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.


Anonymous said...

When does her current contract run out? Is this something that needs to be voted on so soon? It bothers me that the four board members who are leaving will be voting on this issue.

MrMidnight said...

And with this news, ladies and gentlemen, you can safely see what the problem is: entrenched thinking on Bellefield Avenue which is completely--outrageously--out of touch with the needs of Pittsburgh students.

Here is an administration that eats, sleeps, drinks and breathes one idea: it is ALL the fault of teachers.

Everything is the fault of teachers, so much so that we have gone through one summer of 300 teachers being fired without one administrator being touched and will soon go through another couple of years of the same.

What does it say to even the most unintellectual of taxpayers that a SCHOOL DISTRICT would rather fire teachers en masse than administrators who have no clue what goes on in a classroom????

All Linda Lane has done for this district is to trumpet the mantra continually: It's all the fault of the teachers.

And she has surrounded herself with a cast of charlatans that echo the same sentiments.

Let's cut to the bottom line: Linda Lane, Jeannie French and company preside over a complete failure of a school district which is that way because it has continued to misidentify problems which relate to student achievement in favor of pushing a failed mantra that entails scripted, poor curriculum and a "teacher rating system" that upon close examination would not be used even in a third world country.

Congratulations, dear taxpayer. This is what you continue to enable by your failure to get off the couch....all at the expense of your children.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Midnight maybe you need to call into question the failed leadership of your PFT President Nina Esposito. She spouts union solidarity but in reality has sold the teachers down the proverbial toilet by galvanizing teachers to succumb to the belief system of a failing scripted curriculum and an evaluation system designed to target and terminate teachers instead of actually growing one's practice

Anonymous said...

This is mind numbing. Shades of rushing Roosevelt's contract.

Anonymous said...

Under State law, don't superintendents have to be given notice of non-renewal something like six months before the end of their term or their contract automatically continues?

The timing of Dr. Lane's first contract was thus well-thought out by those seeking to have the renewal decision made by the now sitting Board. A decision must be made without the benefit of this year's test scores.

Anonymous said...

It is mind numbing that they want to extend the contract of the Broad/Gates regime that has placed the District on the path to financial ruin in 2015. Let alone have done nothing for improving the educational outcomes in the District. Based on PSSA scores isn't PPS ranked 494th out of 500 school districts across the state?

Anonymous said...

Any coincidence that the extension is slated to go to 2016, a year after the district is to go bankrupt and the teachers' contract is up. And by Lane's own admission in one of the PG articles, if the extension is granted this will be her last go around. Wouldn't it behoove the district to look for someone who could be here to see it through the troubled waters of 2015 and beyond. Not someone who will make demands and changes and not be here to see them through. Oh i forgot, that's the Mark Roosevelt playbook. The same playbook the four outgoing Board members are using.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing that the Board is giving the go ahead to Linda Lane's contract and keeping on board her lieutenants when district scores are so dismal. It appears that the only persons who are accountable for poor student performance is the classroom teacher. There are more retirements and resignations per month than ever before in the history of PPS. My thought is while teachers cry out that the scripted curriculum is not meeting the educational needs for their students, they are ones held accountable for its implementation and failing test scores. So we terminate teachers for students not making progress but those who have been making the failed decisions regarding content, pedagogy and implementation strategies are seen as experts and retain their lucrative salary positions. Give this Pittsburgh taxpayer a break!

Anonymous said...

This superintendent---along with French and Lippert, among others---has run an incredible shell game that has been lapped up by "journalists" in this city without question. What a tremendous gig, to work for the public and have absolutely NO accountability. This superintendent has been adept at placing blame on teachers and protecting her own. She's been wonderful at painting rosy pictures that simply aren't accurate.

And she's not done yet.

Already, her lieutenant is making outrageous, inane comments in the paper that equate East End schools as ALL having the same achievement gaps. When one stops to ponder that Obama's African American students are in the high 60% /low 70% proficiency range while Westinghouse is in the 20%'s, one must simply ask what the end game is. The same goes for UPrep. Is the idea being floated that perhaps we only need ONE East End School? Is that what is being floated?

What individual looks at the proficiency rates of the schools in question and calls it a "comparable achievement gap.????" Where is the outcry? Where is the journalistic ethics that scream for explanation of such an inanity??? After all, you can only look at such a comment--one that bends statistics in such a way that suits a mindset---as being complete lunacy.

THIS is the kind of misinformation that comes from your superintendent and her assistants. Ask yourself why? To what end could such blather be floated? What is the strategy here....and does it yet again involve closing schools and cutting teachers so that we can keep the outrageous amount of administrators and consultants we have---people who wouldn't even know where to find a classroom?

And outgoing board members are going to bestow a contract renewal upon such a leader???

Anonymous said...

Let's go one step further and look at the new RISE tactic, shall we?
We all know RISE is a means to dump salary---a way to get rid of veteran teachers. The board minutes prove this month after month.
Now, the latest tactic is this:
approach groups of veteran teachers---all over 50---tell them you hear that great things are going on in their classrooms---and let them know they will be observed incessantly over the next month or so.
This is the tactic.
When those observations, administration is reaming out the "wonderful teacher." Next up---being placed on improvement plans....the first step towards termination.

Questioner---look into this.

We are talking about an outrage here again---getting rid of dedicated staff simply to dump salary and save more administrators.

Isn't this sickening?

Anonymous said...

102What is truly "sickening" is the ongoing, long term failure of the Pittsburgh community to demand "equity and excellence" for all of Pittsburgh's students!

Anonymous said...

Equity, dear friend, begins with the teacher. Tell it like it is.It doesn't begin with some political hack of a school board member or administrator who thinks he is doing your kids a favor by simply handing them 50% grades for no work, or by overlooking discipline problems or by brow-beating teachers or, most of all, by furnishing each teacher with a curriculum which is far below inferior.
Tell it like it is.
Let's place the blame where it is due.
You want equity for all students, then demand the resignations of charlatans who are playing shell games to keep their games that doom students.

Tell it like it is, friend.

Anonymous said...

It is not only "sickening" but strange-- We had a yes, very contentious school board- the fights were notorious BUT at least board members were passionate about their beliefs. And Yes, old boards micromanaged based on their constituents wants.
But, scores of all students were more equitable. Magnet schools were racially balanced, and remember that a school could be magnet in those days based on full day kindergarten. In most cases, students who were bussed in for kindergarten stayed for the entire feeder pattern. Also busing was in "both directions" as East Hills was well regarded by the east end communities, for example.
What oh what did the Roosevelt and company administration ever do to win over this city? Everyone cant be "namestruck?"
Also- fantasizing that the new board members will interested, etc-- cause there are some good good people running-- What can these new members combined with Mr. Brentley and Dr. Holley-- What can they actually DO to stop the insanity? How much can they say NO to consultants within the structure of the Gates garbage?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you have to wonder if new blood will have the personal courage to resist entrenched dogmas at Bellefield Avenue which are fueled by "entrepreneurial contributions."
That is the question.
When billionaires and foundations can make contributions with the caveat that their philosophies are put into play, then you have tainted something which is supposed to pure.
Education in itself is supposed to be pure knowledge. Never mind the questions about history and who wrote what, no, education should be students learning pure information.
It should not mean students learning what billionaires *want* them to learn.
That is what PPS has become.
When Bill Gates can throw millions into a district and target teachers---and say that he sees the advantage of kids teaching kids through continual, ridiculous levels of group work, he is doing nothing for your child.
This is NOT how things are done in college and let's face it, NOT how things are done in the corporate world.
When the University of Pittsburgh can have oversight over the district's curriculum and actually re-write what teachers have put forth as being vital to student achievement, you have a situation in which a higher power is essentially teaching kids WHAT to think (as long as it is politically correct) and not HOW to think.

And when that same institution can have its hands in a RISE program that ensures teachers adhere to teaching via the script and simply TERMINATES any teacher who dissents or questions--especially veteran teachers---then you have tyranny and mutation.

And THIS superintendent presides over all of this---and covets it all. That the school board would seek to renew the contract of someone who has done absolutely NOTHING for our kids....and that it would keep her lieutenants who have only sought to rein in teachers and also have done NOTHING for our kids---is reprehensible.

Lane is a huge liability to student achievement, as is her inner circle. But make no is Fink, Colaizzi and their allies. They have bought in to all of this claptrap and one can only wonder why.

Can new blood cut through this outrage? We can only pray.

Anonymous said...

I agree. The agenda is simple. Put all workers over the age of 50 into circumstances that either upset them enough that they will leave before they reach retirement age (55 or years of service) or be fired for some made up reason. The school district still hasn't paid its share of the pension match for these people. When it does, it will be bankrupt. It is bankrupt now even more than has been discussed in the paper. The number of staff who are or have recently been on medical leave is high. Probably because of this harassment. And if people are fired, the district doesn't have to pay its share of the retirement costs or the medical, either. Do people know this? Do staff know this? All the money has been spent to cover Broad/gates initiatives.

Questioner said...

What if they are fired after age 55- does the district has to pay retirement and medical?

Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused by what you are alluding to in terms of "retirement costs." Please note, the district cannot eliminate an individual's pension because the teacher has been terminated thanks to a poor evaluation. If there is some sort of criminal act that caused the termination, then of course, but not because of a poor evaluation.
Here's the thing: RISE is a salary dump, pure and simple.
It has less to do with retirement than it does with salary. After all, the teacher is going to get his pension if he is near retirement age. But replacing an $85,000 salary with a $40,000 salary is the aim.
Multiply that by 25 teachers and you have saved the district a million dollars.
And that is the endgame here.
Dirty. Venomous. Spiteful.
This is the RISE program and this is PPS administration.
Some say they can't wait for the day that lawsuits are launched. In a very real way, I worry about something much more disturbing happening.
You are messing with peoples' livelihoods here.
You are destroying their peace of mind.
And in most cases, you are going after dedicated individuals who are doing things right.

Questioner---please, check this out. Make inquiries. Imagine principals being told to target veteran teachers and to propose that "they are doing things so right that we want to observe and learn"....only to begin firing proceedings. How devious can you get?

Anonymous said...

10:43 - "And in most cases, you are going after dedicated individuals who are doing things right."

This statement captures, in essence, why there is such an egregious decline in achievement for the majority of Pittsburgh students.

P.S. (Along with the poor, contrived, "managed", "one-size-fits-all" curricula that misses the key critical thinking skills.)

Questioner said...

Isn't this what a union is supposed to be for? What would the union be responsible for doing if some teachers brought a grievance? If management has infiltrated the union there should be a remedy for that as well.

Anonymous said...

I think most of the old veterans who are now targets understand that there really is no union. Many of us came in under the Al Fondy watch and are better off for it in a financial sense, to be sure, but our protection has eroded to the point that truly, if you are under the microscope of an administrator, your best bet is to have a labor attorney on retainer. It's extremely expensive but the dirty, devious and simply unethical ways of going after teachers now demands that you are proactive.
I'm aware of many outlandish accusations being bandied about that have no merit. From being drunk on the job, to being insubordinate to myriad other accusations, what strikes me is that the union has been contacted...and has done nothing.
I appreciated Al's service to teachers, but he erred greatly in giving away points for a few dollars more in the final days of his career.
I do not understand what John was trying to do, but he allowed great damage to teachers. And simply a protege of John's.
I suspect that the union is laughed at in the administration building. I suspect that threats of grievance are met with loud laughs.
I would wonder however if laughs would meet lawsuits that describe character assassination or illegal workplace intimidation. I would wonder if the cavalier mentality of central administration would continue if people who know the dirt were to ever "go public."
Not all of us are stupid.
And not al of us are unprepared should the roof cave in on us.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure the district can decline to pay its half of the pension if a person is fired. The staff person keeps their own contributions, yes, and can live off those. But the district can decline to pay its portion of pension costs. This is why people fight so hard nd go to court when they go through this kind of stuff. And you are right about replacing the salaries with a $40,000 level. Not a living wage when all the benefits and your contributions to your own pension and union dues get subtracted. Again, no money is there on the districts side, all of it spent instead on Roosevelt's reforms, capital expenditures, huge, to improve buildings now torn down, closing schools and moving kids to new schools to avoid nclb sanctions, hiring more staff to do rise etc. so it only makes sense to them to cut costs of salaries, the biggest expense item of all.

Anonymous said...

And now Sylvia Wilson (just retired from PFT leadership) is running for a school board seat! This is called getting a fox in the hen house.

Anonymous said...

4:54PM You're absolutely correct. The PFT Team of Tarka and Esposito joined forces with Roosevelt, Lane, Gates and Broad to the detriment of their union membership. Want to fix it? It's simple. Vote out Esposito and company sending them back into the schools as employees who have to contend with the RISE system they sold as "Empowering Teachers!" Instead of sitting pretty at the PFT building and responding to the membership, "What do you want me to do?" when principals are targeting veteran teachers, send her and her cronies back into the schools. My bet is that she'll retire in a heart beat. The PFT membership could then elect a Leadership Team that works for their members and students instead of failed policies set by reformers with big pockets that control Central Office and PFT!

Anonymous said...

10:32, you said "Vote out Esposito and company...."

Well, the PFT membership had a chance to do just that last year.

And a majority chose Esposito. So face it, most teachers are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

And by the way, I suspect there is no longer any solution. Pittsburgh is simply past the tipping point.

Anonymous said...

I agree, 11:54, but you missed the most sickening point: over 1000 teachers chose not to vote at all.

The majority voting for Nina was one thing but the apathy is something else altogether. Ridiculous.

ANd you are right. Once the genie is out of the bottle, there is no getting him back in. I am sure that PPS is aware of this and laughs, as well.

Fear is a mitigating factor in al of this but let's be truthful. We all got the letters from Nina's supporters last year and were amazed. I mean, teachers actually are brainwashed into believing in RISE and the direction this district is going. And I might add....many of these people who signed--if not most--were teachers at the elementary level and teachers with less than 11 years of experience. I have to think voting was polarized in this direction, too.

Young teachers could care less if RISE is targeting veterans. After all, it gives them more opportunity. To be truthful, I cannot blame them. How many contracts went by with veterans voting for a contract they meant a few measly dollars more for themselves and nothing for the young teacher.
And the district knows this, too.

It's a disturbing time to be a teacher.

Truly, the only trump card union leadership has left is to strike over various issues or to sanction wildcat walk outs. Unfortunately, top leadership for years has lacked the courage to go in this direction. That's shameful.

And I have to think numerous teachers would decide to cross picket lines anyway.

Anonymous said...

4:59, I disagree with your commentary about pensions. The district would have to show cause. That's a slippery slope and as you can imagine, litigation means more dollars being spent. To a great degree, the pension money for people in the 25 years of service plus range has already been spent by the district anyway. It would defy logic to go after a teacher's pension over two successive negative RISE evaluations.
Ask any labor lawyer to look at the evaluations (and I have) and it is clear that they are subjective observations. They can dress a pig a thousand ways, but it is still a pig. That is, despite how many times PPS and the PFT want to push RISE as being objective, they simply are not. Pore through the literature and again, you come away with the idea that it all depends of the person doing the observing.
That's subjective evaluation, 101.

Again, RISE is nothing more than a salary dump. When central admin can tell building admin to actively seek veteran teachers to target for poor RISE evaluations as has been done numerous times, then how can it be looked upon in any other way?

While I know that PPS is arrogant and cavalier, I cannot believe that it would be so foolhardy as to attempt to pry pension money away from an individual whom has been placed in dire financial straits thanks to subjective ratings. Not only would an individual be likely to fight the determination in court, he would be likely to sue for myriad reasons.

Since PPS is crying "we'll be broke in 2015," it defies logic that it would place itself in danger of losing millions more by simply stupid acts such as these.

Anonymous said...

It may defy logic, 10:16. But you assume they are logical and smart. They are not. The number of lawsuits from employees and in court and out of court settlements is large. Those suits are being brought by the lawyers you mention for exactly the reasons you are mentioning. That's how this works. The district starts progressive negative ratings, finds something they think will stick, dismisses you and makes sure to slur your character, then sits back and prepares for you to file. Then they settle and you sign an agreement saying you will never talk about what happened. See Berdnik, etc. Think back to what has happened to people you know, you will see this. You must have a lawyer if you want to work in this school district. That is just the way it is. Look at the history of the suits that have been filed before you say it is illogical to believe this kind of thing can happen. It can.

Anonymous said...

11:27, I am heartened by your comments. To be frank, they allow me to believe that the real world---in terms of the courts--see just how out of kilter this entire process is.
I have read the board minutes for some years now and at no point have I ever seen the number of "resignations" that I see now. Many of the names are very familiar to me, as being long time veterans.
I am glad to read that they are not taking any of this lying down.
You will have to pardon me, however. I have read countless comments about "hiring a lawyer" for this and that. In most cases, the person doing the talking never followed up and I could only wonder why.
I am glad to read your comments in tis regard.(And as stated previously, I am not a person who will be blindsided by anything administration does. I hope for the best but I am prepared for the worst.)

You know, it's shameful. I know of no one who has been teaching for over 20 years who isn't a dedicated, caring teacher. In each case....and I am talking a huge number of is clear to me that these people are also strong individuals with many talents who could have done other things with their lives.

It's shameful that central administration would seek to discredit and fire these types of people. It's reprehensible that a superintendent would champion such tactics and would be retained for doing nothing more than breaking teachers.

It's Lenten season, but all I can hope is that those doing such things get their comeuppance.

Anonymous said...

Phone calls went out last week to prominent members of the African American community requesting support at the PPS Public Hearing for the "Continuation of the Superintendent's Contract."

The response was excellent! Eight of the twelve speakers at the PPS Public Hearing were prominent leaders, the majority of whom were African American, speaking eloquently in support of Linda Lane.

The speakers included Tim Stevens, Esther Bush, Cecile Springer, and Lutual Love as well as Carey Harris, Frederick Thieman,Robert Vagt and David Schuilenburg.

Two parents also spoke on behalf of their children who suffered bad experiences under adults in our schools.

Anonymous said...

"Eight of the twelve speakers at the PPS Public Hearing were prominent leaders, the majority of whom were African American, speaking eloquently in support of Linda Lane."


What has Linda Lane accomplished? What has she done to advance the cause of African American students in Pittsburgh? What has she done to advance the cause of any students in Pittsburgh?

Or are we simply witnessing more popularity politics? Mark Roosevelt gets applauded simply because he's a Roosevelt. Linda Lane gets applauded simply because she's African American.

And where do the students fit in to all this? Answer: they don't.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that such a group of leaders would speak in favor of Lane. Had they taken the time to truly become acquainted with conditions and situations, and had they taken time to examine the incredible, unconscionable failure to achieve in this district by African American students, then perhaps they would have been more objective. There are many, many good leaders....and we have not had one in years.

Shameful. Outrageous. And invitation for more of the same.

I would hope that "eloquent" also entailed the idea of being cognizant of the paramount task at hand. Apparently, that is not part of the equation. What these speakers have done is to in essence do what the board has done for years: rubber stamp an approval of mediocrity and the blame game.

Another sad day for Pittsburgh students.

Questioner said...

Dave S was just supporting a one year extension so a new board can come in and evaluate options. This is different from the support of someone like Esther Bush. We probably need to hear less from community leaders and more from people who are personally affected by the decisions being made.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Dave S should have made that clear in his testimony.

Frankly, it was NOT "different from the support of someone like Esther Bush."

The use of the words "we need to hear" indicates that you were present.

Is that a fact?

One question: Which of the Board Members, current or potential, will be "affected by the decisions being made." (Negatively, if at all?)

Questioner said...

Board members and the public most need to hear from people who will be personally affected by decisions that will be made. This information can be "heard" in person, via the media or reports of those attending, or ideally through televised public hearings.

Anonymous said...

Anybody worried that Dave Schuilenburg spoke at the public hearing in favor of Linda Lane and he is running for school board. Yikes! Residents of District 9 (Fairywood, Windgap, Chartiers City, Esplen, Sheraden, Crafton Heights, Elliott, West End, Westwood, Oakwood, Ridgemont, Brighton Heights, Perry North and Summer Hill) beware! Research and get on board for one of the other 2 candidates:

Lorraine Burton Eberhardt, 57, Democratic ballot, of Summer Hill.

Carolyn Klug, 54, cross-filed, of Brighton Heights.

Questioner said...

Per Dave he just said that he preferred a one year extension and letting the new board decide what happens next, rather than giving anyone a two to five year contract now.

Anonymous said...

Here's the problem with Dave's thinking:


Good Lord. What kind of ridiculous thinking is going on in Pittsburgh. Ridiculous. How can anyone in their right mind regard him as a credible candidate?????

Questioner said...

So it is better to have the current board put into place a multiyear contract with someone that would not be scceptable to the new board rather than letting the new board choose?

Anonymous said...

The solution is simple: give Lane her 150 notice of non-renewal. You don't have to name a new one immediately, just an acting. New Board conducts search, etc.

Anonymous said...

10:48 PM The problem with offering an interim position for superintendent is that those at the top of the food chain in PPS are just as damaging to student achievement as Lane. French, Lippert, Otuwa and May-Stein would stay on the course designed by Gates and Broad. Another year goes by as a lose-lose for students and staff. The other question is how long is PPS committed to the Gates Project by hand shakes from the current administration and board?

If you read the Post Gazette yesterday, it's funny how Microsoft is "Envisioning" the home of tomorrow in their think tank. Yes, another grant was accepted by PPS to develop their "Envisioning" for the PPS of tomorrow with a company from the state of Washington. Too bad while our think tank is thinking about the education of PPS students tomorrow our current students continue to be losing out TODAY!

Then again when Roosevelt came to PPS he did say that scores would initially drop but then move forward. PPS has been on the same path towards excellence for about 8 years and to this parent, I still see no significant improvement for the dollars that have spent in terms of improving student achievement. How long do we continue to throw money at proposed solutions that have delivered no significant gains for students in 8 years?

Anonymous said...

Comparatively, speaking, PPS gets LOWER, meaning farther away from the state goals each year, instead of closer!

Take Allderdice as one example:

In 2003 Allderdice was 28 points ABOVE the PA state minimum standard (the goal).
(2003 - PA=45%, Allderdice=73%).

In 2012, Allderdice is 17 points BELOW the PA state goal of 82% with Allderdice at 65%!
(2012 - PA=82%, Allderdice=65%)

So much for "progress" in PPS over the past 10 years, eight of which most significantly were under the Roosevelt/Lane regime.

And this is just one example of the failure to make academic gains . The achievement GAP between Black and White students has WIDENED over those years!

Shame on Pittsburgh for planning to extend this travesty!

Anonymous said...

The achievement gap at the District level is 30 points, while at some schools it is as much as 50 points.

(Colfax is one where it is a 50 pt. gap while the Principal was promoted to Assistant Superintendent.)

Questioner said...

It would be good to know the size of the achievement gap when the students entered the school- what if colfax is actually reducing the gap, but no one knows because the focus is on the gap that still exists?

Anonymous said...

The former ALAs were also among Pittsburgh's 10 LOWEST achieving PPS schools at the end of four years of America's Choice and the leader was also appointed to Assistant Superintendent!

Anonymous said...

The GAP in any Pittsburgh school never came close to 50 points.

Do the research (even though it takes a little time); it gets to the heart of the matter in a way that guessing or hypothesizing never will do.

The GAP at Colfax has, in recent years, gone from 35 pts. to 40pts, to 45 pts. to 47 pts. to 51 pts.

Check the PDE websites!

Questioner said...

The website does not show the size of the gap for entering first graders.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that 8 to 10 years in a school system doesn't or shouldn't make a difference??????

Anonymous said...

While the idea that somehow Colfax's incoming black students were lower than other schools could be looked at (there's no comparison available to us prior to 3rd grade -- though the district would have some data). The fact is that black students at Colfax have routinely underperformed those at schools perceived to be much worse than Colfax -- say, Weil and Lincoln (whose scores have dropped every year that Dr. Holley hasn't been there). Others that might be considered comparable also outperform Colfax, like Minadeo and Greenfield.

So, no, I don't think there's anything in particular about Colfax that suggests their students are somehow "different."

They are not the only school in the district with a large gap or such bad AA scores, but they are certainly in a group that seems to have a problem educating 30% of their population.

Questioner said...

What if many students from Squirrel Hill, as first graders, already read at a third or fourth grade level while first graders from some offer neighborhoods are a year or two behind? Couldn't that translate to more than a 50% gap right off, with a moving target as the advanced students continue to do the same types of things (lots of extra reading outside school, etc) that put them ahead in the first place.

Questioner said...

There could very well be something different among different student bodies such as a larger gap when the students walk in the door at one school versus at another school. In terms of comparing Africsn American students in different schools- again their relative levels when they walk in the door should be taken into account. Pps does so many tests they might as well take a baseline measure at the start.

Anonymous said...

You guys are way off base in your thinking and knowledge about what is tested, what constitutes proficiency and what create the huge GAP between AA and white students.

Since, PA testing currently begins at
3rd grade, the district has K-2 to get students to the minimal "proficiency" level that is expected of all schools in Pa. The requirements for "proficiency" are based on a minimal level which all students in a school are expected to attain regardless of their entry level. (That is why children are in school.) The 2 or 3 or 4 grades ahead children will likely test out at the "advanced" level on a State exam, but that does not have any effect on the "basic" or "below basic" state of data for children who enter a school with normal intelligence. ALL of the poverty level or AA children can learn at high levels if taught the thinking skills required for success.

The PSSA, Keystone, or CCSS is not comparing children, nor even assessing children on what they know or don't know outside of what is being taught in the school/classroom; rather these assessments are analyzing whether or not students have been taught the skills. Colleges and careers have claimed that students are coming out of schools without necessary and expected skills.

If a large majority of children (no matter how poor or disadvantaged) are not meeting the basic skill development expectations it is not because of a starting point; but because of the failure of schools to provide the expected teaching and learning environment at grade level!

Anonymous said...

Linda Lane's potential renewal was the butt of jokes at a recent gathering of Allegheny County academics, all of whom know they'd be run out of town for backsliding test scores.

How much more disconnected from reality could the 7 affirmative votes be? PPS is near the bottom in PA, with no traction over the last year.

Questioner said...

Children not meeting basic skill development expectations is a major issue, but a different issue than achievement gaps. In various neighborhoods a large portion of children will be proficient regardless of what the schools do or don't do. A baseline test of first graders would provide information on the extent to which the schools are bringing those who start out behind up to proficiency. If they are doing little or nothing, that should spur some changes right from the start.

Anonymous said...

If people are looking atca "business model" as they have stated--when ypur product is isnt selling( being accepted by consumers in this case) you look at EVERY step in the process. So yes, it is valid to look to your raw materials first. No one is saying theae students cant learn. But, children with issues - especially those who act out-- take alot more time and staff to settle into school. Pps used to have early learning skills classrooms-- rather than just repeating kdg. Often those students were scholars adter that extra year to grow. As far as comparing to neghboring districts-- most still have only half day kdg, no free preschool programs-- and yet they succeed.

Questioner said...

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? This topic will move to a new thread.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lane's renewal is good news for the suburban districts that have enjoyed flight from the City and charter schools that are the schools of choice for families that cannot afford to move.

The leadership of the last eight years has been so poor that not even a $40,000 bribe can attract and hold students.

Anonymous said...

So the Board extended Lane's contract and therefore, her cabinet continues on even while PPS scores have tumbled over the years. This makes no sense. When teachers fail to show improvement in student performance, they are targeted with an EIP and set up for termination. So, when will Central Office staff be held to the same criteria?

You can't place 100% of the blame on teachers. A managed or scripted curriculum identifies what to teach, when to teach it, how to teach it and when to test it. Teachers are expected to follow the pathway as written. So how can a teacher be targeted as the only reason why students fail to perform?

Established policies from Central Office and the failure of parents to adequately support their child's education (housing, nutritional meals, medical care, homework supervision, adequate sleep, monitoring their child's behavior, and active engagement in the school through communication and school visitation) play a significant role in the decline of achievement by PPS students. However, the folks who pay the ultimate price for these failures is the classroom teacher!

So if RISE is a process that is objective in identifying the performance of a teachers practice, how could the Board honestly vote in favor of extending Lane's contract when PPS as a district has failed miserably under her leadership? Look at the DATA! Only Brently and Holley had the courage to make the tough vote. Even in Holley's abstention, it was clear that she was casting a no vote for retaining Lane.

Questioner said...

The central planning approach brings to mind other examples of central planning like the economy in the USSR.

Anonymous said...

Let's say it again, because I am sure that it sounds like some wild exaggeration:

RISE is a salary dump, and nothing more.

Every teacher at every school will tell you about veteran teachers of 20, 25 years or more who has suddenly forgotten how to teach. Some of us know of individuals who were deemed exceptional last year and must have had the summers of their lives, because they were placed on improvement plans in September.

This is a complete tragedy that needs to be made public. How do you target dedicated teachers to dump their salaries in favor of younger teachers???How do you do this to people????

This is Lane's legacy. Administration actively telling building admin to target veterans.How do these people sleep at night, all to save administrative jobs???

Anonymous said...

Let's say David May Stien actively recruited gifted kids from outside the Colfax feeder zone.

Nevermind, I just said it.

He tried to recruit my son from Minadeo a few years ago. It felt like "The Blind Side" IQ style. It was creepy.