Thursday, December 3, 2015

"The population is never coming back"

In the words of the consultant PPS paid a half million dollars just seven years ago to plan for facilities.  The report predicted nothing but continuing decline, supporting numerous school closings and freeing up money for... well, consultants.

Meanwhile, from today's PG:

While the overall increase is not huge, it is driven by an increase in the portion of the population that is key for school age children.  And had the district done a better job with schools, this increase may well have been even greater.


Mark Rauterkus said...

Have you seen the major building projects that has happened in most of the suburban Pittsburgh schools? USC, Mt. Lebo of course. But also, Penn Hills, Baldwin. Golly, the new Bethel Park and sorta older South Fayette are sweet. West Allegheny's weight room is prime. All around the city there are many wonderful school facilities.

In Pittsburgh, we've got CAPA. Okay.

Sci-Tech is now better than what was at Frick, except that it is with both middle-school and high school grades and the sports and activities are in a pickle ever day due to the blasted co-op. Yesterday the athletes at Sci-Tech had to sit in a bus for two hours trying to get to a swim meet at Obama due to the bomb squad thing in Oakland. And, it was a HOME meet for Sci-Tech. Go figure.

There are a few new bathrooms at Obama and Allderdice. Carrick and Westinghouse got spiffed up to modern about 18 years ago and are presentable, mostly.

Then there is the other issue of getting access to the schools. That's is another matter fully and one that is much more of a problem. What do we do in our schools on Sundays? Most of the schools are closed for the entire summer. Sure, there are exceptions. But, the exceptions are rare.

Then there is the matter of "land." Where would PPS build a new, comprehensive school? Bakery Square 2? Sold that on the cheap. There was lots of room at Reizenstein. Different thread.

Oh well. The "conversation of crazy" gets to be too long and twisted. The crazy talk and crazy directions in PPS legacy is a huge red flag and it means many people depart or never put down roots here with their families. Schenley? U-Prep? OMG. Many choose to say, "Let's move the family and buy a house in a place where there is sanity and less risk for the investment plus, less uncertainty for the school district."

I said all along: If PPS could get its act together and cut out the CRAZY stuff, and that's 85% or more of the problem, then the city and its public school system would explode with growth. That would cause another whole set of problems too.

A sensible, long-term approach hasn't been the norm. Superintendent, PPS Board, Grant Street, Media, and our local, one-party political system share much of the blame. The students own none of the blame. Teachers are off the hook for the most part too.

When and if the folly stops, the city can flourish.

Anonymous said...

Creating a comprehensive school would require a comprehensive understanding ( a wide mental grasp ) of what is needed. The leadership at PPS is challenged when it comes to vision, planning and execution.

That leaves "crazy" to fill the void.

Anonymous said...

...and then out of all the "craziness" and toilet bowl analogies they (PPS) will sooner or later 'rediscover' how education is to be done.

Anonymous said...

Our students cannot wait for someone at PPS to "rediscover" how education should be done. Further, it will never be possible for those 'leading" PPS to "re" discover since it it not something that this group has ever discovered in the first place. Sadly, they were hired without any evidence of knowing, planning, initiating successful programs. We need leaders who understand education without "consultants" and "models" that may or may not fit other populations. (PPS is not Texas.) Each school needs a leader who understand their population and what, specifically, will provide the "education" that meets not only the "standards" but the needs of students.

PPS needs a complete turnover of the "authority" figures who are currently in position---they have not the educational competence necessary for the positions that they hold.

Now is the time!

Anonymous said...

PPS as an entity once educated it's children . As an entity PPS will "rediscover" what it once was good at: educating it's children.

Under the current leadership? Of course not.

As for our students - they will continue to do what they have been doing. They survive.

Anonymous said...

11:11 says AMEN to 12:31!

Mark Rauterkus said...

When we have students that "survive," and not "thrive" -- then we'll have a city that won't grow its population.

When and if the school district and its students "thrive" (again), the population in the city will grow.

People vote with their feet.

Then the city is part dormitory for college aged, grad students and youngsters. And, it can be a place for those who are in later years with kids who have departed the K-12 years. And, it can be for new arrivals who are renting for a bit. And, it can be for the always childless. And, it can be for those who don't have the resources to move elsewhere. Or, finally, it will be a place for families that have home schooling, Catholic school, private schools and charter schools. That about sums it up.

Who did I forget?

The circle of life for being a sustainable, thriving, dynamic city can't be realized when those with kids in K-12 ages move elsewhere in droves.

Some of us buck the system. But we are fewer and fewer.

Anonymous said...

Why would people come back??? We have a lot of old, dilapidated schools filled with unmotivated students and over stressed teachers. Kids doing and being able to do WHATEVER they want and there is NOTHING done to them. As a PPS teacher, feel that I am more professionally ready to tackle the programs to teach our kids, but it is too much. The neighborhoods aren't safe and kids come from home bringing all those issues to school not being ready to learn.... Why would they come back

Anonymous said...

Moving in the same vicious circle again, and again, and again. The past is very long so of course its weight is big. But unless we are very courageous we will never get out of it.

It is very comfortable and convenient to remain with the past, but comfort and convenience are nothing. Growth happens by pushing and pulling.

Whatever playbook ( unwritten or otherwise )that is in play, needs to be tossed.

As Mark suggests, it begins with our feet but the urgency needs to be voiced publicly so the feet no where to go.

Anonymous said...

The examples of progress from the past are only examples of what can happen when we are courageous, innovative, relevant problem-solvers not only in education but in concepts that take us forward. Yes, throw out the playbook of the past and create new paths.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” MLK

Mark Rauterkus said...

To say that the population of the city is going to grow is one thing. But, that does NOT mean that the people who left are going to come back. A new wave of people would come and stay when the schools are better. Those that left are gone and few will return.

So, those that left won't come back.

But, with better schools, there will be others who will come. Why? Because the opportunities in the city can match and exceed those of suburban Pittsburgh -- if the schools in the city are robust enough. We can hope.

Questioner said...

To clarify, the consultant was saying that population levels would never increase significantly, rather than commenting on whether the particular members of the population that had left would return.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Looking into the crystal ball of mine, ... IMNSHO, the population in the city COULD increase significantly, in the future, if the city's public school system would be one where all of its students were able to THRIVE. Of course, that's a big "if."

The city could grow greatly. The #1 sticking point is our city's political process and the #2 sticking point is PPS. Both lead the other areas of concern by great margins.

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh ranks high for small business activity: