Saturday, December 28, 2013

TFA for Wilkinsburg?

On another post Anonymous wrote:

http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2013/12/28/Wilkinsburg-s-woes/stories/201312270069ions

The P-G is now advocating TFA for the Wilkinsburg School District. The P-G states that, "the Pittsburgh School Board unwisely rejected" TFA. Also that Wilkinsburg would "provide a good local test of how TFA would really perform." That would be really interesting to see

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's a new day

Watch the video of the December 18, 2013 legislative session; refreshing new ideas, thoughtful questioning, independent thought, real attention to community concerns.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

School specific pages disappear from PPS website

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"New Post please.

Can you help us solve a mystery? The school specific pages containing calendars, news, senior bulletins and events have disappeared. It has been reported to the hotline via email and each resulted in only a return email confirming that the hotline got the email. No answer yet. Several parents have checked numerous times and only gotten the Discover pages for each school they checked. Selecting calendar only gives you the district calendar or a calendar for all schools by using the show/hide option. As little as 6 weeks ago newsletters and announcements and senior bulletins and school level calendars were available.

So, in answer to the question, "Can they make it any harder to be an interested parent?" I would say yes. "

New board questions Teach for America

From the PG:

"Either a new board member or returning board member Mark Brentley Sr., who voted in favor of the contract even though he is opposed so he could call for a new vote, could bring the matter up anew, schools solicitor Ira Weiss said."
 

State releases performance profiles

From the PG:

"In Pittsburgh Public Schools, just 36 percent of schools reached or exceeded the 70 mark.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Students wandering away from class/ school

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"I just discovered this blog while conducting a google search to gather more information regarding TFA. So informative!!! I know this is an old post, but I am a PPS teacher and I spent 4 years at King. There was an EPIDEMIC of students leaving classrooms and the building at all times of the day almost everyday. I would pick my students up from recess or their related arts classes and notice one or more students missing from my class. My students would tell me "Oh he got mad and left" or "She walked out" when I inquired about missing students. All we could do as teachers was call the office and report the student as missing and write a referral. There was often no follow up or effort made to locate the student. Teachers were terrified that something terrible was going to happen to one of these unsupervised students. We started keeping daily logs to record the students we reported as missing, who we reported it to, and what, if any, follow up action was taken. One time a colleague went to the Rita's across the street during her lunch break to end up in line behind two 2nd graders from our school treating them themselves to an Italian ice! Their teacher had called the office to report them missing hours prior to this. Students routinely walked out of classes and left the building. There were also students who just roamed the building all day long, everyday. Some of them only reporting class less than 10 times ALL YEAR!!! The truly sad thing is these examples of misconduct and disregard for safety are not even close to the outrageous and unsafe things that occur daily in almost every building I have worked in. The public has NO CLUE about the horrifying conditions the teachers and students are subjected to daily. The students who truly want to learn have no chance at all. Sadly there is less discipline and order each year. Any student who makes it to graduation or teacher who makes it to retirement will likely suffer from PTSD."

Shortfall in tax revenue

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Has anyone followed the $10 million real estate tax revenue shortfall for the school district? By the time all appeals have run their course, this will grow, perhaps closer to 10% of that line item budget.

I have to wonder if the Solicitor will have the Board contract with CSI, the private investigation firm, to figure out what went wrong?

Perhaps we can save the district some money.

1. In 2001, the district accounted for appeals, leveraging testimony by the former finance director, and walking away with a court order from Wettick that escrowed the difference until the appeals were complete. It took a couple of years, but in the end the business manager was correct. Perhaps Camarda and Joseph should have leveraged the 2001 analysis rather than fumbling in the dark.

2. The attorney that filed the case that caused the latest round of reassessment was...drumroll...Law Offices of Ira Weiss.

3. It is important to note that the single largest profit center at the Law Offices of Ira Weiss is...drumroll...tax appeals on behalf of municipalities. Congratulations counselor, your desire to make a few more dollars will cause the City Schools $10+ million a year for years to come.

4. The solution path would have been to work with judge Wettick to work around the Act 1 limits. What a missed opportunity. "

Renewal of Clayton contract

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"
http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/letters/2013/12/06/Alternative-ed/stories/201312060091

The link above concerns Clayton Academy and was written in response to the recent PG article about the proposed extension of the management contract for Clayton. I recall an EFA meeting where former superintendent Roosevelt said he knew kids who were at Letsche who did not want to go back to their home school at the end of their punishment period. Do we really need Clayton at all? Seems that if we are instituting austerity and closing or reconfiguring schools we need to cut the Clayton contract. "

Thursday, December 5, 2013

State of the district

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2013/12/04/Pittsburgh-Public-Schools-plan-includes-central-office-cuts-school-closings/stories/201312040136

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gates discontinues stressful employee ranking system

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"
new topic-- GATES
https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/11/30-0

Whatever happened to beta-testing dumb ideas before we all suffer? Oh yeah MILLIONS came in the way "

School closings, other cuts planned

On another post Anonymous wrote:


"
http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5188236-74/schools-district-lane#axzz2mNP3POIP
New Post please. Article about Lane. "

Monday, December 2, 2013

Title I reward schools

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"
New topic please: Title 1 reward schools
http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2013/12/02/Title-1-reward-schools-go-to-head-of-the-class-Title-1-rewards-schools-go-right-to-the-head-of-the-class.html

So, since P-G cant say the words-- Title 1 is meant to supplement students receiving free/reduced lunches ( our measure of poverty in the schools). Often this means a specialized Title 1 teacher who targets the remedial needs of students.
NO PPS school was mentioned as receiving this-- we do have title 1 schools and students.
But, to even APPLY for the "Gates money" you had to have a "managed curriculum" IN PLACE. Managed curriculum is Edspeak for SCRIPT. So we rushed out a script to apply- and "win"-- and it is very obvious that this script is NOT helping disadvantaged children learn. And though I am not a fan of charter schools-- this was the point of them-- that they would TRY innovative ways to teach and that public schools would learn from them. Gee could this mean that classes under 20, and a positive curriculum-- rather than "drill the script" might work? Besides the fact that script HAD to be in place to even apply, please note that the ANSWERS from students, as well as the "teacher talk is scripted"-- Maybe there is more to learning?"

Friday, November 29, 2013

Longtime board member retiring

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"The Friday P-G has an article about Jean Fink. The article mentions the $40 million PPS got from Gates which covers part of the cost of the Empowering Effective Teaching program, aimed at improving teacher quality. Fink said, "Although they've given us a lot of money to do a lot of things through the Empowering Effective Teachers, I don't know if the money that we've had to put out is making it worth it. There's a lot of good things that come from trying to do things differently, trying to beef up teachers' skills, but in the end, I have to ask myself, 'What is the long-range value going to be?'"

The same article quotes Randall Taylor remembering an incident in 2002 with Fink. He said, "I also looked at it as a time when board members did debate and had disagreements and weren't rubber-stamping things."

As a side note, Lane received a $10,000 salary increase to $230,000. I thought the district was going broke?"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

TFA and Woolslair votes

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2013/11/26/City-school-board-agrees-to-contract-with-Teach-for-America-close-Woolslair/stories/201311260163

Andrews report

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"New topic-maybe
The Andrews report--what is it and why oh why won't Dr. lane share this if it was funded by public money? Can we get a courtorder for it? Talk about the sunshine law! Mr. brentley was seriously wonderful at the board meeting-- now how can we help him?"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wilkinsburg schools spend half million on consultant

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2013/11/24/Wilkinsburg-hedline-goes-right-into-here-Wilkinsburg-schools-spent-500-000-on-consultants-over-3-years/stories/201311240077

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Board to vote on TFA

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"
http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2013/11/20/Pittsburgh-Public-Schools-board-to-vote-on-new-teachers-agenda.html

This was buried online today. My morning paper P-G did not contain one word about this issue.

Since TFA survived agenda review, it is obvious that Lane will have the necessary votes on Tuesday to pass it. Unfortunately, the "new" board, parents/students, and taxpayers will be the ones who will suffer through another experiment. And remember that soon Lane will be leaving."

Clayton alternative school seeks extension

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2013/11/20/Alternative-school-seeks-contract-extension-with-city/stories/201311200112

Sunday, November 17, 2013

3 new charter schools apply plus one request to expand

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2013/11/16/3-charter-schools-planned-for-city/stories/201311160118

Saturday, November 16, 2013

GPS petition

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2013/11/16/Petition-asks-board-to-delay-votes-on-key-city-school-issues/stories/201311160121

Propel Hazelwood vote

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Sorry to have to use the site to get answers, but it has proved successful in the past to do so.

I know that private and parochial schools do not have to follow state rules. For instance they do not have to take PSSA or Keystones. Does that also mean they do not follow Common Core?
Since charters are public schools do they follow Common Core?

Propel Hazelwood got approved because their application went to the Charter School Appeal Board in Harrisburg. Did the admin in pps drop the ball by not participating in the appeal process? Hard to follow by watching a legislative meeting but the vote was 4-4 with one abstention. I believe the vote resulted in the application getting kicked to Harrisburg. Did pps then fail to participate in the process?

We need to continue to push for strictly enforced oversight of charters, otherwise we will run out of money sooner than expected."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Budget deficit predicted

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2013/11/12/Preliminary-Pittsburgh-Public-Schools-budget-would-need-tax-increase-to-eliminate-deficit/stories/201311120183

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Students shot outside Brashear

On another post Anonymous wrote:

*New Post*

3 Brashear students shot at school:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/14/us/three-students-are-shot-near-pittsburgh-school.html?hp

Petition to leave major decisions for the incoming board

On another post Pamela Harbin wrote:

New post please:
Please take a minute to sign this important petition. We are asking Dr. Linda Lane to wait until the newly elected school board members are sworn in to vote on critical issues facing our schools.
http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=49258804305307213&postID=3348253519642027312

Comments are welcome and appreciated! Thank you.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Board is asked to close Woolslair

Catching up; from the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2013/11/05/City-schools-leader-asks-board-to-close-Woolslair-next-fall/stories/201311050135

Test overkill

Catching up, from the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2013/11/03/With-more-than-270-tests-at-Pittsburgh-schools-this-year-when-is-enough-enough/stories/201311030067

Teach for America

On another post Anonymous wrote:


New topic-- Teach for America
http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2013/11/09/Pittsburgh-schools-may-hire-from-Teach-for-America.html

Can anything be done to stop this obvious last minute stab to sabotage our schools? I know our colleagues at YINZERCATION posed some great questions to ask the board about it-- but no one is saying this is a pathetic death blow to public education in yet another city. How can we stop these lame ducks? Hey Dr. Lane we dont want to be Philly! Hey Mr. Peduto-- while closing schools is bad, it is also a distraction -- so they can pull an end run and do their final dirt. The least we can do is call them on the dirty game plan.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Enrollment decline

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/breaking/2013/10/28/Pittsburgh-public-schools-report-enrollment-decline/stories/20131028019

Friday, October 18, 2013

Closings (not yet identified) planned for Pittsburgh public schools

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/closings-planned-for-pittsburgh-public-schools-708088/

PG article on state test results

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-west/new-state-school-tests-find-results-similar-to-old-tests-707943/

Strangely, the article specifically notes which schools in for example McKeesport and Wilkinsburg, but not which schools in PPS, are designated as "focus" or "priority" schools.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lellock sentencing

On another post Anonymous wrote

New topic please--
Anyone seen any reporting on Mr. Lellock's sentencing? How do they report...it's gonna happen, and then dont follow up? 

Teacher's account of testing

On another post Anonymous wrote


New post please:
A teacher’s troubling account of giving a 106-question standardized test to 11 year olds
By Valerie Strauss, Published: October 6 at 1:30 pm

An account from a Pittsburgh teacher was the 2 most read article in the Washington Post.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/06/a-teachers-troubling-account-of-giving-a-106-question-standardized-test-to-11-year-olds/ 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Test scores "are not the only thing"

On another post Anonymous wrote:


"Ms. Lane said the test scores matter, but they are not the only thing. She said district research of its graduates shows that the most important predictors of post-secondary education success are grade point average and attendance, not state test scores.

District officials raised several possibilities for the decline in PSSA scores, including the impact of budget cuts."

From today's PG:
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pa-schools-report-reveals-mixed-results-in-pittsburgh-706297/

"

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pittsburgh Promise update

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/success-cited-in-pittsburgh-promise-data-a-new-major-gift-expected-704643/

The article mentions that 700 Promise recipients have graduated from 2 or 4 year programs since the Promise began in 2008.  In terms of measuring the program's impact, it would be good to know how many from Pittsburgh public schools graduated from a 2 or 4 year program in PA during the 5 years before the Promise was available. 

And, because the Promise may make it more likely for students to stay in PA for college, information on the total number and percentage of students graduating from 2 and 4 year programs pre- and post- Promise would also be relevant.

This type of information would provide real support for the headline announcing success.

Schenley documentary to air on WQED October 5


The documentary video "Enter to Learn, For Forth to Serve" on Schenley High School will air on WQED: 

Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 10:00pm
Filmmakers Corner: Enter to Learn, Go Forth To Serve
The decision to close Schenley, one of the City’s most respected and beloved high schools after the 2008 school year, was one met with anger and sadness by quite a few Pittsburghers. But Schenley was more than just another controversial school closing. The documentary discusses Schenley’s legacy with former students, faculty and community leaders. They recall the school’s glory days and its last impact on the city. Host Minette Seate will be joined by Michelle Jackson, Community Affairs Officer for the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh and Lacal Turner who was part of the film’s production team. Ms. Jackson talks about the HACP’s Creative Arts Corner, the program that helps residents become media literate. For more information on “Enter To Learn, Go Forth to Serve” and the HACP programs, viewers can call them at 412-395-3950 or visit on line www.hacp.org.

Schenley now has a MacArthur Fellow (genius grant)

From the PG:

http://www.macfound.org/fellows/class/2013/

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Diane Ravitch in Pgh September 16

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"New Post :
Massive state budget cuts; school closures; larger class sizes; fewer teachers; a dramatic increase in high-stakes-testing; historic cuts to arts education, tutoring, and other student programs. Our children can't take any more! De-funding and privatization are damaging our public schools and hurting our poorest students and communities of color the most.

If you do just one thing this month for education justice, please come be a part of the conversation with national leader Diane Ravitch. She is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, an education historian, best-selling author, and named a "Whistle-blower extraordinaire" by the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Ravitch will be in Pittsburgh on September 16th for the national launch of her new book, "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools".

She is being hosted by a new grassroots coalition called Great Public Schools (GPS) Pittsburgh, which consists of Action United, One Pittsburgh, PA Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, SEIU, and Yinzercation. The event is co-sponsored by Carlow Univ. School of Education, Chatham Univ. Department of Education, Duquesne Univ. School of Education, First Unitarian Church Social Justice Endowment, PA State Education Association, Robert Morris Univ. School of Education & Social Sciences, Slippery Rock Univ. College of Education, Temple Sinai, Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Education, and Westminster College Education Department.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill (5505 Forbes Ave / 15217) at 6PM. Doors open at 5PM and seating is on a first-come basis. We are expecting an audience of 1,000 people, including many of our local and state policy makers. Come early to enjoy incredible student performances during the 5 o'clock hour. Children's activities will be provided by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the HearMe Project at Carnegie Mellon University.

Mystery Lovers Bookshop will also be on hand with copies of Dr. Ravitch's book. This is actually the evening before Dr. Ravitch's book is officially released and we here in Pittsburgh will be the first in the nation to see it!

We are urging everyone who cares about public schools to come be a part of this event.

Be sure to let people know about the Facebook event page -- and RSVP there yourself, if you haven't already. Please also invite *your* friends to join on Facebook.

I hope you can come!
https://www.facebook.com/events/626025274099150/  "

Waiting for PSSA scores

On another post Anonymous wrote:


"New Post -
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-east/penn-hills-schools-struggles-highlighted-703040/

When will Pittsburgh Public School Board Members demand to know whether or not PPS students improved or failed on this years PSSA?

The accountability will no longer be in place (no more AYP), so schools now can stretch out plans for improvement over the next six years and only improve by 50% to make AMO; but why did the past ten years not produce any improvement?

Will our kids ever learn in most PPS schools? This is a serious question.

If 10 years of highly, highly, highly paid consultants couldn't get improvement who and what will?

(PPS has the scores. They received them in June, three months ago. Why haven't they released them?)

Why can't PPS teach kids how to read and do math?"

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Planning

Pittsburgh's Little Brooklyn (aka Lawrenceville) is attracting many new young families (new businesses on Butler include one that offers classes for expectant parents and a toddler clothing boutique).  Wouldn't it be great if there was a mechanism in place for PPS to note areas with the potential for attracting new families to the city and provide them with a solid plan for a public education through high school (including good options for students not enrolling in a magnet like CAPA or sci tech) that will maximize this potential?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Suspension rates

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Today's PG presents the reports (facts?) on PPS suspensions. Please note that 81% of the students who are suspended in PPS are Black students (who represent only 55% of the PPS total population).

Does this suggest that if these students "Be there" they are quickly 'sent out of there,' by way of suspension? Hmmmm? Perhaps the United Way campaign should be find a way to "keep students there" (in schools).
“More than half of the suspensions in Allegheny County are in Pittsburgh Public Schools.”

“The PA state Safe Schools report shows Pittsburgh Public Schools issued 15,522 suspensions -- including 10,266 for conduct in 2011-12.”

“The suspensions covered every grade level in K-12, including 233 in kindergarten, growing to 1,383 in ninth grade and falling to 776 in 12th grade. The largest numbers were in grades 7, 8, 9 and 10.
While there are still thousands of suspensions, Pittsburgh Public Schools reduced the number by about 30 percent from 2011-12 to 2012-13.”

“Pittsburgh provided data showing that in 2012-13 there were 10,695 suspensions given to 5,015 students. That's not only fewer suspensions but fewer students – more than 1,000 – than the previous year.”

“While black students account for 55 percent of the enrollment, they made up about 81 percent of suspensions in the state Safe Schools report in 2011-12.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/schools-finding-suspensions-ineffective-701785/#ixzz2dnq86BLt
"

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Be There" campaign

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"The "BE THERE" campaign with community partners and the involvement of all staff is probably the most important launch of any initiative in several years. If every family would take just the two-sided page "Pay Attention to Attendance" and "If You Are Absent From School" and hang it on the refrigerator that alone might be the daily reminder needed in some homes.

Thanks goes out to the agencies and organizations that participated in the campaign.

Teachers will say in many instances showing up is half the battle. Get to school and they will teach you. Let's hope this is the best program of any ever tried before."

Friday, August 30, 2013

VIVA Forum

On another post Anonymous wrote:

***NEW POST***

I know the VIVA Forum was discussed in an earlier post, but it could really use some community input. Go to this site to let your voice be heard. All of the comments are going to be compiled in a report that will be presented to Linda Lane in late September. http://vivapittsburgh.mysocialsphere.com/

If you wish to remain anonymous, you don't have to give your real name or post a picture of yourself.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

All things positive

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"**New Post

Can we try a thread of "all things positive" items? I will start...

The facebook First day of School Picture posts have been fun."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mentorship program

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/pittsburgh-schools-to-continue-mentorship-program-for-black-teens-700251/

Monday, August 19, 2013

How PPS spends money

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"New Post

Can we begin to talk about how PPS spends our money?

There was a discussion at agenda review about two high schools beginning to give out student I.D. cards if the expenditure is approved at the next legislative meeting. When my first kid started high school back in 2006 I brought this up at least yearly at PSCC meetings and each time I heard that it was too costly to provide student I.D. cards. My argument was basically the same as the thoughts presented by Dr. Holley with the additional desire being to be able to get students discounts at theaters and events. We have less money now but apparently it is a good idea for a couple of our schools to issue cards?

Can it be true that additional deputy or assistant superintendents are being hired?

We have not even scratched the surface, have we?

Over at VIVA we have ideas flowing. Perhaps every idea should come with a suggestion for funding.

We also need to hear from someone in athletics about facilities. Rumors are slowly surfacing. If I had to use one word to describe why suburban districts are more successful in running programs it would have to be STABILITY. No scrambling for practice space. No scheduling conflicts."

Sixth grade mentor program expanding

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"New Post:
Does "success" for the PPS 6th grade mentoring program mean that there has been substantial increase in achievement for 2013? What is the EVIDENCE for characterizing the program as successful? What are the criteria for success? More mentors for more kids or more progress in achievement and attendance at school?
What is the data from 2012-13 telling us about 6th grader "success"?

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/pittsburgh-public-schools-6th-grade-mentoring-success-brings-expansion-699891/
"

Saturday, August 17, 2013

PIIN seeks a moratorium on school closings

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/moratorium-sought-on-school-closings-699639/

Wallace Foundation/ Rand to assess Summer Dreamers

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/foundation-to-assess-city-schools-summer-academy-699228/

Friday, August 16, 2013

Penn Hills board members demand proficiency numbers

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"New Post:

This article deals with Penn Hills, but the same issues apply for PPS. (The comments that follow are also interesting)

Three Penn Hills school board members demand proficiency numbers
August 15, 2013 5:34 am

By Tim Means
"33Several Penn Hills school board members told the superintendent Monday that they want to see the district's hard data on academic proficiency as it relates to new state mandates. . . ."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-east/three-penn-hills-school-board-members-demand-proficiency-numbers-699424/#ixzz2c8aIjpH2
"

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Smartest Kids in the World

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"NEW TOPIC:

Why the world is smarter than us

Book review on critique of America's anti-intellectualism when it comes to our schools

"And we should stop throwing tax dollars at school sports programs and at gadgets like interactive white boards and iPads for every child. International comparisons show that the best schools are usually low-tech and focused on academics."


http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/09/why-the-world-is-smarter-than-us.html
"

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cutting teachers via RISE

On another post Anonymous wrote:


"Questioner, I'm disappointed that you have failed to link yesterday's PG article about the new method of cutting teachers via the 'cut off' idea of RISE. Where are you Questioner? Are you still in disbelief that next summer will bring the furloughs of even more teachers but NO central administrators? Are you in disbelief that even more schools will be closed???? Where are you and Pure Reform.
Perhaps you should check Nina's letter at pft400.org for a whiff of what is coming."

Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Let our teachers teach"

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/letters/refuting-jack-kellys-views-of-home-schoolers-698023/

Looking for start anew post and can't find it......

This is a great letter! "

Monday, July 29, 2013

Former PPS police officer found guilty

On another post Anonymous wrote:


"Former PPS police officer, Robert Lellock, convicted by jury inc hild sex abuse case.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/13210/1337328-53.stm?cmpid=IPHONEAPP
." 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Former Westinghouse principal to head new Catholic school

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-north/north-catholic-names-first-female-principal-696846/

Kellie Abbott, former removed Westinghouse co-principal, has landed on her feet as the new principal/CEO of the new North Catholic high school being built in Cranberry. Here's another PPS administrator getting out of our great school system."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

PFT President on city schools

On another post Anonymous wrote:


"
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/stop-slamming-city-schools-696612/

The PFT president claims our schools are safe and violence is rare. Why then does the Fraternal Order of Police President call our schools a "bloodbath". What does he know that the media doesn't report or what PPS keeps under wraps"

Strong neighborhood schools

On another post Anonymous wrote:


http://400.pa.aft.org/press/parents-want-strong-neighborhood-schools-study-says

Parents want strong, safe neighborhood schools to be the hub of the community. Pittsburgh doesn't have many neighborhood schools left.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Investigation into money missing from anti bullying program

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"
new post:
KDKA investigation
http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/07/22/kd-investigates-is-money-missing-from-anti-bullying-program/

Money missing from Anti-Bullying Program - a Mifflin PTO officer used some money for personal use. Even though the money came from an outside grant, wouldn't PPS still oversee this? This man had an ATM card attached to this grant that he used for personal gains. When you think about all the many grants attached to PPS, one has to wonder about who oversees them? This one was from Heinz, and apparently he was able to spend money without prior approval"

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pittsburgh Promise impact

On another post Anonymous wrote:

new post:
From today's Tribune Review
http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/4364873-74/promise-pittsburgh-schools#axzz2ZT0LAjc7

Broken Promise: Pittsburgh Promise

This has some interesting statistics and suggestions. The Trib. seems to always tell it like it is unlike the Post-Gazette.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Efforts directed toward racial achievement gap

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW POST
Pittsburgh strives to bridge racial education gap
About Bill Zlatos
Bill Zlatos 412-320-7828
Staff Reporter
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Contact Us | Video | RSS | Mobile
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Wednesday - July 10, 2013
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Pa. charter students’ skills fall far short, study reveals


By Bill Zlatos

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Updated 5 hours ago

Schools and communities should provide more support for preschool and other educational programs to put black male students on a path to succeed academically, experts said Wednesday at a conference "A Call to Conscience: Effective Policies and Practices in Educating African American Males" at the University of Pittsburgh.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/education/4326420-74/males-percent-black#ixzz2Yj66cLWa

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Schenley documentary online

See "Enter to learn, go forth to serve" at www.hacp.org.


FACE coordinators

On another post Anonymous wrote:

new post

The Spring 2013 edition of The Pittsburgh Educator carries an article "Face Time" about the Family and Community Engagement initiative in our buildings. (could not locate an online copy of TPE-spring 2013)

It seems that the actions of a FACE coordinator varied widely this past year, some highly involved. Really, what can 15 hours/month give us? Should all of those hours be concentrated toward reaching the unengaged parent? What methods did the FACE staff see as successful?

Publish

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Summer programming

On another post Anonymous wrote:


http://m.usatoday.com/article/news/2472519

The link above was a featured story on the pps website. Good luck to all the summer dreamers.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Are we here?

On another post Anonymous wrote:

new topic-- ARE WE HERE? What happened when the athletics thread disappeared? I miss you all!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Details of 50% policy

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post: This is a memo that went out to all teachers about the 50% grading rule by the office of Technology.

If you must change a grade after the deadline, use a Grade Change Request Form to notify your administrator and SDSS. There is an additional step that the SDSS must take to correct the GPA and honor roll status of any student whose grade is changed after grades are exported on the district level. Make sure that you have also applied the 50% rule to both assignments and final grades.

50% Minimum Grading Procedures:

1. Teachers must ensure that all student assignment grades are either 50% and above or a no-effort zero. Any student who refuses to complete an assignment or opts to not complete an assignment may receive a no-effort zero on that assignment. However, any student putting forth a legitimate effort but whose actual earned percentage is less than 50% should have the assignment or graded task recorded as a 50%.

2. Teachers must ensure that a student’s quarter and semester grades calculate in Gradebook are 50% and above. See page 22 of the attached document on how to override a grade in Pinnacle Gradebook to account for the 50% minimum.

a. *A special note about the impact of overriding an “E” for interim reports*

1. If you override a grade of below 50% for 4th quarter interim reports, you must first set your grades to calculate normally before confirming a student’s grade for the quarter. There is still a chance that you’ll have to override the grade again for their 4th quarter grade, but you’ll never know if the student’s grade improved beyond 49% if you don’t remove the override to see what their quarter grade would calculate out to be on its own. Not sure whose grades you overrode? Gradebook bolds those grades in the far right column so you can spot them easily. Page 22 of the attached Gradebook teacher guide provides full instructions on completing this important task.

3. Remember, if a teacher overrides the grade using a letter grade, Pinnacle Gradebook will automatically apply the highest percentage possible in the grade range percentage. For example, if a C is entered as an override grade, the system would automatically give the student a 79%. The document that outlines how to override a grade is attached.

4. The grades of F (fail) or P (pass) may not be used as an override grade. I (incomplete) can ONLY be used for Standards-Based Math 12.

And of course, before you leave for the summer please print and turn in the Grade Summary Report for all of your classes.

Please see the attached End-Of-Year Gradebook Guidelines memo for details.


Thank you all for your hard work!

Sincerely,

The Office of Instructional Technology

Monday, June 3, 2013

Transfer to take AP classes

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/pittsburgh-student-allowed-to-transfer-schools-for-ap-courses-689336/

Does the story of the Allderdice student deserve some discussion? Lots to be impressed about here.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

New administrators hired

On another post Anonymous wrote:


New post: new administrators hired
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/pittsburgh-school-board-hires-administrators-689564/

Herring Sr. is going to assume duties as the Westinghouse principal AS WELL AS helping with high school transformation efforts in other schools. The principal job will be open for a year. First of all, doesn't Westinghouse need/deserve a full-time principal now? Why keep the position open for a year? Is Herring Sr. the principal or isn't he? He is being hired as an assistant superintendent - not as a principal.

Dara Ware Allen has gone from the Board to being an assistant superintendent. This just doesn't seem kosher. Throw in the fact that Sylvia Wilson, a just retired PFT honcho, is going to be on the Board, and we have an interesting mix. The Board, PFT, and Bellefield have all been in bed together for quite a while in my opinion. We are seeing the results of this.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rally against closing schools with inadequate public input- TODAY

GPS Pittsburgh Rolling Rally Route and Detailed Itinerary as of 5/17: 


Rally 1: Directly across from Pittsburgh Obama at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

3:15 Framing the Issue: The state of public schools across the nation - Nina Esposito Visgitis, PFT President
3:18 Student speaks to school closings and relocating - Mya McCray, senior at Obama
3:20 Ask to school board candidates (Sylvia Wilson & Lucille Praytor Holiday, District 1) - Rev Herndon
   3:21 Response (2 min each)
   3:25 Blessings/Send off - Rev Thornton
3:26 Board Buses
3:30 Depart

Rally 3: Burgwin School - Hazelwood

3:45 Action United: Highlighting this community with no public school in the neighborhood. Prime example of a community in need of a neighborhood impact study to asses the impact of school closing on the neighborhood since Gladstone Middle School closed over a decade ago and Burgwin in over 6 years ago. Burgwin closed in 2006 in first round of District's "right-sizing" plan for public schools. Building is still empty.
4:00 Bus Arrives 
      4:05: Former Burgwin school counselor speaks to issue - Tijuani Phelps Jackson, Counselor Pittsburgh Colfax 
      4:07 Ask of School Board Candidates - Hazel
      4:08 Response - Terry Kennedy & Steve Deflitch,, District 5  - 
   4:12 Thank you/send off - Rev Thornton 
   4:13 Board Buses 
   4:15 Depart
   
Final Action: Former Schenley High School

4:45 Buses arrive 
4:50 Intro - Rev Thornton
      4:52 One Pgh - The funding problem 
      4:55 HDEC - Highlighting the sale of Schenley & the disregarded community & political voice against closing Schenley & what  
      school meant to community - Tamanika Howze - Hill District Resident, AAAPS 
      4:57 Yinzercation - Yinzercation - "School Size" -- this is one of the key arguments that will be used in school closure
      debates & leads into intro of independent impact studies . - Jessie Ramey
5:00: Call to action - Rev Thornton
Asks: To Board - Rev Thornton 
  1. A moratorium on school closings until local, independent neighborhood impact studies are conducted 
       5:01: Response - Mark Brentley & Regina Holley (agreed to above ask)
       5:05: Ask to Mayoral Candidates - Rev Thornton 

      Ask for Mayoral candidates to speak to: 
  1. No school closings before neighborhood impact studies are conducted.
  2. Make everyone pay their fair share: Explore and advocate for enhanced and additional sources of revenue before considering cuts or closings
  3. Keep public schools public: Reject any plan to give any control of our schools to the private sector
 
5:06 Response - Peduto, Wagner, Wheatley 
5:15 Recap of Accomplishments & Next Step for Great Public School Pittsburgh Vision Statements - Irene Habermann 
   5:18 Thank you/Prayer/Song - Rev Thornton  
5:20: Board Buses

Friday, May 17, 2013

New education secretary

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW POST:

PA State Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis has resigned. It has just come light that Gov. Corbett will appoint William E. Harner, Ph.D
56, who is the superintendent of the Cumberland Valley School District, in Mechanicsburg, PA.


In 2005, Harner was a Fellow in the Broad Foundation’s Superintendents Academy. Apparently, he was a Broad Fellow at roughly the same time as Mark Roosevelt. However, unlike Roosevelt, Harner appears to have a strong and deep expertise and experience at all levels of Education. Does anyone know him, personally or professionally? What is the inside information on this appointment?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Link to Yinzercation/ Big $

A request was received to post the following link to a very interesting post about the growing influence of private money on school districts:

http://yinzercation.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/big/

Monday, May 6, 2013

Common core

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW POST from Today's PG -
Just the FACTS:

"In defense of the Common Core
Pennsylvania high schools must graduate students who are prepared for the world.
Almost a decade ago, governors from across the country got together to have a long-overdue discussion about why so many students were graduating from high school ill-prepared for college. The business community was sounding the alarm . . ."
The consensus among the governors -- Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals -- was that our students could do better but we had to set higher expectations to get better academic results. With the input of educators, parents and experts in English and math, along with governors and other state leaders, the Common Core State Standards were developed for English and math. Eventually, 46 states voluntarily adopted these standards, including Pennsylvania in 2010.

Lately, there's been a lot of negative chatter about the Common Core, much of it based on ill-informed speculation that it is a federal government plot to "take over" our local schools, dictate classroom curriculum or compile databases on our kids for some sinister, unstated purpose. In reality, the Common Core is a state-led initiative that involves no new student-data collection and in no way usurps Pennsylvania's long history of local control.

The Pennsylvania Common Core Standards will help give our students, parents and taxpayers assurance that the resources we put into education are truly preparing our graduates for the challenges they will face beyond high school -- whether that means moving on to vocational training, joining the workforce, enlisting in the military or pursuing a post-secondary degree.

To understand why the Pennsylvania Common Core Standards are necessary, consider the issues our schools and employers have been trying to address.

In 2012, about 32 percent of high school graduates in Allegheny County received diplomas despite failing to show proficiency in math and reading. . .
If these under-prepared graduates went on to post-secondary education, there's a good chance they'd either drop out or have to take time-consuming and costly remedial courses to learn what they should have learned in high school.

This lack of preparedness damages the region's economy, too. According to the state Department of Labor and Industry, nearly 7,000 job openings in seven Western Pennsylvania counties went unfilled for 90 days or more this year, in large part because employers couldn't find adequately skilled workers.

The fact is, giving a high school diploma to a student who is not proficient cheats the student and the taxpayers. . .
The standards don't tell teachers how to structure their lesson plans, they don't dictate which textbooks your kids have to use, and they don't undermine local control by school districts. The standards simply set the bar for what our students should know at each grade level. They serve as a floor of basic academic expectations, not a ceiling that limits a student's learning. If a school or district wants to set a higher academic bar than what is dictated by the Pennsylvania Common Core Standards, they are free to do so.

To ensure that academic standards are being met, our public schools use the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments and the Keystone Exams. The Keystone Exams are used in high school to ensure graduate preparedness, and when students fail a Keystone Exam, they can get additional instruction and re-take them. The goal is to make sure we aren't failing those students by letting them graduate unprepared.

Those who say we should abandon Pennsylvania Common Core Standards don't have a workable alternative.

Doing so would mean stranding the commonwealth's students on an island of academic mediocrity and lost opportunities. Our students, parents, employers and taxpayers deserve better."



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Westinghouse principal moves to online academy

On another post Anonymous wrote:

new posting:
The new board minutes list Shemeca Crenshaw as moving from Westinghouse principal to principal of the Online Academy at the end of this school year. Could this be in response to the number of teachers who have left Westinghouse? Two more left this month.

Who will the board bring in as principal now?

Monday, April 29, 2013

"No rich child left behind"

On another post Anonymous wrote:

*New Post*

NYT Article: "No Rich Child Left Behind"

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/no-rich-child-left-behind/?src=me&ref=general

This article brings to mind PPS administration's misplaced focus on race, when it should have been on parental income. Given how much money, planning, training, money, effort and money spent implementing "Couragious Conversations", it makes me wonder how things might have been different if those efforts and monies extended services (tutoring, truly healthy breakfasts/lunches, parent training offerings, expanded head-start, etc) for those children in need, in lieu of "unpacking White Privilege".

Monday, April 15, 2013

School Board candidate platform

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Schenley Spartan program":

(new please)-- School board election:
Please notice that no one is running on the "hot topics" that this blog explores. People eyes are supposedly opened here and yet, where is the citizen running on:
administrative bloat
corporate consultants lining their pockets
the script
lack of subjects as life skews to the test

No everyone runs on the old saw-- "closing the gap"-- ALL kids are suffering under the above policies-
our magnet schools-- which did close the gap, especially at the elementary level are brought to the lowest common denominator by the constraints of the script. But no one speaks out-- they all praise Linda Lane for "trying hard"--
yes, to line more testing companies, and consultants and corporate America's pockets.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Schenley Spartan program

On another post Kathy Fine wrote:


I am posting this for someone who knew the Spartan classics program very well.

"Spartan Classics was a fine program. The students were NOT in the basement. The way the program worked was students were on the Ground Floor (there were windows down there) their freshmen year for their core subjects as the program was designed as a school within a school. Ironically, the school district under Mark Roosevelt modeled their current Promise Readiness Corp after the Spartan Classics Academy. That is to say, under the Spartan Classics model, teachers traveled with their students from grades 9-11. The students and teachers moved up a floor each year with their core teachers so that 10th grade Spartan Classics students were on the first floor and 11th grade students and teachers were on the second floor. The students took their electives classes with the rest of the student body. The program was specifically designed to cater to the "mainstream" student who is often lost in our system. There was a program at Schenley for the International Studies students and the High Tech students, but nobody was servicing the students who were not in the magnet program. So, a grant from the Heinz Endowment was awarded for the Spartan Classics Academy. There was a director for the program, a designated secretary, a dedicated social worker for the students, another secretary that worked as a liaison with parents, and the director had the ability to hand-pick a dedicated staff of teachers, outside of the union seniority rules. Teachers worked as a team and designed the students' schedules with a mentoring period worked into the curriculum. Teachers created their own block schedule which was ahead of its time. At one point, the program was being visited by school reformers throughout the nation.

The misconceptions that went with the program were purely due to the racist notions of the public who assigned the "basement" perception to these students because they were majority African American. The teachers in the program CHOSE to be on the ground floor for our freshman class so that they could move on their block schedule (which didn't coincide with Schenley's bells) without disrupting other classes. It's remarkable how people come up with these revisionist ideas. The sad part is, the district was unwilling to dedicate the resources required to service their "mainstream" population, and so by the end of the program it was a shell of what it was originally. The district cut the director, social worker, secretaries and disbanded the team teaching approach. That's why it is ironic that now every comprehensive high school in the city is using the model we had before it was disbanded by the administration by having a team of teachers follow their students through their 9th and 10th grade years.

For the blogger, please talk to a Spartan Classic student before making judgements regarding the program. These students felt cared for and really like they were part of a family. It was tragic to witness the dismantling of the program.

I think it is crucial to set the record straight. So many lies have been told about why Schenley closed, I don't want this to be one of them."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

"School closure guide"

On another post Anonymous wrote:


This "School Closure Guide" published by the Broad Foundation will make your head spin. Pittsburgh is highlighted in it. They have a playbook.

http://failingschools.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/school-closure-guide1.pdf

Western PA school rankings

On another post Anonymous wrote:


NEW POST!!
April 5, 2013 – The Business Times released it annual 2013 Guide to Western PA SCHOOLS Ranking Report.

The methodology for the report is based on a formula using 3 years of PSSA scores combined and averaged across math, reading, writing and science. Although statewide ranking is listed based on the accumulated averages for proficient/advanced totals, the major reporting is on Western PA schools ranked for each District grade level.

Western PA 11th Grade (124 schools)

Only CAPA and Allderdice placed in the top 50 with CAPA in 8th place and Allderdice at 48th. (#s 1, 2, 3, were Upper St. Clair, Mt Lebanon, & North Allegheny)

Among the lowest 24 schools (including charters) were Carrick, Brashear, Langley, Perry, Oliver and Westinghouse in that order.

Western PA 8th Grade (149 schools)
CAPA in 20th place, Sci-Tech in 61st place, and Obama in 78th place.
Among the lowest 20 schools were 9 PPS : Schiller, Murray, Allegheny, Arlington, Schaeffer, Arsenal, Stevens, King and Manchester.

Western PA 7th Grade (150 schools)
CAPA at 23rd place, Carmalt at 69th, Colfax at 74th, and Sci-Tech at 77th

Among the lowest 20 schools are 9 PPS: Allegheny, Schiller, Arlington, Murray, Arsenal, King, Stevens, Schaeffer, and Manchester

Western PA 6th Grade (198 schools)
In the top 100 there are only 2 PPS schools with CAPA at 33rd place and Sci-Tech at 98th place.

Among the bottom 30 are 14 PPS: Southbrook, Allegheny, Pgh Classical, Mifflin, Montessori, Schiller, Arlington, Sunnyside, Murray, Schaeffer, Arsenal, Stevens, King and Manchester.

The PPS schools not listed are more or less in the middle as schools rank in Western PA.

Remember these rankings are based on a 3-year average of all four areas tested on PSSA: Math, Reading, Writing and Science. The PDE official data was used to calculate the average proficiency rates to determine the RANK among schools in Western PA.

(Grades 3 to 5 will follow.)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Administrative bloat

On another post Anonymous wrote:


Op-Ed piece from yesterday's PG touching on an example of the administrative bloat in education.

“Today the school systems in 20 states employ more non-teachers than teachers. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice reports that between 1950 and 2009, while the number of K-12 students increased 96 percent, full-time equivalent school employees increased 386 percent. The number of teachers increased 252 percent, but the number of bureaucrats -- including consciousness-raising sensitivity enforcers and other non-teachers -- increased 702 percent.

The report says states could have saved more than $24 billion annually if non-teaching staff had grown only as fast as student enrollment. And Americans wonder why their generous K-12 financing (higher per pupil than all but three of the 34 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) has done so little to improve reading, math and science scores.”


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/george-f-will-political-correctness-is-sweeping-aside-the-three-rs-in-our-schools-681962/#ixzz2PbZhPok2

Thursday, April 4, 2013

City schools left behind when some schools move to WPIAL

A request has been received to post the following from the Obama Eagle:

Posted: 02 Apr 2013 07:58 AM PDT
When the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (WPIAL) agreed to take certain city schools into their association in certain sports, it meant that they would work with a City League consortium to pick and choose the schools and sports that they would allow in the league. The biggest name in scholastic sports in this region and certainly one of the best known in the country, the affects of the movement from City League into WPIAL impacts the students at Pittsburgh Obama greatly in an unfortunate way.
The swimming and soccer team were in the WPIAL this year for the first time with mixed results. Yet the baseball and softball teams remain in what’s left of the city league. Allderdice, Carrick and Brashear have all been accepted into the WPIAL for competition but that leaves three high schools, Obama, Perry, and Westinghouse, to compete among  themselves. This “city league” no longer has a championship and each of the schools only have 6 game schedules, which are against the other two schools. Athletic directors at Obama, Perry and Westinghouse schools could try to set up exhibition games with teams in the WPIAL but it’s very hard since they have a full season to prepare for and don’t have the time to play an off the record game. And of course, the poor weather has played a part in the inability to schedule games. But while the WPIAL thrives in its own monopoly of sorts, it leaves some schools in the dust with nowhere to go.
This is the case with Obama baseball and softball, and while the decision to move into the WPIAL is greeted as being a good one by most, the apparent memory lapse about schools left behind is another thing altogether.
“The committee that came up with this plan  ought to be ashamed of itself.”
Harsh words from 25 year fast-pitch softball coach—and former Obama baseball coach—Mr.Kocur. He is describing his feelings as city teams join the WPIAL in baseball and softball this spring…and leave Obama, Perry and Westinghouse behind.
“It’s outrageous, it’s reprehensible. In all of my years of coaching, it’s the worst thing I’ve seen a governing body do,” Kocur says. “ The lack of foresight in this case just numbs the mind. No one thought of the schools being left behind or of the student-athletes? Outrageous.”
Athletic Director Mr.McGee agrees. “It’s crazy….just crazy.” Leaving three schools behind irks him, as well. “There are so many teams in the WPIAL. I would have to print off a sheet to name them all. We  should be on that sheet.” Magee believes that playing in the WPIAL improves city players’ overall level of play and that the competition is inspiring, giving city players exposure they normally wouldn’t receive. More pointedly, he feels Obama can eventually compete with the WPIAL. To his credit, McGee has been able to schedule baseball games against Bishop Canevin, Sto Rox and Keystone Oaks.But he is disappointed in noting that he has not had much more luck in adding exhibition games with WPIAL schools, especially with the horrible weather we’ve had.
 Softball Coach Ms.Wagner feels a bit differently about the entry into the WPIAL to begin with. “Overall, softball in the city is terrible…there is no ability to build a program and we’re playing kids on a different level in the WPIAL. Given those facts, Wagner doesn’t see competing in the WPIAL as being an option for an Obama.“We don’t have the talent to compete.,” and without a feeder program from elementary/middle school or the community recreational leagues, “We don’t stand a chance against WPIAL teams.”
Still, none of this explains why three city schools were left behind. None of this explains the reasoning that would entail a student who loves baseball or softball having a six game schedule. None of this explains why a city parent, who pays taxes, would agree with the city’s own not having a real season and chance for a real championship.
“Obama and Perry may have taken some lumps in the first few years if they were moved into the WPIAL, but they have the numbers of kids actually playing, “ Mr.Kocur says. “They have the interest in the sport. How do you just leave them behind?”
Meanwhile, Golf and Swim team coach Mr.Rauterkus sees the positives and the negatives of the move. He believes that sweeping changes in terms of the approach to athletics is needed.” The city has always had talented student athlete and some dedicated coaches. But we all know that the opportunities for city residents and that of our suburban competitors are not similar, he says. “ We have plenty of catch up to do. But, the pressing need is to make the top administrators see the value of wholistic athletic programs and then expend the energy to empower our coaches. Most of all, these are economical, efficient and healthy mental investments.”
Mr.Rauterkus believes that perhaps the moves were made without putting the necessary emphasis on upgrading athletics in PPS. “Some reformers wanted to migrate PPS teams to the WPIAL, but all were in full agreement that serious overhauls and upgrades to PPS sports programs and opportunities were necessary.”  So it seems that some recommendations were accepted and some just set aside. And within this, little thought was given to the schools that were left behind in every sport.
“I’m just at a loss to explain how that can happen,” Kocur says. “It just can’t happen.”
Perhaps baseball player Cam Miller put it best. “I think it stinks. You get better by playing the best competition,” he said. “I’d much rather be playing WPIAL schools.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

State of TN turns low achieving schools over to charter operators

From the NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/education/crucible-of-change-in-memphis-as-state-takes-on-failing-schools.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0

Monday, April 1, 2013

Opting out of the PSSA

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW please-- OPT OUT of PSSA
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/why-i-wont-let-my-son-take-the-pssa-681537/

Besides spreading the word about opting out- this article defines the affects of the endless testing

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Superintendent contract

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Whoa! Only ONE person negotiates a several hundred thousand contract for the Superintendent of a 25,000 students school district.

Oh, my goodness!

The Board President just made this statement.

Also, did anyone hear how the State Law was circumvented to allow the Superintendent's contract be renewed?

Oh, my goodness!

Not meeting AYP because criteria have been raised?

On another post Anonymous wrote:

ossibly a new post:

On the (now) televised Legislative Meeting, Mrs. Hazuda proclaimed that PPS will probably not make AYP again this years because “the criteria have been raised”.

My question is: Why would you NOT expect or require that the CRITERIA be RAISED when in fact PPS is far below the PA State Standards for “Proficiency.”

(And, again, comparatively speaking PPS is 494th if number of districts in PA is 500. (Whatever the number of districts, there are only six districts that are poorer in proficiency in the state of Pennsylvania.)

PPS students are NOT well-served in a District that is in CORRECTIVE ACTION II, 4th year after 10 years of accountability to the very SAME PA Academic Standards. And yet a Board member states that we will NOT make AYP because the criteria has been raised. Does the PPS Board expect the criteria be lowered so that Pittsburgh can make AYP? Unbelievable!

Mrs. Colaizzi states that achievement is higher than it has ever been, yet, after 10 years of trying to reach the PA standard PPS is 30 to 40 to 50 points below the State minimum standard. The majority of African American students are more than 50 pts below the standard. Ten years ago they were only 20 points below the standard.

The facts are the facts and they are publicly accessible on the PDE website. To believe the PPS PR spin is truly unconscionable and DIS-SERVES our children who deserve “equity and excellence.”

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

PPS financial predictions v. actual outcome

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New post:

So at the March 5, 2013 Finance meeting Budget Officer Ronald Joseph told the Board that fiscal 2012 - which ended December 31, 2012 - would end in more than a $6 million dollar deficit, meaning that expenses would be higher than revenues.

Oh what a difference two weeks makes.

Fast forward to March 20, 2013. The financial report in the Board Minutes reveals that fiscal 2012 actually ended with a SURPLUS on the year of more than $7 million.

Municipal accounting allows for a 60 day runout of revenues and expenditures, meaning that all activity would have ended on February 28, 2013.

Memo to Pete Camarda and Ron Joseph: exactly how did your forecast of 2012 - one week after all activity would have been recorded - get it wrong by $13 million? Does this mean that you aren't really tracking year to date budget to actual and associated variances?

How do you get it wrong by $13 million when the year is over and cry poor at the March 5th meeting?

Folks, it's even worse. The statements reflect a $1 million transfer to the unemployment compensation fund, a $1 million transfer to the General Liability fund, and a $2 million transfer to the self insurance health care fund. Without those transfers, the actual 2012 surplus would have been more than $11 million. How many of those transfer were done AFTER you realized how bad your forecast was?

This is the second year in a row that the district has run a very large surplus on the year while crying poor in public.

Why exactly should we trust your projections for 2013 or any other year? Two weeks and all activity had ceased!

Take this a step further - with the roughly $14 million fund balance growth over the last two years, why did the district enact a tax increase for 2013? Did we cut more teachers than we needed to?

It's time for a full investigation.

Problem with CBA's

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Please use this to start a new post!


WHAT'S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE...

Ok, I'm mad. No, mad doesn't quite cover it. Totally disgusted is probably closer to the truth! In January, high school students took CBAs--benchmark tests that serve as the final exam grades in each course. These scores are also used, however, to determine teacher effectiveness and are a part of the yeacher's "Value Added Measure". There were so many issues surrounding this test administration, however, that the Union has informed it's membership that the score will be disregarded and not used for any teacher evaluation purposes. Bravo to the teachers for managing to bring to the administration the issues, and kudos to the Board for agreeing that it was such a horrid situation that scores are invalid. What has my panties in a bunch, however, is the fact that to date, NO ATTEMPT HAS BEEN MADE TO DISREGARD THE GRADES FOR STUDENTS! Why are we allowing our children to be evaluated via final exam grades when the test scores were not valid!?? My son saw a marked decrease in his GPA due to poor final exam grades. As he is a junior, that GPA may now hinder him in his ability to be accepted to certain universities. It may also negatively impact his Promise Readiness status. I am outraged that our children are being made to suffer the sins of an inadequate and unreliable series of tests. We need to come together and demand that if the scores were invalid enough to be discounted in the evaluation of teachers, they should also be thrown out as valid indicators of the achievement of our kids.

Angry and Disgusted Parent

Could extra time be the solution?

Let's hypothesize that some kids enter first grade a year or two behind- they don't know letters or shapes or have a basic understanding of addition or subtraction.  And let's say the school moves them forward a year's worth of learning; they will still not be proficient on that year's tests.  And then the next year, if they make a year's worth of progress they will still not be proficient on the tests for that current grade.  If each year the children are actually proficient at a level a year or two behind their actual grade, then could it be that because they started behind they just need a year or two of extra schooling to attain a high school level education?  And that the answer might be to provide those who start at a disadvantage with a year or two of compensatory education, ideally in a way that is interesting and engaging so that they will want to attend, and maybe with some opportunities to earn some money? Could the solution be to give a little extra time to those who need it?

Link to PCNTV daily schedule

Broadcasts of PPS meetings and the mayoral debate take place at various times throughout the day and night:

http://108.32.57.34:50000/external_schedule/simple_day_schedule?id=21

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

UPMC

On another post Mark Rauterkus wrote:

Article in the school newspaper, the Obama Eagle...


Broken Promise? The Pittsburgh Promise and UPMC
Posted: 19 Mar 2013 02:04 PM PDT
According to Michael Lamb, Pittsburgh Democratic mayoral candidate, there is no promise. Sure, there’s the promise that Pittsburgh Public School students will get money for going to college in Pennsylvania. But what about UPMC’s promise to fund it?
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, known as UPMC, is what is referred to as a nonprofit organization. It does do a lot of good in the Pittsburgh area, primarily by the life-saving medicine they provide.
However, according to the most recent data available, makes $801 million in profits a year, not including millions of dollar a year and a private jet for the owner Chris Gessner. It also owns $1.6 billion worth of tax-exempt property, 86% of which is designated as exempt from taxes by the local government, according to a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation. UPMC is also known to have paid maintenance employees so low that they have to rely on food banks.
The main difference from a nonprofit such as UPMC and a for-profit corporation, in reality, is taxes. While the corporate tax rate in America is 12% (Wall Street Journal) plus 10% (Pennsylvania Department of Revenue) for Pennsylvania state tax, nonprofit organizations are exempt from tax entirely. So a company that makes $801 million a year should pay about $176 million in taxes per year.
UPMC announced in 2007 a “$100 million commitment to help students graduating from Pittsburgh Public Schools further their education after high school,” according to their website. However, “UPMC will give $1.00 for every $1.50 that is contributed to The Pittsburgh Promise Fund” (Pittsburghpromise.org), with a limit of $100 million in the next ten years. Last year, $7.5 million was raised by the city, so UPMC donated only $5 million. In comparison $176 million, $5 million a year is a very small amount to donate.
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mayoral candidate debate

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Sunday's mayoral debate (new topic) and question. Since they were at Obama, the candidates seemed focused on education. The media with usual bias, only ran some of the candidates points.,so I may not have this right, but...it sounded like Mr. Perduto stated that the PROMISE MONEY should be used to expand preschool education. I thought the foundations etc. set the parameters for these funds. Was someone there? Did Darlene Harris say anything meaningful- since she was on the board previously?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

State finanical watch list

On another post Anonymous wrote:


http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/wilkinsburg-aliquippa-school-districts-put-on-watch-list-679535/

Included the last article because there is a quote from PPS's spokesperson Ebony Pugh. Seems out of context for the article because there is no other mention of PPS in the piece. Brings up question: is PPS on the radar to be placed on this list with their pending financial crisis?

Fadzen lawsuit

On another post Anonymous wrote:


New posts from today's PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/former-pittsburgh-public-school-safety-chief-files-lawsuit-against-district-679503/

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Extension of superintendent's contract

On another post Anonymous wrote:

The extension of Linda Lane's contract until 2016 was announced at the Agenda Review by the solicitor. The Superintendent's contract extension will be voted on at next Wednesday's Legislative Meeting, March 20th.

The Public Hearing is Monday, March 18th.

Admission to Pittsburgh magnet and charter schools can be difficult

From the PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/admission-to-pittsburghs-charter-magnet-schools-becomes-difficult-678812/

Four leaving school board

On another post Anonymous wrote:


New topic from today's PG:
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/four-leaving-pittsburgh-school-board-679035/

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Diane Ravitch starts an opposition group

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW POST PLEASE

Diane Ravitch starts effort to work against groups like Michelle Rhee's Students First.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/08/education/diane-ravitch-joins-group-to-monitor-public-schools.html?src=recg

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Problems at Perry

On another post Anonymous wrote:

The enclosed is a very sad story for Perry Traditional-why?

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/03/06/police-teacher-forced student-to-perform-lap-dances-in-class/

This should be another entry

In so many words, did the Police help save the current Perry Principal’s job for now? They should not have to be going to this level-when she should be visible and doing her job. This is a disgrace to our community. This should have never happened in the first place!

This Principal is not a person that deserves to lead this transition of two schools. This is just one of the many issues at Perry and many parents feel for the students that it is time for a change. As well as, the Perry teachers need a leader.

If you really read this article-this shows some points that question how this could happen in school-even if true or not true-it just shows that this Principal has the wrong consecutiveness for leadership-her own consecutiveness-is look at me and me-me.

With the so-called great transition for two high schools into one-Where in the world was the famed Principal in charge-of this school?

As a parent, I have many questions of her tactics to be visible as a disciplinarian of teachers and students. She allowed this to happen on her watch-many just feel she needs demoted to another job. Many parents and students question her over-self-concern with herself-even with this ongoing investigation-they state she was more into her image and relationships with the law enforcement to preserve her image even to a point that would be need to be questioned of another 33 year old into oneself.
Many parents are irate with her own personal background and agenda. She lacks very serious organizational, leadership disciplining roles. This did not happen at another school-this Principal allowed this school to slide down to this level-to a decline level of disgrace.

The Pittsburgh Police got her out of this mess-if Fadzen was here-this would have been dealt with in a better. Moral is bad for the teachers and student.
This teacher resigned and is no longer employed. Thank heavens!

Where was the Principal?

There are other chaotic iisues and disaray at this building!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Closing schools 4 choice and excellence

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post:
Time to start thinking about more schools closing in 2015! This blog post by EdShyster "Closing Schools 4 Choice (and excellence) is meant to be funny but it is ALL TRUE. http://edushyster.com/?p=2097

The esteemed Broad Foundation developed a School Closure Guide based, in part, on the wonderful work of PPS in 2005. The school closure guide gives details on how to close schools, while at the same time making the community believe that it is in the best interest of students. No kidding!

A must read! According to the timeline, PPS is already well into the planning process to close schools and will start letting us know real soon.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Andy Warhol/ Alums offer options to PPS

Info from the Andy Warhol School/ Alum group:



Options offered by the group to PPS: 



 
1. AWSVPA will line up financing for PPS for the remodeling and reopening of
Schenley with the AWSVPA curriculum 
 
or
 
2. AWSVPA will buy the building outright for $5.3 Million and reopen 
Schenley as a private school with up to 500 full tuition scholarships for local 
kids.
 

Money spent on closed schools; Westinghouse victorious

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New posting:

Article in today's P-G about money spent on now-closed buildings

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/pittsburgh-school-district-spent-23-million-on-now-closed-buildings-676715/

School Board President Shealey is quoted as saying the amount spent is, "regretful, but hindsight is 20/20. I have no intention of pointing fingers at the board at that time. They were basing their decisions off the information they had at the time."

We know the board doesn't really make any decisions. This was Roosevelt and co. pulling the strings and getting into bed with Gates and Broad. This started the major decline of PPS.

The next article we read should be, "The investigation of the PPS system," like we are now reading about the city police being investigated.

On a side note - congratulations to the Westinghouse boys' and girls' basketball teams for winning the city basketball championships yesterday. Too bad the picture in the P-G shows Crenshaw the principal, and Dr. Lane holding up the trophy. It would have been more appropriate to have the team and coach with the trophy. I don't think Crenshaw or Lane played yesterday...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Privatization of public schools

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Consultant meeting":


This is a very interesting and concise article that sgould be presented as a blog entry-the short reading illustrates a very valid point. Do certain PPS people have their IRA accounts as blind trusts in consultant companies?

I do feel the big money people like Gates need to be looked at thru the other end. This monsy scheming at the best for lining insider pockets at the expense of our children and taxpaying dollars.

Privatizers Now Targeting Pittsburgh Public Schools « Diane ...

The Pittsburgh Public Schools have given a $2.4 million contract to two consulting companies to deal with the district's equity and financial issues ...

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/02/21/privatizers-now-targeting-pittsburgh-public-schools/

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Consultant meeting

NEW POST:

From today's Post Gazette, we learn that a by-invitation-only-meeting will be held by PPS tonightto hear the the new consulting group connected to the Gates Foundation. From the article:

"It's the $2.4 million question: Can an out-of-town consulting firm -- along with its out-of-town partner -- help Pittsburgh Public Schools address its financial and academic challenges?"

"Tonight, community members invited to serve on an advisory group will have their first chance to meet the consultants and give their input at school board headquarters in Oakland."

Were any of the Pure Reform advocates invited to attend this "Envisioning" meeting? 

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/out-of-town-consultants-to-scrutinize-pittsburgh-public-schools-issues-675925/#ixzz2LLYywbPT