Sunday, March 05, 2006

Political savvy and glowing praise heaped upon Mark Roosevelt

Political savvy sold Pittsburgh schools' 'right-sizing' plan: "Mr. Roosevelt recalled the meeting at which he showed Mrs. Fink how Bon Air, with about 90 students, used more than a fair share of district resources and put students at other schools at a disadvantage.

'I remember her going, 'Oh, my God,' ' Mr. Roosevelt said."
Too bad the presentation to Board Member Fink isn't a 'published' lesson. Rather, it is a back-room one. Private arm twisting, even private brain twisting is still private. It got the plan past a serious hurdle. But, the really serious hurdle is still to overcome -- that of the public.

The 'wow factor' for OMG moments need an open stage. That's the missing link in Pittsburgh. I want the boss of the schools to be a teacher and student. And, I don't think such a public institution needs a private tutor in that role.

Much of what Mr. Roosevelt did in terms of selling the plan was in person, in the old-school show-and-tells, or dog-and-pony shows. There was a top down, we'll come to your section of the city and tell you about things and field a few questions. But, you had to go to three to five meetings to really 'get it.'

To get your insights to him -- you had to mount a picket of sorts. The interaction was weak. The real golden, OMG moments, such as with Mrs. Fink, were private, too often.
He said the plan wasn't perfect but would get the job done.
This statement goes to the root of my wonders about the plan. This statement also goes to the root of why I'm running for Pittsburgh's city council and talks of the culture that we have here in politics and problem solving.

I'm not running to get the job done.

Likewise, Mr. Roosevelt didn't come to Pittsburgh to lead the floundering school system to get the job done.

Neither he nor I need a job.

But these challenges need solutions. And, the solutions are going to come from leaders. And sustainable solutions are sure to come from a team of solution builders.

The job of the 'right sizing plan' is significant change. Meanwhile, the goal of my family and that for my neighbors and their kids is an inspired educational setting within the public schools of the city. I want my kids to learn a love of knowledge and to grow smarter and more skillful each week.

I want our graduates to be competitive on a global stage.

So, my point is, the 'right-sizing-plans' still has not been able to convince me that we've got the job done, yet, in terms of making our school district's elementary education system one that is going to insure inspiring educational opportunities for all.

We are on the right track. We are making progress. But, the engine's wheel of interaction and public disclosure is still not touching the track. There is a lot of power in that element that has yet to be leveraged to the overall good.

For example, the movement to K-8 schools has some strong reasoning behind it. But, I wonder if a school that is not K-8 is going to have the K-8 benefits just because one principal is over two schools.

I don't want to be hoodwinked. I know we can't fool the kids. I know that the research isn't 'perfect.' But I do know you can fool and play politics with A+ Schools and others such as Rev. Simms who link up for gains that 'get the job done.'

A 'get the job done' attitude and destination is going to continue our outward migration in the city. The population decline will continue. The family base will evaporate further.

The 'get the job done' school system within a 'we don't have a prayer' city with one-party domination at City Hall is a formula for continual failure for the city of Pittsburgh.

In a nutshell --- I want excellence. I don't want to, as Mayor Bob O'Connor said this past week, "get the guns out of the hands of the kids." That fails my goals and my ambitions for my community. I want to give the kids much more to do and handle so guns are not even an option.

Sadly, the city school district needs to pull itself and the body of city politics into the future in terms of being an engine for creating excellent opportunities for our residents to live free and mindful lives full of opportunities based on determination and skills.

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