Monday, December 24, 2012

Grading parents

On another post Anonymous said:

I'm unsure where I should post this editorial. BRAVO to the retired teacher who wrote it!

Parents should be graded on home support...


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

Lots of parents would receive poor grades; probably most parents have been guilty of one of these shortcomings at some point or another.

BUT, many parents today are under great stress that make it almost impossible to hold things together. Often one parent alone is facing severe economic and other pressure without the kind of support that used to be provided by families, churches and communities.

The response of some reformist thought has been to take the position that schools just need to overcome these problems. Unfortunately the result can be a lack of attention on the part of schools and communities to a real need among families for help and support.

Questioner said...

Could the new "educational delivery model" PPS is seeking be a program of family support and building partnerships with families, rather than mostly ignoring them?

Anonymous said...

How exactly does a delivery model be sure that kids get their meds, get their dinner, or get some sleep? Blaming teachers doesnt help parents or students. Yes, these are rough times. But within the last twenty years we have dropped from report cards comments like " neat and clean" "adequate rest " that were comments meant for parents. Nah, most teachers didnt use them -- but the thought it. We have told parents subtly that somehow the school is totally responsible for child rearing and ten we wobder why it doesnt work!

Questioner said...

The delivery model would step in with appropriate referrals and follow up when kids aren't getting mess, dinner or sleep and in general work to make parents into real partners if at all possible

Questioner said...

Sorry should say meds not mess thanks iphone

Anonymous said...

All of these comments should be removed. Really. Everyone here is telling someone else what to do. The superiority here tells its own story with every comment.

Maybe you should let up a little in respect for the holiday season.

Questioner said...

Pps is asking consultants what to do. So far the consultants don't seem to have done a great job, maybe because ideas have not been adequately vetted. Suggestions like those made here are the beginning of the process, a start of an idea to be discussed and modified as logic and information indicates.

Anonymous said...

Consultants who do it for the fees will never do a great or even good job. Its a business for them, a very, very big business. It is not about vetting.

Example: $315,000.00 for a consultant to improve Math-Common Core State Standards in PPS, the new version of which is less than two years old? The PPS Math Specialists could review the new Common Core and make any revisions necessary based on the PPS foundational status, the former PA Math Standards and the materials in use. Any Math specialist worth their salt should be able to make the adaptations, increase the rigor and complexity if necessary and provide the professional development for our teachers that will take students to the next level of proficiency. Good people working in schools are always more efficient and effective at improving student achievement than consultants who work in external capacities. Bar none.

Certified,internal, experienced, Math educators are far more knowedgeable about teaching and learning than external consultants.

The same is true in all areas of education unless the experience is not in schools but primarily central office.

Vetting? What precisely is being vetted here? What should be vetted? What are the standards for vetting? Who you know? Who you work for? Where you have a contract?

Standards must be set by those who KNOW the field, the situation, the population to be served, the specifics of the task at hand.

Talk is talk is talk is talk.

Questioner said...

So why are you talking then? This forum was established with the idea that parents and community members have valuable insights, even though they do not have contracts with PPS. Vetting, in the form of true consideration of community input, would have steered pps away from the single gender plan at Westinghouse, for example, and provided several years warning of possible cheating. The 7:10 am proposed start time would have never made it to the newspapers, and pps would not now be dealing with the problems created by closing schenley and burgwin.

Anonymous said...

Teachers simply cannot bear all the "blame". It is ridiculous, home life DOES matter. I am not a perfect Mom. I ask how much kids homework they have when they walk in the door. First 15-30 min homework time, depending on amount. Then snack etc.. They go to bed by 9 & wake up at 7. We live on a quiet safe street in Sq. Hill. So they get a peaceful sleep. I make sure they have breakfast, even if it is just a Pop-Tart and I make sure they packed a lunch or have lunch money. I could not imagine sending them to school without their glasses or medications if they needed it. Do I derserve a gold star? No, I am fortunate enough to provide food, shelter, medical, emotional and educational basic needs to my kids.

That is our life, it is not the same as many of their classmates who are tired, hungry, scared and cranky which leads to constant disruption and has a direct effect on everyone in the classroom. Kids need a safe life with enough food, sleep and structure at the bare minimum to participate. Until that is addressed I don't know how education will improve. My kids are stressed out by their stress.

Questioner said...

Life has just gotten really difficult for a lot of families without the traditional support systems. Pps should be thinking about a whole new partnership with parents and organizations.

Anonymous said...

Loss of neighborhood schools, teachers and principals that were a part of their lives compounds the stress and isolation.

Questioner said...

Yes, there are very likely hidden costs associated with the savings.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 2:10:

Is it elitist to believe that children need regular, nutritious meals, adequate rest, sufficient medical care and medications if needed, and at least one caring adult with the ability to give them some personal attention in their lives?

If those minimal standards are now consider the realm of the elite, then you've just answered your question of why we're talking about it here.

How do you have the same expectations for a kid who is hungry, agitated and sleep deprived as you do for one whose parent(s) will get them a private tutor if they realize, from helping with homework and monitoring schoolwork, grades and tests that their child needs more help?

Of course, given that same amount of support, these kids should have high expectations. But you don't expect the athlete who is sleep-deprived, with an inadequate food supply and no coaching, to compete with privately trained athletes who do have excellent sleep habits, minimal stressors, and excellent nutrition.

Sure, some exceptional athletes can still overcome -- but kids shouldn't have to be that one in a 1,000 or a 1,000,000. They should expect to have basic necessities.

Anonymous said...

I regard parents as somewhere between innocent victims and the muted crowd. As a teacher, I cannot rely on them for help and have to say without reservation that most of this is not their fault. The Roosevelt manual has made it clear as to how to deal with parents, and we've seen in with the Schenley closing and with the trouble at Westinghouse:

"***Let the public scream bloody murder. Let them yell, let them threaten. All we do at that moment is allow them to vent and contain, contain, contain. Appear empathetic. And contain.

The time will pass. People will forget. Their attention will move on to something new. Media will forget. And through this, we will still do and get what we want."

Veteran teachers know this. We see what has gone on and what continues to go on. The cavalier attitude of PPS top administrators is truly sickening, and the championing of such individuals as consultant Judy Johnston is simply the board's way of thumbing its nose at taxpayers.

And the one area that I CAN fault parents is this: we need more Mark Brentleys and Regina Holleys on the board, and not more rubber stampers like Jean Fink and Teresa Colaizzi. Truly, the former prioritize children while the latter prioritize their own best interests.

Someone above says that teachers cannot bear the brunt of the blame.
To wit, teachers bear NO blame for this mess. After all, the district has a managed curriculum that cannot be strayed from. It is a manual of what to teach (kids teach themselves via groups) and how to teach. It is district-wide.

Hence, no teacher can be to blame for lack of achievement or falling scores.

Central administration CAN be called the problem. They have force-fed a horrible curricula across the board. They have forced a grading policy that is a laughing stock. They have run with their tales between their legs in determining a discipline policy. They have hid numerous scandals among their own, teachers and security.

No amount of reliance upon the Roosevelt Manual can dissuade from these facts. Lane, French, Lippert and Otuwa, at the very least, should resign for having failed our children, And Judy Johnston should be doing water painting instead of anything in PPS.

Anonymous said...

"Someone above says that teachers cannot bear the brunt of the blame.
To wit, teachers bear NO blame for this mess. After all, the district has a managed curriculum that cannot be strayed from. It is a manual of what to teach (kids teach themselves via groups) and how to teach. It is district-wide."

That was me @ 6:00pm. I agree teachers bear less blame than what has been forced upon them by central office. I can't go as far as zero blame considering the teachers union got enough votes by teachers to somehow allow this insanity to start and continue. There may be an expanation but I don't get it. I am very pro teacher and wish you could stand up. How did this get out of control? I am a stay at home mom not a teacher.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone report on the success of the Homewood Children's Zone? Is the Lighthouse Project still a part of that program? Sorry to be so out of touch, but sometimes these things are rolled out with great flourish and then you hear litle more about them.

The term "appropriate referral" is used at 1:58 and it made me think of a family in a nearby neighborhood. I swear the 6 children should have a fulltime social worker devoted to helping them. Their attendance and tardies alone have raised red flags but if their teachers were to devote as much time as is needed to shepherd these kids, who takes care of the rest of the class and teaches while the teacher is just trying to help? Our social services system is strained. Ten years ago when my oldest was in middle school principals were asking for more support services in the buidlings. Do we have more or do we have less?

Anonymous said...

In terms of "support services," how telling is it that our high schools have probation officers stationed in the buildings?

Anonymous said...

Mom, you are right on with your points, again. You ask about the PFT and let me try to answer as a 30 year veteran.
I came into this union and immediately was surrounded by a great many strong union personalities, and thankfully so. As they retired, the union's strength began to wane for one reason: give backs. I watched the Fondy administration relax on many issues that were mainly for the people who were at or near retirement. I understood this, as Al was taking care of people who had fought by his side for a couple of decades, but we were entered a strange new world where management had newfound powers that began to rein in teachers.

I'm at a loss to understand what John Tarka did or was trying to do. Not giving teachers even a cost of living increase in contract negotiations was one thing, but allowing the RISE program to take hold was another. The rights of teachers were stripped. Administrators intimidated teachers like never before.

And now this sham of leadership in in charge. To say that the PFT is laughed at by building administrators would be a serious understatement and I've heard it time and again. Central administration has no fear whatsoever, and I can't say I would blame them. The PFT's only trump card is to strike---and it refuses to do so. It would rather support a series of "evaluations" that with each issue of board minutes sees more and more veterans being fired. RISE is nothing more than a subjective way to fire veteran teachers and save the district money, and yes, I have heard this from many administrators who don't like playing the game, either. These are peoples' lives we are talking about and yes, we are talking about talented, vital teachers being fired without cause.

You ask about "standing up" and my response refers back to RISE and administration. One would do so at great peril. I believe that only a strong united response will afford worthwhile change. Only a Tacoma-like stance--with teachers of courage and character---will stop the insanity we see going on now. The PFT has no such courage. The rank and file apparently either does not have the courage or is so apathetic that their failure to even vote speaks volumes.

For my money, I believe Mark would have been a much better choice for this period in time, and I would have hoped that he would be ready to dig in and fight, but again, I'm not sure how many teachers understand the idea of unity.

I'm getting ready to retire. I've enjoyed working with all kinds of students and families over the years. The job has been beyond rewarding. But what we have now in PPS is not education but rather a corrupt philosophy being pushed down to kids that fails them miserably in terms of the real world. He underestimates their abilities and pacifies the Bill Gateses of the world, just to keep the money flowing in for a failed agenda that does not enhance achievement.

You're right, teachers could stand up, but won't. There is safety in numbers but in these economic times, it's a hard sell, especially when we all know numerous people who have been fired without cause.

This is PPS. Their entire management philosophy reminds you of something out of "Hoffa" and one can only hope that at some point, for the sake of our kids, teachers wise up and show some courage.

Anonymous said...

It shouldn't have to take teachers wising up to bring about some stability and improvement. We need board members to do what is best for their constituencies. The time to pay homage and give wide berth to veteran board members should have expired by now and every suggestion should be challenged before a dime is spent or a consultant is hired or a program is considered. Admin should stop acting like they have no other choices when they present a plan, fewer average jane and joes are buying it.

Questioner said...

If the city and the school district worked together, and there was an appreciation for real, lasting, long term results, we might begin with this type of program:

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I know this comment falls on deaf ears, but I'm doing it to get it out, as a need for my own therapy.
When people talk about leaving families in the dark in this district, and that's why parents aren't able to help, I want to slam my head up against a wall.
One of the schools in this district has over 45 community providers for everything from mental health services to financial assistance to tutoring for both students and guardians. There are on site services and therapies available. I mean, c'mon, what more can be done?
By the way, all this support has yielded very little in the way of results. Must be the horrible teachers.

Questioner said...

It is hard to evaluate without knowing the school but are the right community providers there? Are they well coordinated and what is being done to hold them accountable ?

Questioner said...

Could a really well trained community provider have helped the students in this NYT article to ultimately succeed?

"For poor, leap to college often ends in a hard fall":

Anonymous said...

Some people think there are no solutions for some kids. We see it here all of the time. Its worse than sad.

Anonymous said...

Its the poor education that keeps "poor" kids struggling. Pittsburgh Public Schools is a prime example.

A good education plays the greatest role in success for "poor" kids.

Too, too many of PPS schools are not providing a good education. If evaluated by those who know the difference, we would learn of the rampant flaws and inadequacies, all of which would be remedied by good educators.

Anonymous said...

Comments from the NY Times article:

"This is the important distinction: not only have the affluent students been raised to see the world as their oyster, the world IS ACTUALLY their oyster."

Questioner said...

Few commenting here feel there are no solutions. As the nyt article shows however, education alone may not be enough.

Anonymous said...

" If evaluated by those who know the difference, we would learn of the rampant flaws and inadequacies, all of which would be remedied by good educators. "

ALL? I assume you mean just the educational flaws, but even so, anyone who promises that ALL flaws will be remedied just by people doing a good job is not living in reality.

How do you provide a good education to a 5 year old who sleeps through half the day in school? Little kids don't sleep because the lesson isn't engaging, they sleep because they aren't getting enough sleep at night.

Inadequate sleep has also been shown in studies to have a "paradoxical" effect on some elementary age children. The less sleep they get, the more their behavior looks like classic ADHD behavior. Those kids don't look sleepy, but they can't pay attention any better than the kids who are dozing off.

Anonymous said...

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs addressed this back in 1943. If your basic physiological needs are not met, your going to have one heck of a time reaching the self-actualization phase which is synonymous with learning. Add in issues with the security, love/belonging, and self-esteem phases of the hierarchy pyramid and we have some major obstacles to overcome.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Sleep comes easily after a swimming practice.

Michael Phelps is not alone.
A surprising number of professional athletes have attention deficit disorder (ADHD). In fact, an estimated eight to ten percent of all pro athletes have the condition, as compared to four to five percent of the general population of adults.

Anonymous said...

I think the references to behavior of various individuals is in regards to purported tapes of people partying at various events. These references have appeared here from time to time--I think most recently when the accused officer was arrested in the Rooney case--and various instances have been discussed (whether they were real or conjecture).
I think the overall viewpoint is that everyone involved in the education industry must adhere to a personal code of conduct that includes morality and ethics in public life.