Thursday, February 13, 2014

Homewood Childrens Village charter application

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"
http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/5548506-74/homewood-pittsburgh-schools#axzz2t06bxznr

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? "

103 comments:

Derrick Lopez said...

Haven't been on this blog in a while. It is actually liberating to be on the other side.

I welcome the opportunity to talk with whomever wants to talk about our charter school application and my tenure in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Let me know the time and the place.

Be well.

Questioner said...

Well one question involves resource allocation. Westinghouse HS, renovated not too long ago, is already underenrolled. A charter would presumably drain even more students. Does it make sense to allocate educational dollars for more classroom space when the result will be that existing space goes unused?

Anonymous said...

Why not rent or sell the Westinghouse building to the HCV? Any current Westinghouse students can (if they want) transfer to another PPS school.

And why is Westinghouse currently underenrolled? Where are the students - in charters, or other PPS schools?

Derrick Lopez said...

I really do welcome the opportunity to have a discourse on the record, but I will answer some of the questions by this blog.

There is really a lot to both of those questions. Westinghouse is a beautiful facility with so many amenities. The challenge really is that it is TOO large for the work that we will initially seek to do (opening with a 6th and 7th Grade only).

As far as under-enrolled, that is an issue that the district has to face across the board. Instead of closing neighborhood schools, and relocating our children to large schools like Arsenal K-8 or King K-8, which no one wants to attend, the district could have physically "down-sized schools". That means literally take away a portion of the building, demolish and renovate it. Then you could have a smaller Fort Pitt and keep a Woolslair open. You could keep a Manchester open and sell a King K-8 to a Allegheny General (who wanted it). Just thoughts on how to keep communities in tact.

With regard to Westinghouse, our children feel like they are in a fortress, and we are actively trying to build community. We believe it will be liberating to use the community as a classroom and infuse resources into the larger community, while also educating our children about the world around them. We can extend the school day and year more naturally.

Finally, for this round of questions, if we opened a charter school, we would try our best to work with the students in all of the East End who need it most. That would include Wilkinsburg, which is the only high school in western pa ranked worse than Homewood's high school in achievement, besides two alternative schools (like the Academy Charter School).

Let me know if you want to have a more extended dialogue about our plans for innovations in curricula, a full time family support team, and substantive community involvement.

Anonymous said...

Now why would anyone be interested in "tenure in Pittsburgh Public Schools" and does it make any difference?

Questioner said...

Re: "the district could have physically "down-sized schools". That means literally take away a portion of the building, demolish and renovate it. Then you could have a smaller Fort Pitt and keep a Woolslair open":

Or, the district could just close a wing or a floor for the time being, probably at less expense than demolishing a portion. Then if things change in the future (20,000 new residents?) the district would have options.

- But isn't the real savings from merging schools thought to be personnel costs (one principal; one set of front desk staff; more opportunity to reach large target class sizes)? Of course there are also costs to mergers that are rarely mentioned (more students moving to charter schools at great costs to the district; greater transportation costs; loss of neighborhood schools making life in the city less attractive).

Re: "our children feel like they are in a fortress, and we are actively trying to build community. We believe it will be liberating to use the community as a classroom and infuse resources into the larger community, while also educating our children about the world around them."

- Windowless schools like Peabody feel like fortresses, but Westinghouse is a beautiful, light filled school. And using the community as a classroom will still involve considerable expense, correct? Even if community groups provide space free of charge (unlikely), the security cost alone will be significant. Are duplicate facilities the best way to spend funds? Or would it make more sense to allow actual Homewood families with school age children to consider all options and vote on whether they want a charter or PPS in their community, using whatever facilities are safest and most cost effective?

"Innovations in curricula, a full time family support team, and substantive community involvement" would be strong selling points.

Derrick Lopez said...

Questioner: Really good points:

I think we are having the wrong conversation. The premise of your question assumes that the conversation should be about cost savings and efficiencies. Yes, there are fiscal challenges, but we are not making widgets, we are modeling and educating human beings. In that world, there will be lots of inefficiencies. The real challenge is how to manage those inefficiencies.

I posit that the essential questions are these:

1. What is actually needed to support the children of the city to receive a quality education? Equity does not mean treating everyone the same. It means utilizing resources to meet their immediate need so that they are available to learn.

When we actually have this honest, albeit difficult conversation, that includes poverty, class and yes race, then we can move to the next question.

2. What infrastructure is actually needed to support the students and families where they live?
I agree with the comment about closing off wings of underutilized buildings. Note that most of the buildings are old, including Westinghouse, and don't have zoned climate control. So, you don't save much money on the utilities there.

Westinghouse is a beautiful building. I wasn't referring to physical space as a fortress, I was referring to the beliefs of our children that they are on "lock-down" and they are not being educated. How do you build community in that environment?

3. What are the costs of the personnel needed to do the work and how should the personnel be allocated and where they are deployed?

The middle class was built on collective bargaining. That legacy should be honored. My belief is that "professions" both protect and police themselves. In fact, they protect themselves through policing and setting standards of conduct for members therein. i.e. the American Medical Association and the State Bar Associations. If we as educators are to have credibility as a profession, the state or management shouldn't set the standards--we should and hold ourselves to them. That will forever change the conversation!

There is more, but I will stop there.

Anonymous said...

Well, Derrick, you have caught my attention with comments that go beyond what is typically posted here. While not particularly a fan during your tenure with PPS, there appears to have been a maturing of thinking as you post here. Unfortunately, your current thinking has few proponents among Central Office administrators at PPS and therefore the District appears to be doomed to an ugly demise which is well into it decline. Charter schools are NOT, (with rare exception) the solution to this slide into oblivion.

There are many Pittsburgh educators who would and could reverse the decline; but, have not the autonomy, position or necessary 'influence' in the political or monied power structure that is in control of education for the masses in Pittsburgh.

There must be an uprising that exposes and overturns the existing structures. Unfortunately the leadership in a position to do this has backed down for whatever reasons----you name them!

The majority of others, who have risen to the challenge, have been substantively squelched and silenced!

So, BRAVO Mr. Lopez, for speaking out with a cogent, coherent voice!

Mark Rauterkus said...

Thanks for showing up Mr. Lopez.

Anonymous said...

Please forgive my ignorance of the charter school process, but I have some questions for Mr. Lopez.

1. How are students chosen for admittance? Is it first come first served, by a lottery, or is it by some other means?

2. Are the student applicants screened? Suppose that the applicant is a special needs child, or is reading way below grade level. Or suppose that the child has a record of suspensions. Are such children still eligible for admittance?

3. How do charter schools handle chronically disruptive students? Are they ever shipped back to the public schools?

4. Some people think that charter schools have an unfair advantage because they cherry-pick only the best students. How would you address that concern?

5. I would think that an important advantage of charter schools is that they can be more flexible than a comparable public school. What other advantages would a charter school bring to the table?

Mark Rauterkus said...

A sinking ship has a set of life boats. Some would burn those life boats in haste because there are not enough seats for everyone on the sinking ship.

Humm....

We can't charge $500 for being on an age group swim team that holds practices at the public schools because some kid might want to join the team and can't afford that money -- so -- keep the doors locked to all. Better yet, drain the pools.

Humm.

We can't give every student new books in every class for every subject so let's not give any books to any student throughout the entire school.

Humm.

Put me on the team that wants to do everything within our power to help and educate as many as possible.

We win by addition. Wins seldom, if EVER, happen with subtraction. Especially in education and nowlege.

Hummm....

Anonymous said...

Homewood children can't afford another experiment. This will be yet another case study to see whether these children can weather the storm. They deserve a world class education. A charter school with little stability to have them travel through a neighborhood full of murders (because people don't come forward when they have information to solve countless unsolved homicide) is insane. What are HCV administrators thinking? Oh I forgot they don't reside in Homewood. They merely are building wealth on the backs of the people who do. I strongly oppose the HCV Charter School ideology. Derek take it to your community and get them to buy into your messiness.

Anonymous said...

11:18 - Those students that are labeled as "chronically disruptive" do not now and will not everr fit the tightly defined model student who responds to managed or scripted curricula, behavior modification protocols and punitive repercussions for every deviation from the "prescribed" formula for "promise" in PPS. Intelligent, independent, insightful and uniquely inspired students do NOT fit a one-size-fits-all template for a "student" in PPS.

We need schools that respect individual differences, individual ethnicities, individual talents and individual goals---schools similar to CAPA which seems to operate under a very different philosophy, one that encourages and respects students as individuals--- quite unlike the majority of PPS secondary schools that are failing students---and characterizing them as "chronically disruptive".

Anonymous said...

1:11, I'm sure you have the best of intentions, but I must disagree with almost everything you said.

You are confusing the "chronically disruptive" student with the student who learns differently from the ordinary student.

This different student might learn better with hands-on activities instead of just taking notes. This different student might learn better if the lessons were broken down into smaller pieces. Our schools SHOULD do all that they can to help this type of student! They deserve no less.

The chronically disruptive student is something else. This student will loudly argue with the teacher, and with other students, during class. This student will think nothing of talking on a cell phone during class, and will threaten violence if reprimanded. This student will steal things from other students during lab activities.

This chronically disruptive student holds the rest of the class back from learning. Irreplaceable instructional time is lost. And the teacher can do little about it. Talking kindly to the student, calling parents, holding conferences, etc. only work about 10% of the time.

Any PPS teacher will tell you that such chronically disruptive students are quite common in most classes. They disrupt because there are no real consequences for their behavior. A day of suspension just means a day off to watch TV. And I'm sorry if you just cannot accept that reality.

One more thing. You mentioned CAPA. Do you know why CAPA is so successful? One reason is that they have no tolerance for disruptive students! One slip and those students are sent back to their home schools.

Derrick Lopez said...

Anonymous at 11:18- Great questions: Here are my first thoughts about them. I welcome the opportunity for further dialogue.

1. All students have to apply, and we are going to facilitate that process door-to-door. They will then get in by lottery and/or first come first serve (if the school is undersubscribed). We are only looking to enroll 72 per grade initially, because we want the school to be intentionally small.

2. The applicants are not screened. We are actually designing a school for all children, including those who have not done well in other school settings and norms with appropriate social service and educational supports. Our primary goal is to educate students who have been left behind by the various initiatives over the past few years and those who have been undereducated for the past thirty years.

3. Suspensions and disciplinary issues are generally due to something that has very little to do with school.The rates are UNACCEPTABLE. Westinghouse had more than 1000 individual suspensions in 2011-12 when there were only 550 students in the building. That means that 58% of the students received at least one suspension. We have to work with parents and the young man or woman to figure out what is really happening. Either we work hard now on the issues that present themselves or our children pay for them later, sometimes with their very lives.

4. In some cases that may be true in that they operate like our magnet programs in the city. That will not be the case for our student body. As I stated above, this is who we have designed the school for.

5. Charters offer the independence from a bureaucracy of a large school district. There should be oversight, but I have seen many instances of over-reach. Also, there is a good deal of flexibility. While a charter is still a public school and it has to abide by the same state rules, we can design a learning structure that is truly individualized with the right supports and structures.

Derrick Lopez said...

To Anonymous 12:48 I understand your skepticism, but I think you will find that is misplaced when you study what we have been able to accomplish in three short year.

Our children and families don't need another case study or experiment. They need to be educated, and with supports so that they can earn a diploma and then earn a living wage.

About half of the young men who start 9th grade in Homewood finish high school and only 60% of the young women finish. This is in 2014. By the way, these stats mirror those of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. We have a bright shiny beautiful building, where half of our children are failing. Put 100 children in a row who have diplomas from Homewood Schools in a row and only 7 of them know algebra and 3 of them know science. That is 7% proficiency in Math and 3% proficiency in science. It makes me ill!

As for our community, I spend 10-12 hours a day in Homewood most days including weekends. While I reside in Highland Park (by the way 1.3 miles or 50 minutes of walking away) my life is in Homewood. But for their birth, I think of them as my own children, and what I do for my own children, I will do for them.

The Village serves 1000 children everyday! That is fully one-quarter of the school age population in Homewood Brushton and Lincoln Larimer. We transport 45 children to and from school everyday. We have a full staff working alongside teacher at Faison and Lincoln everyday, ensuring students are fed; making phone calls home for absent students to make sure they are ok and can re-enter soon; reducing suspensions and increasing learning time by dealing with the immediate needs of students. Teachers can then teach. We also pack 100 PowerPacks with food in them for the weekend so our children can eat. Personally, I wake up and fix breakfast for 20 juniors and seniors once per week, not only to ensure that they have a good meal, but to incentivize them to stay in school and go on to college.

In sum, the Village works with our children and families, one child, one parent, one relationship at a time. I encourage you to join the Village and demonstrate your commitment. It really is a worthwhile endeavor. We welcome you!

Derrick Lopez said...

To 12:48- Also Homewood definitely has its safety challenges. That is because there is no hope, but we have been working with community organizations, the URA and the office of our newly elected Mayor, to develop an "Education Zone" from Hamilton to Bennett and from Lang to Homewood Avenue. This zone has so many assets from the Homewood Library to the YMCA to CCAC to the Afro-American Music Institute. It is arguably safest part of Homewood and buildings within the Zone will house our classrooms as well.

Please join our team to tease out those issues so they can be addressed.

Be well!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lopez, I am the 11:18 poster. I am also a PPS teacher. Thank you for your response at 3:46.

I am particularly interested in topic 3, the handling of disruptive students.

A school simply cannot allow disruptive students to remain in class! To do so is to sacrifice the education of the entire class.

But as you noted, suspensions are not the answer. They do the disruptive student no good. And they usually do the class as a whole no good (the problem is just kicked down the road). The disruptive student soon returns and acts out just as before.

Permit me to think out loud. Perhaps suspensions should be eliminated, except in criminal cases such as a weapons violation.

Instead, remove the disruptive student to an in-house resource room. Not a holding area, but a learning area! Make the student EARN his/her way back to the regular classroom. Don't make it easy there, or comfortable.

And permit me to add one more thing. In today's PPS, the goal is to get every student ready for college. That's just crazy, no more than silly PR fluff. Not every student has the ability, drive, or desire to master advanced mathematics.

But every student is good at something. Bring back vocational training. Give students a real choice! Trigonometry or plumbing, physics or carpentry.

I came from a family of carpenters. And I'm sure you'll agree than there's more work in Pittsburgh for trained carpenters than there is for physicists.

Sorry for the longwinded post, but all of this is a real concern of mine.

Anonymous said...

Derrick, weren't you the person who designed the redesign of Westinghouse in the first place when you worked for the school district and were in charge of high school oversight? Didn't that include your strong recommendation that single sex academies be placed in Westinghouse?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lopez is part of the problem not the solution. He was a part of every failed experiment at Westinghouse Academy and look at it now. Is the Academy better because of Mr. Lopez or worse.

The reality here is Mr. Lopez is trying to get back to his Psers Pension that he didnt get enough time in PPS to qualify for such. SO once he gets back on a charter school payroll instead of the Homewood village payroll he can qualify for it. Plus others can get paid as well.

If he had the skill and talent to do something with these kids he could have been done it. Transportation and meals are nice but what about the help with education you provided with Westinghouse academy? Its still at the bottom. Thats why PPS denied your proposal because they know your work.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that D lopez did not say he was working with CEA or the Homewood Renaissance. This are two grass roots organization with dedicated neighborhood leaders. The reason being because both of those groups and a few others have caught on to his all talk game. He talks a bunch of BS and never ever delivers. CEA is a real community group run by a real community leader and if giving the same resources he would have done massive changes by now.
D Lopez ideas sound good but beleive me thats all it is Ideas. He does not know the community and the people who come from it. He knows some of the kids that he is trying to get to know to snatch them and take them to his charter. And if PPS allows him to do it, shame on them.

HCV needs this charter to be able to sustain itself and meet payroll. HCV has a lot of mouths to feed and not getting a charter school will have them in a tough situation. They cant survive with just geting a grant here and there and they know it.

If hey want to do something and prove worthy of their own charter, make Westinghouse Academy better, make faison and lincoln Better. Hcv sold them selfs as a organization that would work with this schools not take kids away or it.

Derrick Lopez said...

@5:02 I appreciate the thoughtful way with which you approach your question around 'disruptive' students. That may be the most difficult question that we face because we haven't taken the time and generally don't have the resources to find out what the issues are that cause the disruption. That is in fact the work that the Village does at Lincoln and Faison. We actually have additional adults in the building to work along side teachers to assist with the disruptive students so as not to detract from the work of the classroom. Moreover, our work in the Village is about trying to get to the root cause of the issue, so that the student can have a chance at the possibility of a positive future. As a principal and as a teacher, this was a really hard balance, and I don't profess to have all of the answer, but the answer does lie with the student and our ability to tease out the issue that is presenting itself.

With regard to the "college" going issue, you are correct that all students will not choose college, but we should be preparing them to make that choice. The skills necessary for preparation in the 21st Century economy demand this perspective. That said, however, this preparation is not simply about academic preparation, but rather it is about applied preparation. In doing so, we absolutely have to resurrect Career and Technical education, but with an eye towards the new equipment that their employers will demand and the skills they will need to be successful.

With regard to both of the issues, i would love to have further dialogue with someone who has an on the ground perspective. We can and must arrive at a solution that will lead to better outcomes for the children and families of Homewood.

Anonymous said...

If you want to know if Mr. Lopez can get it done, ask Dr. Crenshaw. She was the principal at Pittsburgh Westinghouse when Mr. Lopez implemented his plan.

Derrick Lopez said...

to 7:44 - I am the same Derrick Lopez. Not that I have to respond to baseless accusations, but I came to Pittsburgh with many years of public school experience, and I bought years of service with PSERS upon my arrival. So I am fully vested. So please don't use that accusation again.

With regard to the plan at Westinghouse and its failure, that is the biggest disappointment of my professional career. Now, I will accept some responsibility for this "failure" if you also give me credit for Obama 6-12, CAPA 6-12, Sci-Tech 6-12 and U Prep 6-12. All of which I had a significant hand in designing and three of which are roundly successful. U Prep is not doing well because the students there also face similar issues that we are addressing in our programming within the Homewood Children's Village.

When I left the district in June 2011, I was assured that Westinghouse would have the full support of central administration to do the single-gender academy. My mission in the Village was to provide the necessary supports in the building to support the work. To that end, the Homewood Children's Village raised and invested more than $900 million in resources to work with students outside of the classroom. only to have the district fail to support the school at its opening, and pull the plug on the program within three months. That investment represented 26 additional adults to mentor, be role models and advise our students. Teachers will tell you that the VIllage was the only thing that was consistent in the building throughout that crazy year.

The District was afraid of a lawsuit from the ACLU. Once I left, there was no champion of the program and no support to start the school year. Moreover, the women who were at the helm beneath the Superintendent did not believe in the model. They let it implode.

Mind you, in addition to the 26 individuals hired and placed there, the entire HCV office staff was at the building every day until we were put out. I remained at the building EVERY MORNING to open the gym for the remainder of the year at 7:15 so that our children would be able to enter the building and not be dropped off outside of the building after the Village provided bus transportation. Then they could have be there to have breakfast.

Note that because of that single intervention, more children entered the building before 7:45 that year than before or in thesubsequent year. Being in school and on time is huge. The program was just not supported.

I own up to my work and worth because my Grandfather told me that all you have when you lay down in that pine box is your good name. If you ask me, then I will tell you. If I have nothing positive to say or if I don't know what I am talking about, I will often be silent. That was and remains good advice.

I appreciate the opportunity to clear this record on several fronts. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Crenshaw worked with Mr. Lopez and the HCV at Westinghouse Academy. Ask her how affective was lopez at implementing his vision and plans there.

Results my people Results.

Derrick Lopez said...

To 8:18- Please read the last post since it answers your PSERS allegation.

With regard to the application denial, note that PPS denied all three applications this year and denied 13 of the previous 15 applications. As for the only two applications approved in the past five years, I was the administrator in charge and recommended their approval. YES, I was the lead administrator in the process in January 2011, and the applications for Propel Northside and the Northside Urban Pathways K-5 were approved because it was ridiculous to deny the quality of the application.

Now I ask you, as the former administrator in charge of the process, do you think that I don't know what should be in the application.

As the administrator who reconfigured and/or opened six schools in four years, I certainly know what and how to open schools.

As the principal of schools in Michigan, two of which were inner city and very challenging, my record speaks that certainly know how to run schools and support my staff while they educate our children.

Moreover, I challenge you to ask the principals at Faison, Lincoln and this year, Westinghouse about the support of the Village for their work, and each of them would say that our work is above reproach.

Again. I thank you for the opportunity to clear the record. Be well!

Questioner said...

Wait did someone somehow invest $900 million at Westinghouse? That would be over $1 million per student please clarify!

As for w

Derrick Lopez said...

To 8:33
Again- I appreciate your airing your viewpoint. The facts are just different. You are entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts.

Here are the facts:

The HCV does work with the CEA and Homewood Renaissance. Our work with both of the organizations is in the early stage, but if you ask the leaders of both organizations, they will tell you that what we have committed to them in our recent interactions, we deliver on. Again our record speaks for itself.

No I am not from Homewood or even from Pittsburgh, but I have a heart for the children and families in our community. Moreover, if my goal was to close Westinghouse, I would not have supported the school so fervently upon my arrival in 2007 when I was with the District or in 2011 when I transitioned to the Village. That allegation makes no sense.

As for working with Lincoln and Faison, we remain committed to working with them, and to increase our staff and commitment each year as the Full Service Community School develops in each site. We currently have a Full Time Site Director at both schools and eight additional staff at Faison and seven additional staff at Lincoln. Our commitment to them is without equivocation. Ask the principals.

Our commitment to the students and families at Westinghouse is equally important. Again note that we had 26 staff members there in year one, but the school did not use them well. We therefore reallocated our staff to Faison and Lincoln in years 2 and 3 where are partnership grows deeper each day. With the new principal at Westinghouse, we hope to increase our commitment there next year. We support our students where-ever they go to school.

Our Charter application was a recognition that PPS was not going to do anything different for the students in grade 6-12 in Homewood, Lincoln-Larimer and East Liberty. It necessitated action. We acted to try to stem the 50% drop out rate that is perennial among young black men and the 40% drop our rate among young black women.

If we are not doing work, I encourage you to hold us accountable with specifics instead of simply shooting arrows into the air hoping that they pierce our resolve to improve the lives of our children and families.

Derrick Lopez said...

I am sorry Questioner- it was $900,000. I was typing too fast. But it was a chunk of change. In fact it was more than 60% of our budget for that year!

Derrick Lopez said...

TO 8:54

For the record--Dr. Crenshaw was not the principal of Westinghouse until after the District pulled the plug in November. She was at Weil School, and had been there for almost two years prior to that time.

But, after she returned to Westinghouse, nearly everything that Dr. Crenshaw asked the Village to do when Westinghouse was not being supported by the District, we did. The Village bought the uniforms for the Lady Bulldogs when the district said no. The Village sent the Westinghouse Bulldog football team to camp for two consecutive summers. The Village paid for transportation daily to get our children to school past abandoned and dilapidated houses. And the Village opened the gymnasium every morning with Muzz Meyers so that children could enter the building out of the cold and be there on time for breakfast. The Village provided the out of school time opportunities for the children to go on field trips. YES, the Village put in work and continues to do so.

Facts are indeed important.

Questioner said...

A lot of things sound good but but unfortunately you are not starting fresh. U prep milliones is the school that is most like Westinghouse. It was to be a flagship school - what happened? And what happened with the institute for urban education that was housed at u prep?

As for the other three schools, any characterization of them as a success must be highly qualified. Fewer than half of the students starting grade 9 at sci tech graduated from sci tech. Forge IB school was to result in quadruple the number of IB diplomas. Instead, the program went from 20 IB diplomas in 2007 to only 8 in 2013, despite many more students being enrolled in IB classes. Next year the number of diplomas may well be not four times as many, but one fourth as many, as in 2007! And Capa and its middle school equivalent were already highly successful before they were combined; it is nothing like building schools from scratch and there does not seem to be any indication that putting the programs into one building has enhanced either one. In fact, if capa had been left as a high school only, many more students would have been able to enroll rather than looking for options outside Pps.

Questioner said...

And as for citing the ACLU as an important factor in the failure of the single gender schools- this problem did not come out of the blue. The very same day that the plan for single gender was announced, this blog noted that the ACLU had successfully challenged similar single gender attempts elsewhere. Incredibly, the Board was never told in advance that Title IX could be an issue. The public was never told that single gender was being considered until it was announced as the administrations's choice, In fact very little about single gender was said even to the (closed to the public) panel that was supposedly advising the administration on plans for the east end. As for community engagement- an hour after an open panel presented to lane and Lopez a detailed report and suggestions for Westinghouse, the administration announced that it would be pursuing the single gender academies, very obviously declining to give the community report respect or real consideration. What has changed?

Derrick Lopez said...

Questioner: Substantive points:

Let's talk about them in reverse order.

CAPA was not going to expand at the High School level. That was never the plan. In fact, the school was to remain a small school with 150 per grade. The addition of the middle school downtown actually made it less likely that the CAPA middle school students of color were not excluded because of bias in auditions. Now the auditions are simply a formality. In the past, they were used to weed out students with behaviors that did not fit the "culture" of CAPA. Moreover, CAPA now retains more of its students through graduation. In the past, 150 9th graders would begin and they would graduate 105-110. That is not the case anymore.

With regard to Sci-Tech, the school is SO specialized that some students no longer want to attend. I understand that there is still an element of weeding out undesirable behaviors. Thus, the small graduating classes. They only start with 100 to begin with. The district could modify entry points and make the school a little larger.

With regard to Obama, I really got nothing. The school still does well with regard to grad rates. My speculation is that PPS hasn't done a substantive Middle Years Programme and connect it to the Diploma Programme. IF the rigor doesn't exist in grades 6-10 they will not increase the number of Diploma Programme grads. Remember the Diploma Programme compresses three years into two academic years in the American system. That is very hard without utilizing the scaffolds of the previous five years. That is what they are designed to do. You have to fundamentally change the system. I actually had my son enrolled there, but because of the lack of Middle School rigor, he now attends City Charter High School. He just wasn't prepared to go into the Diploma Programme.

WIth regard to UPrep, the cause of the mess is manifold. It was supposed to be the sister school to Sci-Tech, but this materialized in name only.

1. The Center for Urban Ed at Pitt was fledgling at the time, and the former director was more committed to his national reputation than to Pittsburgh's schools. He literally left after two years and went to UCLA, with almost no presence in U Prep for a full year. Therefore, very little teacher PD and learning community establishment occurred.

2. The teachers in the building were supposed to be protected like those at SciTech, but the PFT did not allow that to occur. Moreover, the teachers were supposed to loop with students like City Charter HIgh school to deal with some of the socio-emotional issues that impede learning and to foster relationships and mentoring the lead to student growth. Again, that was thwarted by the PFT.

3. Finally, the UPREP students have many of the same issues that our children at Westinghouse face, without the necessary supports to be available to learn. The issues of race and poverty have to be dealt with and unpacked to really work with children and families. All of the adults in the building have to be on the same page and work together to move the school forward. Because Homewood had about 75 students attend U Prep, we placed a Site Coordinator there last year with additional counseling and support for substance abuse and behavioral issues.

The Hill District Education Council have every right to be disappointed, but the district has to allocate additional staff to work alongside the teachers to alleviate some of these issues.

That is my take. While more continuity of IB sequences for our students are needed in Obama at the middle school level, I will stand by my earlier statement that three schools are successful by objective measures.

I hope this helps...

Anonymous said...

"Now I ask you, as the former administrator in charge of the process, do you think that I don't know what should be in the application." D Lopez

1) wouldn't this work have fallen under Dr Poncelet's pervue at the time?

2) having served on a charter renewal / review team, why the surprise at PPS not approving the charter? Many quality applications are rejected each year. Maybe there is something in the process stacked against the charter application...?

Derrick Lopez said...

Questioner 10:21

IF by successfully challenging schools, you mean schools have backed down, that is accurate. The district did not fight the battle, but the case law was really on our side as were the regulations. We were to "sign" up students, and we complied and had some 450 students sign up for the school, after the model was disclosed. The district was protected.

Jeanine French, as the new Chief of School Performance, then required the model to be altered to force the school to "require" Homewood and East End children to attend to alleviate a "non-existent" crowding problem at UPrep, which was the default school. (quite frankly, the default school feeder pattern should have been divided between U Prep and Allderdice. I will leave that were it is, but it wasn't). There the district may crossed the line, and the model was placed in jeopardy.

Also with students in the building who did not choose to be there, disruptions occurred from day one. Coupled with the lawsuit threat and the lack of central office support, the model was all but doomed. Who were hurt, but our students.

Yet, as I stated, the Village dedicated $900,000 and 26 adults to work with students there. We remained committed to the students even when the model was disbanded.

As for the district and not hearing from the community with respect to new models, when I worked there, and now, they are incredibly rigid. They want a one-size fits all, and they want to control its implementation. A plan by the community will generally not be heard and implemented. That is what happened then and will continue to happen.

That is why we applied for a charter school, even though we will continue to work with our children and families in Homewood's schools.


Derrick Lopez said...

By the way, there was a four month process that had community members involved that devised the Single Gender Academy. I still have all of the notes from the first meeting in January through the final meeting in April. There were at least three community meetings, one at Westinghouse, one at Peabody and one at Reizenstein contemporaneous to its announcement. I think it was announced at a May education meeting about 18 months before implementation.

So this did not come out of the blue.

It was also on the design board when I took the job to re-design high schools in August 2007-along with a University partnership school, a science and technology school, an IB school. There was a "math and music" school idea that got no legs.

I hope that you are getting the picture that none of these schools were designed out of whole cloth. Models were visited and explored for the year of 2006-07. PPS does not and cannot move on a dime to do this sort of thing.

Questioner said...

Word is that the number of community members attending the planning meetings dwindled down to just a handful; panelists seemed as surprised as anyone when single gender was announced; but the meetings were closed to the public. One of the many reasons that closed meeting s of this type are so objectionable is that when results are disastrous there can be no accountability. And Bard members could have made it clear in advance that they had no stomach or funds for a legal battle.

Derrick Lopez said...

Anonymous @10:46
When Mark Roosevelt left, Dr. Lane gave me the responsibility of Charter School Review as a part of Strategic Initiatives of which she designated me Chief. That is really the short answer.

If you have been a member of charter review teams, you know that the pre-disposition has been to deny--Period--That is why the Homewood Children's Village is disappointed but not deterred.

Questioner said...

Much more can and wil be said but what is the case for going with charters rather than making a change in administration away from the Broad/ Gates model and towards a public school system that will not leave children behind in a failing u prep, Westinghouse, perry, or the dropout ranks of the "successful" high schools?

Derrick Lopez said...

Questioner:
So-Short answer, I don't trust that the system can change. Charters are not the panacea, but they can be one answer for a community that is in crisis and struggles. The district can then learn from their successes and failures to alter their practices.

Longer Answer:
There is the rub. I just don't have faith that a system with entrenched interests and ways of doing things can fundamentally change. The three entities that are supposed to work in tandem at often at odds: The board, the administration and the teachers. Then you add the outside forces: Broad, Gates, TFA, the AFT, and nothing moves. It is like a Washington logjam. Who suffers? The Teachers; the Young men and women at our failing schools and the communities where our failing schools exist.

To govern is to listen; and I don't see people moving beyond their interests to listen and move in the larger game.

Are charters the complete answer? Not for all children. The grand majority of children will be educated in district governed school systems. That is why we need good districts. If the district would, however, learn from City Charter High School, Urban League Charter, and Propel K-8s, and utilize some of their successful principles, then charters do serve a purpose.

We believe that our Charter Application is one from which the district can learn. It will not be a panacea, but it will have some replicable practices that can and should be utilized in district schools.

I do see some hope in the "community schools" concept put forth by the new group published in the Post Gazette this week. The ONLY way that will work, however, is if the adults listen to each other, own their issues and negative part of the challenges; and work to resolve those challenges moving forward.

For example, the Administration has to recognize that every school has its own DNA and cannot run in lock-step with the other schools in the district.

The teachers have to recognize that a 9% unsatisfactory rate, if that is the truth, is not horrible. Every profession has to work to improve, and that rate is probably even low. That said, if 85-90% are satisfactory, then we don't have a problem with evaluation. We have a problem with teacher allocation. If each school in the district had a ratio of 85% satisfactory and 15% needs improvement/unsatisfactory, then we would not have the issues we have at UPrep, Perry, and Westinghouse.

The reported fact is that 60-75% of Westinghouse's teachers have been displaced into the building over the last decade. Note this is prior to the teacher cuts of two years ago. These teachers had been cut from their building, many because of performance. They had to be placed, and they placed them at Westinghouse. If we were to deal with that allocation problem at Westinghouse and UPrep, then we would be moving in the right direction.

Finally, (for this round of query), the challenges that our children face are many, but they are not addressed in a developmental or holistic way. While our children are "drinking life through a firehose", we suspend and ban them. The crisis that they are in is palpable, because of the crises that their caregivers face day in and day out.That crisis manifests itself in those chronically disruptive behaviors and lead to the prison pipeline. So we have to make resources available to them on a daily basis to help them navigate life so that they can navigate schools. Teachers need those supports, and that is what we are doing at Faison and Lincoln.

Derrick Lopez said...

Questioner @11:14

Words absolutely matter, but the "word on the street" is inaccurate here. The minutes of the meetings bear that out.

Board members were invited to all of the meetings to design the school for Westinghouse. Only one attended.

By the way, there were notices. The group expanded and then contracted. NO ONE was turned away. When people showed up, they were a part of the work. When they didn't show and came back to meetings, the minutes were distributed and they could offer their suggestions or not.

Then we moved the process fully to the public for the meetings at Westinghouse, Peabody and Reizenstein where people could weigh in.

Note, we fully complied with the regulations. The difficulty was when Jeanine French manufactured a crowding crisis at U Prep that never materialized. I believe that was a pre-text to disband the plan. As Dr. Lane's second in charge, she was ultimately successful.

The 450 students and their parents who signed up were ready to go. The additional 150 who just showed up because of the manufactured crisis just complicated the picture in ways that I witnessed on a daily basis and they made me very sick. Who lost in this battle, the children of Homewood, Lincoln Larimer and East Liberty.

I will own my part of it, but my departure from PPS was only a part of it, and not the cause of it.

Questioner said...

The previous board majority was totally in step with administration and the pft went along to an unprecedented degree but still results have not been good. The problem is the vision not the structure.

Can you make minutes available ( forward an actual email from that time showing what was said about single gender)?

Questioner said...

As for failing teachers, no one has ever explained how we can hold teachers responsible when they are required to stay to a script provided by administration which may or may not meet the needs of their classroom?

Anonymous said...

Derrick, You may not be aware of the fact that OFTEN, folks who show up for meetings are barred from attending. In other instances, folks are deliberately excluded from notification of meetings. Also, the agendas at meetings are not organized in efficient and productive ways. Lastly, there are no established goals for meetings other than to be able to say a meeting was held for community participation.

Your posts here tries to give the impression that CO has a clear plan. That is certainly not in evidence (other than one-size-fits-all except at CAPA and Sci-Tech). The purported experience and expertise of folks at CO indicate that none of these people have the background or qualifications for education in urban schools.

PPS, in its current state, has no chance of educating the majority of its students.

Questioner said...

The panel that met prior to the announcement of single gender had closed meetings no observers allowed and participants had to promise not to discuss what was said. For that reason an alternate open panel was formed.

Anonymous said...

At 6:49 Derrick Lopez said, referring to the teachers assigned to Westinghouse: "These teachers had been cut from their building, many because of performance."

I am very dissapointed that Mr. Lopez would make such a slanderous statement, and I take strong exception to it. I know teachers who were assigned to Westinghouse. They were all good people, and excellent teachers. I would have been proud to teach next to any of them.

So how did they end up at Westinghouse? Some were displaced teachers with low seniority, cut from their original schools because of staff reductions.

Others were at Westinghouse because they lost a popularity contest. Let me explain that. At the time, special teaching schedules were being introduced to the high schools. You had to go through a panel interview to get such a schedule. To be picked, you had to know all the current buzz words, and you had to be a favorite of the administration.

Teachers not chosen by this panel were often displaced out of their buildings. One of the very finest teachers I ever knew was not chosen by the panel. She is simply an amzing teacher. But she was not picked. No reason was ever given.

I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but does Mr. Lopez know about any of this? Or does he just equate a displaced teacher with a bad teacher?

Or is he just looking for more scapegoats for the Westinghouse failure?

Anonymous said...

Agreeing with 10:23-- many great trachers were sent to Westinghouse-- so great in fact that when their former colleagues heard about the lack of supplies, they started a campaign to gather things for their former colleagues. It wasnt just schedules that " the new Westinghouse didnt have...it was school supplies! There is no way that anyone can justify not opening school with. Pencils, paper, schedules and classlists--there is NO excuse for what was done there. In any other district there would have been a crminals investigation.

Anonymous said...

"With regard to Obama, I really got nothing. The school still does well with regard to grad rates. My speculation is that PPS hasn't done a substantive Middle Years Programme and connect it to the Diploma Programme. IF the rigor doesn't exist in grades 6-10 they will not increase the number of Diploma Programme grads. Remember the Diploma Programme compresses three years into two academic years in the American system. That is very hard without utilizing the scaffolds of the previous five years. That is what they are designed to do. You have to fundamentally change the system. I actually had my son enrolled there, but because of the lack of Middle School rigor, he now attends City Charter High School. He just wasn't prepared to go into the Diploma Programme. "

I find a great deal of this comment wildly laughable. Your own central administration championed the idea of not only a 50% grading policy but also an outrageously poor district-wide curriculum that for many years carried the expectation that ALL schools would use it "with fidelity," and that included the district's IB school.
If you truly wish to feel "liberated" then tell it like it is.

Under the "leadership" of Roosevelt and Lane, the district sold its academic integrity in favor of placing a large majority of students on the 'Pathway to the Promise.' It destroyed any "rigor" that might have been found outside of AP classes and it watered down instruction in an effort to enable all of our youngsters an opportunity to have a funded college education even when the reality was that they were woefully unprepared to excel at the collegiate level.

As for your speculation about PPS having some hand in IBMYP, it is quite clear that few if any individuals currently in Bellefield Avenue even have the faintest clue as to what the International Baccalaureate Programme even is. But hey, they feel it's just nice PR to say they have it. Instead, the staff and administration at the school has been trying to augment the PPS curriculum which again, is beyond poor, with the rigor you speak of that will provide the necessary transition.

It's easy to point fingers, Derek. It's easy to pass the buck. Where Obama was concerned, the biggest obstacles could be found in offices on Bellefield Avenue.

Public relations is a funny thing and often akin to holding the top down over a pressure cooker. At some point, the unwashed masses ask questions. 50% grading, substandard curricula....just how long before media starts to inquire about how many of the Promise kids actually made it through 4 years of college? Or even two?

Then what? Blame it on the teachers again?

Anonymous said...

"Longer Answer:
There is the rub. I just don't have faith that a system with entrenched interests and ways of doing things can fundamentally change. The three entities that are supposed to work in tandem at often at odds: The board, the administration and the teachers. Then you add the outside forces: Broad, Gates, TFA, the AFT, and nothing moves. It is like a Washington logjam. Who suffers? The Teachers; the Young men and women at our failing schools and the communities where our failing schools exist."

Other than being completely duplicitous in selling out its own rank and file, you will pardon me for again laughing out loud at your comment. RISE has become a salary dump for central administration, plain and simple. It's provided administration the opportunity to dump salaries of $85K in favor of hiring someone at half that salary or simply eliminating the position altogether. Perhaps you believe that we do not read the board minutes, and perhaps you can explain to us how most of the individuals in the 9% you write of somehow forgot how to teach after, in many cases, over 20 years of teaching. What, were they hiding?

Gates initiatives have been found to be an utter failure in Florida, in Colorado, in private industry. Why is it that I believe this administration would rather go down in flames than admit errors in thinking?

Teachers have been "the problem" in not voting, in sitting by and taking it and in not walking out en masse. Teachers have been "the problem" in not piling in to board meetings and applying pressure to rubber stampers who have their own agendas at the expense of the kids. But they have never ben the problem in PPS. Unlike so many on Bellefield Avenue, they have never had the opportunity to hide and do nothing more than make plans for lunch.

"Entrenched" entails the idea of accepting big money from a big name, without even asking what the money was for. "Entrenched" entails acting like little school girls in hiring an unprepared politician to be district superintendent, only because he happened to have a famous last name. That's Pittsburgh, and that's the "entrenched" logic of those calling the shots on the school board.

Randall Taylor said...

I want to wish great success to the Homewood Children's Village in attaining a positive vote from the school board on Feb 26th. I also hope the partners I have been working with Robert L. Vann proposed charter school, the same success.

Today, an educational group in Pittsburgh talked about schools becoming this and that in the community. To those of us who see and feel the pain of chronically failing schools these groups and individuals are like martians.

We are fighting to create schools that will allow our children to flourish. A concept that most families take for granted.

The Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg schools have nothing to offer these students except more failure. Yet, they will open for business as usual this fall.

These two African-American run intiatives are no guarantee of success, but they may succeed. Which is more than can be said for many currently operating schools. Give these two aapplicants a chance. Why not? Could they possibly be worse than the status qou.

You see many of will never stop until families that MUST send their precious children to these"schools" have what the children and families of the readers of this blog take for granted.

As some prepare to blast charter schools again, remember the vast majority of charter school students are Black, the vast majority on wanting lists are Black, and the vast majority that would sign up for these schools will be Black.

Questioner said...

With a new Board, couldn't Pps offer all students everything a successful charter might offer and more?

Anonymous said...

Yes pps can do that, however the owners or organization make money and they dont have the same type community public oversight. Mr. Lopez talks a good game but look at his works. Just look at Uprep and Westinghouse Academey. He had his hand prints all on them. Look at faison and Lincoln. They are not doing good at all. These schools are at the bottom and its in part his fault.

IF Lopez was doing a good job he would have never been removed from his job over highschool reform and placed in the strategic planing department. Lane made sure she transfered Nancy Kodman first then place him in charge and gave him one employee, Rhonda Talifaro.

After Mark R left Lane was Lopez only real supportor as he had pissed everyone else off. This cause Lane to really look at Lopez work and realize he had no idea what he was doing. Therfore Lane intented to eliminated that department. She was extremely dissatified with Lopez work and word was she wanted to terminated him. That is the reason lopez resigned in leu of being terminated.

Oh and Rhonda, the previous principal at Capa who had been lane asst when lane was deputy superintden, Lane wanted her gone too. So she put her and Lopez in the same department with plans to eliminate it and them both.

Also you see Lopez didnt really answer the Crenshaw statement cause he knows better. She set him straight for pretending like HCV was doing something. Ask May stein he was present when she told Lopez he had to go. She questioned his and HCV real involvment and stated many times they were not following the MOU.
I can't believe he cites the opening a gym early as one of his accomplishment. That is a shame. Thats why I applaud PPS for preparing to deny his charter. No school is safe under Lopez leadership.

Derrick Lopez said...

To Anonymous 10:23 am and 10:45 am- I don't blame teachers at all. In fact, I actually believe that many teachers are placed in an untenable position.

I also separate "displaced" teachers from those who want to be "bad" teachers. There is a BUT-- I do know that from 2005-2009, the shell game that was played by some High School Administrators was the following: Cut the teachers that they thought were "bad" from their site based budgets, by "subject" that they said wasn't needed, in March so that they could remove them from their building and then ask in July/August to add the same "subject" matter teacher back to their budgets. Those displaced teachers under the old practice where placed in other buildings and often those buildings were Westinghouse and Oliver, and Langley by July. Their former schools then hired from the outside. I witnessed this and put a stop to it in 2010 when I began to supervise the high schools.

Schools like Allderdice, Brashear and Perry had the most stable faculties because that is where people wanted to go, and there was and still is very little turnover in those buildings.

Today when cuts are made, less of that occurs, but the brunt was borne by schools in the poorest neighborhoods. At Westinghouse, there were and are some good teachers. Many Westinghouse teachers, however, are there because of the churn that I described above and our children bear the brunt of this.

When you have teachers that are displaced and don't want to be there and you have students that are having multiple challenges and don't want to be there, that is a combustable combination. That resulted in more than 1000 individual suspensions of students AND still a dropout rate that tops 50% for young men and is about 40% for young women.

Again the situation is untenable when you have systems working at odds with one another (administration, teachers and student placement). We have to be honest about it before a resolution can be made. The fact remains that the churn of teachers in our most challenging schools is not the best for anyone-AND many of those teachers had difficulty in their former placements for whatever reason, and they are placed in these situations. That is unfair to all.

Derrick Lopez said...

Questioner:
Regarding the Committee that designed a school for the East End, the representation that the committee was not open is simply untrue. People entered and left the committee all of the time.

As far as asking people to remain quiet, i know that did not occur. When you bring people together from the community, you must know that you cannot decide what becomes reported. Papers were not sequestered. Literally everything that was discussed was transmitted by email. How in God's name could that be kept under raps. The committee to which you refer may have been the "Obama site" selection committee, but I did not ever make that request.

I will look through my files and find out exactly when the Single Gender conversation arose, but I want to say that was in early March, after we had about four or five meetings. The recommendation occurred in May to the district.

Derrick Lopez said...

To Anonymous 8:44 and 8:53-

With regard to your skepticism about the District top-down control and its PR machine, you are right on. No quarrel from me.

I do want to set the record straight, however.
This was not my administration. I worked in it, and probably like you, I had a job to do.

Knowing what I know as a former teacher and school administrator, I would not have run things the way that they were. Teachers with whom I worked directly at Carrick, Perry, Brashear, the now closed Langley and Oliver will tell you that if they asked a question, I answered it. Moreover if there was an issue that presented itself, I was an advocate on their behalf.

With regard to Gates and Broad and "Good to Great", their models trying systemic things that fit into the corporate world where you make widgets, and their methodology simply isn't transferable to schools, where human beings are growing and developing other human beings. Their solutions substitute "metrics" for "people," and people cannot be boiled down into a simple number, whether it be teacher evaluation or student performance on a single test score. In short, the models are flawed in the critical space of developing the "human experience".

Moreover, with those "shekels" come "shackles." Whenever you accept money, it has to be in the furtherance of your plans and vision and not that of someone else's agenda. This may be the biggest lesson to learn from this.

With respect to the issue of evaluating teachers and the board minutes--Because teachers are at the top of the pay scale after 10 years, almost all of the teachers who will be evaluated out are at the top of the scale. Isn't it true that upwards of 70% of teachers in Pittsburgh are at that point now? I am not making a judgement about a teacher's competency, (as I stated above, teacher practice is more complicated than a single number--that is why multiple measures are needed.) I am just making an observation about why the top of the scale is impacted.

50% policy accomplished very little, because it never gets to the root issue. I think that it fosters a lie, and it was designed to get an issue that no one chose to deal with--A child who has simply checked out and at the beginning of the year because of some issue (home, teacher-student relationship, lack of trying, etc.). When his/her grades are so low, they can't get back into the game and so they continue to spiral downward. IT also engendered teacher anger, because they have done all that they can do and you want them to in essence falsify their books and the achievement of the child. One could see this coming when the issue was first being discussed in 2010.

As for Obama and central office, I think all schools have their own DNA and should not be on puppet strings. If a model has a plan, it should be executed. I don't think that the teachers and administration at Obama have come together to really understand the sequence-NOR do I think the administration has allowed that conversation so that the model can have the results that were intended.

Those are my thoughts on this early Sunday morning….

janedoe said...

I just watched the presentation on the pps site of the charter school review committee's findings for the 3 charter applicants. It was the Feb 3 committee meeting. Frankly, I am surprised that the HCV-CCS proposal was so lacking. No MOUs to use curriculum designed by other schools. No letters of commitment from those providing space (YMCA, Library, etc) let alone lease agreements. No evidence of financial ability to start a school. Sure, the money will come once there are students being served but will HCV ask for a cash advance or what? I have never been comfortable with using the YMCA, even for high school students at City High, when the facility is open to the public. At the very least there should be separate showers/locker rooms for students away from the general public. Sorry folks, student safety is a top concern.

It seems a lot of talk went into the HCV-CCS plan but there was no follow through; too much seems to have been based on hand shakes.

I have no horse in the race, no kid who will be impacted. I have never worked in a school. I have only been an observer through volunteering. The kids to be served by HCV-CCS deserve to have the best education possible. This plan is not that education. Whatever advancements HCV has made serving the community should continue but running a school with the proposal as the plan should be denied.

Derrick Lopez said...

To Anonymous @3:56

There is a theory, that if you continue to shoot arrows in the dark, and you shoot enough of them, one will hit the target. Your arrows are all errant.

Your speculations about my tenure at PPS are completely without foundation.

It really is easy to be anonymous and seek to slander someone's name, but that is not the choice that I have made. If you ask me a question, I will answer it to the best of my ability, ON THE RECORD with my name attached. So if you have specific asks, please let me know and I will respond.

Setting the record completely straight, had I wished to stay in PPS, I would have. I chose to leave because the district was making choices and developing a structure that I could not support. That is as simple as it gets.

The work of my team here in the Village is above reproach. It speaks for itself. Simply ask the two other principals with whom we work now and the new principal at Westinghouse. More importantly, ask the children and families whose lives we sew into everyday.

I would simply ask, what do you do under the cloak of anonymity? That is not a rhetorical question.

Good Sunday!

Derrick Lopez said...

To Questioner:

The Board of Directors of the School Board sets policy and governance. They don't operate schools. The Administrators have to operate within the parameters of the policies set. Having said that, the operations of the schools are squarely within the purview of the school.

Making change in this system from the Board is like trying to steer a large cruise liner with a single oar. It takes that much time.

Quite frankly, our students don't have that time. We have lost generation upon generation. I don't want to lose another.

Questioner said...

A selling point of u prep was that it was to be a totally new school with a new culture and hand picked teachers. And the teachers did appear to be extremely dedicated and hardworking. But still, results have been awful and no one is taking responsibility.

Questioner said...

As reported by the Post Gazette at the time ( joe smydo), members of the east end panel were selected by the administration and no observers were permitted. For that reason an open east end panel was formed by mark Brentley and Randall Taylor. Many of the administration panel members dropped off and a few new ones were added but the public was in no way free to come and go to meetings. Single gender may have been mentioned in passing but a plan built around single gender was a surprise to panelists and the public alike,

Derrick Lopez said...

Questioner:
I believe that Smydo Report occurred in December or January, and the process that Mr. Brentley advocated was one in which I participated. That was the first meeting of the whole process.

All of my East End meetings that occurred after that point were indeed open to the public. In fact,
following that point, several constituents invited themselves into the process and they became involved.

As for the meetings, again, some were better attended than others, and all Board members were invited. In fact, one member attended.

As to when single gender came up, I am just not sure, but I will check. I am also not sure when the announcement occurred.

Questioner said...

Oh please the prior board did not set parameters except to go with the Broad/ Gates model which then set the parametersr including removal of experienced principals in favor of principals trained under the PELA model and directly impacting operation of the school. If the board could effect change in one community by approving a charter it could effect change district wide by choosing a better model than Broad/Gates.

Questioner said...

Ok lets start by linking to the smydo article and other relevant materials which will confirm that the administrations east end panel was firmly closed.

As for the alternate panel, administration members attended the first of the many meetings held by the panel, allotted one hour to listen to and discuss the panels findings, and made it clear that that meeting was just a formality by immediately announcing a plan that was based on single gender and ignored all of the open panel's recommendations.

Derrick Lopez said...

To Questioner:

I absolutely concede your point with regard to UPrep.

Lots of things occurred, not the least of which not giving the students enough support for the issues that they brought into the classroom; merging a 6-8 culture from two schools into one without attention to that detail and the needs of our Hill District students and families in year 2; and a staff that was not protected from movement and furlough because the district and the PFT could not come to agreement.

Also, the University of Pittsburgh, at that time, wanted a "lab school" that was choice, and we refused that because we said the children that showed up were to be educated. Also, Pitt professors and teachers did not work well together, so that support was ineffective.

I worked to alleviate some of those issues, and the inertia of the various forces did not move. The result is UPrep. I should have fought harder. NO excuses. The "one oar in the water to change the course of an ocean liner" also applies here.


Questioner said...

Thank you for taking responsibility. A hallmark of the Roosevelt issues was to rush rush and push through initiatives that had not been adequately thought out or worked out, often ignoring objections made by community members based on logic and experience.

For example, a "lab school" per se is not a problem; the University of Pittsburgh has successfully educated students from a wide range of backgrounds at the Falk Lab School a block away from U Prep. In the case of U Prep, though, the administration pushed ahead with just a vaguely worded "Memorandum of Understanding" w/ the U of Pittsburgh. Citing an urgent need to educate students the school was pushed forward before critical details like this were worked out, resulting in a failure to educate students.

Will concerns about not wanting to lose another generation of students result in a charter lacking crucial planning and agreements that will result in loss of another generation of students and susceptibility to additional urgent plans? Any charter proposal better have details worked out to the T and be contingent on the success of a small pilot, with approval for expansion taking place in small steps contingent on performance.

Anonymous said...

Derek, I wrote at 8:44 and 8:53 last evening and want to thank you for your candor. You will pardon me for saying that in this day and age, it is quite refreshing.

Another day, and another example of the PG calling in all of its markers on behalf of the Lane Administration. I understand the playbook quite well and as such, can say that I have never seen a major metropolitan publication engage in such yellow journalistic tactics than has the PG under the leadership of Shribman.

Today, James Stewart writes about our continuation of 'walking in circles' with regards to the racial achievement gap. Once again, the op ed piece acts as an affirmation of Lane's work and of RISE, in particular.

Please note: in a huge op ed, he uses the word "parents" once and does so in further disparaging manner, stating that parents had been let down by PPS a generation or two before.

Let's be truthful: we will not end racial disparity until we stop making excuses. We will not narrow the gap until we tell it like it is: Until you place the blame directly on the lack of parenting or failure of adults who surround children to exude the value of education to children, we truly *will* be walking in circles. We are in such an incredible era of political correctness that we will throw money at a perceived problem even as we know full well where the problem lies.

Unfortunately, three different presidents have failed to exhort the value of education to parents. They have failed to tell it like it is--that American adults by and large have failed generations of kids because they have taken no interest in their kids. The governor won't do it. The mayor won't do it. Linda Lane would never do it.

Bill Cosby tried 20 years ago..and was shouted down.

It's far easier to blame teachers.

Lane can own the PG, KDKA and local activists. She can enlist community activists and college professors who are either too gutless or clueless to tell it like it is. But one look at foreign cultures and one reflection upon our own history makes it clear that students of all shapes, sizes and colors only succeed when the adults at home reinforce the value of education and urge their kids to augment what they learn in school.

Linda Lane is fooling no one.

Questioner said...

From the PG, December 3, 2009:

"Derrick Lopez, assistant superintendent for secondary schools, sent an e-mail last week inviting about 20 parents, district employees and community members to serve on the district committee.

Mr. Brentley and Mr. Taylor objected, saying they wanted open meetings and a more diverse committee membership. They said they want their own task force to evolve from tonight's meeting, to be held in Conference Room A of the administration building, on Bellefield Street in Oakland."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2009/12/03/One-meeting-planned-tonight-on-East-End-schools/stories/200912030343#ixzz2tVFW5EXt

- The article reminds us that while the district held some "public forums to gather input for the advisory committee's work" (think small groups and large white note pads with tightly controlled discussion), the advisory committee that was to make an actual recommendation (in practice, to react to a draft prepared by the administration) was strictly closed and by invitation only.

Anonymous said...

looking back, it is now apparent that all committees should have had a process for member selection that better served the purpose. I now recall that there was a parent appointed to the High School Reform Task Force that likely had never attended a district level parent meeting. his credentials appeared to be a couple of successful children and a spouse who worked in a school in a non-teacher position. the decks always seem stacked.

Questioner said...

From the 2010 Open East End Panel Report presented by 20 community members:

"In early December 2009, the Pittsburgh Public School district announced that a panel had been created to offer advice on plans for schools in the “Lawrenceville to Homewood” region of the city. Members of the panel included few individuals who had publicly challenged prior district initiatives, and meetings of the panel were closed to observation by the media and members of the public. In response to this closed panel two PPS Board members, Mark Brentley and Randall Taylor, formed an “open” East End panel to discuss the same issues considered by the District’s panel. The Open East End Panel (OEEP) met over a three month period. Representatives from the OEEP toured the East End schools in question and attended the three public sessions held by the district panel. The OEEP is not an advocacy group, but rather a diverse group of concerned citizens and educational professionals who wish to be part of the reform process in the East End.

Questioner said...

And from the coordinators' update to the report:

"In April 2010 five members of the OEEP met with district administration as well as a school board member to discuss the OEEP report. We explained how our recommendations grew out of a true group process and were not the result of any sort of preconceived plan. We also discussed the need to engage students who do not see the relevance of their studies to real life. The major focus of the discussion was the OEEP’s proposal for CTE versus the district's recent proposal for CTE to be spread among seven different schools w/ certain programs (culinary arts, business and information technology and health careers) located in all three parts of the city (north, east, and south/west). This discussion was informed by a CTE workshop held by the district two days earlier....

The district panel's plan for single gender, feeder pattern academies was released after this meeting. It is not clear how CTE programming at Westinghouse would mesh with single gender academies. Would CTE classes, already small, need to be duplicated to teach boys and girls separately? Or would boys and girls be taught CTE subjects together, undermining the concept of separate academies? Further, there has been no public discussion of the Constitutional and Title IX issues that have elsewhere led to successful challenges of mandatory single gender education."

Questioner said...

And from the coordinators' update to the report:

"In April 2010 five members of the OEEP met with district administration as well as a school board member to discuss the OEEP report. We explained how our recommendations grew out of a true group process and were not the result of any sort of preconceived plan. We also discussed the need to engage students who do not see the relevance of their studies to real life. The major focus of the discussion was the OEEP’s proposal for CTE versus the district's recent proposal for CTE to be spread among seven different schools w/ certain programs (culinary arts, business and information technology and health careers) located in all three parts of the city (north, east, and south/west). This discussion was informed by a CTE workshop held by the district two days earlier....

The district panel's plan for single gender, feeder pattern academies was released after this meeting. It is not clear how CTE programming at Westinghouse would mesh with single gender academies. Would CTE classes, already small, need to be duplicated to teach boys and girls separately? Or would boys and girls be taught CTE subjects together, undermining the concept of separate academies? Further, there has been no public discussion of the Constitutional and Title IX issues that have elsewhere led to successful challenges of mandatory single gender education."

Anonymous said...

Thank you Derrick Lopez for a very valuable perspective and more honesty than is generally or typically posted.

Moving forward is critical here. However, charters are not providing solutions for the majority of our students. PPS are currently demonstrating massive failure; but, that said, charters are a solution for too, too few. The public schools CAN and MUST be the focus of the general citizenry. PPS CAN and MUST be returned to some semblance of success! Our (all of us) future depends on schools that meet the needs of students, who have not lost their "minds"; rather their minds, their hearts, their souls are not being challenged by people who CARE and have the skills to educate, to motivate, to inspire, to TEACH! These are the educators who understand their role, their responsibility, the task at hand and take it on with command and commitment. They are not deterred by all of the "excuses" that we see reiterated over and over. These educators are successful, despite the so-called odds and will reap rewards via the appreciation of former students far into retirement.

Derrick Lopez said...

To Questioner:

By your multiple posts, I get your frustration with regard to how you believed the Open East End Process would bear results.

I cannot re-litigate the "sides" in this debate, but I can offer you a practical explanation.

A Board of Directors in any school district or even a corporation governs and sets policy. An Administration manages a day-to-day roadmap within the bounds of that governance. There is for all intents and purposes an "above the line" which is govern and policy and "below the line" which is day-to-day practice. Most School Boards are volunteer and just simply don't have the resources or the time to flesh out a large scale undertaking like this.

Being very candid, and trying not to be dismissive or disrespectful of your efforts, but In this case, what you have shown is a process set in motion by Board members with little-to-no Administrative support. Whenever that is the case, very little of what happens in that space will actually make it in to day-to-day practice.

In plain terms, two parallel processes were going on. Without a directive from the Board, the process that gets done for implementation purposes is the administrative process. As for the intersection of the two, there was as you put it "just one hour".

I paid attention to what was going on in the Board process in 2010, but I was charged with going through a process and making a recommendation to the Administration who would make one to the Board based upon the process that was laid out and timeline that was set up.

I hope this helps you understand why very little of the Open East End Process made it into the final product. I know that is not necessarily satisfying, but that is how things worked and will likely continue to work given that the Board does not have a staff to do this kind of work.

Derrick Lopez said...

To JaneDoe-

The representation of our application as minimalist was the most disappointing of all. We turned in 250 pages of text and more than 300 pages of appendices. Moreover, of the six issues identified, only one has merit. Our school design is innovative. The pedagogy we seek to use was just spotlighted in the Harvard Business Review as "A Taxonomy of Innovation". We have a curriculum, and MOUs for the curriculum are not essential to a charter school application. Do we have to have contract with Harcourt Brace to buy books BEFORE a school is approved? That is rhetorical, because that was a smokescreen. Secondarily, a pro-forma budget was attached to the application that actually mirrors that approved for the Propel schools. Finally, we have been told by many people both "inside" and outside of Bellefield to simply appeal the application denial once it becomes final.

While we are weighing our options, YOU ARE EXACTLY RIGHT THAT ALL THINGS HAVE TO BE IN PLACE FOR THE FIRST DAY. We will continue to move towards that. This is why we are disappointed but not deterred. We are still working at this everyday--not just the formal appeal but the substance of the school upon its opening.

Anonymous said...

The East End committee was a closed group and it was a joke anyway. One of my friends was on that committee and she said Mr. Lopez had preset decision and tried to make the group think they were having input. I saw her Emails and it will show that Mr. lopez is the one that suggested the single gender experiment even before the committee began to meet.
She said this committee was simply designed to decide whether to close Peabody or Westinghouse and doing it under the pretense that it was an East End reform. I understand there was no talk regarding Allderdice as Mr. Lopez either didnt realize it was in the east end or he was told to leave it alone.

Look im glad we have given Mr. Lopez a forum to vent his emotions after realize he will not get his HCV charter passed by PPS, but done get it wrong, he did this district a bad job. Again look at the schools he experimented on, UPrep and Westinghouse.

Now he wants to take credit for Capa, Obama and Sci tech, Please. Capa was strong on its own and was taken from him and given to Ottuwa. Sci tech was design by the cmu grad student Sam. And Obama was already the strongest school in the district, atleast the IB portion.

Anonymous said...

I've notice that Lopez avoids the Crenshaw question and time she was there. He refers to the new principal that hasnt even been here 6 months. And lopez Id be careful if I was you saying yall are working together, you might just set him removed from westinghouse for following your failing leads. You are hurting him with your endorsement.

Questioner said...

Multiple responses to your multiple posts, that's all :)!

And no frustration or regrets from the Open Panel. Little from the closed panel or the open panel made it into the failed administration plan. What WAS accomplished was strengthened bonds among community leaders (leading for example to the election of open panel member Regina Holley to the Board, where she is making a big difference); a report that will be useful in the future for those who are truly interested in community engagement; and a firm stand against closed panels and closed processes. And the community can speak without the help of an expensive staff or highly paid consultants. Where was the staff when it came to warning Board members that the single gender plan would involve significant legal exposure?

Derrick Lopez said...

Questioner: All good points..

Anonymous: @4:55
I have addressed all questions related to my involvement with Westinghouse on-staff and at the Village. I have great relationships with Principals at Faison and Lincoln and now Westinghouse through the Village. I pray that our collaboration and relationships continue to grow for the benefit of our children.

Anonymous @4:51
You are entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts. I simply disagree with your opinion.

Anonymous said...

I am unsure how anyone from central administration can take credit for CAPA or Obama. In there case of the former, the school has been in place for years. Just what is it that these people should take credit for? In the case of the latter, central administration has done nothing more than been a huge roadblock to allowing the school to conduct its affairs in line with what the Programme has been designed for.
In fact, an IBMYP walk-through essentially told central administration to get out of the way.
Central administration knew nothing about IB, its policies or its mandates for an IB school. Is anyone shocked by this? IB's observers were.
It's downright funny to think that anyone in this administration --like the one before it--would seek to take more credit about having an IB school in Pittsburgh beyond saying, "Yeah, I thought bringing it here was a good idea."
talk about rigor, or lack thereof, needs to be placed at the foot of the superintendent and her assistants, who for years insisted that the "managed curriculum" be in place at Obama, even though it was--and is--a huge joke where rigor and preparing students for college is concerned.

Why is it that you just know if central administration stays away from Obama, everything will be just fine. The buffoonery on Bellefield ought to have its own comedy show.

Anonymous said...

You designed CAPA, Obama and Sci Tech? I don't think so. CAPA was designed long before you arrived and was created to be 7-12 as an option back in 2000. Obama had already under Wayne Walters and Howard Bullard been designing a 6-12 IB school as far back as 2000 and had already put levels in place. Hours and hours of time spent by those principals and staff on that work begun when Ernestine Reed was here. Sci Tech? Maybe just a little, but most of that was Sam Franklin and facilities and project members Sam hired. The community knows this.

Anonymous said...

If you give this person a charter right now, Pittsburgh, you deserve what you'll get--another Westinghouse. He was never in charge of the charter school process in Pittsburgh, either. All the comments I've read here from Mr. Lopez seem to be all about Mr. Lopez and what he does and how committed he is and how wronged he was by the district. I find this troubling. The district had looked to him to do great things for the district's future and gave him all kinds of room to do it, but that did not happen. This was not all the fault of the district or the central office staff who were depending on you to deliver what you promised you could do. Randall, if Derrick was still inside Pittsburgh Public now, would you still be calling him effective? It is hard to take either one of you seriously when you say things that so very much contradict what you have said and done before. No doubt you wish the best for students. But some doubt that you know what is really better for them. It's hard to see them when all we see is your egos talking about you and what you believe and all the self justification. Please get out of your own way.

Anonymous said...

Lopez was offer the door or resign when Linda Lane realized that he was not affective and cause more problems that what it was worth. Then he was offered a safty net by the same group he was a part of starting. Gee wiz who didnt see that one. Infact it was really a conflict of interest for him to be on the HCV board while trying to get them contract work for PPS. Its probably a state ethical issue as well.
He has even had trouble on the HCV team., It first started when he took the trip to New York to check of the Harlem Childrens zone. He wanted to district to authorize him going as a job related official trip and they would not. And was told he should not attend do to the potential conflict of interest. But he snuck and went anyway on his own vacation tume and when Mark R and Lisa F found out he damm near got fired then.

And since being the CEO of the HCV, John Wallace the Board president has had to let him know several times that Wallace brought him in, not the other way around, and contemplated letting him go. So Lopez is not really in good standing as he wants you to think. Once the CEA and HWD Renaissance found that he added them to a school charter proposal without there authorization they were too threw with him. And he cites on here now that he is working with them. This is not true and he better watch him self with those lies once again.

Finally what about the other groups that have been active in this community and on this blog like the Westinghouse Alumni Association and the hilltop alliance. Has he written them off or have they observed his inaffectiveness and left him alone.

Im sorry but until Lopez accepts the wrong he has done to Westinghouse and the Homewood kids and Uprep and the Hill kids he is toast. He has alot of limitations and frankly needs to get out the way if the HCV is to survive and be affective.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln has not been the same since Dr. Holey left. Its gone down every year and the HCV has done nothing to make it better. And Derek is boasting he has a good relationship with the principal there and Faison. So what! A lot of ppl have a good relationship. But how has that turned into results. Those are two of the worst schools in the state and so is Westinghouse and Uprep. Man get your hat and coat and go back to wherever you came from. We were doing much much better without you.

And you have yet to answer why Crenshaw through you out of Westinghouse. A response please. She is waiting and watching this blog too so she can correct your lies. You keep saying your are good with the principal at Westinghouse now. And?! What does that mean? All you are doing is helping him to the door cause once they find out you have your hands in his affairs hes gone. Infact I hope someone from the board is watching this Blog and finding a way to either let him know to leave you alone or telling him to move onto somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

I worked with D lopez and what I can tell you is, he does not get it. He lacks the basic insight necessary to get things done in the neighboorhoods he is working with. He has these grand ideas without real practical solutions.
Look at the principals and staff he had place to work at and with Westinghouse, lisa Foose, Heath Bailey, Kelly Abbot, They are all gone. What happen to them?

And he calls Uprep a college prep school? Please! It has some of the worse scores and problems in the district and state. The name in itself is misleading. There is nothing prepartory going on there. It even has the Sucess school team there as a secondary security measure to attempt to maintain order. Why is that needed in a prep school.

Dr. Lane removed D Lopez from his postion as overseers of PPS High schools for a reason. He was an ineffective adminstrator and horrible leader. He set the Hill and homewood back several years and they may never recover.

jane doe said...

Mr. Lopez @3:58, not having see the application with the hundreds of pages of supporting documentation I can't judge but since there is a public record of the presentation available for all to see on the pps website why haven't you gone to a bigger forum like the media to answer the failings cited?

i can only imagine that the "inside" you mention might be a board member?

Did your application include testimonials?

We, the public want to see results, what do you have to give us in terms of the HCV success at the partner schools where you have staff? The good relationships you have mentioned, what do they give you besides access and space?

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of Derrick Lopez, as a Schenley parent who will be bitter possibly forever for the way we were (and still are) marginalized for speaking the truth.

But, I would hate for the community to see him as the one scapegoat for all of the failed reforms of this administration and the one before it.

Roosevelt, Lane, and their backers from Broad and Gates are where the buck stops. These plans were theirs and they'd have gone through with them with or without D. Lopez out there to pitch them. They'd have found someone else to do just the same things.

I'd hate for anyone to think that just having Lopez out of there changed anything about their bad planning. It's just as bad, with or without him.

Questioner said...

But does he condone and will he continue using the Roosevelt approach and techniques- disdain for the views of the families schools are meant to serve, PR and endless spin over real results, divisive tactics, etc.

Derrick Lopez said...

Good evening-

If I were as bad as some of the anonymous posts, I would dislike me. Fortunately, I have the benefit of truth, foresight and the ability to admit when there were failures and move on. I have done that. NOTE- I am also not Anonymous.

People are entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. Most of the stuff in these posts are simply malicious and without a shred of truth. It is actually hard for me to take you seriously.

The things that were said in 7:57 am are just lies and made up. When I read them, I just said WOW!

Anonymous 7:21 and 11:43- I would never take the credit for the great work done by Dr. Harry Clark to start CAPA in Homewood. 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.

As for IB 6-12, there was no champion to bring the MYP (grades 6-10) into the district. There was a Frick International School that had languages and Dr. Walters did well, but there was no support to bring the program to fruition. I provided that. Note also that I tried to bring the PYP to Linden, Fulton, Phillips, Liberty, and one school on the Northside. That did not occur because of funding.

So there was work before me, but there was no champion to bring that to fruition.

I engaged in this conversation with the hope that a dialogue could be started that was productive. It was largely on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but today presents a challenge for me because it is actually hard to read lies about yourself. Thank God, I know me and the work that I have done.

Would I do some things differently if given the opportunity? Absolutely, but I refuse to allow ANONYMOUS people to rake my work and name over the coals.

Questioner said...

Ok so enough personal comments given that d Lopez is someone who would receive substantial taxpayer funds if his charter was approved some airing of issue is appropriate and now the issues have been raised. Still open to discussion is whether the. 6-12 model, all IB model, etc are in fact successful.

Derrick Lopez said...

to JaneDoe 8:53

At the public hearing, the HCV Collegiate Charter School had 10 signed up to speak on our behalf. At least two of your anonymous posters were there and they can tell you.

As for the input into the design of the school, there were 4 focus groups: 1 with current Homewood students (about 20 participated); 1 with Homewood High School graduates (18 participated); 2 with Homewood parents ( 7 parents). All of their input was utilized in the design of the school. There really was amazing dialogue.

There were more than 100 signatures of support for the application.

As for our next steps, we have not been given a final decision by the Board. When that occurs, we will move forward.

As for the media, they want a controversy and they want us to bad mouth the PPS. We refuse to comment on PPS because that paints everyone with the same brush. We would rather continue our discussions with one parent, one child, one relationship at a time. That is what garners results.

As I stated, on Friday, I certainly welcome the opportunity to dialogue with whomever wants about the school. That is why I am on this blog. I appreciate your questions.

As for our partnerships with schools in Homewood, our work is in on our website at www.hcvpgh.org. The Village is a work in progress. It will tell you all about our work. There are two videos with testimonials that give you a snapshot of the work. There are parents, teachers, students, and administrators who talk about our work. We believe that the only way to impact a community is one child, one parent, one relationship at a time. That is what we do everyday.

If you have any

Derrick Lopez said...

To Questioner for your last two posts:

The very reason that I have engaged in this conversation is to avert spin, innuendo, and divisive tactics. There is no other reason for me to be working and talking publicly about my work in the Village and my tenure in the district. Your blog came up on my google alert and I engaged. For me, it was pretty simple. I wanted to get into a dialogue about what can be done to improve the lives our children.

If I had known what I have learned in the past two years of working Homewood, I would do things a lot differently at PPS. I would have listened more to the young people that we seek to serve without my own filtered lens and engaged in problem solving. I would have recognized that our parents are drinking life through a fire hose, and worked to meet their immediate needs so that they could put some more energy into supporting their children in school.

I worked closely with teachers in five high schools (Perry, Carrick, Brashear, Langley and Oliver) to solve problems. I also worked with the union when issues needed to be solved in various buildings to solve them. They knew my practice and my heart. That work is probably the work that I am most proud of.

As for the 6-12 model, the model works best when there is continuity of programming like at CAPA, SciTech, or IB. When there is a course of study that our children can master over a seven year period of time. My daughter went to CAPA for six years, mastered the violin and her subject matter because she played it daily, and parlayed that skill into a scholarship in College a full year early. Yes, she skipped her senior year this year because of the continuity of programming and learning, and she is doing great in college.

As for the 6-12 models at UPrep and Westinghouse, they have not worked well. The 6-12 model was supposed to proved that continuity of learning and relationships that are necessary for students to grow. That did not materialize. The 6-12 at UPrep and Westinghouse was also a a way to keep buildings in neighborhoods open because of declining enrollment.

There are a lot of reasons. I believe the main reason is that our students in Homewood and the Hill are not "available" to learn. Note that I did not say incapable, but available. There are so many things in their life circumstances that are impeding their progress in school. If we don't do something to address those issues directly in partnership with their parents, the school configuration doesn't matter, K-5, K-8, 6-8, 6-12, or 9-12.

As for the All IB model, I think the same analysis works. If students aren't available to learn and they aren't prepared to learn, then there is a challenge to an All IB school. Students have to be scaffolded to success by every adult with whom they come into contact. Absent that, they will just continue to go to the water level.

Questioner said...

Parents familiar with IB and what it demands told Roosevelt straight up that adding 6-10 programming would not be enough to prepare a broad range of students for IB, and that the place to start with an eye specifically toward IB was KINDERGARTEN. Families with IB experience volunteered to match up and mentor with families without that experience (scaffolding!). Students who hat that point were in K would now be in grade 5 and much readier for a middle year IB program. Roosevelt knew best and pushed ahead, with very disappointing results.

Anonymous said...

Good points Questioner. Derek thought he'd come on here and talk that same BS talk that he normally does in a lower educated community. He normally got away with it unless some as educated shows up. But he found otherwise on here. You see when he was a big shot in oakland in charge of people and HS schools he did things and made decision that hurt students, principals and communities. But he got a lesson this week. People on here can go for it too. So thank everyone of you that let him know.

It wont be long before he goes back into hidding and not come back on under his name anyway. I can tell you from working with him that he has watching the blog for a long time, and has contributed anonymously too. The only thing I see him say that makes any real sense is "If I had known what I have learned in the past two years of working Homewood, I would do things a lot differently at PPS. I would have listened more to the young people that we seek to serve without my own filtered lens and engaged in problem solving" Wow you waited years to learn that didnt you.
At least you finally acknowledge that it was your own arrogance and lack of knowledge about Homewood that hurt it. So what you going to do now? How will you make up for hurting these kids and there schools with you ignorance.

Mr. Bailey had one of my kids over at Allderdice and the other at Westnghouse, and both times you dogged him out. You moved him to Westinghouse when he was making great progress at Allderdice, then you sent to westinghouse and tied his hands there. Come on man whats up with you? If you want to have a real impact on the hill and Homewood school, you need to get out the way or work with people or organizations who have been out here in the strugle along time, like CEA, Hwd Renaissance and any other person or group that has homewood or the hill roots.

Randall Taylor said...

I want to say that I believe that the District's charter school recommendations can easily be refuted. I certainly know how the message is sent to theAdministration that the Board does not support a charter applicant. I was one of the most vociferous of oppenents of charter schools. I was proud to have harrased Edison Charter School in East Liberty out of the District. So those who believe Charter Schools are bad can not come close to Randall Taylor circa 2002. What changed?

Do you have to ask. Year after year after year of failure. This human rights violation has grown worse since Mark Roosevelt.

Questioner asked can't the District do it? When has it or any other School District. Not pockets of success or a great Principal, but a program that could implemented anywhere. It has never existed.

I strongly support our teacher's unions, but as long as these schools recieve the first person up on the seniority list they will always fail. You have teachers, both black and white, who do not want to be in certain schools around certain children. This is fine, but these children need, and deserve, more.

They must have educators who will never accept these children failing. They need educators who know it is a life and death question that these children learn. This can only come from teachers whose mission is to educate these"certain" children. A Charter School provides this neccessary flexibility.

Again, the question of school choice in Pittsburgh is one that effects the black community if we say yes that should be the end of discussion. The black community has answered the question do we need Charter Schools by sending there children to them. Where are the Charter Schools of Fox Chapel, Mt. Lebanon, and Upper St. Clair.

Anonymous said...

Charter schools, like private and parochial schools, can "weed out" disruptive students. The public schools can not so we have a stacked deck.

Once we have an abundance of charters, (and if vouchers are introduced) the public schools will be left with the have nots. Then what kind of public schools will we have?

Anonymous said...

Feb 16 quote from Derrick Lopez "I do know that from 2005-2009, the shell game that was played by some High School Administrators was the following: Cut the teachers that they thought were "bad" from their site based budgets, by "subject" that they said wasn't needed, in March so that they could remove them from their building and then ask in July/August to add the same "subject" matter teacher back to their budgets. Those displaced teachers under the old practice where placed in other buildings and often those buildings were Westinghouse and Oliver, and Langley by July. Their former schools then hired from the outside. I witnessed this and put a stop to it in 2010 when I began to supervise the high schools."

Derrick Lopez you always say you can't change the facts. Well you have misled the public again. Yes, principals may have cut positions only to reopen them later is need be. However, the PFT contract clearly states that when a teacher is displaced due to a cut in a program at any PPS, if a position is reopened in that content area in which the teacher was cut, he or she has a right to return. The HR department must notify the teacher and he / she opts to remain in his/her current placement or may exercise the right to return. There is NO TIME LIMIT on this process. Therefore, a position could have been cut for several years but the teacher who was displaced because of the cut always has the FIRST option to return. YOU, Mr. Lopez put a stop to NOTHING; it was already in black and white as a part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.....and this is a FACT! I wonder how many of your other facts which you post are also clouded?

Anonymous said...

Annon 11:31, Most of what you say is correct. The contract used to read the teacher had the right of first return on the first posted opportunity. Quite often, HR did not post a position due to various reasons. HR did not notify the employee. That would require too many hours of work to search records. In those days, you had to watch for the HR materials that used to be placed on the bulletin boards in the main office. Remember, Sherman Schrager camped out at the board during summer to assist in staffing issues. This allowed for principals and supervisors to influence staffing at a particular school.

Derrick Lopez said...

To Anonymous 11:31, that is indeed what the contract read, but Anonymous 10:11 pm actually answered the question as to how.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow I see Lopez decided to come back. Oh wee! Should we be honored by your presence? Or did you learn something here about the not! Lopez you could do more good by coming clean and correct the mistake you made and used your failed experience as a motivator for getting it right this time. A HCV Charter is not the answer. What you should do,is do as the HCV said they would do, and that is make Westinghouse and the schools that feed into it better. Then once you have demostated that HCV can do that sucessfully then is the time to establish your own school with a different twist and giving those students another option of choice of schools.

Anonymous said...

I vote Mr. Kopez for president of the United States. Hes so smart and clever. Look at how he almost pulled the wool over the eyes of the people of Homewood with their poor souls. He wants to take their children out of their school and double back and get the buildings too and then leaving Homewood without a pps school, just like Hazelwood. You go get em Kopez for they deserve what they get. They are not educated, economically worthy, or major contributors to society.

Your the man, thank you for saving them.

Anonymous said...

Who in their right mind would have their kids running around Homewood to different buildings to get a education? Please. We all know the current conditions of Homewood with its at risk safety issues. HCV is sending those Kids out to be slaughtered, picked on, exposed to horrible things, such as drug transactions, needles, etc etc. Doesn't HCV realize that the safest place for those kids of Homewood is in their buildings?

Oops but I forgot, they are just another set of lab rats to be experimented on once again. My My MY, how we pick on the weakest among us. Try this experiment in another neighborhood and see what happens. Those schools are failing as well. When will we learn from our past and mistakes?

Anonymous said...

Children of Pittsburgh have been used as lab rats for years. 1968 they started bussing when Columbus Middle School opened on Brighton Rd. Students from John Morrow, Halls Grove and Horace Mann were taken to a strange new place. While we did not see needles, prostitutes or drug dealers, we were harassed on our trip home daily by the Oliver High students. While at Columbus, we were then bussed again to Oliver in grade 7&8 for OVT. When Oliver had riots, we had to stay at Columbus. This was a disruption to the teachers at both school as well as to us kids.
The lab experiment continued for kids in vocational programs. Some traveling across the city for a program offered at only one school. Much of it for integration only. Then the Magnet schools. I remember the first time I went as a teacher to a community meeting at Carrick in the late 70's. Parents screamed the same as parents today. LEAVE OUR KIDS ALONE! One old school board member got them stirred up with his fist banging on the table saying he would only support neighborhood schools K-8 and 9-12. I believe Jean Fink was sitting nearby. Just look where that got us. God bless us all.

kathy fine said...

After reading the posts here by Dr. Lopez, I was reminded of the first meeting I ever had with him when his "education speak" had me convinced that good things could come with his tenure. Sadly, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Fact: the East end panel members were handpicked by the administration, excluding any dissenting voices. I asked to be a member of the panel as a co founder of the true PPS watchdog group, PURE reform and was dismissed personally by Dr. Lopez, citing that they wanted members that had ties to East End schools.

Most, if not all, community meetings sponsored by the PPS are designed with outcomes already set, and community input manipulated to come to the same conclusion. We have been watching and know this to be true.

When we met with administration regarding the OEEP recommendations, Mr. Lopez took part in that meeting and could not have been more condescending or closed minded.

If Obama's is such a "success" then why is "everyone graduates" installing tutors to help the 60 students that do not have enough credits to graduate.

His recent conversion to PPS admin critic is too little too late. And most of the rest of his comments just more "education speak".

We do not need more charter schools. We need accountability at Central administration, and as long as the only "watchdog" group that has a voice is A+ schools, that will never happen.