Thursday, January 31, 2008

Proposal for citywide wireless Internet aborted

Told ya.
Proposal for citywide wireless Internet aborted: "Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration has shelved an effort to extend wireless Internet access to computer users citywide.
First off, when Bob O'Connor goes down in history as the one who took Pittsburgh out of the dark ages in the information world -- we've got problems.

Bob wanted WiFi for the All Star game -- so Pittsburgh could show itself off like Spokane and about 30-other cities that had wi-fi for limited coverage at sidewalk levels for 120 minutes of use without charge in an unsecure network.

I called for and wanted free wifi for everyone in the city -- not just downtown locations.

We need wifi in neighborhoods where kids do homework and where people who don't have upscale condos reside.

Putting wifi downtown was the best way to guarantee that it would NOT go anywhere else. They got to pick our cherries -- taking a grant to do so. We got screwed.

And, the downtown wifi carrier deal dried up a few months ago anyway. It went bust. It has failed in a miserable fashion. Use is light. Others have scrambled to pick up the pieces.

The city administration does what it generally does -- nothing. They'll wait. They'll do too little, too late. They'll keep squandering the opportunities. They'll let the digital divide grow wider and deeper.

Plus, they are not meeting about it. They are not calling for open RFPs. They are not trying to instigate anything with open conversations.

There is a new push to make cameras spy on citizens -- at red lights, on public streets -- but no push to make the infrastructure work for citizens, just against us.

Detroit's mayor has issues with lies and other horizontal conditions

Is anyone in Pittsburgh following the life in the big-city turn of events of Detroit's mayor? We all know Detroit -- home to SuperBowl XL, The Bus, Don Barden and one-party folly with economic conditions not too distant from our own.

Class Dismissed - cover story in Pgh's City Paper on Pgh Public Schools

This is an excellent news feature and cover story.
Class Dismissed - Everyone knows the risks of keeping Schenley High School open. But school supporters say little thought is being given to the dangers of shutting it down. - Main Feature - Main Feature - Pittsburgh City Paper - Pittsburgh Class Dismissed - Everyone knows the risks of keeping Schenley High School open. But school supporters say little thought is being given to the dangers of shutting it down.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Time of Reckoning for Us All -- Tom K's call to action, again -- with his outlook in for the long haul

Tom Kawczynski posted:
Good Evening,

Like many of you, I spent this evening watching the debate on CNN. What really struck me about what I saw was that outside of the ideas being expressed by Ron Paul, the Republican Party has a complete lack of vision. It comes across as a party of convenience, where its own candidates do not support its core principles, and where all it has to offer is haggard endurance in an interminable conflict. It is a party breaking at the seams, because it has lost itself.

I don't know how many of you know this but the first convention for the Republican Party was actually held here in Pittsburgh in 1856. Although imperfect then, people were drawn together by the dual love of their nation and their liberties, and knew that something better could be created. It seems to me that a similar opportunity may present itself here.

While we cannot know precisely how and when this election will end, we do know that the Ron Paul chose the Republican Party as his vehicle, and has stated publicly that he did so because of respect for the tradition of respecting individual liberty. We know that he brought forward his message to reach us and to try to change things. We know that he gave thirty years in this fight for the chance he has earned to get the message out there. What we don't know is just this: What will we do with this gift?

The time of testing is coming for us all where we will each and every one of us have to ask what this movement has meant. Was it about one man from Texas talking about liberty and the Constitution and some kids and some outcasts thinking that this sounded pretty good? Or, was it the birth of something greater: An American renewal and a generational fight to reclaim the liberties that we have allowed to disappear?

From watching tonight, from having been within the party, from having spoken to the public, and from seeing how much we all care, I know that what we are saying is needed. Maybe the message isn't getting through as clearly yet as it should, but when it does, and when people understand that we are offering not only the best, but the only chance to live free, they will stand behind us. But it will not be decided this election, in any one election, and if we are to succeed, we have to accept this.

The opportunity exists for us to accomplish something locally that is both audacious and necessary. We can take the message of Ron Paul, of limited government, personal responsibility, and respect for the Constitution, and transform the political network within the Republican Party to reflect that desire. It will not be easy, but working together, we can do this and I believe we should.

Right now, I know this isn't the question on all of your minds, but I want you to think about this one thing. What does the message mean to you? I cannot answer that for others, but I will tell you that I am here for the long haul fight, as hard as that will be, and I know that others feel the same way. I've seen it, and I have faith. I have faith in our ideas, and I have faith in all of you, because I know you know the truth, and you can't look away from that once you've seen it.

You might get your heart broken. You might cry. You might scream. You might get angry at the whole world for not understanding. But you can't give up, because if you do, you give up who you are, and there is nothing worth that cost. So we fight, but we get smarter, we get stronger, and we make the difference. Whatever happens on Super Tuesday, it is one day, and only one day in a battle that will be fought over many years.

On February 7th, I'm going to host a meeting to talk about where we go through and beyond this campaign, and I hope as many of you as possible will attend. If we let all the strength we have built go to nothing, only then will we truly be done. I hope to see you then.

Until then, keep spreading the message.


Let's talk about an Olympic Pig in a Poke - More Sports - Beijing, Olympics going Kosher - Wednesday January 30, 2008 4:09PM Beijing and the Olympics are going Kosher.
So, we learn that the Olympics are going Koser, in Beijing. Meanwhile, there is ONE small Kosher restaurant in the Olympic City of more than 17-million people. Oh, a second may open too.

"Sometimes I just think too much," so said Bruce A. Kraus

Ugh.... It is hard to watch the city cablecast of council meetings. It has always been painful. Now it is more unpleasant.

Edwards Is Dropping Out

Edwards Is Dropping Out - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times BlogEdwards Is Dropping Out
We were wishing for Rudy to exit. But, John Edwards beat him to the punch.

Rudy G, the ex-gov of NYC, the guy who speaks with a subject, verb and 9-11, spent from $35 Million to $50-Million and got ONE delegate (from Nevada). That's some expensive delegate.

I'd say Rudy has 1,000 times the press coverage of Ron Paul in this campaign. He was the front runner for months. He was getting great press when he was getting last.

If Rudy had gone full-speed in the earliest states, he would have been bonked out by now. He put all the eggs in the Florida basket if you don't count the other ones he already cooked elsewhere -- hence that $50-m price tag.

Aother school suggestion. I could live with this.

Regarding the news about schools in today's paper, this email came in.
Doesn't mean they aren't going ahead with moving programs here and there (see below), but saying they'll look harder at saving the building is a first step to, well, making sure there's still a building available there!

One of the suggestions made to the school board by parents was to consider putting University Prep and the IB High School together (at a renovated Schenley). Two rigorous programs with a college emphasis, but more choices of classes, greater chance of integration and maintaining a Schenley spirit, and enough kids for sports, musicals, and extracurricular activities.

The press release from PPS:
District Recommends Opening University Prep

School With Only a 9th Grade Academy for 2008-09 School Year

Pittsburgh Vann and Pittsburgh Miller Remain K-8s for 2008-09 School Year

Pittsburgh Frick to Add 9th Grade; Current Schenley Students to Move Intact to Reizenstein

PITTSBURGH, January 29, 2008 – At its workshop today, the Board discussed details of the District’s vision for Year Two of Excel.9-12, The Plan for High School Excellence. Excel.9-12 is a multi-year plan focused on the redesign and restructure of the District’s high schools and improvement of student achievement. Superintendent Mark Roosevelt and Chief of High School Reform Derrick Lopez provided an update on the District’s Excel.9-12 Year Two recommendations. Tonight, the District recommended the adjustment of Year Two plans to phase in the creation of the University Prep 6-12 school, beginning with the 9th grade, for the start of the 2008-09 school year. Additionally, it is recommended that Pittsburgh Vann and Pittsburgh Miller remain K-8 schools for the 2008-09 school year.

“9th grade is a pivotal year in terms of high school success or failure,” said Superintendent Roosevelt. “Beginning a university partnership school with a 9th Grade Academy will be critical to creating a culture of success and a truly substantive District and university partnership.”

9th Grade Academy - High School Readiness

In September 2007, over 2,300 of the District’s 9th grade students gathered at Heinz Field for a kick off event celebrating the 9th Grade Nation. The 9th Grade Academy will be used to bridge middle years instruction to the higher level instruction students will face in secondary school. The District plans to institute 9th Grade Academies at all secondary schools.

Pittsburgh First University Prep School

The District is currently formalizing plans with the University of Pittsburgh to create Pittsburgh’s First University Prep School 6-12 at the Milliones facility. Upon completion, this school will become a national center for excellence in public education and a model for school district/university partnerships. Additionally, this school will provide an opportunity for the University of Pittsburgh’s faculty to have a meaningful impact on Pittsburgh Public Schools students. Upon Board approval, the District recommends opening the school with only the 9th grade non-magnet Schenley feeder students for the start of the 2008-09 school year. For the start of the 2009-10 school year, the school will house grades 6-10 adding the middle years 6-8 and 10th grade. Each year that follows a grade will be added until the first class graduates in 2012.

The following is also recommended:

• Pittsburgh Vann K-8 to remain a K-8 school for the 2008-09 school year.

• Pittsburgh Vann will close at the start of the 2009-10 school year requiring the relocation of Pittsburgh Vann K-5 to either Pittsburgh Weil Pre-K-8 and or to Pittsburgh Miller PreK-5.

• 6-8 students from Pittsburgh Vann will relocate to either Pittsburgh Weil or the new University Prep 6-12 for the start of the 2009-10 school year.

• Pittsburgh Miller PreK-8 will become a PreK-5 school in 2009-10. 6-8 students from Pittsburgh Miller will attend the University Prep School for the start of the 2009-10 school year.

Additional Excel.9-12 Year Two Recommendations

Current Pittsburgh Schenley Students to Move Intact to Reizenstein

Year Two plans for Excel.9-12, The Plan for High School Excellence have been adjusted to phase in the creation of the District’s four new 6-12 “learning communities.” New plans include the relocation of current Pittsburgh Schenley High School students intact to the Reizenstein facility, delay the closure of Pittsburgh Frick 6-8 until the start of the 2009-10 school year and phasing in the District’s first University Prep school with a 9th grade class.

Current Schenley students will graduate with a Pittsburgh Schenley diploma.

In addition to the relocation of the current Schenley students to Reizenstein for the start of the 2008-09 school year, the Year Two plan reassigns incoming 9th grade students scheduled to attend Pittsburgh Schenley to the following locations:

• International Baccalaureate and International Studies program students to attend Pittsburgh Frick
• Robotics Technology magnet students will attend the Robotics Technology Magnet program at Peabody
• Non-magnet Schenley feeder students will attend the University Prep School at the Milliones facility.

The approximately 174 students currently enrolled at the Robotics Technology magnet at Pittsburgh Schenley will relocate with their classmates to the Reizenstein Facility and take Robotics Technology magnet courses at Pittsburgh Peabody.

Additionally, the Plan calls for:

• The consolidation of Pittsburgh Rogers CAPA 6-8 and Pittsburgh CAPA High School into one 6-12 thematic learning community to create Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 for the start of the 2009-2010 school year.

• The opening of a Science & Technology program for 2009-2010.

• Reizenstein to House 6-12 International Baccalaureate Program for the start of the 2009-2010 School Year

The District will open a fully accredited International Baccalaureate (IB) Program in the Reizenstein building to create Pittsburgh IB World 6-12 for the start of the 2009-10 school year. Currently, the District has an IB Diploma Program at Schenley High School for 11th and 12th grade students and is currently in the application process to institute a Middle Years Program (MYP) at Pittsburgh Frick 6-8. These two programs will merge to create one of the first comprehensive international baccalaureate middle years and diploma programs in a U.S. urban district. Pittsburgh Frick 6-9 students will relocate to Pittsburgh IB 6-12 School beginning in the 2009-10 school year. Additional classes will be added each year as current Schenley students graduate.

Pittsburgh Rogers CAPA 6-8 to Combine With Pittsburgh CAPA High School

Combining the District’s total Creative and Performing Arts curricula will optimize the state-of-the-art resources currently deployed at Pittsburgh CAPA’s downtown location. The Board approved the purchase and renovation of three additional floors at the downtown facility to house all of its 6 -12 CAPA students in one location, thus creating a cohesive learning community to be completed for the 2009-10 school year.

Board Votes on Excel.9-12, the Plan for High School Excellence

At today’s workshop, the Superintendent shared with the Board anticipated items that will be brought forth for a Board vote in February. These items include:

• Movement of Pittsburgh Schenley student grades 10-12 to Reizenstein for start of 2008-2009 school year;
• Opening of Milliones facility to house a 6-12 University Prep School;
• Addition of the 9th grade to Pittsburgh Frick;
• Movement of the robotics program at Pittsburgh Schenley to Pittsburgh Peabody for the 2008-2009 school year.

The Board will not be asked to vote on the closing of the Schenley facility at its February legislative meeting as additional time is warranted to explore renovation possibilities.

District Recommends Opening University Partnership School with 9th Grade Academy

Public Participation in the Process

There are several other ways for the community to share their comments regarding the Year Two plan for high school reform:

• Write to the Division of Communications, Pittsburgh Public Schools, 341 S. Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh,
PA 15213; or,

• Phone or email the Parent Hotline at (412)622-7920 or

Additional Information

The public can also review plans for Year Two of Excel.9-12: The Plan for High School Excellence by visiting the Pittsburgh Public Schools web site at, visiting the Division of Communications, Room 201, or by requesting a copy by calling the Parent Hotline at (412)622-7920.

Marty's Army call to action

I need your help right now! This is what we’ve been waiting for! Here's our opportunity to create change in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.

In what’s being called a “dramatic turn,” the state House just last night voted 159-36 to eliminate school property taxes for low income seniors.

Remember, the House was supposed to discuss raising sales and income tax. House members dropped that idea and finally followed the will of the people!

Folks -- this is a big deal! But here’s the catch: It needs another favorable vote before it moves to the Senate.

This is what we want: TAX CUTS, not TAX INCREASES!

We all need to call our state representatives TODAY! Call ten times if necessary! Tell them you support the tax cut plan.

If you don’t know who your state rep is, ask someone! Look in the phone book! But do it.

Folks, you know our elected leaders respond to phone calls. They respond to pressure. Please take five minutes out of your day and call or e-mail them. Beg them to follow through!

Please do me a favor and forward this e-mail to ten of your friends. Then listen to The Inside Story with Marty Griffin 9 am-noon on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA. Let's make out leaders listen!

We can make a difference and we can create change. We MUST do it together.

Remember one voice a whisper, but our voice a roar!

Thanks again….

Marty Griffin
So, a property tax cut for seniors means everyone else will pay more. A property tax cut for seniors means that the school districts will have less income and the future generation gets the shaft again.

Kids do not vote. Kids don't listen to Marty's Army either.

I would make a better deal, a different offer. I too like low taxes.

The state should eliminate the deed transfer tax. That way Seniors can easily sell their homes and reclaim its value and downsize without a huge sums of money going out of the transaction to the state for taxes. Penalties associated with the deed transfer tax keep seniors in their homes way too long. We should be able to have a more fluid market so that the value of the people's possessions are not diminished so.

The policy we have now results in the need to bulldoze 60 houses in an older community such as Hazelwood. That is a loss of lots of value. The houses were worn down. The people lost value. The community suffers. The taxpayers pay on multiple instances in the deals now -- by design -- because of bad public policy.

NUKE the deed transfer tax for everyone over the age of 50 who is a part of the sales transaction.
I'd want to nuke the sales tax on property for all people, but this gets to the heart of the matter of trying to do something good for the seniors.

Pittsburgh school board delays vote on Schenley closing - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh school board delays vote on Schenley closing - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review The Pittsburgh Public Schools board will not be asked to vote next month on Superintendent Mark Roosevelt's proposal to close Schenley High School.
Roosevelt recommended the closing of the 91-year-old building in Oakland because of asbestos problems and an aging infrastructure that would cost $64.4 million to fix.

The board, which had planned to vote on the proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, decided Tuesday night to postpone the vote to give members time to explore various renovation possibilities.
Asbestos is not a problem at Schenley. Old water damage has caused some plaster damage that has since been patched. The problem has been poor stewardship of a classic structure. The building got new windows recently. The building has a gym and swim pool addition that isn't that old. And, the buildings components are NOT to be found elsewhere.

Moving a high school into a building that has a cafatorium (part cafeteria part audiotorium) is nuts. Moving a high school into a building that has a three lane pool that can't host swim meets is nuts. Moving a high school that serves the entire district into a location at the edge of the city is nuts.

Breaking apart one of the few star programs in the district for the sake of the superintendent's ego is nuts.

The I.B. program at Schenley works. The International Studies at Frick Middle School works. Those programs should be replicated -- duplicated -- copied. They want to make massive changes, disrupt, hijack and basterdize programs for no good reason.

Making kids in grade six go to high schools with those in grades 11 and 12 is nuts. Building schools that span from grade 6 to 12, by design, and calling it an economic justification is dollar dumb and penny foolish. Lots of that fussing about is just to mask the failures from recent years with the move to other schools that span from grade K to grade 8. Still other report cards are out on the ALAs -- the much hyped Accelerated Learning Academies.

And most of all, the cost to fix the falling plaster, already fixed in an uncosmetic way. is inflated to include things like whole building air-conditioning. But, that is just half the story. The costs to fix up the other schools is NOT being reported upon. Reisenstein High School does NOT have any windows. They'll put windows in a school that does not have them -- and that will be expensive. The middle school that was Milliones and Frick need to be made into high schools. That is expensive. The downtown school that is CAPA needs to be expanded to have kids from another working school, Rodgers, when there isn't enough room.

The entire effort of the high school reform committee from two years of toil was tossed out the window after one meeting this fall. They operated at crisis mode for the sake of a crisis -- at everyone's expense.

Talk of a Vo Tech School has not happened. That is what should be reported upon first. That should be a top priority -- as it was taken away from the school landscape years ago with promises that it would be re-born in a better way.

What about the 'drop out factories' and efforts to give good to great -- if not excellent educations -- to those at Oliver, Peabody, Carrick, Langley and Westinghouse. Those schools need intervention. Put the high school / university partnership in Peabody, for example. Put the hoped for new science and technology program into the recently renovated Westinghouse. Make them city-wide magnets. Put together an all-girls public school -- such as at Oliver. And then put an all-boys public school at Langley (for instance).

The delay is welcomed. The delay is needed. But, what we crave is real common sense in the reform. We have questions that need to be answered. We are the ones who pay for the schools, send our children to the schools, and are going to be here long after this administration departs.

Amy reacts:

According to this morning's Post-Gazette, the vote on the decision to close Schenley has been delayed (see B-4 of PG). While this certainly isn't negative news, I am not sure that it is positive either. Mr. Roosevelt is still saying that the students cannot be in the building next year and we have known throughout this process that he can move the IS/IB program to another location. Hopefully, we will have more time to strengthen our position: no changes should be made without thoroughly thinking through the options and repercussions of the change. Long range plans need to be carefully thought out before any money is committed. Parental and teacher input is crucial.

Thanks to the various committees who continue to work to ensure our kids the best education possible. This has not been an easy task but saving Schenley and strengthening the IB program will be worth all of the effort.

amy moore

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Update from the Presidential candidate from Pittsburgh

The free thinking radical

Citizens for Legitimate GovernmentHappy Birthday, Thomas Paine!

interview with Mitt by a Florida guy named Mark -- who says they are all on the same page

VAT = Value Added Tax

Some taxes in Europe are VAT. They are not used in the US. With a VAT, a smaller percent is applied at every stage in every transaction. Here, the taxes are applied at the final sale to consumer, not at wholesale, not at production, not at raw goods, etc.

Russian rowing officials banned after dopes pirate boats - More Sports - Russian rowing officials banned - Tuesday January 29, 2008 10:58AM: Officials of the Russian rowing federation received a one-year ban after seven rowers committed doping violations in a 12-month period.

The penalty, announced Tuesday by the International Rowing Federation, bars all administrators, coaches and medical personnel of the Russian body from attending any FISA competitions or meetings.

Humm.... With this type of thinking, would the Pirates ownership be able to be fired after another bad year of baseball?

Some outstanding school questions, ... await the answers

Reform/Alternative Options Committee
Questions Regarding the Pittsburgh Public Schools High School Reform Plan
Submission to PPS Board of education

Reform Options Committee Members (names deleted)

After the announcement of tentative high school reform plans as well as the tentative breaking up of Schenley High School, a group of concerned parents formed a committee to try to sort out the complexities of High School Reform. Representatives from this group contacted Mark Roosevelt, who welcomed the opportunity for parents to engage in a dialogue with the administration to ask questions and voice concerns about the proposed changes in our schools.

Over the last several months, our group has met twice with Derrick Lopez, Director of High School Reform. Below are the questions that have resulted from many hours of reviewing the information presented by the administration over the last year as well as the information given to this group by Mr. Lopez. Although much valuable information was gleaned from our two meetings with Mr. Lopez, answers to the questions below remain elusive. We hope that you, as school board members, will find these questions helpful while gathering information regarding the reform of our schools.

1. Is there an overarching plan that addresses the remaining district high schools?
a. Are there 2, 5, and 10 year visions of the district?
b. When will these be widely disseminated in the media and to parents directly?
c. Could you please provide specific data supporting each of the components of the proposed reforms (eg themed high schools, eliminating middle schools, smaller high schools, separating poorly performing students into their own facility)

2. During our meetings with Mr. Lopez, he stated that community councils would be formed while assessing the districts needs for school reform. He also stated that there are currently steering committees addressing the new IB and University Prep High Schools.
a. What is the process for member selection of these committees/community councils? Who are the members? When will they start meeting? What will be the frequency of meetings/agenda?

*Parents have continually expressed concerns that we are not getting a voice at the table regarding the massive changes proposed. We have suggested that each school PTA should elect one representative to be a member any community council or steering committee that is formed regarding all aspects of PPS reform.

3. What are the citations of research regarding 6-12 configurations? Since Brashear is currently configured as a 6-12 High school, can there be a comparison done regarding drug use, drop-out or transfer rates, suspension/referral rate, test scores and staffing considerations between Brashear and another demographically similar high school/middle school set?
Please review attached analyses regarding increased/decreased transitions. This is a google document.

4. One component of the reform plan will create a predominately African American high school at the Milliones Middle School site.
a. Is integration a priority in the reform plan? If so, what will be done to ensure that Milliones will not remain predominantly African American? How was the racial make up prediction (80%-20%) calculated? Has there been discussion of recruiting at risk students from throughout the district to attend University Affiliated HS?
b. Are smaller classrooms for low achieving students a priority? How will the goal of smaller classrooms for at risk student population be achieved? (more teacher hires?) Has there been consideration/discussion regarding smaller classrooms district wide?
c. What is the reaction from the Hill community and the rest of the African American students/parents in the district to this component? Who, specifically, has been contacted for input? Has there been an effort from the administration to reach out to the community at large? If so, when? What was the response?
d. Is there a signed deal with Pitt? What is the time frame of their commitment to “University Prep”?
e. What are the specifics of the “University Partnership” with Pitt?
f. Is this a replicable model or a one-time, one-place model? Who is on this steering committee? How were they selected? Has anyone contacted the educators involved with the successful Spartan Classics program that was discontinued due to lack of funding to incorporate the best practices from this program into HS reform? What are the state’s requirements regarding hours for student teachers?

5. Has the alternative of housing the University Prep and IB/IS high schools in the the Schenley building, thus creating a new Schenley University Prep HS and a new Schenley IB HS? (Schenley is big enough to accommodate both schools in the 6-12 format, thus creating everything that the administration is proposing (new IB, University Prep, and getting Frick for the Science and Technology HS while preserving the unique social integration that works so well currently at Schenley.
a. Please see attached alternative proposal for revised cost analysis
b. Please go to for data regarding housing two schools in one building.

6. What are the plans for assessing the success of changes at the elementary/middle school levels?
a. How are the problems in the Homewood K-8 schools being addressed? Should we move forward with new reforms when others seem to be foundering?
b. What are the results of the America’s Choice evaluation of the elementary/middle schools?
c. What methods of assessment will be put in place for the new reforms and how will these be reported to the public?

7. What will be the mechanism for the high school choice component of the reforms?
a. If feeder patterns are completely eliminated, how will the district deal with over requesting of certain schools (for instance what if all of the students in Squirrel Hill choose Allderdice as their high school)?
b. What will be the mechanism for student assignment regarding the HS choice component of the plan?
c. How can the community be involved in this process before rather than after the fact? What are the plans for developing acceptance of this plan?
d. How will this be addressed? Can there be a regular newsletter that will update parents on reform plans/progress? Can there be a dedicated section of the website to reform plans/parent updates? Can school board members hold community meetings regarding reform plans in their districts?

8. A large component of the reform plan seems to rest on teacher/principal/professional development.
a. What can be done to ensure complete and rigorous evaluation of teachers in the three years BEFORE they acquire union protections?
b. Will the review process of teachers/principals be open to review change with input from all parties involved (teachers, principals, parents and administration)?
c. How can a parent/student component for evaluation of teachers/principals be incorporated into the process?

9. How will the transportation issues of moving students from Hill to Reizenstein, as well as future high school choice, be resolved?

Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen (video)

Must see video that says, 'think again.'
TED | Talks | Hans Rosling: Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen (video) Hans Rosling: Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen
The first comment sums it up well.

The speech is hilariously entertaining, informative about world demographics, and demonstration of shockingly amazing software, a example of how massive information can be conveyed efficiently, and a call for making publicly funded databases avialable for analysis - all at the same time and in 18 minutes. It will leave you stuneed. No visualization software has ever made me feel so inadequate.

A great mention in the talk is that you have to have health before you can have riches.

Student Dispute Threatens Montclair State’s Paper - New York Times

Student Dispute Threatens Montclair State’s Paper - New York Times The dispute started in November, when The Montclarion’s editor in chief, Karl de Vries, protested at a meeting of the student government that it kept some of its sessions closed to the press. Before that meeting, a lawyer retained by The Montclarion had advised the student journalists about their rights under a state open meetings law.

After Mr. de Vries spoke, Mr. Chicken demanded copies of correspondence between the lawyer and the newspaper, Mr. deVries said in an interview, adding that he refused to provide it. The next day, Mr. Chicken sent a letter to the lawyer — whose fees were paid with student funds — firing him.
Goofy people with power and the tricks that they'll use to create FUD.

Ron Paul's message

January 28, 2008

When I started this campaign more than a year ago, I was a somewhat reluctant candidate. I knew our message of freedom, peace, and prosperity was the right one for our country, but frankly, I didn't know how many people today would have ears to hear it.

Well, did I learn a lesson! Millions of Americans understand what ails our country, and what is needed to fix it. So, with you at my side, I am in this effort to win. Not only by building the ideas of liberty, but by getting the nomination. Our opponents would call that nuts -- you know, the advocates of more inflation, more spending, more taxes, more war. But let me explain why they are, as usual, all wet.

For one thing, for the first time since 1952, we are headed towards a brokered convention. Instead of a coronation of one of the establishment candidates, the delegates, influenced by the people, will decide. And I am afraid that this will take place in a time of heightened economic crisis. That means even more Americans will be ready to hear our message. But it also means I am really going to need your help.

One would never know this from the mainstream media, but we've only had a few primaries and caucuses, and even after the extremely important date of February 5th, we will still have more than half to go. And the Republican nominee will not be decided by the popular vote among the "leading candidates" in a few states also handpicked by the media. The nominee will be decided by the delegates. So let me tell you a little about our "under-the-radar" strategy to get those delegates.

On "Super Tuesday," February 5th, there will be 22 primaries and caucuses. I have a hunch that we're going to do very well. But, of course, the media and the rest of the establishment refuse to recognize that. It's the attitude of the small child who covers his eyes to make something scary go away. But we are not going away.

While the media focus on the couple of states they claim are important, we're competing everywhere. And the reason that we're able to do that is because of your grassroots support. You all are an asset that no other campaign has: donors, and activists who want no special deals from the government, just the Constitution.

We're competing very strongly in all the caucus states, and in all other states where delegates are up for grabs. And we're going to keep picking up delegates. Our strategy's already working.

And we're committed to winning states. I have little doubt that if we can double our efforts in this coming week, we're going to grab many delegates from other candidates. Then we'll start getting ready for the biggest moment of all - the convention in September.

The path to the convention is twisty, however. When we were in Iowa, we got 10% of the vote. But no delegates were awarded that night. That's because voters didn't directly choose national convention delegates; they selected the county and state delegates who will make that decision. And if another candidate like Mike Huckabee is no longer in the race at the time of the state convention in June, his delegates are free to support whomever they want. If we work extra hard, we can convert them into delegates for our campaign!

A similar thing happened in Nevada. We won 14% of the straw poll vote that the media reported on, but what they didn't tell you was that we may have gotten up to a third of Nevada's delegates to their county conventions! I always laughed when I heard some people say Nevada didn't matter. Nevada chooses more delegates to the national convention than South Carolina.

So, while the media will focus on the results from Florida, and probably take down the campaign of my friend Rudy in the process, those results are less important to you and me. Let them fight in Florida while we bring our message to Americans in other areas, like the economically hard-hit state of Maine.

We want to win as many delegates to the Republican National Convention as possible, even if other campaigns don't see some areas of the country as "important. But in this work, I need your help. Help me get many, many delegates to this historic convention, by these three methods.

1. Donate. Your generous contributions are essential if we're going to keep going until September. We need, frankly $5 million by February 5 to run more TV and radio ads in the Super Tuesday states. Your help means everything:

2. Canvass. You can help us identify those who support our message in your precinct. You can help us to convert others, too. After all, your neighbors pay attention to you. I am going to visit as much of the country as I can, but I need you as my partner in your area:

3. ASK others to sign-up on our website. I meet so many people on the campaign trail who don't even receive my letters! I've told my campaign to make communication with you, the engine of all this, much better. But if people don't sign up for my e-mails, that won't happen. If you could just get one extra person to sign-up, that would be great. More would be tremendous.

Help me by forwarding this e-mail to every other Ron Paul supporter you know, and urging them to join our efforts!

We've come so far, but now the fun is really starting! I have a feeling the mainstream media will move from ignoring us to attacking us. But that will be a sign of our success. Join me as we continue this great movement into year two, and to a hot convention in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. We can do it!



buzz about schools (from Jen and Amy)

Now that a strike has been averted and we assume that attention can and will turn back to Schenley and High School reform.

-- Tonight, Tuesday, January 29, 2008, the Administration is scheduled to give another “workshop” about High School reform (including Schenley) to the School Board. This isn't a public hearing, but the public can go and see the meeting (6 pm at the BOE building). If you have questions you'd like your board member to ask, please contact him or her tomorrow. Here's the generic email address for all board members: (Though a phone call couldn't hurt, either.)

My concerns focus on postponing all decisions about building closings/openings and hiring of architects and contractors until the board itself feels it has a clear vision of where the district is heading. Most of the plans focus on the East End currently. What are the plans and vision for reforming the other high schools in the district?

Here's hoping this workshop will have more of these sorts of details, rather than more discussion of “excellence” and “rigor” - I think we've all signed on to those ideas!

A group (of which I'm a part) that developed out of interest/concern about the big picture of reform continues to meet. If you'd like a copy of the document that lists our initial and follow-up questions as well as the answers we've received and the questions we still have, let me know and I'll mail it out. One of our main concerns is that committees get formed and plans get made with no parent or community input sought until after the fact. If you're on a committee, let us know, we'd love to hear how that happens!

-- Interesting find on the A+ Schools website - meetings about the new high schools are planned:

The IB, University Prep, CAPA, Science and Technology all have meetings listed, as well as two different listings for career/vocational education information sessions. However, the first of the meetings isn't until the end of February and others aren't scheduled until May. While they are described as seeking input, I imagine that most plans for the fall will have already been made.

-- Next public hearing is scheduled for February 18th, at 7 pm. That's the last public hearing before the scheduled vote on closing Schenley on the 27th. Of course, that vote could be tabled by the board or by the superintendent at any point to allow for more information to be presented and planning to take place.

Jen Lakin

One semester down, one to go! Hard to believe that we are at the halfway mark. A few things that I wanted to point out:

Schenley parents who have problems getting information from your son or daughter can check the daily bulletin on the Schenley web site. It looks like they are updating it now. It has information about testing, school visitations, etc.

Athletics: Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge sports fan and the Schenley teams could always use some more support. Apologies to the wrestling team; I think that I missed your season. The swim team is doing very well. They have a home meet against Allderdice this Thursday at 3 pm. Allderdice has DOMINATED city swimming for 30 years but Schenley has some excellent swimmers this year and has a GOOD chance to beat them. It would be fantastic to have the stands filled with Schenley supporters.
Basketball: the boys team deservedly gets a lot of publicity but the girls' team this year also deserves some notice. Wednesday's games are against Oliver (girls at home at 7:30, boys at Oliver at 3). I haven't managed to see any of the boys' games but the 2 girls' games were a lot of fun. The girls dominated their city opponents with some really exciting moves.
Theater: this is slightly off-topic but I wanted to bring it to your attention. Schenley parent, Larry John Myers, is appearing in the Public Theater production of Amadeus. I have been a Public Theater subscriber for more than 20 years and think that this is one of the best plays that I have ever seen them do.

IF you have any news to share concerning Schenley, Frick, elementary language magnets or international studies, send it to me and I will share with the group.

amy moore

Monday, January 28, 2008

No school = blog break

We're running around for the next two days on a school semester break and won't expect to update the blog.

The state of the union ... yawn. Err... stimulation!

Sunday, January 27, 2008 - Home - Home: "Please join us this February 1st for the Ron and Carol Paul 51st wedding anniversary mass donation day. Our goal is to bring together 100,000 people to donate $51 each, creating a one day donation total of $5,100,000.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mainstream Media Gleefully Celebrate Nonexistent “Recession”�

Mainstream Media Gleefully Celebrate Nonexistent “Recession”�: "Mainstream Media Gleefully Celebrate Nonexistent 'Recession'

Liberal Commentators Commence Undeniable, Brazen Effort to Depress Americans and Cheerlead Electoral Change

McCain: Romney Favored Iraq Withdrawal

How is this for spin?
McCain: Romney Favored Iraq Withdrawal / "SARASOTA, Fla. - John McCain accused Mitt Romney of wanting to withdraw troops from Iraq, drawing immediate protest from his Republican presidential rival who said: 'That's simply wrong and it's dishonest, and he should apologize.'

The fight for Florida grew ever more intense Saturday ahead of the state's pivotal primary as a fairly civil debate over economic records and leadership credentials spiraled into an all-out showdown.

As the two candidates campaigned along the state's southwest coast, McCain sought the upper hand with a new line of criticism, telling reporters in Ft. Meyers about Iraq: 'If we surrender and wave a white flag, like Senator Clinton wants to do, and withdraw, as Governor Romney wanted to do, then there will be chaos, genocide, and the cost of American blood and treasure would be dramatically higher.'
American Treasure. Isn't that the name of a Hollywood pretend movie -- oh... it is "National Treasure."
National Treasure Photos: "Still photographs of 'National Treasure'"

New mayor vows 'high-caliber' Games - Olympics - Beijing mayor vows 'high-caliber' Games - Saturday January 26, 2008 1:18PM Beijing's new mayor took office Saturday and promised the Summer Olympics would make China proud.

In brief remarks to reporters after being appointed by the legislature, Mayor Guo Jinlong twice mentioned the Olympics in August, underscoring the event's importance to the city and China's Communist Party leadership.
Humm. Bob O'Connor was mayor and the Steelers won the Super Bowl. That was a quick score to a young term in office. Some five or six months later came the US Open at Oakmont. That was a rush -- for the mayor, of course. And, I understand that Oakmont is NOT in the 'city.'

Well, how about the guy who steps into the job in Beijing -- and the whole world is due to show up for the Olympics on August 8, 2008. This is sure to put a spotlight -- and pressure -- on the host city.

Of interest is the word to describe the pending games -- 'high-caliber. Gun laws aside, understand that they invented fireworks in China!

High School Highlights: Schenley's streak hits 69

High School Highlights: Schenley's streak hits 69:
This gives another good reason why the Pittsburgh City League needs to be eliminated.

In swimming, there are no teams at Oliver and Westinghouse and Perry.


It is not any fun to go through years of play with league opponents and always win.

Let's raise some standards. Let's get the city kids playing in the WPIAL on a day to day basis.

Let's have a city league tournament, or tip-off classic, or all-star post-season match. The city teams would still play against each other from time to time. But, the city league squads need to have 'competition' that makes sense.

Fact Check of GOP debate in Florida

By Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press on Thursday's GOP debate.

Fact Check: Misfires in GOP Debate

WASHINGTON - A number of assertions in the latest Republican presidential debate went unchallenged because candidates spent more time criticizing Democrats from afar than challenging - and correcting - each other face to face.

THE SPIN: John McCain took issue with a questioner's statement that he favors "mandatory caps" on greenhouse gas emissions.

"No, I'm in favor of cap-and-trade," McCain said.

"And all we are saying is, 'Look, if you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, you earn a credit. If somebody else is going to increase theirs, you can sell it to them.' And, meanwhile, we have a gradual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."

THE FACTS: McCain has proposed mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Arizona senator has been among the most vocal supporters in Washington of capping greenhouse gases, proposing legislation to do that several times, and criticized the Bush administration for resisting mandatory measures.

In a cap-and-trade system, companies that outperform pollution requirements could sell the right to pollute to companies that don't meet the limits. But overall emissions would have to come down, and ever more stringently as years pass.

The bill McCain co-sponsored with Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman last year proposed that pollution allowances be cut by two-thirds between 2012 and 2050. A section of the bill is titled: "Mandating Emissions Reductions."

THE SPIN: Mitt Romney boiled down Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care plan to what he regarded as its essence: a government giveaway.

"Her health care plan, quite simply, is one which says, 'Look, we're going to give health insurance to everybody by the government.'"

THE FACTS: Clinton's plan does not propose that the government give everyone health insurance. Most people and companies would pay for it, like now.

The New York senator proposes that the government help those who can't afford the insurance to buy it, so that everyone can be covered, and uses tax credits to small business and other spending to try to make that possible. Existing health insurance plans would be preserved for those who want it, while people could choose to join other programs she proposes to create.

THE SPIN: Rudy Giuliani again talked up his record as New York mayor.

"I'm the only one who's actually turned around a government economy. I mean, the reality is, when I became mayor of New York the economy of New York was in very, very bad shape - tremendous deficits, 10 1/2 percent unemployment, 300,000 jobs gone. We turned that around, cut unemployment by more than half, brought in 450,000 new jobs, and we cut taxes by 17 percent."

THE FACTS: The unemployment rate fell from about 10 percent when he took office to a little over 6 percent before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, rising after to 7.6 percent. The rate did not fall by more than half.

On deficits, an analysis by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania found that he inherited a $2.3 billion deficit in 1994 and produced surpluses during his mayoralty, but projected a $2.8 billion deficit in his last budget, released the spring before the attacks.

THE SPIN: Mike Huckabee aired his proposal to eliminate federal income, investment and payroll taxes in favor of a national sales tax, an idea he has likened elsewhere to "a magic wand relieving us from pain and unfairness."

Questioned about a 30 percent sales tax, he said "it's 23 percent" if the government is to bring in the same money it is getting now. He said his plan "untaxes the poor, untaxes the elderly."

THE FACTS: A mathematical exercise is required to understand why 30 percent and 23 percent are both applied to the plan.

If an item costs $100 before tax and $130 after tax, that's $30 more, which most shoppers would consider a 30 percent rate.

But proponents of the sales tax cast it another way. They say that because $30 is 23 percent of $130, the rate is really 23 percent.

Huckabee does not exempt the elderly from the tax, despite claiming he "untaxes the elderly."

By that, he means that he thinks most retirees keep their spending under the poverty-line level, and so would be sheltered.

Friday, January 25, 2008

clever comments @ An Outside Insider's View

techPresident – An Outside Insider's View The Internet candidate is the one who embodies the authenticity, accessibility, and responsiveness of the medium not just in what he or she does online, but in what he or she does offline.

Property Taxes, Rauterkus / Palmer, 108 S. 12th Street and Dan Onorato's ploy

Got this letter in the mail that goes to the heart of our Dan Onorato's claim that he doesn't raise property taxes.

We live on the South Side.

Parcel ID: 0003-M-00383-0000-00

108 S. 12th St
Legal Description: Fred Bausman Plan 22 Lot 20x80 S. 12th St Cor BR
2 1/2 STY FRA HSE 108
17th Ward
Tax Status: 20 - Taxable

Notice is hereby given that the real estate assessed / Market Value for the above mentioned property has changed as shown below for the year 2008.

This change is a result of a building permit change.

Comparison to Prior Market Value

Land Value from 11600 to 17300
Building Value from 94500 to 124900
Total Value from 106100 to 142200

Please be advised that you have the right to appeal the Office of Property Assessments determination by filing a Special Appeals Form with the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review (Appeals Board) within thirty days of the date of this notice.

The Assessed/Market Value listed above does not include any exemptions. If you qualify for any Special Acts Abatements, the Office of Preoperty Assessments will make the adjustments for county tax purposes only.

This notice pertains to Assessed / Market Value only. Your property tax bills are calculated and determined by separate taxing bodies. Questions about your tax bill should be directed to your school district, municipality or the Allegheny County Treasurer.

Primer on Delegates and the Conventions. Will be interesting.

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 01/25/2008 | Could tight election races in both parties lead to brokered conventions? Republicans don't have super-delegates, but the rules on how delegates vote are basically left to the state and territory parties. More than 650 GOP delegates could arrive at the Minneapolis-St. Paul convention unpledged to any candidate, while more could be only informally bound to vote for a candidate, according to Jay Cost, a University of Chicago political science graduate student writing for Republicans require 1,191 delegates for the nomination.
This year the national conventions for both old parties might be interesting. I'm sure, according to my hunch, that the GOP convention will be wild. I was talking to someone on the phone and he said he expects fists to be flying on the floor of the Republican convention.

eVote Blog pointer. The same machines are used in Allegheny County

eVote Blog: The iVotronic voting system failed to count over 100,000 votes in various races across the state of Florida in the November 2006 election.
Dan Onorato was the one who insisted that Allegheny County purchase the iVotronic machines. This week he also insisted that there are no problems with these machines.

The voting machines used in Allegheny County are junk.

Comedy Night -- at Bishop Canevin High School

View the Comedy Night 3 website, click here.

Bishop Canevin High School will proudly present Comedy Night 3 this Wednesday, January 30, in O'Connor Hall at St. Paul's Seminary in Crafton (2900 Noblestown Road), 7:30 p.m.

The show will feature the following alumni comedians: national stand-up headliner Jesse Joyce '96, Darrin Hall '97 and Justin Janosko '98 of the comedy band The Lifetime Guarantee and the singing comedian Tim Dimond '04.

Grab a group of friends and join us this Wednesday! This event is open to the public. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for all area high school students. All proceeds benefit Bishop Canevin High School as the comedians have donated their time-and-talent free-of-charge.
- To order tickets online via Credit Card, click here.
- To print off a ticket form, click here.
- Or call (412) 922-7400 ext. 20.
Last year's Comedy Night was attended by more than 300 people so make sure to avoid the sellout and get your tickets early. Some tickets may be available at the door but we strongly encourage you to pre-order tickets.
Please feel free to forward this e-mail to your friends outside of the Bishop Canevin community who might be interested in attending.
The Hop House

Bishop Canevin High School is excited to team-up with event sponsor The Hop House (located up the road from Bishop Canevin and St. Paul's Seminary on Noblestown Road) for the first-ever Comedy Night After Party!

This will be your special chance to meet our comedians and to catch-up with classmates, faculty and friends of Bishop Canevin High School.

In addition, simply present your Comedy Night 3 ticket that evening at the After Party and you will receive a 10% discount on your order.

For more information on The Hop House, click here.
Bishop Canevin High School Teacher Mr. Tim Fazio discusses Comedy Night 3, click here.
Jesse Joyce will be on KDKA-TV's Morning Show, Tuesday, January 29. Make sure to tune in around 9 a.m. or visit the BC Blog Tuesday afternoon to watch the appearance!

City school board votes to fire facilities chief

City permits slow construction -- go figure.
City school board votes to fire facilities chief ... aggressive construction timetable for Colfax was thrown off kilter by a groundwater problem and lengthy delays getting city permits.
What is wrong for the PPS to do 'aggressive construction.' The district has aggressive departures. It does not need to expand buildings in an aggressive way with its contractions in the number of students.

Do what needs to be done over time.

This crisis mode from the rash and rush superintended is unwise.

The district needs to be deliberate.

And The Media Says Nothing

Great post from Char about the drink tax and a few statements from Gov. Ed Rendell on the radio.
Pittsburgh Pist-Gazette: And The Media Says Nothing
I've been, by choice, trying to NOT tune into the radio in the recent week(s). It is part of the political healing for my soul that I've self prescribed. I'm a recovering candidate and tinkering with the hope of NOT falling off the wagon.

Look ma, no hands!

Petitions are in the office -- and they are gathering dust, sans signatures.

This is hard work.

Char, go, go, go. I'll slink back to my parallel universe and might even jump into the swim pool and do some laps.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

radio interview transcripts with Glenn Beck

Radio interview, yesterday, with Glenn Beck and Ron Paul about the economy:
Daily Dose "... tell me what’s happening with the economy."

PAUL: "Well, it’s making the correction that was inevitable due to the malinvestment and the unbelievable debt accumulated due to a federal reserve policy. Once they create credit out of thin air, they cause business people, savers to do the wrong thing and you always have to have a correction. So dealing with the recession is very difficult because the cars with a few years ago and we have to work our way out of this, which means there has to be a correction.... "
Read the rest at Daily Dose.

Get on the train

College aid stuff from last night

Last evening, I attended the Financial Aid information session at Schenley presented by PHEAA with additional information on the Pittsburgh Promise. I am surprised that there have been very few substantial changes in student aid since I "retired" as a financial aid counselor at the community college 20 years ago. The amounts have changed of course but the types of aid and the procedures for applying are basically the same. A few key points:

Complete the FAFSA form even if you do not think that you will qualify for state or federal grants. Many colleges will want the information on file before awarding any institutional money. Also, if your child is a 2008 or later graduate of a Pittsburgh city school who meets the attendance requirements, the FAFSA will be required for the Pittsburgh Promise. Even if he/she does not plan at this time to attend one of the qualifying schools (Allegheny County school or state university or state related), plans do change. He/she is eligible for up to $5000. If he/she starts out of state but decides to come home to PA after a semester, part of that money would still be available.

File the FAFSA as early as possible. Even if you do not file your income taxes before April 1, it is important to file the FAFSA using estimated numbers as soon as possible. Some campus-based aid is limited so it is good to have your application in as soon as possible. It also might help make that decision of which school to choose, based on the aid that they are offering.

3. Ms. Hargrave, from the local PHEAA, gave several web sites for additional information.

Eddie Jones, from PPS central office spoke briefly about the Pittsburgh Promise. They are still working on the Promise and additional information will continue to be released. The list of eligible schools contains 65 public and private schools in Pennsylvania, although a number of those schools are branch campuses of the major universities, Penn State and Pitt. Technical schools, such as the Bidwell Training Center, ITT Tech, Culinary Institute, in Allegheny County are eligible. The student must be in at least a certificate program. There is an incentive for remaining in the city system. A child who attends k-12 is eligible for up to $5000 per year; 1-12, up to 95% of $5000; and 9-12, up to 75% of $5000. As the program is further established and the proposed graduation exam is in place, the amount will rise to $10,000 per year.

My apologies to the representative from NEED; I forgot to write her name. She spoke very briefly on the college/career advising program. On February 11, NEED is co-sponsoring with Schenley a workshop to help with the completion of the FAFSA form. Please see the information below:

-----Original Message-----
From: Arlene Tyler []
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 1:00 PM
Subject: UPDATED * FAFSA Completion Workshop Flyer

NEED "preparing the workforce of tomorrow with educational assistance today"

Arlene Tyler Holland
NEED . Student Services Department
PHONE: 412.566.2760 . FAX: 412.471.6643 . WEBSITE:
United Way Contributor Choice Code:
250 . Combined Federal Campaign Code: 33076

Since 1963 offering "last dollar" funding and helping young African Americans learn about, aspire to, prepare for, apply to, and complete college.

NEED has MOVed
EFFECTIVE November 1, 2007 the new address is:
Warner CENTRE, 332 Fifth Avenue, First Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Open education initiatives

Over at my tech pointer blog, a new blog I'm now using for links, I've pointed at and signed The Cape Town Open Education Declaration.
Tech Pointers of Mark Rauterkus: "The Cape Town Open Education Declaration: 'Cape Town Open Education Declaration:
Unlocking the promise of open educational resources'" link

More and more educators are stepping up to make open education a reality. Examples of open education in action include:

Pittsburgh 250 nonsense - letter to editor from Donn

Ron Morris has Moes. I've got Running Mates. I'm going to make Donn a new running mate.
Pittsburgh 250 nonsense - Pittsburgh Tribune-ReviewPittsburgh 250 nonsense

I read Colin McNickle's column about the warped thinking behind the public relations campaign for the Pittsburgh 250 celebration with great interest ("Stop this nonsense!," Jan. 20 and

I reread it with great dismay, because he hit the proverbial nail on the head.

I do not see this region progressing -- just look at the low immigration numbers. The hungry and business-savvy immigrants who can't wait to start small businesses to live the American dream are smart enough to stay away. To me that speaks volumes, as did McNickle's well-thought-out column.

Look at the fiasco of the Hill District "community leaders" who are strong-arming the city/county or anyone else for a taxpayer-funded supermarket near the new arena site.

Why don't they ask Giant Eagle why it won't build one in their "hood"? They probably already did ask and did not like the answer. How pathetic!

Bill Flanagan, Pittsburgh 250's executive director, and his legions at the Allegheny Conference are of good intent and well-compensated, but he is like Nero fiddling while Pittsburgh burns!

Donn Nemchick, Munhall

Council OKs parcel sales to Downtown developer

This is a continual problem -- the abstaining vote. People are elected to go to meetings and make decisions. Show up. Be in the room when the vote happens. And, vote YES or vote NO. To abstain is to scream weakness. Being weak happens because the administration has NOT given the member of council enough information. Then a "NO" vote should happen. Or, a weak vote to abstain says, I'm easily moved and this time the buy-off is too light.

Members of council are NOT hired (elected) to be my voice. They are elected to insure that the voice of everyone is protected. Rights of 'free speech' need to be understood and preserved. So, these folks are not elected to 'be my voice.' However, they each are elected to vote upon matters for the people of the district. They get the pay-check -- and they make the votes.

If they vote to abstain -- then they should not get a paycheck that week.

If they vote to abstain more than three times a quarter -- they should be impeached.

What if the guys on public works abstain from putting out salt on a day like today? They would be hounded for not doing their jobs. By the way, the salt truck just went down the South Side side-street.

What if the enviro services crew was to abstain from picking up trash?
Council OKs parcel sales to Downtown developer Council's vote was 5-0, with Darlene Harris, Bruce Kraus and William Peduto abstaining, and Dan Deasy out of the room.

Some council members were concerned because the sale price is much lower than what the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority paid for the parcels.
The URA is selling off properties on the principle of buy high sell low. The URA uses taxpayer money. The URA often champions deals where taxpayers get less money. The URA is working for the wrong side. Go figure.

The URA should be liquidated.

The URA is in the market and the property downtown stays inflated. The old, old owners of the G.C. Murphy Co. store used to have a business. It went bust. They closed the store. But, the owners could squat on the property and not sell it for more than a decade. When did the G.C.Murphy store close its doors? The hopes of re-opening the store was not ever in the cards.

The property could stand vacant for years -- because of the URA. They all knew that government money was going to come along, some day, and buy them out. The URA was an enabler for things that hurt the city -- vacant downtown properties.

If the URA had not been around, the old owners of the G.C. Murphy store would have shut down the business and sold the property as they didn't want to pay taxes year after year. The property could have been purchased by anyone -- such as a Millcraft-like developer, from the old owners, on the cheap.

The taxpayers get screwed coming and going.

The property is put into mothballs. The sales price from the store owners to the URA is much higher than it should be. The taxes are not paid for many years. Then the sales price to the next developer is much lower than it should be. Furthermore, the longer the URA holds the property, the lower the sales price. They want to flip it after a huge delay so that the windfall can best be realized by the next developer -- not the taxpayers.

The exit for the bad situation is a bitter pill -- but -- the bad situation was made much worse by the URA from the outset.

The URA and the governmental weenies have made downtown "a boarded-up, depressing place."

If I'm in charge -- Pittsburgh would liquidate the URA. Urban redevelopment in Pittsburgh lags because of the URA.

Rudy Running Third in Florida

Political eyes turn to Florida. - Rudy Running Third in Florida Giuliani received just 15 percent of the votes, down from 36 percent in a Herald poll last November, even though he has campaigned heavily in Florida and virtually ignored the races in New Hampshire, Michigan and other early decision states.
I hope Ron Paul beats him again!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Demand the Truth

Demand the Truth Petition to Media: Demand Balance in 2008 Election Coverage

Coach Gordon, Penn Hills Football -- still at a loss for words

Woodland Progress It's been about a week since the Penn Hills School Board agreed to open the head football coach position, and Neil Gordon said he's still at a loss for words.

Gordon, head coach of the Indians for 21 seasons, said he was making plans for his team in the offseason and hoped to continue at the helm of the Indians.

'We were looking to get things going for winter workouts and the weight program,' Gordon said.

Profs: city not ready for casino

The Pitt News covers to the story from the professors at the Univ. of Pittsburgh. Seems that the city is not prepared for the slots parlor. Go figure.
Profs: city not ready for casino - NewsBut what happens when a brand new $450 million casino comes to town? Does the gambler's problem get worse, or are there adequate resources available to help?

In light of the Majestic Star slots casino being built in Pittsburgh's North Side, these are exactly the questions three Pitt professors sought to answer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Giuliani, a pit bull. He'll eat your kids too. Thompson departs race. Alan K does the Texas 2 step exclusive

Crossing Mayor Giuliani Often Had a Price Rudolph W. Giuliani likens himself to a boxer who never takes a punch without swinging back. As mayor, he made the vengeful roundhouse an instrument of government, clipping anyone who crossed him.The last thing the USA needs is a president with an attitude.
In other GOP Presidential politicla news, "So long Senator Thompson. Tip: Take your wife out on the town and let your hair down."

Perhaps he'll play a role in the convention, yet to come.

And in Texas, Alan Keyes is starting to kick up some dust. See the comments.

Is the NFL on the right team -- Super Bowl's half time won't seem the same after reading this.

Is the NFL on the right team? - Los Angeles Times: The rubber business has historically been horrific for African workers, known as tappers, who collect sap from rubber trees on plantations south of the Sahara. The labor practices of the Firestone Natural Rubber Co., a subsidiary of Bridgestone/Firestone, in Liberia seem in keeping with this history.

For 81 years, the company has operated a plantation in Harbel, a company town in the truest sense. Its very name comes from founder Harvey Firestone and his wife, Idabelle. The town received its name after Firestone signed a 99-year lease with the Liberian government in 1926 that gave his company access to 1 million acres of land on which rubber trees grow. The sap -- known as latex -- collected on the plantation is shipped to the Bridgestone/Firestone plant in Nashville, where it is used to make tires, among other goods.

Third time is the charm. What does the mood ring say about healthcare in PA with Rendell now?

The photo shows the backdrop banner and Gov. Rendell at his press conference last week -- an event at which he announced the third launching of his bill to cover uninsured Pennsylvanians. "Healthcare for All." Has a nice ring to it. Great publicity. And a real boost for all the hard work our many hundreds of advocates have done in advancing our single-payer campaign to this stage in the process.
Hearings begin in March.

What if a candidacy raised a zillion dollars and no one voted?

The Ron Paul Internet phenomenon is unlike anything else in recent elections. There have been incredible spikes in fundraising for the Good Doctor and an eclectic mix of supporters continues to look just like the cast of a Federico Fellini film.

Ron Paul is NOT an effective leader of people.

What is amazing to a Conservative voter is that Dr. Paul’s supporters are not Republicans, but a mismatch of political ideologues who oftentimes simply act the picked upon, bullied victim.

A quick scan of Paul’s political beliefs ticks off like a conservative Republican’s wish list. No tax hikes, repealing the IRS, withdrawal from the United Nations, a strong stance of gun owners’ rights; however, the oldest candidate in the race boasts a charisma-free resume that will never garner wide, mainstream appeal.

In some ways, the elderly, yet spry Paul is the quintessential Don Knotts of the Presidential race. He seems easy with the pre-written jokes and sharp on the stump. Paul, like Knotts before him, does not command an authoritative presence. He’s the bookish anti-cowboy during a time in which John Wayne is needed. Or Chuck Norris.

Religion is always a sticking point in Presidential elections, especially when the “Religious Right” is still considered a major voting block. Paul’s religious affiliation is as checkered as his supporters. Married in a Presbyterian Church, Mr. and Mrs. Paul raised their children in the Episcopalian Church, while Ron’s religion (on Wikipedia) is listed as Baptist, despite the notation that he considered becoming a Lutheran minister. Needless to say, since Paul practically “tried out” every religion, voters who value faith in a candidate won’t be clamoring for the devoutly fickle Paul.

The fact is, there isn’t a true front runner on either side of the aisle. Mitt Romney (two separate Presidential compatibility tests says he’s by far my candidate, yet I cannot wrap my arms around him) is from Central Casting. Fred Thompson, who came in second in one of my online tests, watched his campaign peak when he announced his candidacy on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Leah Thompson has more of a shot of being the GOP nominee now). Thompson, an actor by trade, tall and rough-looking by genetics, was touted by some to be the most Reagan-esque. But he’ll drop out soon.

Mike Huckabee isn’t much more convincing than Paul, in spite of the fact that wrestling legend Ric Flair endorsed him. If elected, Huckabee might be the only world leader able to make Kim Jung Il tap out to the Figure Four Leg Lock.
On the other side, Barry Hussein Obama is the “cool kid” to support, despite a legislative resume that’s lightly more impressive than mine (and I’ve so far turned down the various offers to run for public office—yes there have been three or four). The “Smartest Women in the World” talk has been silenced in the Hillary “I already have the drapes measured” Clinton camp. American Gladiators has made resurgence, Clinton says, perhaps she can insult women’s characters again for four or eight years. Jebus help us all if Hillary shrieks her way back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Since Ron Paul isn’t ever going to come close to earning true Republican votes in the Primary process, he would best be served in someone else’s Cabinet. Perhaps he could serve his country as Secretary of the Treasury or in a post that would best utilize his intellectual mastery of the Constitution.

What’s ironic is Ron Paul’s candidacy could possibly translate into some sort of Independent run. That would be a disaster for those who share in his “Leave Us Alone” philosophy. This mishmash of supporters would vacuum enough votes from the ultimate Republican candidate to open the White House doors to a “Big Government” Democrat who will most assuredly squash all of the “freedoms” Paul’s followers espouse.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ron Paul - a quick, easy introduction to the man running for the 2008 presidency - Who is Ron Paul? Learn about the Ron Paul Revolution

Ron Paul - a quick, easy introduction to the man running for the 2008 presidency - Who is Ron Paul? Learn about the Ron Paul Revolution: "Introduction to Ron Paul
This web site was created so that you can introduce your friends and family to Ron Paul. We accomplish this with short video slideshows for the busy professional.
Splendid site. Easy to navigate. Great best-of bits to click upon. Check it out. Unofficial site.

Looks like Ron Paul is going to raise nearly $2-million today, on MLK Day.

Is this the first time Luke Ravenstahl has left the country?

What other international travels has Luke, his wife and Dan Onorato enjoyed?

Anyone know. Post in the comments.

Pennsylvania's Influence Index of bloggers � Pennsylvania � Influence Index#9 Mark Rauterkus -
I'm back. This blog is now ranked #9 in Pennsylvania's Most Influential Political blogs. Last week, for the first time since the service started, the blog fell off of the top 20 listings. So sad. But, it was short lived.

I think I had a better Christmas than most of the other bloggers. So there.