Monday, July 15, 2013

Efforts directed toward racial achievement gap

On another post Anonymous wrote:

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
Daily Photo Galleries
Wednesday - July 10, 2013
Education Photo Galleries
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:


Questioner said...

This may be the first article where the district acknowledges that the Accelerated Learning Academies were not effective.

Anonymous said...

Until parents take an active role in the lives of their students and put their own interests aside, you will have low achieving students. Period.
It's not the teacher. It's not the principal or administration.
Apologists will continue to carp about "achievement gaps" and somehow equate it all with some sort of racism that exists in academia. Nonsense.
I keep waiting for political leaders to have some courage and tell it like it is. I keep looking for entrepreneurs with guts to say what needs to be said. I keep looking for school board members to illustrate an understanding:

education not only begins at home but flourishes with parental oversight and involvement. If you want to get rid of achievement gaps between races, cultures or nations, then tell it like it is. Stop the nationwide acceptance of "parents" who have abandoned their children or placed their progress solely in the hands of schools, from 8 to 3 each day.

"Parents" are the problem. Period.

solutions R us said...

Dear anon 8:36, There are very few parents that "abandon" their children. An true understanding of poverty, race and the struggles that go on every day in the lives of the poor is needed before we blame parents alone. There is plenty of blame to go around, including underfunding of education, overloading classrooms with students with special needs, lack of quality preschool slots and real recruiting in poor neighborhoods for preschool, the current absurd focus on testing, lack of funding for psychologists, nurses and social workers in our schools, administration worried more about national recognition then about our students and yes, parents that are unable to provide their children with the support that they need to be successful students. Walk a mile in the shoes of the impoverished before passing judgement. Period.

Questioner said...

Yes, and let's think about how we can truly support and encourage parents so that they can enable their children to succeed.

Anonymous said...

Solutions, you sound like yet another apologist. On the contrary, there are many, many parents who place their own needs above the needs of the children. There are many, many parents who look at schooling as simply what happens between 8 and 3. There are many, many parents who somehow only become aware of teachers and classes around report card time.
Walk a mile, you say. I have.
Now walk a mile in my shoes. Stop pushing the politically correct dogma and get to the root of the problem to stop the rot. It's not the parent who has to work two jobs and can't be home. It's not the parent whose limited economics means that her children can't get the school supplies, the clothes or even the food.
Stop the apology game. Stop the blame game.
I'm with you about funding. I find it interesting that you failed to make note of 300 teachers being fired last year while NO administrator was fired. Just wait until 2015.
You can obfuscate the issue all you like. You can cloud the commentary with examples that only dissuade from the real truth that even you know, but won't admit: absentee parents are the root of the problem where achievement is concerned.
Courage. It's all about courage. Period.

Anonymous said...

Parents, all of them, are already doing all that they can to enable their children to succeed. To imply otherwise is a huge part of the problem. Blaming parents for what schools are not doing (while collecting and distributing huge amounts of funding)is typical of those who frequent this blog. What a shame that those in comfortable positions continue to revel in their own superiority!

Questioner said...

There is definitely much more that can be done to help parents to support their children.

Anonymous said...

Yet again, another apologist who refuses to hear --or read--- the message. "Comfortable positions?" That's pure insanity, and its reflective of the problem. My parents lived through the Great Depression. They had nothing. They made something of themselves. I put myself through school. I worked my way through....and also came from nothing. Now, you would call this living comfortably??? Are you looking for an apology that I worked my way from the bottom?

Again, parents who DO care are not the issue. The majority of children who put forth little to no effort however come from households where a "parent" has no appreciation of education. THIS is the point.
Any teacher will tell you he or she values the proactive parent...the one who ensures his child is working towards his or her potential. THEY ARE NOT THE ISSUE.
Problem is, most of the kids who underachieve, disrupt school or miss classes have no adult to supervise them and point them in the right direction.
THIS is the point. How many times do I need to write it for you to understand?
But I love the shoot-the-messenger mentality. Bill Cosby said it 20 years ago and was shouted down. Good to see nothing has changed. It's easier to blame teachers or principals.
In Pittsburgh, we almost give away grades with the 50% policy but the sad fact it, the report grade grades don't jibe with standardized test scores, do they?
Achievement comes through effort, diligence and commitment. Aside from personal learning situations, most of our underachievers have never had this reinforced at home thanks to absentee "parents."
That's not superiority, it's just plain fact.
When we get away from the entitlement mentality and understand what improving one's self is all about, we'll have moved on as a society, apologist blather notwithstanding.

Anonymous said...

8:42 can write THIS point a thousand times but there will still be NOT be agreement with any of the points being made. We certainly do "understand" what you state; however, there is no agreement with the blame game, the excuses, and ultimately, the complete inability of some teachers to reach, to teach, to motivate, to inspire and/or to educate the students who are before them. It is always someone else's fault that they cannot do their job. Yet, there are teachers who can, who will be successful with those same young people. And these teachers will change lives, will save lives, will open the worlds of knowledge and develop the inherent talents of their students.

Questioner said...

Maybe, but there are obviously not enough teachers who are managing to do all of this under current conditions.

Anonymous said...

10:06, that's because its easier to place blame than to look in the mirror. It's easier to say it is the teacher's fault than to do a personal inventory to contemplate why your child is not achieving to ability.

Your commentary validates the Mark Roosevelts, Linda Lanes and Bill Gates of the world. They champion the hallucinatory blame game that states that teachers are the problem. It's complete hooey and only acting as a shell game that gets us nowhere as a society.

Good teachers do all of what you carp about, but they can't go home with the children. They still have kids who don't quite achieve. They still have kids who fail to work to potential. And in PPS, they are still restricted by an outrageous, poor curriculum that acts to handcuff their true teaching abilities.

Absentee parents only doom their kids to failure. Blame-game "entrepreneurs" only use low achieving urban districts such as ours to push an agenda, and know-nothing, ivory tower school administrators only seek to insulate themselves from ever going into the 'low-achieving schools' even for a second by writing policy or offering sound bytes that fail students of all abilities.

Have some courage and tell it like it is.

Anonymous said...

Here is the PG's coverage:

Interesting quote from Lane, when for years under this regime teachers have been told not to use a student's out-of-school environment as an excuse for him not to achieve.

"The educators spoke of issues outside of the classroom that affect their black male students.

Ms. Lane pointed to two black male high school students who won a national award and $3,000 scholarships at the African-American History Academic Challenge Bowl. But, she pointed out, they are both natives of West Africa. She said African students born outside of the U.S. succeed more often than those born inside.

"Maybe African-American males have more freedom in their neighborhoods and maybe they are more affected by their neighborhoods," she said."

Read more:

Anonymous said...

Note that in the Trib. article Lane says that, "...provide the students with effective teachers..." PPS always wants to point the finger at the teachers first. I am not saying there aren't some ineffective teachers just like there aren't some "ineffective" doctors, lawyers, machine operators, etc. "Ineffective" workers are everywhere in our society today. What I do know is that when I came into the PPS system as a teacher in the 70's, there were many great teachers and the students seemed "smarter" than today. Society has changed and not for the better. PPS has changed also, and not for the better.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the posts. Lane has become adept at talking out of both sides of her mouth. She leads an administration which is hellbent on reigning in teachers at all costs, and refuses to have the courage which speaks to the problem of the absentee parent.
This is not just a local's a national problem.
It's not just a black problem, it's a white problem, too.
And it affects ALL students, as teachers spend extraordinary amounts of time trying to either discipline the unruly child who has no sense of what education can provide to him OR in trying to move classes forward that have numerous such students.

It's a hoot, to be sure. Lane and Lippert and the gang want to talk about "empowering teachers" as they attempt to fit teaching's square peg into their round holes. These types of clowns would at least gain some modicum of respect if they had the gumption to tell it like it is: to say that adults who have had children need to take the moral responsibility to be there and to raise that child right.
Having a 'Take Your Dad to Work Day' just isn't doing the trick.
We have corporate shrills running our district--people who take their cues from politicians and billionaires whose cowardice entails telling the public what it wants to hear, for myriad reasons. But without a caring parent in the mix, building the achieving student is like building a house with straw as a foundation. In most cases, it's just not going to hold weight.

We have a nation of political and entrepreneurial cowards who continue to target teachers. We have school district leadership that not only shares that cowardice, but is unaware of what is going on in schools.

And we have numerous 'adults' who apparently enjoyed the act of having children, but have wiped their hands of the idea of actually raising them. Until we come to grips with this fact, we'll continue to underachieve.

Anonymous said...

I think we're asking the wrong questions here. I mean come on, nobody goes and spends 30 to 60 thousand dollars on a college education only to get a job and say " ok, now how can I suck at this? " I think the real question is who stands to profit when pps students don't perform well. Its mighty funny how when those pssa scores come back millions of dollars go out to consultants

solutions R us said...

It saddens me that there is so much anger aimed at those so much less fortunate than us. And I would bet that most of the people reacting with so little compassion consider themselves good christians, yet don't seem to me to be living by the words of their prophet.

I'm not saying that there needs to be personal responsibility, as Bill Cosby stated. Just that some need much more help and guidance, something that we as a society are not providing.

Yes, many people make it out of poverty, as someone stated. But many more are left behind. Please don't label my compassion and better understanding of what it is like to be truly impoverished as "political correctness". That term is used by people who can't come up with a better defense of an indefensible point of view.

Come on, folks, take the emotion and blame out of the discussion. Data shows over and over that poverty is the biggest obstacle to student achievement. Period.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame, "solutions" that you only look for solutions under your definition. It's a shame that you would rather offer semantics and distortions of the message than look for true solutions.
For the record, again, it's not about poverty.
It's all about abandoning the children.
What don't you understand about this? We are talking two separate issues. In my time as an educator, I've known countless tremendous parents who were forced to live in poverty. That didn't dissuade them from the idea that they had a moral responsibility to raise their children. You'd have readers believe that poverty equates to being a bad parent or absentee parent. Nonsense.
Underachieving students come from all socio-economic levels and in most cases--again, setting aside children with learning situations---they come from households that do not have an adult present who values education and/or feels the responsibility to raise children.

You're right. I am a good Christian in more than just words and you're right, I like most teachers feel the challenge and responsibility to work with ALL of our students, no matter ability. But you're extremely mistaken or guilty of skimming these posts if you are stating that I am equating low achievement with poverty.

At least try to address my comments before you seek to misrepresent my thoughts or demonize me for being heartless towards those who live in poverty. Any reader here can go back over numerous posts to see that is not the case whatsoever. Is this the best you can do?

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying that there needs to be personal responsibility, as Bill Cosby stated. Just that some need much more help and guidance, something that we as a society are not providing"

One, Cosby was right. Two, what would you have society do?

"Data shows over and over that poverty is the biggest obstacle to student achievement. Period."

The "political correctness" you discuss is misdirected. It's politically correct to blame teachers. It's politically correct to say it all comes down to poverty.

It's not politically correct to say what Cosby said. It's not politically correct to have Americans look in the mirror. This is the point and again, one that is missed by you repeatedly. Poverty brings its own set of important issues. Contributing factor to low achievement? Perhaps? But not as contributing as the parents who just don't have the time to provide guidance and oversight to their children.

Anonymous said...

Wow, did anyone read this in the Trib:

"The police union representing about 873 officers contends that the requirement hinders police recruiting and limits school choice options for children of officers, among other things."

Stinging indictment that the Promise is not enough to offset the poor curriculum and bizarre management practices of the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss era.

Anonymous said...

Poverty can be debilitating and there is thought that when you can't see an end to or a way out of disadvantaged circumstances your ability to create an environment where your children can see a way out is difficult to find.

I first saw the term "courageous conversation" on this blog and before I googled it I had myself convinced the conversation would include someone in high authority telling the underperforming, disadvantaged student that with the Pittsburgh Promise and enhanced teaching methods and additional supports at school, the way out of poverty was to work harder and exceed expectations. The conversation must now get very blunt.

Questioner said...

The Harlem Children's Zone project makes increased parent involvement an important part of the program. They must feel it makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

"Courageous conversations" expose racism or cover it up. Just ask those in PPS who have been through the training. Even worse the conversations have exacerbated the problems (check out the follow-up private talk) instead of moving into corrective measures.

Anonymous said...

Enhanced teaching strategies?
Please explain to me where they are. Who has them? Surely not Pitt's IFL, which oversees all of the district's curriculum. Just how would you call the district's continuous efforts to make teachers bland and vanilla "enhanced?" In Pittsburgh, the idea seems to be that if we allow kids to teach each other, things will get better. That's beyond funny.

And "courageous conversations?" What an absolute joke. The idea is that no white teacher can truly understand a black student. It all makes me wonder if there is such a thing as reverse racism. (That's a rhetorical question, of course.)

There are a lot of individuals who should be ashamed in this district....a lot of individuals who continue to blame teachers and get away with it.

solutions R us said...

Again, I am saddened by the obvious lack of understanding, especially by a "good christian and teacher". It is clear that no amount of facts will dissuade some from espousing antidotal evidence (i.e. "I know someone who lifted themselves out of poverty etc."). Too many that claim that they want to stop "the blame game" regarding teachers (to which I wholeheartedly agree) are so quick to blame parents that need help. WWJD?

Anonymous said...

Most don't lift themselves out of poverty without the help of GOOD teachers. It will never be the teachers who post on this site. They are jaded and worse against the abilities and capacities of disadvantaged youth. We really do need to find advantaged children in select schools so that they will never again have the opportunity to inflict their attitudes on urban youth in Pittsburgh who have been manipulated into all of PPS's underachieving schools.

(Remember PSSA is an acronym for Pennsylvania System of SCHOOL Assessment.)

PPSparent said...

"We really do need to find advantaged children in select schools so that they will never again have the opportunity to inflict their attitudes on urban youth in Pittsburgh who have been manipulated into all of PPS's underachieving schools."

What does this mean? Can't figure out what you're trying to say.

Secondary newsflash: There are good, bad, and great teachers in the PPS (and everywhere else). There are likely more burned out teachers currently in the PPS than there used to be due to the crazy demands, ridiculous decision-making, and the disconnect between what the administration says it wants and what it is really doing.

IF there is a higher proportion of burned out teachers in the PPS, the administration needs to look directly at themselves.

Anonymous said...

Part of that burn out has to do with following scripts, being timed as to how a class runs etc. Teaching is-- in other places-- and was in PPS a creative field where the biggest struggle was teachers trying many different approaches to teach concepts.Remember some universities have pulled their student teachers from us. Who gives the moneyed class the right to say: hey these kids are disadvantaged so they must all learn the same way??
Teachers in the past WERE reaching poor kids-- no not all-- but a whole lot more than today-- I know this because I see former students who have succeeded-- sure some went down the wrong path-- but most got at least through middle school before the environment got to them.
I am not talking about olden days-- even 10 years ago- school was happening in MOST Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Was it measurable by their tests? sometimes -- but sometimes it was just measured by parents who saw their kids excited about school- and even in some of the so called "worst schools" there was that magic of getting ready for a new school year-- of course kids did have schedules, teachers, unlike the travesty that became PPS after 2006.

Anonymous said...

You know, 5:08, I've been reading this site for a long time. I've read the posts of teachers, parents, administrators but without a doubt, yours is the most outrageous, reprehensible posting I have ever seen here. Your attack on teachers is patently ridiculous and emblematic of what we hear coming out of Bellefield Avenue. In their case, they have have never spent more than ten minutes in a school to see a "good teacher" in action. Have you? Can you even begin to define what a good teacher is?
You'll have to pardon me. I'm tired of apologists who couldn't spend a moment doing what I do---or any PPS teacher does. I'm a little tired of being made to bear the brunt of the blame for what parents should be doing at home. I'm a little tired of being told about what a cushy job teaching is, how we have great pay and have summers off.
Take a look at your administrator jobs. Tell me what they do that impacts your kids directly and then tell me why they get a free pass where your vitriol is concerned.
The point is, you wouldn't know a good teacher if one bit you in your backside, and in this district, it might take an even more overt action because your administrative geniuses have worked to make all teachers instruct the same way.
It's just more blame-game logic and another way to keep Joe Citizen from looking in the mirror to find the root of the problem.

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
Most don't lift themselves out of poverty without the help of GOOD teachers. It will never be the teachers who post on this site. They are jaded and worse against the abilities and capacities of disadvantaged youth. We really do need to find advantaged children in select schools so that they will never again have the opportunity to inflict their attitudes on urban youth in Pittsburgh who have been manipulated into all of PPS's underachieving schools.

(Remember PSSA is an acronym for Pennsylvania System of SCHOOL Assessment.)

July 19, 2013 at 5:08 PM

How is the DISTRICT doing? The buck stops there, stop blaming teachers who are reading scripts forced on them by the DISTRICT. I am not a teacher.

Anonymous said...

Teachers are the people in the classrooms not the District. If all teachers, or even most, agree with your 10:17, then it is incumbent upon them to change what is happening in classrooms. It is too easy and too irresponsible to BLAME someone, or anyone else, including Central Office. We certainly agree that the scripts or even the curriculum as it currently exists will NEVER advance learning or achievement, BUT teachers CAN do that if they WILL! How about a mass demonstration by teachers? How about each and every teacher with an objection to what is happening at the District level that affects teaching and learning in classrooms testifying at a public hearing and/or picketing the Board offices? How about writing to the state PDE? How about teaching so that children learn and raising achievement levels in spite of all the 'blame games'?
How about doing what you know must be done and let the improved scores speak loudly for what you know and do? How about uniting and fighting for what's right? By any means necessary!

Anonymous said...


You make some good points about fighting back against the dreadfully poor PPS curriculum.

But unfortunately you underestimate the vindictiveness of the current PPS central administrators.

Today's PPS is not like the PPS of 15 years ago. Back then you were encouraged to make adjustments in the curriculum to fit your own unique classroom situations.

Today, any adjustment - however minor - is met with a warning. Do it again and you'll get an unsatisfactory rating. Do it again and you WILL be fired.

And please don't think there is strength in numbers. If ten teachers or one hundred teachers banded together to stop this, all would follow the same path I just described. That's just a sad fact.

And that leads to an understandable fear among teachers. It is one thing to risk your job. But it is another thing to risk it with very little hope of making any difference.

And writing to the state PSE wouldn't help. Absent some illegal act, the PSE will not interfere much in local matters.

But there is a possible solution. If Mark Brentley could get enough allied votes on the School Board, that would make a difference.

Anonymous said...

All excellent points 1:10. However, you cannot convince me that there is no solution, no way to keep a very few (CO admin) from total control of a whole system that is in opposition to what's happening and 24,000 kids with parents who watch day after day and year after year the very serious decline of education in Pittsburgh schools. It cannot be the case that NOTHING can be done about this decline. Massive revolt, legal and civil action, media investigative reports, etc. Surely, the whole city is not impotent against a regime that disservices the majority of our children to the extent so abundantly evidenced by the facts currently available?

PPSparent said...


I don't think anyone is saying it couldn't be done, just that current circumstances don't bode well.

Many parents have NO idea how much different (and poorer) an experience kids are getting in PPS nowadays. Those with younger children see teachers working exceptionally hard in crowded classrooms and assume that it has to be the way it is.

Many parents have no idea how many more enriching experiences used to be available to ALL kids in ALL PPS. They assume that current conditions just have to do with recent budget cuts (and of course, the administration is happy to go along with that, it takes the blame off of them).

Teachers know that those who speak up will be fired. Not that day, but within a year or two, they'll be gone. There are still people at the administration who know what is happening now is wrong, but they also have seen other reforms and problems come and go. They seem to be just biding their time until this too has passed.

The newspaper (P-G) and foundations have swallowed the PR totally and aren't about to really go and see what's happening in schools. They visit when and where they are told to and see a dog and pony show that looks good -- unless you realized what a farce it was.

I don't see any quick way out of this, sadly. I do think that every disgusted, horrified person talking about this whenever it comes up may, in time, bring enough light to the matter to force change. But...

Anonymous said...

The solution is you, 1:39. The solution is you and other taxpayers continually going to meetings on Bellefield Avenue and making demands. It's you and other taxpayers contacting Andy Sheehan, Rick Earle and others to demand investigations. It's you and other taxpayers demanding that the PG stop acting as a mouthpiece for the board and do some real reporting, with real questions.
But it has to be a continual effort.
This regime took its cue from the Roosevelt playbook where dissent is concerned.Le the people whine for a little while, it will go away and we will get what we want. Look at the closing of Schenley. Look at all of the action sin this district. If you want change, you need a concerted, sustained effort.
And as a nation, that time has passed.
You write about teachers. Sorry, but we are a group of cowards who learned nothing from our brothers and sisters of the 70's. The idea was strength in numbers and solidarity. It was a continual flipping of the bird to management's outrageous demands.
Not anymore.
The union has been broken.
Teachers live in fear.
Most don't even vote in officer elections and who can blame them? Both sides think there is still room to negotiate.
Trouble is, once you have let the genie out of the bottle, there is no getting him back in. As such, I am positive PPS admin looks at teachers as a weak sister.
Walk-outs, wildcat strikes. This is what is necessary. For ourselves. For the kids.
But we don't have the gumption.

Anonymous said...

The citizens, parents and guardians who CAN, just LEAVE. They find better schools/districts for their children. This leaves those least able to do otherwise stuck in classes, schools and a district which has seriously lost it way! Most likely the people at Central Office would turn education around IF they KNEW HOW, but they DO NOT, unfortunately. However, the money and the PR have been too good to allow them to admit failure and move on to more successful work.

Yes, it is up to ALL of us, parents, educators, teachers, community, journalists, advocates and taxpayers to 'stop the madness' at 341 S. Bellefield Avenue!

Where are the LEADERS in this city, the people with influence, with position, with intelligence, with concern about the children (who are Pittsburgh's future)? Are there NONE? Really?

Anonymous said...


You must not have watched the Schenley Documentary. I suggest you do to get some perspective.

I am also surprised no one on this thread mentioned Jack Kelly's article from the paper yesterday regarding home schooling. It is relevant to this discussion and our population issues in pps.

Anonymous said...

I agree anon 4:07-- people just leave. Most of today's families cannot afford to home school. And some don't feel qualified. If only they knew that at school in PPS- their student has to learn from the kid next door, maybe they would feel more qualified. And not only families are leaving-- good teachers are being exited-- sure they say they wanted to go-- but most were excellent teachers until 2006-- they didnt all burn out-- and sure the promise is a great idea-- but, dear PPS parents there is absolutely NO relationship between promise-ready and script chanting! It isnt just the teachers that are scripted-- admin expects boot-jack answers from kids too-- sure the teacher is punished-- but our kids are punished by never enjoying real learning. 1:10 pm july 22 is correct-- this is not our Dad's or even-- our big brother's school. It is stranger than anyone can imagine-- if you actually had exit interviews as colleges do, you would hear stories that would make all parents run!

Old Timer said...

As I read the comments on this site, I am repeatedly struck by the idea that non-teachers seem to believe that teachers exaggerate the extreme pressure now being placed upon them by central administration via their own principals and vice principals. I can understand this, of course, as trash talkers like Jack Kelly and others continue to bang the drum about the evils of teacher unions but it is no understatement to say that in Pittsburgh, the union has not only been broken, it has been trampled and danced upon by PPS administration.
I have heard more than one building administrator say, "Let him/her grieve it. It will take a year to come to a meeting and we'll win anyway." This is the problem. This cavalier mentality that exists on Bellefield Avenue has allowed administration to simply bully teachers without recourse.
I had to laugh out loud about a previous poster's view that *some* central administrators likely know what is going on and are just riding it out until the next flavor of the era comes along. Bollocks. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many of the conscientious objectors within the inner circle of administrators have walked away and others have opted to come back to the classroom because what they hear and see is just plan grotesque. I know of countless academic coaches and ITL2's who speak about the utter hatred central administration exudes with regards to teachers during meetings and offhand, in general. I know of more than a couple of old school principals who describe meetings as being something along the lines of brainwashing: administrators in charge run the meetings and put forth myriad control techniques, the newer, PELA principals nod and say nothing, and the ever-shrinking veteran principals object, knowing how outrageous the ideas are for teachers and students alike.

There will be no 'riding the tide out' on this one. Gates money and notoriety has brought interest among even more charlatan corporate entrepreneurs who see no teacher protest and an opportunity to push an agenda in an urban American school district. Success here will bring endless economic and press possibilities. Failure will be looked upon as a societal problem.

Riding it out? Not anytime soon.

We are cowards as teachers for letting this happen, and there are even more cowards on Bellefield who allow those who either never were in a classroom or had little success there to make policy.

Meanwhile, the board minutes show an incredible amount of terminations and "resignations" each month, like never before. Protest as an individual and you put a bull's-eye on your back. Observations, negative ratings and termination await you, along with a great deal of stress.

And with the budget crisis of 2015 just ahead, it's clear many more veteran teachers will be targeted, because central administration will not allow their own to be furloughed. It was true last year and will be even more true in 2015. Ask yourself how local media can allow 300 teachers and NO administrators to be fired without question, and then understand how hopeless it is for teachers in this city.

I would use the word "horrible" to describe our administrative leadership, butt he word is far too mild.

Anonymous said...

Just one basic question: How does anyone in Central Office explain away the continuing failure of students to achieve in this regime?

Each year achievement results are lower than the year before and believe it or not it has been sliding downward since 2005!

How does anyone explain Pittsburgh Public Schools' place in Corrective Action II, 4th year. PPS 494th out of 500 districts. It has never been this low! And, the current reports on 2013 results show further decline in achievement!

Why is this not major news of major concern in this city?

PPSparent said...

They say it's the teachers.

They certainly never mention that if the gradually upswing that was seen starting a few years before Roosevelt came had continued, we'd be far, far ahead of where we are now.

We'd have spent far less money (yes, lots of it was private money, but that private money wagged the public dog) on redoing things every year, and we'd likely have seen increases in enrollment as steady gains were posted.

The whole housing crisis/job crash of 2008-2010 is probably the only thing that kept enrollment from falling even further than it has already.

The reason it doesn't get reported is...I'd say money again. The P-G doesn't do in-depth research on these topics. They don't try to inform themselves and look historically and talk to the people directly affected, like parents, students and teachers. Instead they print press releases. It would be much harder to point out the bad decisions of so many foundations in the area.

It's like Peter Pan -- they just want to believe.

Anonymous said...

This article from the New Pittsburgh Courier was posted on the PPS website.

Note Lane's comment at the end. "Everyone knows that African American boys are disproportionately impacted when it comes to the laws." So what is PPS doing? They are revising the district's student code of conduct. Does this mean they are "dumbing it down" like they did with grades and the 50% policy?

Read the article. Weast, the retired Superintendent from Maryland, shares what steps his district took to better education. Lane and company should be looking to those kind of ideas instead of piddling around and changing strategies every other year. I didn't read that Weast mentioned Broad or Gates either.

Anonymous said...

As a person who watched conduct standards tank in a PELA- run school, again this area of dumbing down is lethal to African American boys.
1) In a classroom situation, they are more likely to be distracted by disruptions that teachers are not permitted to oust-- yes, it feels good to say everyone belongs in class, but teacher-time and student -time is wasted on disruptive students who could possibly be helped before returning to class. The best of teachers, who want to talk and deal with the issue-- is still taking time from teaching.
2) Life in the world in all neighborhoods would be a rude awakening-- "acting out" doesn't work, even if you have problems.
This does not help African American males.
Watering down the code of conduct is a dangerous move that doesn't help students.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a white teacher who has NOT a "well-developed and productively-positive relationship with students. A so-called "code of conduct" does not prevent or solve problems! Check out what happens in classrooms where students, all of them, respect the teacher because of who they are and what they do ___ and NOT because of a "code of conduct."

I've SEEN it more often than you can believe, so STOP with complaints!

Anonymous said...

I believe the point of "changing" the code of conduct is to lessen the number of suspensions. (less looks better) I don't think it relates to behavioral changes or increased learning. What we need to do is completely overall our entire school system. Read the Courier article.

Anonymous said...

Absolute agreement with a complete overhaul of the entire system. Relatively little about the existing system is working---unless its for the privileged class that attends CAPA, Sci-Tech and AP at Allderdice.

Anonymous said...


Do not forget for a second that there is much blood on the hands of the Post-Gazette and our local foundations for eight years of achievement stagnation and enrollment decline.

Anonymous said...

If any parent is looking to confirm any suspicions they may have about the management in pps, this thread provides the confirmation.

A+ Schools should be the entity doing exit interviews. Or an entity less biased might be better. The Promise office has access to the best resource to improve what is delivered to students. Talk to those graduates who carried a pps diploma to college and did well or struggled to see what failed them.

Something has got to be done about morale in this district. There should not be such an adversarial atmosphere between labor (teachers) and Management.

Anonymous said...

Disagree! The must be a much more adversarial relationship between teachers and administrators. Teachers must rise and rebel not just knuckle under to a system that does not allow them (so they say) to educate children.

The stories from highly successful PPS students who are seriously struggling in college post secondary employment are rampant. PPS is graduating students the majority of whom are "below basic" but have "good" grades only to find that they are completely unprepared for life after PPS.

Teachers are in the BEST position to take on this travesty since they are perpetuating it, even if unwillingly.

Good teachers know the facts and must stand up on behalf of students and parents who do not know the difference until it is too late!