Sunday, February 16, 2014

James B. Stewart opinions in the PG

On another post Anonymous wrote:


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


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

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Questioner said...

This article loses credibility by for example citing TFA as a means to obtain more African American teachers. Only about 14% of TFA's most recent class was African American.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stewart is well-intentioned, but he is all mixed up.

The racial achievement gap is just a symptom of what's wrong with the Pittsburgh Public schools, one symptom among very many.

Families are leaving the PPS. Some go to the suburbs. Some go to private or charter schools. Someone really should ask the black families why they left.

I'll bet that only a few of them would mention the racial achievement gap.

Instead they'd talk about the poor curriculum and the dropping of academic expectations. Perhaps they'd even mention the lack of enrichment programs like sports, music, and art.

But I'd guess the #1 reason for leaving the PPS would be the violence and disorder in the classrooms.

We don't need special gap committees and fancy programs. That would feel good, but it would actually be just a distraction.

We need to address the cause of the overall problem, not just one symptom.

Get to the root. We need an administration with the sense to REALLY listen to what parents and teachers have to say.

And we need an administration with the courage to then actually ACT on the parent and teacher concerns.

Anonymous said...

I agree- no one in this city needs sub standard teachers. We can argue about evaluations, but there has to be a standard of professional training. Teachers in the early part of LAST century had minimum training at "normal" schools. At times, we had to "emergency certify" trained teachers--who had already interned - but in a different discipline. To imply that somehow African- American students deserve less because MAYBE TFA MIGHT have AA candidates is demeaning.
Instead- we should look to the very accomplished graduates of the Langley program that encouraged African- American Pittsburgh students to go into education.
Where is that component to the promise?
Are we encouraging HR to recruit AA teaching candidates? The last I heard HR was farming out screening perspective teachers to yet another consulting firm-- OUT OF STATE-- Most of us are old enough to remember "state teachers' colleges" Why are other states happily recruiting our teachers?
All students need to see all kinds of competent teachers throughout their academic careers- students need to see male/female, young/ old, various colors and nationalities, because ONLY then are they prepared for the real world out there.

Anonymous said...

No, the article does NOT "lose credibility" because of one error.

Admittedly, the writer should have done his own research rather than listen to PPS Central Office. While there are "significant mismatches" and disparities in our schools, recruiting young, inexperienced, non-credentialled TfA men and women has demonstrated poor results in other cities. Given the lack of achievement in our schools, CO makes a strong case for teachers other than those who are currently failing PPS children yet TFA is NOT the solution.

If you read beyond the mention of TFA, you will find the article has more "credibility" than most of what we see published here, there and everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Violence and disorder in classrooms does not exist where teachers are experienced, dedicated, caring, and committed professionals.

These qualities along with respect for students breeds respect from students.

No one can say that every classroom in every school has "violence and disorder" so what makes the difference? The teacher!

Mark Rauterkus said...

Many who departed would mention the lack of enrichment programs like sports, music, and art.

For those that stay, so far, it is HARD to point to what is missing.

Furthermore it is easy to see what is missing when one travels outside the city's birders to suburban districts that do care about the sports bad enrichment programs.

Finally, with sports and enrichment the kids get rooted in the schools, among peers, and generate a good deal of pride, goals, and other social and emotional good will that in turn cuts down a great deal on the violence and disorder in the classrooms.

Of course, all is not rosy elsewhere. Lessons of growth and development are not easy ones, even with more affluent kids who are better supervised in 10 month programs. But those lacking rec and athletic programs are pronounced in the city and the results are evident within the school days too.

Anonymous said...

Once again, ladies and gentlemen...the apologists are out in full force, and now that their professor du jour has written, we are going to hear about credibility ad infinitum.


Yet again, Linda Lane has rallied her forces to write pieces that will sway public opinion in favor of an outrageously loaded evaluation system that has so many agendas behind it that Scooby Doo and the gang would need three or four shows just to sniff them all out.

A note to Mr.Stewart once again: RISE is a sham. Its ilk has been shown to be a complete failure in Colorado. In Florida. In private industry. There are only so many ways you can dress a pig before even you realize that yes, it is swine. It's an outrage to dedicated teachers, a weapon placed in the hands of inexperienced principals who wouldn't know good teaching if it ran them over and left a flyer.

And again, the mention of parents just twice in the article tells us all we need to know: yet again, Mr.Stewart wishes to target the scapegoat of the century, teachers. Sorry, but the cold reality of it is again, behind 99% of good students is an adult who cares, and someone who values education. Behind 99% of all kids who don't care, put forth no effort, value their iPhone more than their studies, their twitter and snap chat more than their novels and textbook, is either an adult who doesn't care, cares more for his own needs ...or is just completely absent.

Let's tell the truth, Mr.Stewart. Credibility? Work in some of the worst schools as I have and do so for 30 years and then come back wit all of the answers. Watch outstanding teachers brow-beaten by know-nothing administrators who have a bogey to fill--a certain number of teachers who dimly must be put on improvement plans as mandated by central administration...and then tell me about abandoned youth.

No group of teachers have abandoned disadvantaged youth. Instead, it's been the "adults" that surround these kids who wish someone else to do their jobs and now are carping. What a grotesque farce this line of thinking truly is. If you want to narrow the achievement gap, dear friends, give teachers a hand and dare to get them off of the cell phone and play stations. Maybe this will mean that you yourself will have to get off the couch, but it's a worthy cause.

Anonymous said...

6:49, you said "Violence and disorder in classrooms does not exist where teachers are experienced, dedicated, caring, and committed professionals."

You are saying that violent classrooms are the fault of the teachers. Wow. That is so wrong that it's almost not worth debating.

Then by that logic, crime in a city is the fault of police officers. If there were no bad police officers, there would be no crime.

And I guess that bank robberies are somehow caused by incompetent bank tellers. If there were no incompetent bank tellers, there would be no bank robberies.

Of course, there is another way to look at it. Perhaps the huge majority of teachers, police officers, bank tellers, etc. are decent people trying to do the best they can under sometimes very difficult circumstances.

Questioner said...

It's not that there is one error that is a problem, it is the proadminstration slant that is entirely unwarranted given the results that have been achieved.