Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Live Blog the Mark Roosevelt interview with KDKA Radio's Marty Griffin

Mark Roosevelt, superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools, is slated to be on the Marty Griffin show today,, 9 to noon. I'll try to live blog here. Hit refresh while the show is on the air. Chat to me via Google Chat or post in the comments if you wish.

The early news of the consultants report has been twisted on some radio teasers. The city is not going to close 12 schools as reported or hyped by KDKA Radio yesterday. The closing of the schools is not yet on the table. Nothing may change for the fall of 2010. I do like the way the P-G put it in a headline. More than a dozen schools are on the chopping block. Sure. But the ax isn't swinging and I'd say the ax isn't even sharp yet.

I sent Marty an email this morning. Here are a couple of questions he might want to consider in the pending interview. Big was sent to Marty G, twice. Red was on the air.

Of the 134 kids that started 9th grade at U Prep, only 84 returned to start 10th grade. U Prep kids had extra attention with the new school. The principal didn't return as well.

Have the first two years of U-Prep been a bust?
Is U Prep going to make it? Should it? (not read on air)
Can the district re-think past decisions? (not read on air)

And, a second message, also sent twice.

Pittsburgh is a sports town. Why can't the district overhaul sports opportunities at new U-Prep and Science and Technology schools -- as athletics might be a splendid hook to get the kids and families and communities better engaged in school and academics. ?

People leave the city in Jr High and High School because of the whole school expeience -- including sports.

WPIAL Teams are NOT like those in the city league. Can PPS join the WPIAL? That would make the city competitive. COMPETITION.

We'll see if anything like these get into the conversations. Update. the one did.

Live Blog:

Griffin talking about big, old empty buildings.
Board closed 22 schools already.
Pittsburgh had more than 600,000. Now going less than 300,000.
More than 4,500 students are going to depart the district in the years to come, so says a study.
Talk about the closing of Peabody and Oliver. Discourse gets nasty.

11:33 Marty went to Central Catholic High School, not Peabody.
Marty is a big fan and very positive with Mark Roosevelt and his efforts.

Some will scream (so says Griffin) "Keep buildings open."

Fact not mentioned: Pittsburgh has closed some buildings (rightsizing cost 20+ schools and Schenley), but Pittsburgh (under Mark Roosevelt's leadership) started some new high schools recently. U-Prep and Sci-Tech and I.B. -- all in the wake of closing Schenley High School. So, many have closed. But, new are opening too. Does it make sense to consider the opening of the new schools in the wake of closing others and closing some more?

This is the central message from PPS Board Member, Mark Brently. Brently wants a full evaluation of what has transpired so far, before going further. (Not on the air.)

Roosevelt: We can close schools carefully and in a sequenced manner. Four years ago we were about to go bankrupt. We had to move quickly. We need to take off line what we don't need. Take off buildings and make staff reductions. Over the next three years, we'll do a sequenced three year plan.

Blog editorial: Wow. This is a central theme I've been begging for for years. It is now part of Mark Roosevelt's game plan it seems. Back when South Vo Tech was closed in haste, I asked that the school be closed over the course of the years as the students graduated. Pittsburgh needs to phase out its schools and not jerk families around. The decision to close South Vo Tech came in June. A graduation happened and the kids in 9th, 10th and 11th grade didn't know if their school would be open next year. Crazy.

Blog editorial: In the real world, the PPS system has been know to starve schools. The South Vo Tech High School was known to be on the chopping block for years prior to its actual closure. The stop the fix ups to the building. The good teachers move to other posts, within and beyond the district. The services and support elements are kept back. Recruitment of new students is put into a big fog. When South Vo Tech closed, there were 100 or so kids that were expecting to go into South Vo Tech in a couple of months time. Everyone had to be shifted in two months time. Yank, yank.

Mark Roosevelt on air: Last time when we had to turn a K-5 into a K-8, we did it all in one year. That was tough. That asks a lot. I would not do that now. That will make the transition much easier than it was before.

Blog editorial: Hurray! Let's make this a new Pittsburgh Promise.

On air: The report recomends that we close Peabody and Oliver.

Question: Homewood, gangs and violence. Is that going to move to a "New Westinghouse HS?"

Mark Roosevelt: There are things in this report that I do not agree with. Westinghouse is one choice. More kids in the Peabody feeder pattern go to the IB School than to Peabody.

Blog editorial: There is a great point or two made on the PureReform Blog about this factoid from Mark Roosevelt about feeder pattern kids and Peabody vs. IB. Question, is that fact IB grades 6 to 12 + Schenley vs. Peabody 9-12?

Mark Roosevelt: I think we can create something at Westinghouse that some of the kids in that feeder pattern will choose. Mark Roosevelt is not in favor of a merger of that feeder pattern without a choice.

Mark Roosevelt: When you meet with the kids at Peabody, they don't like what is happening there. They don't like that there isn't enough kids to have a full band.

Blog editorial: Hungry?

Radio host asked most of my question to Mark Roosevelt: Of the 134 kids that started 9th grade at U Prep, only 84 returned to start 10th grade. U Prep kids had extra attention with the new school. The principal didn't return as well. Have the first two years of U-Prep been a bust?

Mark Roosevelt: U-Prep will be a successful school. U-Prep is an accelerated academy and kids are asked a lot while they are there. Some don't like that. When homework isn't done, teachers are on the kids. Some kids don't like that and they'll move to a different setting. Not all kids thrive in that environment, more of a learning academy.

Mark Roosevelt: The principal that departed was a friend. It didn't work out as a match.

Blog editorial: Mark Roosevelt gave a good answer to my question #1 above. Worked for me. He has confidence in the U-Prep School (of course).

Question: What if more families do being to move into the city?

Mark Roosevelt: We are keeping enough extra capacity in all the schools in the future.

Question: How to fight white flight?

Mark Roosevelt: The problem is not just white flight. PPS does have a waiting lists at almost all the magnet schools. A waiting list is at Sci-Tech. Pittsburgh is a urban district and many are in decline, even Houston. Center city population loss is everywhere.

Mark Roosevelt: We are right on the cusp of turning this around. You can feel it. You can hear it. I got 2 emails from families moving into the city earlier. People are latching on to certain schools. CAPA and IB are gems. Sci Tech and U-Prep are coming on.

Why does it take so long to change?

Mark Roosevelt: I am accused of moving too fast.

Griffin: New contract. Huge money. Joking.

Roosevelt: I'll be here for the same time that a student who entered 2nd grade to the time of 12th grade. (?? do the math in superintendent years??)

Mark Roosevelt: We can be an urban school district to take a vast majority of our kids and get them to college readiness standards. Quality teachers in the classroom.

Gates mentioned.

Marty wants an honorary doctor degree. Joke. The district is a work in progress. Over and out.


Mark Rauterkus said...

Will be on the air at 11:30 am

Anonymous said...

This post is kind of confusing b/c it is not clear what Roosevelt is saying, what Griffin is saying and which if any comments are Rauterkus's thoughts.

Mark Rauterkus said...

You are right.

I've done a re-do on the chatter from the radio yesterday. Who said what has been made much more clear.

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

So let's see, U Prep is accelerated and IB is accelerated and Sci Tech is accelerated... where do kids go that just want a normal HS experience w/ a normal amount of homework? The other extreme is Westinghouse.

Anonymous said...

"PPS does have a waiting lists at almost all the magnet schools. A waiting list is at Sci-Tech."

- Of the new magnets there are spaces open at IB at all grade levels 6-10 (one grade has almost 50 spaces open); at Milliones there are spaces open at all grade levels (9/10 has almost 100 spaces open); and sci tech has space open in grade 9.

"Pittsburgh is a urban district and many are in decline, even Houston."

- I have friends who moved to Houston and the problem is not population in Houston, it is that the schools are perceived as inadequate and not diverse (white families have not been attracted and this fact becomes self-perpetuating).