The Schenley rushLetter #2 comes from Jen. Jen called into Marty's show Friday (blogged about below.) Her letter ran in the paper today. She is on the front lines in this quest for more info and accountability.
I agree with your Sunday editorial that there are too many unanswered questions about Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt's rush to close Schenley High School ("School Test: The City's New Round of Reform Comes With Risk," Nov. 11). The most troubling questions are:
Why tear apart the school district's most positive model of integrated, urban education? Why split the Schenley student body into three separate schools? The proposed Hill District school, in particular, will reinforce the de facto segregation that the Schenley community has worked hard to prevent.
Why have the architectural and construction reports never been made public? Even the PG has been quick to assume that the reports accurately justify the Schenley building's demise, but these documents are not available for public scrutiny.
The district wants to combine students from sixth through 12th grades in one building with no plans to ensure their safety. Why are parents expected to accept the district's plan for these 6-12 schools when there are no finalized plans for us to evaluate?
How will high school students be transported to the Reizenstein and Hill District schools? Right now, there are many Port Authority buses that transport our students to Oakland. There are relatively few routes, however, to the two proposed locations. Why has this situation not been addressed and resolved?
We are expected to accept the district's plans without question or debate. Yet this rush to action looks like another Pittsburgh Promise -- an academic theory that does not involve the community or hold up to careful scrutiny. I urge the school board to delay splitting Schenley into three schools. And I demand that the district present us with real answers, not more empty promises.
JOAN STEVENSON Point Breeze
Show us the proofComments from Amy via email.
I would like to clarify some of my remarks to the press over the last few days. I understand remarks need to be pared down for brevity's sake, but in the process my position has been distorted ("A Compromise for Schenley Students?" Nov. 15).
I am concerned that the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the board are pushing through radical reforms including the creation of 6-12 schools, elimination of neighborhood high schools, allowing uncertified and nonunion people to teach (at Milliones), eliminating Schenley and more -- all without fully informing the public and receiving input on the plan.
Superintendent Mark Roosevelt claims he received information eight weeks ago convincing him the situation at Schenley reached emergency status. Why wasn't that information made public? He claims that research shows 6-12 schools improve achievement. Where can the public see that research? He claims painful reform is necessary. I want him to prove to the district's children and parents that the trauma of having your school disbanded and reformed is necessary and preferable change through an open process that encourages community input and buy-in. My 15-year-old could have gotten those documents posted on Facebook in about 10 minutes. Why can't the school board and the district officials share?
I am not anti-reform. I simply want the board and the district to let the public make informed decisions and not waste more taxpayer money on ineffective reforms.
JENNIFER ENGLAND, Greenfield
Many thanks to Joan and Jennifer for keeping the issues in everyone's mind. Saturday's Post-Gazette printed both letters to the editor. Joan's very clearly listed the main issues:Another meeting was held today. I could not attend.
1. Why tear apart the school district's most positive model of integrated, urban education? The proposed Hill District school will reinforce the de facto segregation that the Schenley community has worked hard to prevent.
2. Why have the architectural and construction reports never been made public? Even the PG has been quick to assume that the reports accurately justify the Schenley building demise, but these documents are not available for public scrutiny.
3, Why are parents expected to accept the district's plan for 6-12 schools when there are no finalized plans for us to evaluate? (Amy's note: and we can find no documentation that combining these age groups is beneficial; we are still searching. If there are any education people out there who have any research sources on this subject, please let me know)
4. How will the high school students be transported to the new Reizenstein and Hill schools?
Jennifer strongly reinforces the point that we NEED accurate information. And she is so right about Facebook; in this electronic age, there is no excuse for not getting information out to the people concerned in a timely manner.
We did go to a nice concert today at CAPA. The boys were playing violin with Extreme Strings and Chello Fourte. What a gas.
At the end of the concert, I was not happy to hear all the gushing of thanks for the staff and administration. Sure, the parents got thanked too -- but they don't seem to understand a few important facts. That school is our building. We own it. We operate it. We pay for it. It isn't that of the janitors, the principal nor the superintendent. Certain people get paid -- because we pay them. They are not 'letting us use the building' as the building isn't theirs in the first place. Oh well. I'll rock the boat with another letter another time about that.