Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Not always the right choice to close a failing school"

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Here's another success story!
Read all of this excerpted article if you are among those who believe that our schools cannot be successful in this Broad/Gates/Charters. The will, the belief, the hard work of committed educators can change the worst of situations !


Op-Ed: It’s Not Always the Right Choice to Close a Failing School

Author Michael Brick speaks out on what is being called ‘the civil rights battle of our time.’
. . . .
“It wasn’t easy. Here was a Latina woman from a border town stepping in to lead the withering yet beloved centerpiece of a traditionally black neighborhood. Over time, she managed to win over parents, teachers, preachers and civic leaders by embracing the proud history of Reagan High."

“There’s a heartbeat in the school,” Anabel once told me. “There’s a heartbeat, and it’s not too late to save.”

"Recognizing that a myopic focus on test scores would only produce an annually recurring scramble, Anabel nurtured the spirit that makes families want to embrace their neighborhood school."

"On her watch, the Raiders basketball team, coached by a big-hearted alum named Derrick Davis, made an inspiring playoff run behind a gifted four-sport athlete named JaQuarius Daniels. The band won competitions with funky show-stoppers. Drama and arts clubs came back to life. Devoted young teachers reached deep into their imaginations and pocketbooks to inspire their students."

"Pretty soon, the school became a place kids wanted to go."

And, oh yeah, they made the numbers.”
. . . . .

Let’s get some real educational leaders in Pittsburgh. They will get it done!



Questioner said...

No disagreement about working with rather than closing failing schools, but where does it say that Austin is a Broad/Gates district?

The article said the principal had a year to bring up scores, but nothing about having to work within the Broad framework. The paperwork and meetings alone could make it impossible to drive around making sure students go to school.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I guess the intro was poorly worded since the point was missed.

It is NOR a BROAD/GATES model! That was the point made!

Pittsburgh will never be successful with that model, that philosophy, that kind of external control.

We need the return of our own local, committed, community-oriented educators. We need people who can do the job of returning education to our schools.

We do NOT need to close our schools.
Instead, we need to make them places where kids want to come, places where the adults demonstrate that they are competent and that they care in positive and productive ways (as the folks at Austin did)!

Anonymous said...

It took just one LEADER to step up. It took just one year to do the job.

PPS central office needs to allow a LEADER into such schools in PPS. Then just allow the one year to show what can be done WITHOUT the so-called CO/Broad/Gates "framework" or interference.

Questioner said...

Points can't be missed if they are not made.

Anonymous said...

Ironically Roosevelt was turned down for the Austin job.

Anonymous said...

Smarter people there than here, would you not agree?

Anonymous said...

Probably, African American, were the decision makers. Not so here.

Anonymous said...

What's "ironic" about it?

Obviously, Austin knows how to choose a leader with commitment and an understanding of what it takes to educate the less advantaged, but just as bright, among us!

Anonymous said...

Back in the day, Pittsburgh would "pilot" new ideas in one school, or sometimes just in in a class or two.

For example, if someone somewhere came up with a new way to teach geometry - and if the new way seemed promising - a few math classes across the city would try the method out.

It really was a good way to see what worked, and what needed improvement.

The current PPS leadership would do well to consider such an approach today.

Questioner said...

What explains the change from piloting to untested but large scale implementation (ie ALAs, iPads, whatever)?

Anonymous said...

Seeing quality in a colleague is frowned upon -- so uc sed t be learned from other teachers, principals had dynamic ideas to be tried, innovations would spread -- especially in areas such as technology. PPS was far ahead of suburban schools and the years up until 2006 were collaborative and innovative.

Anonymous from 12:26 AM said...

Questioner, you asked "What explains the change from piloting to untested but large scale implementation?"

It's entirely due to naked arrogance on the part of PPS central administration.

I wish that I could use a gentler word, but unfortunately "arrogance" fits perfectly.

Anonymous said...

Simmply put, Mark R and Linda lane are not the answers. Lane lacks the leadership skills to get the job done, and Mark R was simply not a educator. And now our kids suffer. Your right its arrogance and there are board members who like the fact that these leaders were much easier to manipulate.

Anonymous said...

I am a security guard and I still have not been called this year for over time? Why id this? Politics!

Anonymous said...

Well Linda lane is about to get another 3 year contract so get used to it. Nothing will change and it will only get worst. They will do this before the new board is in there and while sharene Shealy is board chair. I know its sad but only a few board members really care any more.

Is there any one out there who thinks linda lane is doing a great job?

Anonymous said...

So much hinges on the Board election.

PPSparent said...

" there are board members who like the fact that these leaders were much easier to manipulate. "

I'd say you have the wrong tail wagging that dog.

Roosevelt and Lane were not manipulated by the board -- they maninpulated it.

They were trained by the Broad "Academy" how to either gain the support of the members or to entirely cut out members who didn't go along. As long as you have the majority of the board rubberstamping you because you've sold them a line, you're set to go.

PULSE, PELA, ALAs, Kaplan curriculum, RISE, support of Keystone tests, 6-12 configurations, etc. These were not the ideas of the board! These are all ideas that you can find in other "Broad-infected" urban districts across the country.

Board members received "training" from Broad. Broad interns dot the landscape of upper administration. Information given to the board members is sifted and packaged by these people to gain the board's support.

Most of the board members really have no idea what goes on across the district on a daily basis -- the ones with full-time jobs especially! They take what they are told by the administration and then they vote it in.

Outside funding *itself* isn't bad. It used to be that principals would see a need or a new program idea developing and have the time and energy to write a grant. That is, outside money was sought to fund ideas that were already working.

Now, outside money is given to implement, often district-wide, new, untested programs and ideas (see list above for some of them). These aren't organic needs we've seen arise, this is just churn.

Anonymous said...


February 14, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Yes, the Board was manipulated.

The best sentence in the whole Blog entry-that sums it all up.
No further comments.

Thank You for the summation.