Friday, April 28, 2017

Fwd: Pittsburgh Public Schools Update - April 2017

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, Ed.D" <>
Date: Apr 28, 2017 4:59 PM
Subject: Pittsburgh Public Schools Update - April 2017
To: <>


Dear Mark,

Dear Valued Stakeholder:

As our nation struggles with issues surrounding public education, the Pittsburgh Public Schools is focused on improving all of our schools. This time of change presents a great opportunity for us to align with the growing Pittsburgh marketplace and develop well-rounded, academically prepared graduates who can compete locally, nationally and globally. Our city is known for its grit, hardworking spirit, and ability to reinvent itself. Now we must reinvent Pittsburgh Public Schools and put the Pittsburgh perseverance to work.

On Thursday, April 27, we released our 2017-2022 Strategic Plan: Expect Great Things before an enthusiastic crowd at Heinz Field, where we also inducted seven members into the District's 2017 Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame. Their achievements in life underscore why we expect great things from our students - and why you should expect the same from PPS.

The five-year strategic plan is the result of nine months of planning that involved unprecedented community feedback, in-depth data review and third-party analysis, including findings from the Council of the Great City Schools. This planning began with my Look, Listen and Learn tour in August 2016, shortly after I became Superintendent of schools. We received valuable answers about our district's strengths and where there is room for improvement from around 3,500 individuals - a level of engagement that demonstrates how much Pittsburghers care about our youths and quality public education.

We have not changed our vision of graduating all students so they are ready to complete a two- or four-year college or workforce certification. But we have updated our roadmap to achieve this vision. No two students are the same, but each deserves to be challenged and excited about learning. We must set the bar high and let them know that we expect great things from them. At the same time, we must hold high expectations for our staff.

The plan outlines four long-term outcomes: increase student proficiency in literacy and math, eliminate racial disparity in achievement levels of African American students, and equip all students with skills to succeed in college, career and life. We will achieve our long-term outcomes through four strategic themes: 
  • Create a positive and supportive school culture; 
  • Develop and implement a rigorous, aligned system of instruction; 
  • Provide appropriate instructional support for teachers and staff; and 
  • Foster a culture of high performance for all employees.
Within these themes, we set 19 strategic initiatives to be phased in over three years. In Phase 1, launching now through June 2018, we will implement nine of those initiatives. Each initiative is led by an action team of staff members, with support from an advisory committee. We have pledged transparent communication, including progress updates to the public.

We will accomplish the goals set forth in the plan if we expect great things from ourselves, our students, our families, and our communities. We must hold each other accountable. This strategic plan is the first step in that direction. I welcome you to join Pittsburgh Public Schools on this new path to ensuring all of our students receive the high-quality education they deserve.

You can read the 2017-2022 Strategic Plan: Expect Great Things on our website:  

As always, I welcome your thoughts and questions.
Dr. Anthony Hamlet
Superintendent, Pittsburgh Public Schools


Seven individuals were inducted into the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.  The inductees include (Top Row) Samantha Paige Davis, Anna Tarka-DiNunzio, Dr. Rahmon Hart, (Bottom row) Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, Tamara Whiting, Dr. Justin Meyer, and Billy Porter (not pictured). 

School Spotlight
Pittsburgh Beechwood PreK-5

Pittsburgh Beechwood PreK-5 is a neighborhood school located in the Beechview community. Pittsburgh Beechwood's strong academic curriculum emphasizes attainment of standards and early success especially in literacy, mathematics and science.  Watch this  video to learn more.

PPS Student to Watch!
Zainab Adisa Named 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards' Gold Medal Portfolio Recipient
Congratulations to Pittsburgh CAPA senior Zainab Adisa on being named a 2017 Gold Medal Portfolio Recipient, the highest national honor of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Zainab joins 15 other students nationwide in receiving the award, which includes a $10,000 scholarship.  This is not the first time Zainab has been recognized for her writing skills.  This past January, Zainab took first place in high school poetry in the 2017 Carnegie Mellon University's Martin Luther King  Writing Awards. Enjoy her winning piece "We Are Americans".  

Zainab  also hosts, films, and produces TV documentaries as part of the Steeltown Entertainment Project's Reel Teens crew.  Zainab hopes to study international relations and produce a documentary about human rights around the world. The child of Nigerian immigrants has traveled internationally several times to promote global peace through education, saying, "There's a stereotype about what America really is, so it's important that people to go out into the world and listen to each other and really learn about each other's cultures." Zainab continues to get recognized for talents, winning multiple scholarships from various programs.  

Community voices concerns about PPS Code of Student Content 
New Pittsburgh Courier, April 19, 2017 

In recent years, Pittsburgh Public Schools and its school board would make changes and revisions to its Code of Student Conduct without the public being able to offer its input and suggestions in an open setting.

That's all changed, now that Dr. Anthony Hamlet is the new sheriff in town.

Dr. Hamlet, who is completing his first year as Superintendent of Schools, initiated a series of open forums that the public could voice their concerns about a variety of issues affecting the district. And recently, the district completed a series of public meetings to gather information as to how to improve the Code of Student Conduct for the next school year. The public meetings were held at Pittsburgh Obama (March 22), Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (March 30), and Pittsburgh King (April 5).

Read more in the New Pittsburgh Courier

Pittsburgh Public Schools adapts curriculum to students new to English 
Pittsburgh Post - Gazette, March 27, 2017 

Around the start of the second semester, Khalil arrived in Pittsburgh from Armenia, where his family had moved to flee the violence in their native Syria. With some stability in his life, the 15-year-old returned to a classroom - for the first time in eight years.

"It's really starting from scratch. Not only has he not been in school, he told [a peer], 'I have not held a pencil in my hand in eight years. I haven't written anything,' " said Gina Andreassi, his main teacher at Brashear High School.

Though Khalil's is an extreme case, Pittsburgh Public Schools has been faced with an increasing number of students who come into the school system lacking a formal or consistent education. In response, it has launched a pair of new pilot programs at Brashear and Pittsburgh Arsenal PreK-5 that offer "a much more focused approach [for] kids that have had interrupted school or no formal school," said Jonathan Covel, the director for the district's English as a second language program.


Dr. Anthony Hamlet, Superintendent
341 South Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh PA
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"Instruction ends in the school-room, but education ends only with life."

- Frederick W. Robertson
Pittsburgh Public Schools, 341 South Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dollar Bank $10,000 tuition scholarship

Dollar Bank is sponsoring a contest for high school seniors as described in the attached flyer.

The prize is a $10,000 scholarship that the winner can use towards their college tuition. Dollar Bank is asking if  we can circulate this among the kids in the College and Career Readiness Program of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation.

See the link to the one-page PDF.

Read the full details in the link.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Fwd: FW: Pittsburgh Steelers Coaching Boys Into Men Summit on May 20

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Kristy Trautmann" <>
Date: Apr 26, 2017 1:55 PM
Subject: FW: Pittsburgh Steelers Coaching Boys Into Men Summit on May 20
To: "Kristy Trautmann" <>

Greetings!  You attended a previous Coaching Boys Into Men training, so we are keeping you in the loop about this upcoming opportunity with the Pittsburgh Steelers on May 20.  Details below.

(Cross posting, please excuse duplicate emails.)

This session is focused on high school athletic coaches.  Please forward to anyone who might be interested!

Thank you,



From: FISA Foundation []
Sent: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 10:45 AM
To: Kristy Trautmann <>
Subject: Pittsburgh Steelers Coaching Boys Into Men Summit on May 20




FISA Foundation, United Way of Southwestern PA and the Pittsburgh Steelers recognize that special role of coaches in the lives of high school athletes. Good coaches believe that building character is as important as learning plays.

We invite high school coaches to join us at Heinz Field on May 20 for a free Coaching Boys Into Men Training Summit. CBIM gives coaches the tools to talk to their athletes about building safe and healthy relationships and prevent dating violence.

Keynote speaker Don McPherson is an activist, educator and College Football Hall of Famer. A former professional football player and director of Northeastern University's Mentors in Violence Prevention Program, his talk will focus on empowering young men to prevent dating violence.

Also speaking will be Jerry Olsavsky, Steelers inside linebacker coach, Steelers representatives and CBIM advocates.


Bonus: Free lunch, tour and moving tackling dummy demo.

Saturday, May 20, 2017, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hyundai Club at Heinz Field
100 Art Rooney Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

9:00 a.m.       Registration
9:30 a.m.       Welcome
10:00 a.m.     Keynote: Don McPherson
11:00 a.m.     Overview of CBIM
11:30 a.m.     Lunch, tour & moving tackling dummy demo
1-3:00 p.m.   CBIM training

The program is free. Click here to register by May 12.

Act 48 Credits are pending.

Questions?  Contact Kiandra Foster, United Way at (412) 456-6844 or




Sponsored by:




FISA Foundation, 535 Smithfield Street, Suite 710, Pittsburgh, PA 15222



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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fwd: PAA Disaster

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John H

You are receiving this e-mail because you live in the Pittsburgh region and might have some interest in what is happening relative to the scandals at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association (PAA).  You may have heard about the financial debacle of the PAA on taxes, utility bills, etc. and the terrible treatment of 24 students living on the 4th and 5th floors of the building; but you almost certainly have not heard about the plight of the PPA's employees since the newspapers have shown no interest in their situation.  Attached is an op-ed which Mike Stout and I have submitted to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for publication.  We hope that they will print it, but are not at all confident since it casts a bad light on some of Pittsburgh's elite. 

The workers at the PAA are now out of a job.  We hope the people of Pittsburgh will put as much pressure as possible on the Directors, Members and management of the PAA to help ensure that the workers finally receive a fair shake.  These folks have been stiffed and badly treated by the PAA since at least 2011.  

Tomorrow Mike and I and a couple of other will be meeting to plan a fundraiser to help the workers pay for the legal fees in the ERISA suit they are filing over their missing pension funds.  As you may imagine these workers are not floating in cash.  They have been beaten down for so long that they feel hopeless and alone.  They need all the help they can get.  So anything you can do will be gratefully appreciated.  We will keep you informed of any plans for a fundraiser as they develop.

If you are not interested and want no further information on this please let me know and I will remove you from the list.



Conflict of Interest with City Employees and City Schools -- even as a coach

This is from the Pittsburgh's City Charter:

707. Multiple Employment

No person shall hold more than one compensated position in City government and no compensated city employee shall hold a compensated position in any other government except as follows:
a. Officer or member of the Pennsylvania National Guard or federal reserve:
b. The controller may also serve as controller for the city school district; and the deputy controller may also serve as deputy controller for the city school district.
c. A treasurer, or person serving in that capacity, may also serve as treasurer for the city school district.
d. Member or employee of any sinking fund commission or pension board.
e. Pittsburgh public school employees between the months of May and September of each year.

Problem: City workers can not be part-time coaches on athletic teams in the city.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Fwd: As the Party self-destructs

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John H

A pair of top Democrats are telling the 28 percent of the party that is pro-life to get in line and support abortion – or leave the party. 


"Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman's right to make her own choices about her body and her health," Perez said in a statement on April 21. "That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state." – Tom Perez, DNC Chairman


While I believe that every woman should have control over her own body and the right to choose whether to have an abortion or not, it increasingly seems as if the hierarchy of the Democratic Party is intent upon political suicide.  Establishing an absolute standard of belief to be applied to all Party adherents would seem to be akin to emulating the Nazi Party in Germany or the Communist Party in the Soviet Union – toe the line or else.  So much for belief in democracy.  Assuming the Party chooses to do this with the abortion issue, they can apply it to anything.  I'm not suggesting that there are no issues that could be absolutely banned for followers, slavery comes immediately to mind.  But, when choosing an issue about which there is a great deal of disagreement, particularly among people with strong religious convictions, it seems to be nonsensical. 


This is not all that much different from the Party elite's effort to dis Bernie Sanders and all of those who believe that Sanders' policy prescriptions would move the Party in the correct direction for the times.  Unfortunately, the Democratic Party bosses are so tightly tied to Wall Street, Tech and entertainment Billionaires that the prospect of even mildly progressive policies and people in the Party strikes terror in their souls and demands drastic action to ensure that no such change occur.  This is the gist of the attachment, but more forcefully made.



D DISUNITY: Hypocritical 

Job posting for city work w nonprofit

The institute has 3 new openings, find the right one for you
Sent 04/24/2017 @ 12:03 pm

Greetings District 6;

The Pittsburgh Chapter of A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) is a non-profit organization in Pittsburgh, PA committed to the social progress of minorities, the poor, and working people. APRI is dedicated to developing and promoting programs that promise democracy, education, and economic opportunity to those who are traditionally disenfranchised or discouraged from productive citizenship, while collaboratively leveraging regional strengths through innovation, education, workforce development, and the cultivation of sustainable business opportunities.


Assistant Trainer 

The APRI Assistant Trainer will initially have partial responsibility for the development, implementation, and execution of a course of instruction (i.e., Breaking the Chains of Poverty (BTCP) which helps qualify students for employment in the construction and building trades, manufacturing, emerging energy, green, and hospitality industries), and may eventually be responsible for the coordination and execution of their own training cohorts. The Trainer will provide classroom/laboratory instruction. S/he will work alongside the APRI team to ensure that all aspects of the program -- recruitment, training, and placement of students into familysustaining careers -- are conducted successfully and with fidelity to the program model. The Assistant Trainer should have a passion for, and a commitment to, sustainable workforce development principles. An individual who is self-motivated and highly organized, with strong communication and interpersonal skills, will be successful in t his role.

For this position CLICK HERE


Case Manager

The APRI Case Manager & Community Outreach Coordinator will be primarily responsible for the case management of potential and current students of APRI's flagship curriculum Breaking the Chains of Poverty (i.e., BTCP; qualifies students for employment in the construction and building trades, manufacturing, emerging energy, green, and hospitality industries). Case management responsibilities will include assessment, intensive job readiness and job search and placement assistance, and other support. Also, the Case Manager & Community Outreach Coordinator will identify and recruit partners and stakeholders to become a part of the APRI network. Specifically, this person will be identifying community-based organization partners to become a part of the APRI Workforce Alliance, as well as recruiting prospective students and prospective employers for BTCP. This person will be expected to continually promote the mission of the Pittsburgh Chapter of APRI. S/he will work alongside the APRI team to ensure that all aspects of the program -- recruitment, training, and placement of students into familysustaining careers -- are conducted successfully and with fidelity to the program model. The Case Manager & Community Outreach Coordinator should have a passion for, and a commitment to, sustainable workforce development principles. An individual who is selfmotivated and highly organized, with strong communication and interpersonal skills, will be successful in this role.

For this position CLICK HERE


Communications and Development  Coordinatior

The APRI Communications and Development Coordinator position has a strong emphasis on marketing and communications to promote the APRI mission and expand APRI's network of support. This person will manage various means of internal and external communication, and will also manage assigned fundraising activities. S/he will work alongside the APRI team to ensure that all aspects of the program -- recruitment, training, and placement of students into family-sustaining careers -- are conducted successfully and with fidelity to the program model. The Communications and Development Coordinator should have a passion for, and a commitment to, sustainable workforce development principles. An individual who is selfmotivated and highly organized, with strong communication and interpersonal skills, will be successful in this role.

For this position CLICK HERE


Fwd: Read carefully

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John H

This attachment is an article which should be read carefully.  It is a relatively succinct explanation of the situation of every non-ruling class American today.  It also provides a bit of history showing that not much has really changed over the years.



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Fwd: Yes, it has already happened . . .

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John H.

Many of us believe that the United States is devolving into little more than a third-world country with a small wealthy minority class and a much larger class of disadvantaged and disenfranchised who have essentially no say in the policies which impact them and little or no capacity to rise out of their present situation.  In some nations this is known as a caste system, in others quasi-serfdom; or, as it might be termed, neo-serfdom.  The attached piece explains that this is not just coming to America, it has arrived.  If this is permitted to become entrenched as the cultural norm, as is the neoliberal plan, there will be little which can be done to change matters down the road.  This is why it is urgent that we close ranks now and act as one people to rise up and return the promise of hope and freedom which we were finally able to sniff the virtues of following World War Two up until the neoliberal takeover in the late 1970s.  There is no time to lose.  We must set aside our differences now to have any hope of seeing real change in the lifetimes of our children.  There is much to gain and little to lose – do not go silent into the night.



Friday, April 21, 2017

Fwd: The present danger -- neoliberalism

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John H.

To be sure, we live in difficult and dangerous times – times when the forces of power-mad greed seem determined to do whatever is necessary to destroy the world and those in it just for their own acquisition of more power and more stuff.  It is a time when intentional ignorance is seen as a blessing and not a curse; when 'entertainment' is the chief source of knowledge; when service of the self is the highest form of art and accomplishment; a time, in short, where despair creeps ever closer to the surface and seems to call for political action.  But what kind of action can be raised against arrayed forces of neoliberalism?

The neoliberal mantra has come to dominate not just this nation but most of the developed world.  It is a pervasive monster which seeks to dominate all thought and action by rendering the populace incapable of thinking of anything but themselves and their own entertainment or, in far too many instances, their own survival.  The commons be damned, the market is all.  It is all-knowing and all-powerful, to be worshiped as a god of old.  Government exist only to protect the markets and market players (that is the powerful market players) alone.  Those who are not themselves winners in this market-take-all economy are deemed to be surplus – to be cast aside as unnecessary, and perhaps unfortunate, losers; but losers nonetheless, whose survival is of little or no concern of the state.

This is the system under which we have all been subsumed and must now fight our way out of if we are to survive as a viable people.  Henry Giroux offers some helpful suggestions in the first attachment – suggestions we should, I believe, take very seriously.  The second article asks a simple, but important, question – Why aren't Bernie Sanders style Democrats getting more support from Party leaders?  I think most of us know the answer, but it is critical to overcome this impediment if there is any hope for the existing electoral system to work for us in the near future.



Fwd: War and Debt

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John H

What more can we ask for beyond the prospect of nuclear war and more unforgiveable student debt – life is so good here in this land of the terrified and home of the arrogant.  Endless hubris would seem to be our fate.



Fwd: Best yet on Russia

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John H

Attached is the best article I have yet run across concerning Russia and the U.S.  It is vital in this time of anti-Russian hysteria to understand just what is at stake in this insanity of political craziness now sweeping the nation.



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Fwd: Our great friend and Ally

---------- Forwarded
From John H.

There are some questions which never seem to be raised in this nation, but the biggest has to do with our great 'friend' and 'ally' Israel.  Perhaps the time has come to change that before it is too late – if it isn't already.



Fwd: Changed my thinking

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: John H

The attached post has caused me to rethink my position relative to what can best be termed 'Hillarycrats', not the DNC or the elitist leaders of the Democratic Party and the moneyed interests they represent, but those who supported Hillary and Obama in the past three elections.  I also was duped into voting for Obama and even voted for him a second time when I know full well that he misrepresented virtually everything he promised to do as president, but I could not do so for Hillary (I did not vote for Trump).  However, Anthony Dimaggio makes a very persuasive case that dissing Hillary supporters out of some so-called 'principle' is an almost certain route to failure in the effort to seek progressive change in this society.  It has essentially the same effect that Hillary's use of the term 'deplorables' to describe working folks who supported Trump.  If we can't find some way to unite against the power of the moneyed interests and their political lackeys, failure is almost assured. 

This means not just working with mainstream Democrats (not the political elitists), but also making alliances with rural working class folks who, after thirty years of being ignored and dissed by the Democratic Party, deserted the Party and supported Trump in this past election.  The simple fact is that no single group of us can accomplish anything acting alone or simply by focusing on 'identity politics'  where each siloed interest group acts as if their particular interest is the only one which matters.  This is just what our rulers want us to do.  Acting alone simply renders all of us politically impotent.  We must make every effort to achieve a significant level of solidarity and push from the bottom up to force the powers that be to change.  This will require that we, all of us, adopt new attitudes of the collective good, to support one another wherever we can and not fight over whose movement is more important – they all are.  It is only by acting together that we have any chance of achieving our goals.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fwd: [Art-All-Night] Art All Night Needs Your Help!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Art All Night"

Less than two weeks remain until the 20th annual Art All Night! This year's show will be held April 29th - 30th, at a brand new location: 85 36th Street in Lawrenceville. As always, the show will be open to the public from 4 p.m. Saturday until 2 p.m. Sunday, offering lots of opportunities to view and create art, hear music, and meet friends, as well as everything else you love about one of Pittsburgh's best and most unique events. 

But we can't do it without YOUR help! Art All Night is run 100% by volunteers and requires many people to pitch in. Volunteer shifts are as short as two hours, though of course you're welcome to sign up for multiple shifts. There are many different jobs available for people of all abilities and interests. 

We welcome and appreciate whatever time you are able to volunteer, but we are especially in need of volunteers on the shifts between midnight and 6 a.m. If you're a night owl, please consider signing up during this time! We'll provide caffeinated beverages, water, and snacks throughout the night as well as a catered breakfast (with vegan options). 

You can see what jobs and shifts are available on the volunteer section of our website: 

All volunteers get a free t-shirt and are in a perfect position to keep enjoying all that Art All Night has to offer before and after their shift. 

See you at the show!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fwd: Endless war and more

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John H

The two attachments document the futility of wars initiated by the United States for the past 15 or so years as well as the prospect for ever more, even more destructive wars to come.  In the second article Mike Whitney makes some assertions which many will have qualms about.  First of all, he fails to mention that the Korean 'Police Action' was initiated by an attack on South Korea by the North, which was joined by China when it appeared that the North was about to lose.  Second, he doesn't mention that North Korea is without question a despicable dictatorship, like other despicable dictatorships we claim to be overthrowing in the name of 'spreading democracy', even though no democracy seems to be forthcoming anywhere we have injected our military 'assistance'.  Virtually everything else in Whitney's article is accurate and unreported in the main stream media of the United States.  In this sense, North Korea has every reason to be terrified of the United States based on their experiences in the past.  So don't discount their desire for nuclear weapons as necessarily an aggressive move toward their neighbors.

There is a reason why the United States is viewed by most of the rest of the world as the primary threat to peace.  Even today U.S. Representative Adam Kinsinger, a Republican member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, acknowledged in an interview with CNN that the Russian military was simply no match for the American military.  This confirms Vladimir Putin's assertion that, in the event of a conflict with the United States, Russia would have no alternative but to resort to nuclear weapons.  Yet many U.S. politicians in both political parties and many high-ranking military personnel are determined to push the U.S. into just this sort of a conflict with both Russia and China.  This is, in my opinion, both a stupid and potentially catastrophic policy, similar to those which led to World War I in Europe.  Somehow the American people must wake up and realize our so-called allies in the Middle East are determined take us into arenas where any sensible person should be terrified to go.  Our desperate determination to rule the world will not produce any benefits for anyone other than war contractors and even those will be short-term and temporary.



  • Remind us how this ends
  • The problem is Washington, not North Korea