Sunday, October 4, 2015

One example of the teacher evaluation system

Anonymous wrote:

"Is this really what the U.S. Secretary of Education had in mind when considering teacher evaluations:http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2015/10/04/Joe-Giansante-the-teacher-at-Pittsburgh-Brashear-High-School-who-s-fighting-back/stories/201507200001 "

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the district which worked so hard to validate VAM, in spite of its obvious weaknesses, is now being skewered with it.

Anonymous said...

The article clearly doesn't serve as a recruiting tool for attracting or keeping the best and the brightest teachers for our Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Anonymous said...

In addition to numerous teachers, I have written on Pure Reform for 5 years about the state of teaching in PPS. Many times, I was met with praise but just as many times, I was also met with the idea that I was just an angry individual or someone who was exaggerating.
Now this.
Perhaps this article will shed light on the complete hoax that the Gates initiative was. Call it a scam. Call it a false identification of all that is wrong in urban schools. Call it what you will but once again, the article makes it resoundingly clear that teachers were NEVER the problem in our schools.
Never.
This process, which began with a school board and superintendent all too eager to get its mitts on $40 million while also being looked upon as "progressive" by the national media, was akin to buying a home without reading the fine print that had numerous caveats. A sinking foundation. Termites. Bad plumbing. And the owner simply said the place needed a new paint job.
This was Gates. And in short order, this was Roosevelt and Lane.
Happily accepting check after check, PPS trained its principals as one would teach corporate head hunters, and told them they had a bogey to satisfy.
How many good teachers were sent packing over nothing?
How many classrooms were left with long term subs thanks to administrators who wished to satisfy central administration?
Someone here at Pure Reform, at yinzercation....wherever....should be asking Lane some very hard questions. You see, like her predecessor, this was no visionary leader.
I applaud this teacher for going public and would say there are hundreds more.
Here is a man who seemingly was fired because he didn't stand at his door between classes?

Anonymous said...

A classic case of the PELA admin and their ITL II pimps and so-called clinical instructors trying to justify their existence (and pay) on the back of the classroom teacher, something they were never very good at themselves. Where is the UNION?

Anonymous said...

we parents have been hearing rumors off and on for years about buildings with a quota to fill of teachers on a plan to improve their teaching. the public will most likely never know fact from fiction, but clearly this case is worth watching closely. is there a way for someone to report here on the progress? until it was in the paper i was unaware of any of Giansante's story.

Anonymous said...

Did everyone catch what Nina Esposito-Visgitis said? She should be removed from her position just for that, not that she shouldn't have been removed before, but now the proof is overwhelming. Mr. Giansante was trying to explain WHY he should not have an unsatisfactory as evidenced from the article: "The reason Mr. Giansante believes he is one of the best teachers in the district is he has a particularly high VAM score. VAM — which stands for “Value-Added Measurement” — is the district’s own numerical calculation of a teacher’s effectiveness. WHAT DOES OUR UNION HEAD SAY IN HIS DEFENSE: “A lot of experts across the country question VAM,” she said. “To a lot of people, VAM is a black box.” YOU DID A GREAT JOB BURYING HIM, NINA, A GREAT JOB. YOU ARE THE "U". Instead of defending his "VAM", QUEEN OF RISE, YOU SUPPORT THE DISTRICT. HEY, MR. GIANSANTE, SUE THE UNION, ESPECIALLY NINA. THEY CREATED THIS DEBACLE, NOT THAT INCOMPETENT, INEXPERIENCED mark roosevelt.

Anonymous said...

Agree with anon at 2:43, but the simple fact is that the rank and file keeps voting her in every year. Doesn't that speak volumes about both the fear of change our membership has as well as the apathy? Like PPS, she has attached the PFT name to Gates in trying to look progressive on a national level.In doing so, she sold countless good teachers down the river.
I had to chuckle about parent's comment about rumors regarding the "plan to improve their teaching." Yes, that has been the standard line. You should know that anyone put on an improvement plan is simply on the oblivion express. It is a "plan" that screams to the world that this individual is getting ready to be cut. It screams that this individual is likely in an administrator's doghouse, one that he or she will never get out of. There is no plan for improvement because there is no objective rationale as to what the teacher is not proficient at in his or her practice. There is no way out, because the interview process means principal A contacts principal B and hears the scuttlebutt. An ITL 2 in the interview process calls his fellow ITL2 at the other school.

Gates was a complete and absolute waste of money. It targeted teachers as the problem in education and provided school boards with huge cash offerings and national notoriety with the understanding that Gates's wishes would be fulfilled. That is....the cutting of teachers. And both Roosevelt and Lane were all too happy to take the money, make the headlines....and fire dedicated teachers who were trying to make a living.

How do these cretins sleep? How can ANYONE call Roosevelt, Lane, Tarka or Visgitis individuals who were concerned with improving education or bettering teachers. They created such incredible hardships on good, everyday individuals who often were experienced, caring teachers. Imagine....losing our job....for nothing.

Brashear's administrators in the Giansante case were just puppets doing what they were told by central admin. Again, I wish him the best and salute his backbone in all of this.

Parents and taxpayers should know what most PPS teachers already do.....that our schools are run by central administrators who sit in offices and would never set foot in most of our schools. They should know that they sold their collective integrity for money and news value, at the expense of some outstanding teachers who were sent packing to fill a bogey.

How shameful. How do these people sleep?

Anonymous said...

maybe a class action suit-- because ALOT of dues were paid for NOTHING!

Anonymous said...

It is so funny to listen to so many blame unions for all kinds of things including jobs going offshore. Listen to talk radio hosts and you would think teachers' unions and the demands and protections are what ruined education, but the recent history in pps indicates the union seems useless, at least to outsiders like me. This guy did not go the normal route to have his situation reviewed. Has the union ever been successful in overturning an evaluation report?

VAM must only be used when it is a convenient tool.

Just a side note, the PG article was written by Eleanor Chute, soon to retire. Does anyone else believe as I do that the article was fair and balanced?

Anonymous said...

Thanks. That explains everything. Until this article, Chute sounded like a PR arm for Ebony Pugh and PPS. Everything was always slanted toward central administration's viewpoint. I guess that since she is retiring, she feels that she can finally spread her wings and do some true reporting for a change.
The PG has provided us with these types of reporters over the years. Under the leadership of Shribman, they have "progressed" into an anti-teacher yellow rag of "journalism," buying into the "teachers are the problem" pushed by philanthropists like Bill Gates.
Hey, he is a worldwide celeb. He donated millions. Why ask questions?

Anonymous said...

CLASS ACTION SUIT AGAINST NINA ESPOSITO! RISE UP! LET'S GATHER IN FRONT OF THE UNION ON SATURDAY, 0CTOBER 31. WE CAN ALL DRESS UP LIKE NINA, BILL, AND HAROLD. THE GOOD WILL IS LOADED WITH THEIR APPAREL. WE CAN HOLD UP OUR VAMS, OUR TRIPOD RESULTS, OUR IMPROVEMENT PLANS, AND ESPECIALLY THE MANILA FOLDERS NINA CARRIES AROUND. I HAVE SUBMITTED THE ARTICLE ABOUT GIANSANTE, PARTICULARLY HIGHLIGHTING WHAT NINA(THE RISE QUEEN) SAID IN THE ARTICLE, WHICH BURIED GIANSANTE. I APPEAL TO THE FEW, TO THE PROUD, AND TO THE FEWER: THE STRONG. RISE UP FOR G!

Anonymous said...

A few responses to above posts with the first being, I am fairly certain that those that have written have not actually observed the teacher in question. There use to be this saying, don't believe everything you read in the newspaper. Apparently no one here remembers that or has any first hand knowledge but can defend a teacher whom they know nothing about except his VAM.

Secondly, and this is not particularly just for this post but a general statement of beware posters. Not all of your posts getting posted? If you write, and use a name that this site endorses, your posting will not be printed. This has happened to me on far too many occasions. I have never used foul language, or written anything other than the truth and yet, hardly any of my responses get posted. I am hoping some of you wonder that too!

And finally, please remember that if you don't have a first hand account of something, don't throw all your weight behind it because there is a very good likelyhood that it might not be true at all.

Questioner said...

Posters can mention names but need to stay clear of libelous statements and personal characterizations. Sometimes comments go to spam, we try to collect them but a comment can slip by.

Anonymous said...


That's a plan of ACTION 8:36 AM.

Questioner said...

So for example instead of writing "Principal X is mean and dresses poorly," a commentator might write, "When a teacher needed to arrive late to attend to a sick parent (or whatever the situation was), Principal X responded by suddenly changing evaluations to unsatisfactory."

Anonymous said...

Let me say this to the individual (obviously a teacher-basher/administrator) of October 9:
I have known countless teachers who were targeted without cause. I know enough individuals who know of *this* teacher and his work.

While I like what Pure Reform and Questioner in particular attempts to do with this blog, I have always marveled at members of the community who believe that teachers are the problem in schools. This feeling is echoed by the folks on Bellefield Avenue, who would not know where a Pittsburgh Public School is if you pushed them in the right direction.

You had an ally in Bill Gates and apparently still have a few allies in foundation heads in this town, but your time has come and gone. Gates has been found to be just another grandstander with an axe to grind about teachers and his methods were a complete and utter failure even within his own company. Michele Rhee, your poster child from DC, has been shoved out of favor there and is now just that squeak in the wilderness.

The problem is education---urban education--continues to be lack of parental support for children. Period. End of story. It transcends skin color and it transcends economic class. As part of that bigger problem, you have bleeding heart school boards and superintendents who lack the backbone and resolve to point at the problem, such as we have had in Pittsburgh.

It's a joke, a sick joke that might be funny if it weren't so tragic that livelihoods were lost so as to achieve a quota.

Yes...I've seen many good, dedicated teachers thrown under the bus.
I am heartened that this is one teacher who has the spirit to fight for himself against a spineless school district and against the wishes of individuals who wish to maintain their rationale for why students aren't achieving.

Look in the mirror, friend.

Anonymous said...

TEACHERS should fight---but not against students---instead FIGHT FOR STUDENTS. Students, not parents, should never be seen as the enemy. Without students, teachers have no purpose! The challenge is to FIGHT FOR STUDENTS! If teachers do that and do it consistently, students will respond in kind! (They always have and they always will!)

Anonymous said...

TEACHERS always have. TEACHERS were the ones carping the loudest when the scripted curriculum hit a few years ago. You remember, right? That was when Bellefield Avenue wished to minimize the role of TEACHERS as much as they could. Kids teaching kids! what a great idea.
Only problem was....standardized test scores went down.
Only problem was....grade point averages went down
Only problem was....the scripted curriculum---although impeccably politically correct---was a train wreck in terms of preparing students for college.

You remember all of this, right?
You remember TEACHERS fighting for the kids.

And this past summer, you probably had a laugh when PPS held seminars for teachers about how to communicate with kids. You know---the same teachers they did not want truly interacting with kids in the first place.

The only students that TEACHERS fight with are the ones who simply don't wish to be in school in the first place. In almost every case, there is a parent--or absentee parent, if you will---who never stressed to junior the need for an education.

TEACHERS have always fought for students.
Administrators have always fought to not rock the boat.
PARENTS of under achieving parents have always fought to be left alone by "that damn school" or "that damn teacher."

Yes, good teachers know how to communicate with kids who understand why they are in school.
Stop making your usual apologies.

Anonymous said...

Teachers Teach. Students receive what is being taught or not.

Education in the classroom is not a battlefield for fighting for or against our children.

Ideally education is the practice of giving one's best attention to the present moment with all it's details.

The true teacher loves and cares for the students life and they spontaneously return that love.

Anonymous said...

Some parents have always fought for students and won some battles like getting a class size reduction teacher (many years ago) and lost some battles too like failing to keep science labs in operation in all high school buildings. Sometimes it feels like the powerful allow wins to placate those demanding anything.

Frankly, I am a bit tired of the teacher bashing so prevalent in posts. My kids are in college now and I have experience in education provided by religious, charter and public schools and I don't think I ever came across a teacher who didn't want to teach but I have come across many kids who did not want to learn. Some very privileged kids and some not.

Anonymous said...

A Teacher taught me today:


"There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
collecting information from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.


With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining
information. You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.


There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness
in the center of the chest. This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate. It's fluid,
and it doesn't move from outside to inside
through conduits of plumbing-learning.


This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out."

All we students are privileged. None are under-served.

Anonymous said...


"All we students are privileged. None are under-served." I guess I can agree with that, especially if each student takes advantage of all that is offered. i am taken back to what i once heard at a public hearing from a parent who was also a graduate of pps many years before she spoke the words, "pps offers a great education to those who wish to receive one.'