Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Charter proposals rejected

From the PG:

The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools tonight rejected three charter school proposals.
The three proposals were Homewood Children's Village Collegiate Charter School, Provident Charter School for Children with Dyslexia and Robert L. Vann Charter School.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Only hope is effective teachers"

On another post Anonymous wrote:


Tim Stevens, a member of the new task force, commented in today's P-G. And once again we have someone talking about effective teachers. He states that, "too many of our African American children come from broken homes and broken environments where education may not be valued. Their only hope may be "effective teachers"!"

Bill Gates' millions of dollars would have been more "effective" and useful if the money was spent on pre-school programs, after-school programs, tutoring, community programs, recreation centers, parental support, etc. instead of focusing on "effective teachers." Think of what all that money could have done for our students and communities."

Issues at Mifflin

On another post Anonymous said:

"A bit off topic too. Was anyone struck by the hatred that Mark Brentley expressed regarding Mifflin School at the board meeting? I understand that there was a racial incident in the fall. His hate filled comments were shocking none the less. I understand that Ms Kennedy represents that school and was somewhat surprised that she nor Ms Lane,nor Mr. May did not respond. The issue was to start a whole school team environment program but his vitriol seem to stop any dialogue to make things better. I was disappointed that the board does not seek to work for positive expressions and will shut down any discussion that they find uncomfortable.
With all of the teachers on this board, is there anyone who would speak to what kind of school Mifflin is? Brentley's solution was to pull the AA students and open a school in Hazelwood."

Friday, February 21, 2014

Peduto appoints task force

On another post Anonymous wrote:


The mayor appoints a task force to study PPS and their financial problems, etc.
The article states that he considers himself a "mediator" when the PFT contract comes up in 2015.

I hope this task force works objectively."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Merits of CAPA 6-12 downtown

On another post Derrick Lopez wrote:

"I will, however, say that the work of consolidating the 6-12 program into a state of the Art facility downtown was my work. The district simply did not have the $14 million to build out a new facility for the 6-8. It was a better use of space."

-  Why would the district have had to build a new facility?  CAPA downtown as a 9-12 could have accommodated many more students rather than turning them away, and instead of selling Reizenstein for example at a bargain price it could have become a very nice home for CAPA 6-8, again accommodating many students who are now turned away.  

S. Shealey in PG in favor of teacher evaluation system

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"also today- new topic:
Shealey complaining about teachers crticizing union---
Yes, we KNOW there were kool-aid drinkers-we know that Nina loved RISE and touted it even at meeting where we tried to say it wasnt objective-- but as far as the union helping people NO-- they told anyone who spoke out to "resign for personal reasons"-- gotta get rid of those that speak out. If you didnt follow the script you had to go. Only now the union powers are seeing: union totally out of hiring process ( they tell you to call THEM when there is an opening etc) Folks it wasnt always that way!
The union became the enemy along with the administration they loved-- and people literally gave up-- something they had fought for for many years- a strong trade union relationship had died.
So now, we have a newer smarter board who listens to their consittuents. So we have union members that again see hope. Sorry Mrs. Shealey- your reign of terror is ending!"

Peduto focusing on schools

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Re: today's P-G article about Mayor Peduto's focus on PPS and revisiting the 2003 Mayor's Commission on Public Education -

Now that we finally have an ELECTED school board working proactively for the welfare of our students and PPS - instead of rubber stamping everything that Bellefield decides to try next -

I hope Peduto's agenda does not include trying to have an APPOINTED school board. Imagine the politics involved if we had that!"

Seeking Agenda Review materials

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Talking about walking in circles...the agenda review meeting is this Wed. and the materials for public review are not online yet. Why the delay?"

Sunday, February 16, 2014

James B. Stewart opinions in the PG

On another post Anonymous wrote:


"Redevelopment and gentrification programs notwithstanding, Pittsburgh will be unable to realize its vision of becoming a first-class city until all community stakeholders stand up and commit collectively to address the racial achievement/ opportunity gap that plagues PPS schools."


James B. Stewart is a professor emeritus at Penn State and chair of the Equity Advisory Panel of the Pittsburgh Public Schools (

Read more:

Auditor General/ How we got where we are

There has been a request to reference the very informative "How we got where we are" series that was posted previously, given recent Auditor General interest in Pittsburgh Public schools.

Here is the link to Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Part IV:

Part V:

Part VI:

Part VII:

Part VIII:

Part IX:

Part X:

Part XI:

Part XII:

 Part XIII:

Part XIV:

Part XV:

Part XVI:

 Part XVII:

 Part XVIII:

 Part XIX:

 Part XX:

 Part XXI:

 Part XXII:

 Part XXIII:

 Part XXIV:

 Part XXV:

 Part XXVI:

 Part XXVII:


 Part XXIX:

 Part XXX:

 Part XXXI:

 Part XXXII:



 Part XXXV:

 Part XXXVI:


Still waiting for a reply from the Broad Foundation

On another post Annette Werner wrote:

"Over 3 years ago I wrote to the Broad Foundation (see below) but never received a reply.  It occurs to me that I could pretty much change the date and send the same letter; it is just as applicable today.  What is the chance that I would receive a reply?"

PPS Public Hearing Testimony
November 22, 2010
Annette Werner

Good evening. For my testimony I will read a letter I wrote to the Broad Foundation.

November 4, 2010

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation - Education
10900 Wilshire Boulevard
Twelfth Floor
Los Angeles, California 90024

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Broad:

I am writing from Pittsburgh, where we have had a Broad superintendent for over 5 years.

As shown on the attached charts, the overall improvement in academic performance of the Pittsburgh Public School District during the past 5 years has if anything been less than the improvement in academic performance statewide. Year to year ups and downs at particular grade levels in Pittsburgh closely track year to year ups and downs in Pennsylvania as a whole, raising the question of whether changes in performance are the result of adjustments to the level of difficulty of the tests. This result comes despite an emphasis on testing like we have never seen before, at the expense of other areas such as sports, extracurricular activities and the arts.

I know that accountability is an important part of the Broad approach, so can you tell me: Are these results consistent with expectations for a Broad superintendent? Is there something that needs to be added to the training of these future superintendents? And can you tell us why, in selecting a new superintendent, we should again consider a Broad candidate?

Thank you,

Annette Werner

Friday, February 14, 2014

Vision from Great Public Schools

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Great Public Schools-Pittsburgh released it's "vision" today in the Post gazette.
They want to see smaller classes, full time librarians, full art, music, sports... How in the world will that happen. Gates money running out. I see consultants crossing the borders sneaking into Pittsburgh. 
Great Public Schools-Pittsburgh has a wish list. How about vocational education too? Our students need skills training. While music, art and sports are important, when the roof leaks, are you going to call a ballerina?
They want less high stakes testing. Gates won't like that at all. How are they going to get rid of high paid teachers? SEIU Healthcare? What the heck is that? At least the PFT supports this. It's about time they supported something. Just sayin' "

$40M from Gates but students don't have books

From the Pittsburgh Courier:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Homewood Childrens Village charter application

On another post Anonymous wrote:


From The Tribune Review opinion page by Derrick Lopez.

The Homewood Childrens' Village charter application was denied. He states that PPS has lost 3,600 students to charter schools. 9 of 10 of the charters in Pittsburgh have results comparable to or better than our nonmagnet PPS schools.

Since PPS seems to have failed Westinghouse (and Homewood), why don't we approve this charter application? It is also interesting that Lopez used to be at Bellefield and left PPS. I wonder what was behind that move? "

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ways to avoid cutting sports

On another post Mark Rauterkus wrote:

"I am making more than 40 suggestions within a 45-page position paper just released that I'd love for you to read.

See the links there to the PDFs: = Google document, PDF, 45 pages.

Nutshell: We can make PPS Aquatics pull its own weight in terms of finances. I have been trying to do so for three years. The pools and swim teams can be paid for by programs if PPS could just get the political will to let this happen. "

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lane looks ahead to new board

On another post Anonymous wrote:


A few comments about and quotes from this P-G article today.

*The district "expects" to run out of money in 2016. The teachers' union contract expires in 2015. This is part of an old script used every time a new contract is coming up. I can't wait to see what the PFT loses in this new contract. Lane wants "some strong agreements in place to start that process, not start it with some lingering issues."

Regarding the new school board, she hopes that their reversing the previous board's actions regarding TFA and closing Woolslair is "not a foretaste of things to come." She "doesn't think having a new board necessarily makes her life harder, just different." I hope it's "different" meaning the new board will not just rubber stamp everything that comes out of Bellefield. I hope they continue to evaluate and investigate every initiative.

Regarding the new evaluation system that has become a bone of contention, Lane "plans to go ahead with the tougher measures." She said she meets regularly with Nina Esposito-Visgitis and she "would like to "resolve" the teacher evaluation issue and "move ahead and make it the kind of thing we really want it to be..." Well it should be interesting to see if Nina sells the union short again and gives in regarding this issue. I wouldn't be surprised if a "backroom" deal is done quid pro quo trading stricter evaluation standards for something in the upcoming contract. I guess we have to wait and see if our union leader stands up and fights for our membership or sells us down the river. I'd love to be a fly on the wall when these two meet for discussions..."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Summer reading affected by state standards

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"new topic-- Gates/ Common Core hijacking library summer reading programs

PPS and other urban school districts are not the only place where the long dollar of Bill Gates is reaching-- big brother is indeed everywhere-- including something that should be relaxed-- summer reading."

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pittsburgh Promise op ed

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Pittsburgh's Promise/Gates

So now we have a Mellon Exec schilling for Gates. The Pittsburgh Promise is a wonderful thing-- unless it was meant as a whip to hold over education. We dont go to Mellon bank with a broken leg--gee, we prefer a medical professional.
I know everyone is entitled to their opinion-- but more and more people are seeing the ugly underbelly of this corporate take over of education. Hire our friends- call them consultants-- give them big bucks to criticize professionals, and forget that the scores and life in the schools has tanked since 2006. Notice NO ONE has stood up and said-- wow the schools got better under the corporate consultant rule--
people are NOT flocking to PPS--even for the Promise!
teachers, admin, students-- no body is saying its working!
please name one person who is satisfied with the situation who isnt a corporate shill for venture