Saturday, April 24, 2010

East End Open Panel -- solutions for PPS (part 1 of many)

A group of citizens gathered to make an Open East End Panel. The report states: We are struck by the scope of proposed changes that may affect students in the East End.

Initiatives under discussion include:
  • Reorganization of Career and Technical Education
  • New feeder patterns and configurations, including closing Peabody and merging Peabody students with Westinghouse and/or Milliones students
  • The “Big Picture Learning” program including a new internship program 
  • Year round school at some locations
  • A longer school day at some locations
  • Separate boy and girl classrooms at some locations
  • The Teacher Effectiveness initiative
  • Possible new location of the IB program and the robotics program
  • The new Keystone exams
  • A 6-12 format for Westinghouse
  • A social justice and leadership component at Westinghouse
  • Greater community involvement in  Homewood schools (including Homewood Children's Zone)
  • Possible new location for credit recovery
  • Summer Dreams Camp replacing summer school for middle school students
  • Block scheduling at some locations
  • Changes in the Special Education program
  • New plans for facilities
  • Recruitment of nontraditional teachers
  • Curriculum changes
  • Move to “online” school libraries rather than libraries with printed books
  • Graduation in 3 years
  • Various mentoring programs
Families, students, teachers and staff are adjusting to and evaluating other recent changes within the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
  1. Formation of new schools including University Prep at Milliones, Sci Tech, IB (Pittsburgh Obama), Clayton/CEP
  2. Closing of Schenley High School building and the phase out of the Schenley student body
  3. 6-12 grade configurations 
  4. Many new principals
  5. Changes in magnet procedures
  6. New courses including African American literature and history that must be worked into schedules
Real public input facilitates community buy in to and implementation of large scale changes

While the district has had a few sessions for public input, participation in these sessions has been limited. Because the proposed plans would affect education for years to come in the East End region and district-wide, it is imperative that a much broader and deeper effort be made to inform residents of these plans.  We appreciate attempts to break the mold and keep students in school. However, public buy-in is key to the success of any new initiatives.

Therefore, none of these initiatives should be brought to a Board vote (or put in place without a vote) until there is widespread agreement that all stakeholders understand the proposals, the reasoning behind the proposals, and the alternatives to the proposals.

An older slide from lessons learned. What kind of advocate strategy are we going to aspire to? Real engagement or not?

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