Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Consultants hired to envision the future

On another post Anonymous wrote:

I want to publicly thank Dr.Holley and Mr.Brentley for showing the public that there are still some responsible adults on the school board. I know Questioner does not like name-calling, but there are a number of choice descriptors that I would call Linda Lane and the board members who voted for this shlock.

Good God! When will the public finally become outraged at what is going on in the offices on Bellefield???????


Questioner said...

Who would charge this much? There are so many dedicated, selfless people working in education; couldn't PPS hire someone who would accept a reasonable wage ask for the rest of the money to be used where it is most needed?

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if theis Seattle Company has monetary ties to Melinda and Bill Gates? I am conerned a large sum of moeny being sent to "strings attached to stock or funding" pockets.

A good way to incest taxpayer money to corporate funding.

2.4 million would have been and should have been kept in the region-translate a great economic boost locally.

Anonymous said...

GEEZ--Isnt Ms. Cleo free and alot cheaper? This is outrageous- in this economy no matter WHO is footing the bill. Can help but envisioning !-- Lindy fiddling while Pgh burns!

Questioner said...

Wasn't Mr. Roosevelt the visionary? What happened with that?

Anonymous said...

I got admit Ms. Cleo is a gem of an answer-but she will probe with questions for visionary answers.

Is this another form of "Change agents?"

That is a educational buzzword that goes visionary=change agent.

It appears PPS has to change their visionary plan due to fog or muddy waters-they appear to have hit a barrier.

Anonymous said...

Gates certainly has ties to FSG--no surprise!

Questioner said...

And supported by Heinz endowments as well.

Anonymous said...

When will ANYONE realize that they are being fooled because Gates money looks like it is funded/ free. It is not, PPS has an obligation to pay 50%. . They can't pay him back they are digging in deeper. It reminds me of a loan shark or "Soprano" type situation. They ave PPS in their back pocket now. Game, set....our move.

Here is the deal. Gates "donated" 40 Million to PPS, who were and still are on the hook to come up with an additional 45 Million. That little detail keeps getting left out of the discussion. It is getting real.

Anonymous said...

Connections to the Pittsburgh Foundation as well listed on the fsg website.

Anonymous said...

I will look,of course, but has anyone found an fsg success story? PPS has in the past gotten advice from consultants and audits that went ignored. Might there be a chance of that again or does an assumed endorsement or connection prevent that from happening?

Anonymous said...

Fascinating stuff on the FSG site. The project done in DC included conducting surveys and interviews with staff, stakeholders, etc. Sounds a lot like what A+ Schools has done for the past several years. I know this is all shared because I have been to extremely well attended meetings that had sponsors and participation from high level district admin and all sorts of A+ staff. What makes anyone think by spending more money we will get different answers? I do not volunteer for A+ but if I did I would be feeling insulted about now.

Anonymous said...

Is the agenda review meeting available to view? It seems there has been an upgrade to accessing. Changes never seen to work the first time out of the gate.

Anonymous said...

Remember this FSG deal starts Today 1/17/13 amd emds 08/03/13-this is very interesting.

Why so fast-FSG deals with social conerns and change worldwide!

I have grave concerns why so fast for implementation.

What justifiable reason for the present to predict future trends.

This should have been questioned with the foundation matching amount for funding.

Anonymous said...

Very good point with the comparison to A+ schools.

Gates wants to go international now-with pbulicity and research-he has been around for 2 years-he needs a better gauge for his money.

But, another group of consultants that need data.

For more easons to be positive or negative in regards to teaching and PPS.

Are other Gates schools-now wanting to add THEIR this research team?

FSG has Microsoft as a client-also are other GATES interests as AIDS and WORLD hunger on the list?

This was a very fast move-for this,

People just did not have time to digest it?

Questioner said...

Board members in the past have been very concerned about who sees and uses PPS data; are there any limitations in this deal?

Gates etc seem to be looking for a place to experiment and then no matter what the outcome the consultants speak about their results; it also lets the consultants get some experience.

Given the time span be cautious about the same emphasis on "quick results" that has been a problem since MR arrived.

Anonymous said...

I guess with Dr. Holley’s expertise and with other Board members not having time due to hectic schedules etc.-they should respect peer’s viewpoints on related matters. They are to embrace-not embarrass the whole Board by voting without listening to justifiable rationale.
Equality is imperative. Holley and Brentley seem to be more honed in not being just the negative vote-but have justifiable reasons for their no votes.

Anonymous said...

Since, we are not allowed or privy to the stock portfolio of investments for the individual Gates Family, PPS teacher pension fund, Heinz, and other for other foundations as well as individual high paid Educational Administrators in educational institutions.
With the new tax laws in effect-one must have to look through a rich man’s tax plan for monetary savings as a lens on what is vital for making money as a billionaire without working .
FSG has a very impressive clients. I wonder if Gates and Heinz use the Banks on the list.
It would make an impressive stock portfolio. Or as one reader inferred a Soprano scheme. This is the high class or Wall Street version that is not criminal in today’s world business world.
Today this is legal-in the yester years Hoffa done wrong and time-he was not investing properly-because they were not educated in the business terms of corporates and play with money the legit way.

Anonymous said...

The banks on the list and corporates are impressive.
I am not rich; but poor-so I just wonder

Just a few of FSG CLIENT—that will ring bells with connections to PPS and funding-Is thus legal or a conflict of interest?

So here we go:::::
Institute of Learning---
as we all know University of Pgh and the IFL consultants in PPS

NewSchools Venture Fund-------Ed technology
Broad Foundation and Gates Foundation-Each Foundation contributed $5-7 million as funders for 2012

Community Center for Education Results (CCER) founded in 2010.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and CCER engaged FSG to design, launch, and implement the Road Map Project, a cradle-to-college and career collective impact initiative in South Seattle and South King County.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt- PPS teaching curriculum and our children receive as their education.

Heinz Family Foundation-PPS funder

Intel Corporation -PPS Computers

Hewlett Packard - PPS Computers

SAP-software for tracking research for business and education

The Wallace Foundation-PPS funder

The Pittsburgh Foundation-PPS funder

Anonymous said...

Why was this Special Legislative Meeting slid into (one week ahead of schedule)the Agenda Review Meeting without our enough time for anyone to investigate the entire transaction?

How much difference would it have made for an "Envisioning" project that will extend over one year to be introduced (as in the usual process) at the Agenda Review and then one week later to be voted on at the Legislative Meeting?

How do you get away with breaking all of the rules that have been set to prevent such actions?

As previously suggested here, there needs to be serious training in ethics if not the legalities for which a Board of Directors is held accountable?

Anonymous said...

I realize that this site is the exclusive domain of a curtain group think so I will keep this brief.
Education is huge money and edudcation is constantly evolving. We need these national studies and data gathering to understand the complex issues we face. Personally, I think this is money well spent. Please don't tear into me for having a different take on this. I'm a city tax payer and I care too.

Anonymous said...

This proves that our Superintendent and her cronies have no clue or vision of their own

Anonymous said...

My big question is how is this going to be different or better than the "re-envisioning" we've already had several times over the Broad era here?

We had the college for all, kill the vo-tech segment.

That included spending millions on Kaplan and then taking back half the money and then mumble, mumble gone.

It involved the Foresights (sp.?) and then no Foresights.

It involved new curriculum everywhere and then gradual realization that the more prescriptive and scripted the curriculum the less well it seemed to work.

It involved K-8 and then 6-12 schools and schools with themes as a panacea.

It was going to be all school choice and then that disappeared.

There were going to be regional planning meetings and the development of an overall plan for the district with community input FIRST rather than later.

We trained all those principals who were going to revolutionize our schools and mostly our test scores and that hasn't worked either.

Do you see why I'm not excited about yet another "consulting" firm coming in and solving everything in a couple of months? A firm that was hired yesterday for a contract that starts today?

That's what stinks -- not new ideas, not change. But this constant churn of new ideas that aren't proven, ideas from people who don't really know how things worked here, ideas from people who get their money from people with an agenda to push. All of that stinks.

Questioner said...

What about Mr. Noguera- how does he fit in with all this? Is he still working with the district?

Anonymous said...

Certainly, he is still working with the district; but his task is very different from this one.

There is no escaping the Common Core State Standards as the future for acquiring better academic achievement at a state, national, an universal level. And, it is a baseline objective for PPS which remains one of the lowest achieving districts in the state.

Unfortunately, IFL will be hired, officially, next week to do that work in PPS (at close to $74,000) and they have NO EXPERTISE in this area.

ENVISIONING (at 2.4 million) is going to take some time and a whole lot of effort to put into action. In the meantime, in the meantime academic here must be substantially improved. What are the models, the results, the successes of the consultants who are "envisioning"?

Anonymous said...

I am confused –please explain the money trail.

IFL –the Institute for Learning is a client for FSG.

We just paid FSG 2.4 million for immediate work from Foundations and Gate monies.

We pay next week $74,000 to IFL.

Thus, GATES and foundations are getting money from PPS.

Isn't this questionable?

Anonymous said...

$1.2M is coming from Gates money. Surely the Gates money is going to run out before long, right? To some it seems like it should have been gone by now.

Anonymous said...

This is new Gates money, isn't it? Not the old Gates money. @@

Anonymous said...

What consultant do other school districts in Allegheny County use for "envisioning"? How much do they spend on it?

Anonymous said...

There are so many thoughts about this thread. First off, the allusion to PPS pension funding. Are you saying that you believe the Corbett mantra that it is government and teacher pensions that are destroying state and local budgets??? If so, shall I post myriad links I have from neutral sites that have claimed otherwise?
Point is, I am tired of being demonized by government, the public and the press. I have worked my 30 years and can happily say that a self-serving bureaucrat like Tom Corbett couldn't carry my bags. I'm not the problem, in any way, shape or form.
Secondly, Pitt's IFL has caused immeasurable harm to this district, at least in my opinion. Not only has its curriculum truly hurt the students as it is watered down and out of touch--and more interested in being politically correct than providing students a world class education--it has also worked in with Geri Lippert's academically-insane 50% policy to destroy the idea of academic integrity.
Add to this fact that Judy Johnston--the poster girl for financial bloat and outrageously misguided spending--involved, along with her PELA program, and you see the continued downward spiral.
Parents, the complete and utter disconnect that exists Pitt's IFL/Johnston and the urban classroom can only be described in one word: shocking.
Rein in teachers. Get them all doing the same thing. Take them out of the classroom process. Script curriculum. This is the goal of PELA and IFL.
It has NOTHING to do with the achievement of PPS students at large or in narrowing the achievement gap.
And PPS has once again rubber stamped them for more.
Shocking. And yet, with the likes of Jean Fink and Theresa Colaizzi, completely predictable.
These people will not stop until they have run the district completely into the ground. Along the way, they will continue to lambaste teachers in a shell game for the public and for wimpy teacher unions.
It's like they see the wall dead-ahead and have the ability to stop this runaway train, but would anther crash, get what they can for themselves, and blame others.
And the public?
They're just waiting for Steelers camp.

Anonymous said...

6:54 - There are NO OTHER districts in the state that have anywhere close to the money PPS has to literally 'play around' with the futures of Pittsburgh children. (A few are relatively protected at CAPA, Sci-Tech, and Obama.)

After spending last week in Harrisburg with Educators across the state, the level of shock that was expressed at what is happening is PPS was astounding. It, quite frankly, cannot be believed. (The level of knowledge and achievement in other districts is beyond impressive by comparison, yet budgets are seriously impaired.)

The great majority of PPS students are in deep trouble; but, very few adults have even a 'clue' about the extent of academic deficiencies.

Keep PPS in your prayers and step up as volunteer!

Anonymous said...

9:48, it's all about greed and personal philosophies. The greed comes from the continued acceptance of grants from entities like Gates. There is a belief within the walls of the Bellefield building that it is far more important to make Massas Bill and Eli happy---and of course, the masters who run Pittsburgh foundations---than taking care of the needs of our students.

Secondly, ramrodding home a failed curriculum is much more important than admitting such a complete and incredible failure. Every test shows it and yet, it is better to ignore the results than to acknowledge it.

And friends, it can't be the teachers, as they are mandated to follow a scripted daily curriculum.

So there you have it. Greed and stubborn mindsets.
Yes, teachers continue to be under the gun, but our kids are bigger losers.

Anonymous said...

If things are so bad here why isn't the state doing anything? Don't they care?

Anonymous said...

1:24 - It is a new administration in Harrisburg. Enough said.

(Certainly, there are some who "care" (here, there, and everywhere) but the power structure has another agenda.)

Questioner said...

? Not really enugh said. What are the goals of the new administration?

Anonymous said...

The state doesn't want to run the district! I believe that part of why we hired Roosevelt was because of his Broad training -- at the time that was seen as a plus. These were going to be people who could both run a district "as a business" and also take "no excuses" and bring "rigor."

The foundations jumped back on board, the state breathed a sigh of relief. What do they want with 25K students to educate?!

Now, I'm sure that our district will point to this re-envisioning as a reason that they're going to do better. Look! We're spending 2.4M to find out what we didn't do right before and how we can do it now.

Phew! Says the state, just please don't become so financially distressed that we have to take you over for that.

If some charter organization managed to get Corbett's ear for long enough, I bet we'd see more privatization though, in lieu of the state doing anything. Districts may just be told that they have to allow Charter XYZ to take over schools.

Anonymous said...

From 3:32 - You hit the nail on the head with this comment:

"Phew! Says the state, just please don't become so financially distressed that we have to take you over for that."

They are probably less equipped, at this point in time, than PPS to run the district. In a previous administration they sent PPS 10 experts in education to ASSIST (not take over/at no cost to PPS) the District. But, Roosevelt sent them away claiming he did not need help, he was going to do it his way. Clearly, he had the political where-with-all, to reject the State's professional, educational assistance and PPS did not get the help that they were entitled to as one of the 30 lowest achieving districts in the state.

Anonymous said...

Listening to this week's (Jan. 16, 2013) Legislative/Agenda Review Meeting on Channel 44 was very disturbing in reference to the "Envisioning" project at 2.4 million, Charters, and a CCSS Curriculum.

The leaders of the group doing the "Envisioning" do not have a 1)educational backgrounds, 2) are not a diverse organization, and 3)have no record of success. At 2.4 million in an urban district it seems that the three (3) above-mentioned criteria would be absolutely mandatory! The details in all answers to questions by the Board lacked any substance whatsoever! At 2.4 million? Oh my goodness!
PPS has become a gold mine for anyone who can write a proposal since our Board and Administration are relatively 'clueless' when it comes to reviewing much less creating a successful Strategic Plan or "envisioning" successful instruction, curricula, and schools for Pittsburgh's children.

Anonymous said...

Seems like Questioner and/or friends must also live in the same building and/or belong to the same temple(s) as the solicitor and charter school leadership entities . . . Hmmmmmmm?

Questioner said...

Sorry but not the case...

Anonymous said...

Then why not print direct quotes from a televised session?

Questioner said...

Plse do not belittle others comments in posts. Because all information and goals are not transparent it is necessary for commentators to draw inferences rather than just report facts.

Anonymous said...

Teachers are at the mercy of the administration yet held responsible for a failing system and a failing curriculum. Teachers have no input, no say. I have never and I mean never seen a school system that is such a mess as this one. I have never seen so many outside entities using and abusing a system for their own agendas and experiments. I have never seen a city allow this to happen. Someone needs to step in. The ties amaze me. Look a little deeper and just how politically connected all of this is. Teachers are going to lose their jobs under Pittsburghs proposed plan if it goes through even though experts have shown the inconsistencies with VAM. Teachers hands are tied. Puppets. Just cant take it anymore.......

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
Seems like Questioner and/or friends must also live in the same building and/or belong to the same temple(s) as the solicitor and charter school leadership entities . . . Hmmmmmmm?
January 20, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Paranoia will destroy ya. Chill.

Anonymous said...

Google FSG (the Consultant Group that will be paid 2.4 million for Envisioning) and you will learn that:
1. FSG is a consulting firm specializing in strategy, evaluation, and research, founded in 2000 as Foundation Strategy Group.
2. FSG helps organizations, individually and collectively, achieve social impact by discovering better ways to solve social problems.

3. "CCER/Gates Foundation: Road Map for Education Results"
Case Overview:
"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Community Center for Education Results (CCER) engaged FSG to design, launch, and implement the Road Map Project, a cradle-to-college and career collective impact initiative in South Seattle and South King County."

Two familiar Foundations are listed as FSG supporters: Heinz Family Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

PPS Superintendent insisted that she knew of no connection to the Gates Foundation when asked by Mr. Brentley, who also asked where FSG was located. The Superintendent replied that they were located in Seattle. The Gates Foundation is also located in Seattle.

(No opinions here, just facts. It would be interesting to trace/investigate how this $2.4 million dollar consultancy came to PPS.)

Anonymous said...

If you use the website to ascertain the "diversity" (which was questioned by Dr. Holley) you will find that the Leadership Team as well as the Consultants are overwhelmingly white with a very few diverse members of Hispanic or Indian descent. African Americans were not present.

Dr. Holley also asked about whether or not they were Educators. The response was that they were not Educators, however, there was one person who worked in the Seattle School District.

The right questions were asked by the two Board members who voted against this 2.4 million to ENVISION; but, the weak answers serve to raise further questions and make you wonder why other Board members approved this 2.4 million.