Monday, April 29, 2013

"No rich child left behind"

On another post Anonymous wrote:

*New Post*

NYT Article: "No Rich Child Left Behind"

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.

Western PA school rankings

On another post Anonymous wrote:

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:

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:

Monday, April 1, 2013

Opting out of the PSSA

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW please-- OPT OUT of PSSA

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