Friday, November 09, 2007

Concerning Schenley and our Schools: Trust has gone out the window

Steve Hirtle reported to me via email, with some edits:
It was quite a charged meeting at Schenley tonight as parents voiced frustration with the announced closing of one of the most unique and popular schools in the city. Pgh Public Schools makes this seem like Bizzaro World. Schenley High School has a national reputation for its outstanding IB program. The state basketball champions and its high school musical production (consistent with Kelly Awards and sold out performances every spring) makes this a great urban high school, yet the administrations intentions are to slice and dice it.

Numerous testimonies to the working status of the school poured to the recent Pittsburgh transplant holding the microphone in the front of the room. The diversity of the student body and its pride was clear, again. If the main problem in schools is the lack of parental involvement, you certainly did not hear any parental apathy with the Schenley supporters.

Perhaps the most scathing comment was 'If you need money, sell the administration building in heart of Oakland, but don't close our school.'

There have been lots of school closings, both in the city and throughout the region. Most closings come with the wrath of angry parents and taxpayers. But it seems clear that the magic at Schenley is unique and will be impossible to recreate in any other setting.

Darn tootin. Sure, there were outbursts. He was spreading falsehoods faster than falling plaster. Anything worse than a clueless leader is one that talks too much about stuff he knows little about.
Schenley backers loud, clear, in opposition to closing Pittsburgh Schenley High School supporters last night interrupted, shouted down and ridiculed a Pittsburgh Public Schools' executive as he tried to explain the district's plan to close the building and disperse its students to three other locations.
There was one meeting six weeks ago that changed this guys whole set of objectives. There was one meeting that yanked the districts high school reform agenda way out of bounds. Well, this meeting just put it back in place.

My comments were simple. Trust is gone. Lies like the Pittsburgh Promise won't wash. Remember South Vo Tech? Well, my suggestions: Patch Schenley. Open up a Pittsburgh Vo Tech as was promised Then come back and we'll talk again. Re-set those priorities.

Perhaps a lot of those kids that are flunking out of the other five Drop-Out Factories would have been A+ Students at South Vo Tech.

Saturday's Save Schenley Meeting!

Get together to save our school.

Date: Saturday, November 10, 2007
Time: 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: University of Pittsburgh - Cathedral of Learning room 326

We are holding a meeting to get Schenley lovers together - current students, teachers, parents, and alums. We are going to discuss the issues at hand with closing the school, and alternatives to closing. We will work on creating an action plan to keep Schenley in Oakland - where it belongs!

We need to have a strong action plan, so that when November 27th rolls around, we will be prepared to face the Board of Education.

Come prepared to discuss the following:
- Reasons for closing & moving Schenley
- Why keep Schenley open?
- Alternatives to closing
- Asbestos removal
- Schenley's status as a Historical Landmark
- The Numbers: What contractors gave quotes on fixing Schenley? Was it competitive bidding? Did multiple contractors give quotes?

Please invite your friends, family members, teachers, fellow students, and fellow alums! We need all of the support we can get.

Let's show Pittsburgh what some Spartan Spirit can do.
Updated 4 times.


Mark Rauterkus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

By now, you have probably seen the front page article in the Post-Gazette describing the meeting held last evening at Schenley. The meeting at times was raucous and sometimes a little boring, but also very demonstrative of the knowledge and passion of the Schenley constituency. Mr. Lopez came to give his prepared speech on Roosevelt's plan for the Schenley/Frick. He was not prepared to answer the in-depth questions from some very knowledgable people who disputed what the board is putting out. I think much of the emotion could be defused if someone with the knowledge of the situation met with the people who have legitimate questions and answered those questions completely. There is a time and a place for the passion and the sentiment but we would get more accomplished if we got the complete information first. Like many, I have emotional reasons for wanting to keep Schenley the way that it is; several of my son's very good friends and teammates are likely to NOT attend the new IB school. Those emotional reasons are not likely to sway either Mr. Roosevelt or the Board. We must give sound educational reasons for maintaining the school as is. I personally think that the multi-cultural mix at Schenley is worth saving. Yes, some of the neighborhood kids need some extra help. That can be done in the same building as the IB/IS programs. One of the points that Mr. Lopez tried to make that I would dispute is that the neighborhood kids and the IS kids NEVER intermingle. Besides the social interaction which is a very important part of the high school experience, the students are together in many electives, at least in the first 2 years.

I had intended to do a report of the meeting but I think the newspapers covered it better than I would. If anyone wants any additional information, I will be happy to email to you directly. If anyone who attended the meeting has something to share with the group, send it to me.

If you are new to the email list, I usually try to stick to facts but sometimes I get carried away. Sorry. I hope that the addresses that people gave last night are correct; I did have some problems deciphering handwriting and I have no way of contacting people if I typed it wrong.

As always, if there is anyone who does not wish to receive further emails, please let me know. I promise that I will TRY not to editorilize so much in the future.

For those of you who did not get the information earlier, there is going to be a strategy meeting at the Cathedral of Learning, tomorrow, Saturday, Nov 10 in room 326 from 3 until 6 pm.

I will be out of town tomorrow and Sunday, so if you write to me and don't get a response by 9 am, you probably won't hear from me until after the Steeler game.

amy moore

Mark Rauterkus said...

I do not think that sound educational decisions are going to sway the board. This school is being closed because of economical issues and political issues and speculative issues.

There is an upside with the money from the building / land.

There are costs that are going to shut it down -- that's it.

Education is nearly meaningless.

Mark Rauterkus said...

The multi-cultural mix can be re-built at another school. They can engineer the numbers with lottery, busing, etc.

The mix is well worth the mentions and have a huge merit -- but -- I don't know if that is a deal breaker.

I agree with the point Amy makes about the mixing of the kids -- even with different schedules. Mr. Lopez was out of touch, clearly. He stood before the group and said how he just moved here. Then he tried to say how things were here the next breath. He is clueless and full of himself. He has no business leading the district without doing his homework.

He got an "F" from me.

This is serious -- and non-emotional. First rule of speakig -- know your audience. He didn't know that audience. He didn't do his homework.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I love the cross-cultural aspects of Schenley. But, they too are like emotional selling points -- sorta weak.

This is going to be a political struggle and an economic struggle.

First the political: Those that back this plan are going to have their careers end. They will have a very dark cloud follow them to the ends of the earth -- even the US Virgin Islands. Heads will roll. We'll see to it. Those are fighting words.

Economical reasons are also very, very important. The building's re-hab is too costly -- so they say. Well, $22M to re-do Reisenstein? They have to look foolish no the numbers, the math, the dollars. This can't wash with the state folks, the overlords, the city/county government officials, the taxpayers, the citizens, the parents. ... This has to be fiscally prudent. Staying put is less expensive - by far.

Anonymous said...


asbestos abatement is VERY expensive. For the sake of the kids, wouldn't you want to have this done right, if you did it?

So, perhaps, this time, it is wise to move on.

Might be time to move from this tired, old building.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Aebestos isn't in the walls. It is falsehood. Lie infact.

All the schools, except Brashier, are in the same condition. Langley, Oliver, Dice. Does the district just run away from all of them.

The windows at Schenley are 5 years old. They are new! The exterior of the building is in great shape.

The buildings that they are moving into need serious investments too. It will be $22M for Reisenstein. The new H.S. in the hill is old and 'open classroom' and was never a high school. The Frick building was never a high school either.

It is time to sell the Board of Ed building in Oakland. It is time to take care of what we have.