they qualify for PSERs. All this people are raping our tax dollars and have not improved our education for our kids.

Anonymous said...

Hey anon 11:36, I am a former teacher and taught summer school. You go ahead and fail a kid and be prepared for your bubble to burst when you are told a failing grade is not acceptable. Be prepared to fight the student, the parents and administration when you give that failing grade because it will all come back on you. Hope you enjoy paperwork. this is not heresay, thi is experience.

Anonymous said...

I would not be surprised if there were a plan in place to make summer school for high schoolers cyber based. I can hear it now, The cyber school to be operated initially by the IU will prove successful and be deemed the place for summer school kids, 9-12.

Anonymous said...

As a former summerschool teacher of 10 years I have to agree withthe original post. Lack of curriculum, no order, teachers and kids being switched around at the drop of a hat...that absolutely defines the PPS summer school experience. Anyone who says otherwise hasn't done it long enough or got lucky.

Anonymous said...

Summer school is a real joke, and always have been. Its not serious learning like the school year. Its not a whole course. Its a best some homework make up time to get the kid a passing grade. It would be better to simply allow the students to finish the work the he/she failed in stead of pretending that its really a whole course. Believe me, take it from a teacher.

Anonymous said...

Don't shoot the messengers! They all have value and perspective. I would like to know why there were so many police cars outside of Allderdice last week. I think it was Wed, but I drive by it frequently and I have a horrible memory, so it could have been thursday..or tues..or..All I know it was last week for certain!

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, I posted the lengthy reply to the initial post. I'm not sure how a former summer school teacher can agree with the initial post since it was entirely about Allderdice summer school this year and described it as an absolute mess. Your summer school experience may have been frustrating or a colossal mess or whatever, but the post discussed how horrific Allderdice summer school is this year, and it was just a misrepresentation of the facts. I am certainly not purporting to be an expert on the PPS summer school experience, just providing an alternate (and I believe accurate) view on this summer school session.

I don't think anyone would argue that summer school is the same volume of work or same style of instruction as regular school--it is a credit recovery program. And it is different to be sure. However, it just isn't feasible to provide students with the work they failed to complete and tell them to finish it. What is the incentive for students to finish the work the first time in class if they are just going to be given a free pass and a packet of work to complete whenever they feel like it? At least attending and paying for the summer school classes is a negative repercussion for failing the course during the year.

Also, the threat of failing a student and dealing with the paperwork isn't really that different from failing a student whose parents are invested during the regular year. We have been instructed to call home for failing students and to keep documentation of that work. It just is what it is--if I am going to fail a student I have to be prepared to justify that failure. Again, I don't think it's that different. Do teachers pass kids just to avoid that wrath? It is certainly possible. But I have to sleep at night knowing the students earned the credit I gave, or conversely, that I did everything I could and the student just did not pass the course. Just basic fairness and educational integrity.

Anonymous said...

Where do y'all get your info from , 1st thing Superintendent Lane doesn't have five years of service with the board of education yet / she don't even quite have four years ... 2nd thing
The retirement isn't based on last three years it's based on three best years $

Anonymous said...

The three best years is most often the last 3 years, when your salary is the highest so your point is moot. It is my understanding as well is that lane has 5 years in, it not how many does she have in? Cause of course she is not going to leave until she gets that. She is a carpet bagger, and I am losing confidence in her every day.

Anonymous said...

What you yapping about. linda lane was here 4 years as a deputy when she got appointed Dec 2010 as the superintdent. This year in Dec 2012linda lane would have been here 6 years, and I must say that 2 years 2 long. She has been a failure, and I wanted her to succeed so bad as I felt Mr. Rosevelt had no idea what he was doing. But Linda lane has been even worst with her vision. She didnt even bring any new staff with her, he tried to piggy back off what Rossevelt did. She has been an embarassment to woman leaders and the african american community. She simply does not have the talent to get it done in pittsburgh and has set us back 2 years already.

Anonymous said...

She was hired in 2007 as Assistant Super. She is fully vested.

Dino Moio said...

Ur bloggers are idiots and who ever is running this needs more help apperently , 'cause I posted a couple comments , days ago and still don't see them , pps is doing the best they can do with their budget being robbed and handed over to charter schools , thanks Gov. U giant
P.O.S. ...... Oh yeah I'm sure this reply will never see the light of day either , right ?? If it was trashing pps it would be posted ASAP though lmao !!!!

Questioner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Questioner said...

Usually a comment that begins by calling someone an idiot would not be published. Name calling is the main reason that comments are not published. If you feel that your unpublished comment is productive, does not repeat your prior posts and is free of name calling, please send it again or send an inquiry noting the date and time it was originally sent. Positive comments about PPS are more than welcome.

Anonymous said...

Dino, let me respond to your outrageous and just plain stupid remarks. PPS is doing the best they can do?

This coming school year, class sizes will be between 30 and 35 students on average in most cases. Most teachers will be doing six period days, to boot. This is a district that chose to fire 300 teachers in light of Corbett's destruction of public education while choosing to hold the line where 700+ non-school-based administrators are concerned. In fact, the 700 figure is low in light of the fact that each content area has a number of people at the administrative level who are doing the difficult chores, like attending myriad meetings, making lunch plans and then sitting in their offices for awhile before going home and doing it all again tomorrow.

PPS is doing the best they can?

Education by its very nature means students and teachers, period. Every study that has come down the pike in the past ten years has pointed to the idea of smaller class sizes equating to better learning outcomes. We've come to a point in time in which teachers have been demonized by federal, state and local governments, have been influenced by cash donations meant to push philosophical agendas and have been beset by modern day carpet-baggers: consultants, researchers, test-writers and people who have never been in the classroom for any amount of time serving to pass judgment on just what effective teaching really is.

This is Pittsburgh Public Schools, 2012, and this is something you salute. How pathetic.

I am one of about 2000 remaining teachers in this district.

Let me say this for the record:

Linda Lane could not do what I do, nor could her assistants, French, Lippert, Fischetti, May-Stein, Rudiak and especially Otuwa. Let me go one step further: they could not last one week doing what I do, where I do it.

I suspect that you couldn't either, Dino.

I'm a little tired of kool-aid drinkers that wish to pee down the legs of readers and tell them it is raining. This district is a mess and yet still manages to avoid critique and do what it wants to do, no matter how outrageous it is for our kids. How nice that you embrace the propaganda.

Anonymous said...

@anon 2:09
I believe that it is the three years of average salary that Linda Lane is after.

I believe that lopez had time as principal in Michigan that he could transfer to vest in Pennsylvania. I think he is mad for a lot of reasons, but that aint one of them.

Anonymous said...

I for one was glad to see Lopez get the boot. He didn't have the experience, expertise or knowledge to assist high school principals. His talent was in talking not in doing. Then again MR, Lane, Otuwa, French, May-Stein, and Rudiak, all fall into the same category.

The reason why he got the boot was because at least the girls looked busy with all of their meetings, reports and presentations. Lopez on the other hand just walked around as the man after MR left town. You don't think that the girls would ever allow that image at Bellefield? As for May-Stein, he has taken on the persona of the women he works with. Looks busy but has no idea how to fix the system that Mark broke. If you can't raise academic achievement of black students in your school (Colfax) as a principal, how on earth can you help other principals with this task?

Anonymous said...

Well, that's exactly the point. How do you raise achievement levels especially in reading and math via standardized testing and most pointedly, how do you narrow and then eliminate the achievement gap between white and black?
No PELA director or disciple knows how.
Judy Johnston certainly doesn't know how.
Please--name a principal who has a clue and by that, I mean one who has prioritized these issues and instituted cutting edge, practical and winning strategies on his or her own. (Not one who has gotten a raise because he or she happens to be at the helm of a good staff).

There are none.

No one in PPS administration has a clue. They rightly complain about unfair expectations but offer no solutions. They seek to dangle money in the faces of teachers and call it a solution and then make teachers dance through hoops of fire in order to claim those raises. They protect their own and fire few central administrators, if any, and then do the unconscionable: pack classrooms with 30-35 students thanks to the firings of teachers.


And in this town, no one says a word in the media.

Ask any teacher and he'll tell you that it's simple:

-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
-thanks to RISE--you know, the system by which any administrator can fire any teacher at any time for any reason---teachers must pay attention more to what some pinhead in an ivory tower thinks is good teaching instead of doing right by his or her students.

It's simple, folks.

Somewhere, there is a lifelong teacher who wants to be a superintendent. We had two of these types when Roosevelt was hired instead of them. This is the type of person you need in charge, one who knows the landscape, one who knows the leeches and one who is willing to prioritize our kids.

He or she is out there, it's true. But as long as we have people like Fink and Colaizzi calling the shots, we'll have pretenders with no clue swelling the administrative offices of PPS.

They have no clue about how to educate kids.

Anonymous said...

I believe there is (at least) one principal who has prioritized those issues as far as is possible in the district currently (that is without losing his/her job). This principal is able to push the limits as far as possible because scores are good. Even so, there is still pressure for "fidelity" and pressures to conform to the accepted practices, time frames, etc.

And, the district is not trying to replicate what's right in that school, nor are they encouraging that principal to do what s/he wants so that they can see if there are even more good ideas they could use as models. They aren't looking for other principals like this person, either.

It's a shame.

Anonymous said...

If scores are good, then we can certainly narrow the focus of our discussion, can't we? If we are talking CAPA, which I am sure we are not, the principal there is quite possibly the ultimate kool aid drinker/PELA and the staff there would certainly agree. It must be wonderful to have a student base that succeeds despite the insane curriculum that is in place and in spite of a principal who enforces it. Look at the number of teachers on improvement plans there.
If we are talking Obama, I would say that you are talking about a tremendous group of math and reading teachers in place rather than a principal. Since they have the mandate of adhering to both the PPS and IB curriculum, and since to me at least the IB curriculum is more real-world than anything PPS is putting forth, should the principal get all of the praise?
To me, this district would be much better off embracing the IB curriculum in total, allowing the IB school to be a true IB school without ridiculous PPS encumbrances--and then study the effect for the entire district.

If we are not talking about these two schools and their principals, then I am at a loss to describe just which school has shown annual "proficiency."

And with the acceptable percentage for PSSA going up every year---this year will have it over 80%---just how long will it be before only CAPA is "proficient?"

Anonymous said...

There are more than 6-12 schools in the district and no, neither of those is the one I know of.

But I won't say anything past this, either, because the last thing a good school needs in this district is any extra attention from the administration.

Though I bet the admin knows which school I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are correct, but it is the high schools and 6 through 12's which get the most attention and with it, the most heat.

Anonymous said...

The most heat? I think that K-5 and K-8 teachers would argue with that. They have plenty of walk-throughs, fidelity measures, and ridiculous hoops to jump through.

Their scores may be better, yes, but...they still have plenty of administrators watching their every move.