Friday, November 30, 2012

PIIN / A Plus Schools meeting

On "Start a new post" Kathy Fine wrote:

I attended the Town Hall Meeting sponsored by PIIN and A+ Schools at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary last night. Lots of energy, extremely diverse crowd of over 150 people from all over the city, including Michael Lamb (city Controller), who seems to have a genuine concern regarding public school issues.

After opening comments, we broke into groups to discuss critical needs of our schools, barriers to meeting those needs and ways to get around the barriers. I applaud the enthusiasm and earnest passion that the attendees lent to the discussions. However, it was the same format, same discussion and same result that have been repeated over and over at stakeholder meetings.

I think that a better understanding of the workings of the district would guide these meetings toward a more productive result. I would love to have the opportunity to channel the energy from this meeting into recruiting and electing truly qualified school board candidates. School board directors set educational policy and hire and oversee the superintendent, the most critical factors in public school reform.

Thanks to PIIN for organizing the event and let's hope that the passion of the attendees for our public schools stays strong. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

State of the District

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post

State of the District

You can view the State of the District video at the link above. The presentation/panel discussion was Nov. 15, 2012. Today is November 29th. It is very concerning that the video to date has had 9 views. What might this tell us? Might we all be looking at the bigger pictures of national concern; elections, cliffs, compromises? We seem to have created a climate of fear in so many respects. Fear of not making AYP, fear that the money will run out, fear of being suddenly unworthy of our positions, personal fears of being unable to maintain our already thrifty lifestyles and fear that we have less to give to help others. Is there any good news today? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Procedures/ kindergarten

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post

What new security provisions will be put in place to eliminate the risk of Kindergarten kids roaming away from school? At what age does the procedure of an automatic call notifying home of an absent kid kick in? I am sure budget cuts causing staff cuts contributed to the Mifflin incident. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Libraries and writing scores

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW TOPIC-Librarians, scores, and black students

" For black students,it found six times as many who have flexible access to their school library during the day scored advanced on state writing tests as black students lacking such access."
The article mentions that with budget cuts across the state, some districts have fewer full time librarians than in the past. It doesnt mention that PPS is way worse-- taking out the director of school libraries so that there is no central organization and then, having elementary and middle school ibrarians one day out of every 5 or even 6 in the schools shows absolutely no knowledge of the information that this study and countless others have found. 
Part of this is a direct result of the "script." The managed curriculum folk certainly dont want the kind of "free range reading" that occurred in the past. 
They want boxes in books in classrooms- chosen by the companies who write the script.
The last thing the "good soldier" principals want to hear is that students are free to select books to read from a well- stocked library, guided by a certified school librarian. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

PPS leadership

On another post Anonymous wrote:


All of the research supports the comments of this experienced teacher from Pittsburgh Public Schools.

It is time that both PPS Administration and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette begin to seriously look into the obvious legitimacy and credibility of these comments. 

This city cannot afford to ignore the obvious for the sake of our children's and the city's future. 

Educators, philosophers, psychologist support the critical nature of experience to the success of our educational system. 

Mountains of accumulated evidence are incontrovertible at this point in time. We, as a citizens, as a community cannot and must not continue to ignore the decline of education in Pittsburgh Public Schools. 
From PG letters:

The article "City Schools Rewarded for Student Academic Growth" (Nov. 20) was a nice, positive view on the state of public schools in Pennsylvania. However, the passing comment that Mathematica Policy Research "adjusted expected achievement for certain factors, such as poverty, which would lower the amount of expected growth" greatly disturbed me. As a teacher from a low-income elementary school, I feel strongly that a major reason many low-income students struggle to make significant gains is because nobody expects them to!
Could those researchers tell students face to face that they do not expect them to improve at the same rate as their high-income peers, just because their parents make less money? The whole article is about how overall proficiency levels tell more about students than it does the school. Just because those students are starting at a lower proficiency level does not mean they can't improve at the same rate. In my experience, with targeted high-quality instruction and positive reinforcement, students starting at low levels often improve rapidly.
Why should expectations for improvement be lower for schools and students that desperately need to improve? If we do not start holding all schools accountable to change students' trajectories, we will feel the long-term effects when another generation joins the work force.

Read more:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Four new charter applications

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Here we go! 4 NEW charter schools may open in Pittsburgh next year. Granted, one is very small but is smack in Sq. Hill.

The vanishing public schools are disappearing at a rapid rate. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Some teachers receive bonuses

On another post anonymous wrote:

A mustread for a new blog entry-Is this a "Shooting STAR" or a "falling STAR-a real waste of money? 

en schools get awards that include bonuses for teachers

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

For the first time, Pittsburgh Public Schools is awarding about $2.1 million in bonuses to teachers and other union workers at 10 schools as well as one closed school that are showing so much growth in student achievement that they are among the best ... 

Friday, November 16, 2012

PPS seeking additional consultant

On another post Anonymous wrote:

PPS as usual has a solution for their fiscal woes... Hire a consultant! How inept are they, what are they being paid to do?

"Pittsburgh Public Schools seek consultant for financial planning" 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dates for spring break

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post

The November agenda review materials include the school calendar for 2013-14. Spring Break is scheduled for April. Do we really need a spring break? If so does it have to be in April? Why can't it match the spring break for colleges? If it were necessary to burn off days for weather related emergencies how do you feel about giving up days of spring break as opposed to tacking on days to the end of the year? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PPS fiscal cliff

On another post Anonymous wrote:

PPS' Fiscal Cliff

it took a long time for it to get to this point. now, how do we fix it?

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Plus report on progress or lack thereof

On another post Anonymous wrote:


A+ Schools Releases 2012 Report on School Progress

Pittsburgh Public Schools Stumble as Achievement-Gap Widens and College and Career Readiness Drops 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Schenley petition at 700

Number 700 wrote:

I graduated from "Dear Schenley High". It is a wonderful building and a landmark. I am sure there could be some use for it for the children. Just don't sell it (to UPMC). thank you & good luck!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

PPS soon out of money

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Parent survey results

On another post 15 per center wrote:
New Post

The news item link from the PPS website reports on the parent survey response and can be found on the main page. I can't think of a single person I know; kid, teacher, parent, administrator, community member who wants the district to do poorly. Progress is being made all the time and although victories come slowly, they are coming. 

Some readers may take exception with the reporting of survey results. If 15% was the rate of return on the survey isn't it misleading to report "73% of parents know who to contact"? Really its 73% of the 15% who returned the survey, right? A survey, no matter how thorough, is only valuable if those responding represent a true cross-section of the family population of our schools. Please, I am hoping someone will invalidate my theories. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

School board candidates

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post

Can anyone offer an update on the possible candidates for board seats up for the next election cycle?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How are things going?

On another post Anonymous wrote:

One quarter of the school year is almost gone. Parents, how do you think being a part of WPIAL is going so far? Parents of 2012 grads how are your kids doing? What recommendations would you have for those of us with kids currently in PPS? Anyone, is class size affecting student performance?