Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Protest of cancellation of Obama musical

From the PG:

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Questioner said...

According to the article, the explanation given by the district/ administration was that the musical was canceled due to lack of student participation.

However, there is an almost 50 year tradition of enthusiastic student participation in the Schenley/Obama musical. So, it would seem logical to ask why the situation would be different this year.

This incident may also highlight a downside of the "small school" approach that divided up large schools like Schenley. In a smaller school there are simply fewer students to fill teams, bands and musicals. It is not at all clear that the purported benefits of a small school make up for the loss of these activities. Coaches and directors who manage to field teams and productions deserve support, recognition and compensation for their work.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher who works in a small school for the past 4 years, Pittsburgh Milliones, I have to agree that overall the small school model does not work at all for most students. It does not give them enough options to find their niche in a traditional high school setting and at that age it is crucial. (I agree it can work at very specialized schools like Sci-Tech CAPA)

At Milliones we simply can't offer the extracurricular activities and overall course offerings that the other large schools have because we do not have a critical mass of students to hire the teachers for those classes. At our school, kids can't even take instrumental/band classes, we have one art room that is housed in a regular classroom with no sink, no ceramics classes, no cooking classes, barely any AP classes the list goes on and on and on. It's sickening. I never blame the students when they want to change schools which offer them so much more. Honestly, most of our students are great but the best ones leave within in a year because they know what's up. They can sense the inequity even if they don't put it exactly in those terms.

Personally, all of the teachers I know who have worked at Milliones have worked really hard to give the students what they need, but it's hard when the system you are in sets you and the students up for failure. This might not be a popular opinion, but I think they should close Milliones and just allow all Hill District kids to go to whatever school they want to in the district no questions asked. Give all the students bus passes and empower them and their parents to choose what school is best for them. Pittsburgh Milliones does not serve them well as currently constituted.

Questioner said...

These kids would have had a short walk to Schenley and a world of opportunities. Yes, it is sickening. Roosevelt managed to convince people (or persuaded them to say they were convinced) that Milliones would somehow be a better option. Not that any of these decision makers would have chosen it for their own children.

Anonymous said...

PPS underestimated the importance of the Schenley/Obama musicals to the entire Pittsbrugh region. We Pittsburghers who have no kids in school but faithfully attend the performances feel disrespected. To arrive at the school to an empty parking lot and no sign giving notice of a cancellation was unnecessary. Nothing announcing the cancellation appeared on the PPS website or facebook, can that be true or did we miss it? If the school population shrinks schools generally pick a musical requiring a smaller cast. These musicals have always been so darn good it was a shame to see this happen. Remember, before there was CAPA, there was Schenley. How could leadership been so clueless?

PPS Teacher said...


It's not that the current leadership is clueless. It's that they just don't care. Resume-building is their main focus these days. These administrators want to claim that they raised test scores, and lowered suspension rates. Everything else - teacher morale, parent morale, classroom discipline, etc. - is secondary.

And the current Board is complicit in all this. I had high hopes when this Board was first sworn in. I thought real change was in the air. But I was wrong.

Questioner said...

The idea of letting Hill students just choose another school makes sense and would save money, but which schools have space? With so many schools closed or converted to magnets, there aren't many options. And the Hill community has made it clear in the past that the school with the most space, Westinghouse, is not acceptable. So that leaves Brashear and Perry.

Questioner said...

The most equitable solution would likely be to open the Peabody/ Obama building as a school with strong traditional high school classes as well as an IB program. To have enough space it might be necessary to move the neighborhood daycare to another location, but a high school never seemed like a great place for a daycare anyway (this is not a daycare aimed at the children of teen students at the school).