Monday, January 16, 2017

PG editorial about PPS (minimal progress over the past 10 years)

Anonymous wrote:

"Here we go again with the P-G editorial board with a negative editorial about PPS.

What exactly do they mean when they say, "If enrollment continues to fall - that is, if more families flee the district - the schools will only get worse."? By get worse, do they mean only students without parents or support systems to foster them will be left behind? 

The P-G praised Roosevelt and Lane, the Broad Foundation, and the Gates Foundation. In my opinion, these were all smoke and mirrors and contributed to getting PPS in a mess. Roosevelt got out while the getting was good. "


Anonymous said...

The vultures are circling the Pgh Public Schools. Various groups are already talking take over by the state of PPS and of course VOUCHERS. The next fours years are going to be interesting because that is the sentiment of many people who have come to power and they see profits to be made.

Mark Rauterkus said...


Questioner said...

Content of the above link:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

-Albert Einstein (attributed)


-Charlie Brown

If I crash my car right into a wall, the worst thing to do would be to get into another car and crash it right into the same wall!

But that’s what the Pittsburgh Post Gazette thinks city school administrators should do.

A new comprehensive report about Pittsburgh Public Schools concludes that standardization and Common Core have produced zero progress in the district over the last decade.

And the editorial board of the city’s largest remaining newspaper says this means administrators should stay the course – indeed, double down on test prep and uniformity.

The 175-page report by The Council of the Great City Schools affirms that the district showed little to no improvement in the last 10 years.

“In fact, analysis of student achievement trends shows little to no improvements since 2007,” the report went on. “Although some scores went up and others went down over the period, achievement gaps are about the same — if not wider — than they were when the work started.”

You would think this would be a scathing indictment of administrators during this time who focused on test prep and uniformity to the exclusion of more student-centered reforms. In particular, during the same time covered in the report, administrators paid for new curriculum designed to standardize instruction across schools and grade levels. They instituted a value-added bonus system rewarding principals who run the schools with the highest test scores. They even increased the length of the school day to drive achievement.

They did all this, and it didn’t help a bit.

Some might see that as proof of the error of past ways.

But not the Post Gazette.

In the minds of the editorial board, this is a ringing endorsement of those policies that got us nowhere."

(See link for remainder.)

Anonymous said...

From President Trump's inaugural address:" an educational system, flush with cash ,but leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge."

One might conclude that Trump has spent sometime at PPS. He goes on to say that Americans want great schools for their children - a just and reasonable demand. A School exists to educate .

PPS has been failing to educate it's youth for decades. Where are the voices? Where is the movement?
The people at the top protect themselves while we have borne the cost and our children are denied their chance to fulfill their dreams.

And we stay largely silent.

Say what you will about the man - but his message stirs the heart.

Anonymous said...

sorry 9:36-- but talk to the people of Pittsburgh-- many many graduates-- many accomplished citizens, many who struggled- public education since 1834- only in the last 10 years- the era of the snake-oil corporate salesmen have the schools stagnated. No it wasnt 100%- newsflash nothing is!-- but we had stronger integrated schools than most urban areas. Our schools are safe. Our students with special needs are having their needs met. We meet the needs of students learning English as a 2nd language. It may be well and good for small pockets of students to attend parochial, private, and charter schools. But in the end, when a student doesnt thrive there, they come back to public schools ( and in the case of charter schools- their money doesnt return with them.)We open our doors to all- and a majority finds their way through. Sure we all work to include all-- but our public schools are NOT as dismal as the hustlers want to say.

Anonymous said...

Talk is cheap. Once Trump keeps his promises to fix the inner cities, eliminate the gangs, drugs, guns, find jobs for inner city residents, fix the schools (vouchers and charter schools), etc., then maybe the inner city public schools can flourish again. Oh, he needs to address single parent and/or absentee parents also. I hope he has a magic wand to make the inner cities and schools great again. Once the cities and families are great again, so will the inner city public schools.

Anonymous said...

Please listen to his pick for secretary of education before you accept that he will help "beautiful students deprived of knowledge." As a parent of 2 public school educated students I am insulted at the implications his words stir. If you have never had more than a passing interest in the Local Task Force on the Right to Education or you are unfamiliar with IDEA, as is the nominee, now would be a good time to get interested.

Anonymous said...

Posted January 10,2017 @ 11:43 AM:
"PPS will need to improve on several fronts as determined by the Council of Great City Schools. If improvements don't happen and if enrollment continues to fall...The schools will only get worse according to the PPG editorial. The question is as more new residents pour into our city without a school system to which they wish to send their children, how many more seats can be added to the classrooms of Ellis, Shadyside Academy, Oakland Catholic, etc. to accommodate ??"

Out of 500 school districts PPS hovers near the bottom in achievement. This is dismal. Are we meeting our children's needs?

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh Public Schools is not even close in its problems to the disastrous School District of Phila or Chester County Schools, or closer to home - Duquesne City Schools, Sto-Rox or the Wilkinsburg School District. Look at the inner city districts across the nation. The problems are the same. Pittsburgh was unique for a very long time in its profile as a large urban district but political jockeying got in the way of maintaining what effective educational policies really look like. Don't blame the parents 1:35. Great teachers in great schools in inner city settings have shown to be equipped to override and overcome many gaps in student support.

BTW, there are single parent homes, absentee parents, drug issues, etc. in Mt. Lebanon and Franklin Regional also. They just don't air their dirty laundry.

Anonymous said...

#Make America Honest Again

Anonymous said...

But, 9:13, you don't find guns, drugs, and gangs in Mt. Lebanon and Franklin Regional like we do in the inner city either. No one is "blaming" the parents per se. Society and times have changed. Schools in the inner city are now having to wear many hats in addition to simply teaching children.

Anonymous said...

Look - not to prolong this - but there ARE drug problems in Mt.Lebanon and Franklin Regional but, as posted, not publicized.

Also another problem with the wealthier school systems is that teachers and administration can't do anything about the outrageous behaviors of children of prominent parents - a sort of reverse discipline issue. It's hard trying to be effective either way but being held back from addressing recalcitrant behavior because of parental status is much more suffocating.

Anonymous said...

however -- they arent practicing "restorative justice" ( ie student in school no matter what the offense) so now teachers are discouraged from pressing charges, heroin in schools gets you a 3 day suspension, as long as students are in a classroom "all is well"
Trust me the parents of other students would be filing charges for alot of what goes on in PPS of late

Anonymous said...

9:13- You sound like someone who has never taught in an inner city school. Yes, there may be some level of poverty in schools such as Mt. Lebanon and Franklin regional but that is not the normal experience for the "average" student in those districts. Instead, for the most part, those students who have experienced childhood trauma and live in poverty are the exception and not the rule. The student body on a whole generally speaking lives in a stable home. Comparing say Mt. Lebanon High School to say Allderdice high school is like comparing apples to oranges.

There is a big difference teaching in a school in which 25-30% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch as opposed to a school where 75- 90% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Generally speaking, schools with high concentrations of students in poverty and who have experienced trauma have lower test scores than those that don't. Poverty and trauma due to family issues are huge barriers to academic achievement and when a school is made up of students for whom this is the majority that school is likely going to struggle academically no matter who is teaching there.

I would like to see research regarding your blanket statement that, "Great teachers in great schools in inner city settings have shown to be equipped to override and overcome many gaps in student support." Can you cite some specific examples based off this quote? What specifically do you mean by this?

I do agree, There are always going to be some outlier schools that are able to overcome the odds, and educators are responsible for doing all they can to help students overcome their circumstances, but I would bet in most cases those outlier schools are some type of magnet program that admits kids and can send the ones who don't make the grade back to their "neighborhood school."

We even have this phenomenon here in PPS which is why when students in some magnet schools GPA gets to low or their behavior gets off track, they end up back at their "neighborhood" school. This keeps the test scores higher in the PPS magnet schools. This is how the charter schools work too. They skim students from the public schools and if the students aren't making the grade they send them away.

People need to realize that widespread concentrations of systemic poverty and racism in our inner cities is part of the problem! The educational system is slow to change and not as effective as it needs to be, but it can't override the flaws in our society by itself.

(BTW I have been teaching in one of the highest poverty PPS schools for three years now, and in high poverty schools in two other states 5 years before that.)

Anonymous said...

6:13 The point was not there is poverty in Mt. Lebanon or Franklin Regional. There can be single family homes that aren't in poverty and there are parents who are absent because they are consumed by their careers or vacationing all over the world. It appears that you feel that people who are impoverished are ones who are lacking in supporting their children. Not so. Education has been the driving force in the homes of many successful people who came from humble low income beginnings.
The success of a specialized inner city school in elevating any student whose chances for achievement were made possible IS a success and bodes replication or at least application to their neighborhood school to which some may be returned and eventually to the larger school systems. Schenley HS was a success and Girls High in Phila still is. Districts need to invest in each and every building's resources, programming, facilities, faculties, staff - which of course takes money. Ultimately, states need to invest in their districts and make all schools,urban or suburban, as places where all students from all families can achieve. This is not cheerleading -just plain facts (and not #alternative facts!)

Anonymous said...


BE the school that people choose.

Anonymous said...

And, any school that truly makes that its goal with all faculty/staff on board CAN make high achievement the outcome for ALL of its students. It is the CHOICE that is made by adults IN the school.