Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Schenley High School allies plan for a fight - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The sign I made and carried at the rally, and what a great protest it was, read on the front:

Consult us first.


Keep Frick in Oakland.

Say that five times fast.

Frick students spoke and did a wonderful job. Same too with the SHS students, teachers, coaches, parents, alumni, educational advocates and community folks.

I am a Libertarian that believes in Public Education.
Schenley High School allies plan for a fight - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review The other key date is Dec. 19, when the board is scheduled to vote on a capital budget of $41.7 million for 2008. That budget includes $14.2 million for reopening Reizenstein, $11 million for reopening Milliones and $3 million for moving Schenley's robotics program to Peabody High School.


Jennifer said...

Thanks Mark for blogging on this. I cannot fathom why the press and the other blogs are not talking about the plan that will RADICALLY reconfigure Pittsburgh Public Schools. My cynical self thinks Schenley is a red herring so no one notices that there are substantial and radical rearrangements coming to EVERY OTHER HIGH SCHOOL. Even the 6-12 idea hasn't caught fire in the press, yet every parent I talk to thinks its a terrible idea. I don't think they realize that the vote tomorrow WILL APPROVE THE PLAN FOR SUBMISSION TO THE STATE. Get that everyone, its not just Schenley that will go the way of the dodo. I am so frustrated by this slight of hand that it appears the school board and administration is perpetrating and even more so by the general lack of knowledge in the press and public regarding this matter.

Anonymous said...

If you didn't make it to the board hearing tonite, I hope that you saw us on tv. I caught the channel 4 news at 11 pm showing the marchers outside and the soundbite of Coach Vitti. I am sure the newspapers tomorrow will have extensive coverage.

First of all, thank you to all of the students, teachers, parents, alumni, and friends who had the courage to speak this evening. Of the 49 on the schedule to speak, I think all but one spoke of high school reform in some way.

I wish that I could quote all of the speakers because each one had something worthwhile to say but I will mention a few that were notable to me. I think that there were 4 teachers that spoke and all spoke about the importance of diversity. Mr. Vitti, along with his push-up quote focused on the negativity of the board and administration which is causing our school system to decline even further. Mr. Ehman said that splitting the three programs will have a negative effect on all three: the tech program will probably die if it is moved to Peabody, the neighborhood kids will likely go to a charter school, and the IB kids, although their academic programs probably won't suffer, will be diminished from losing the interaction of the diverse population.

Several speakers with technical or engineering backgrounds questioned the accuracy of the estimates and asked for competitive bidding. Many speakers focused on the lack of participation in the decision-making progress which directly contradicts stated goals. I was especially impressed by the Frick speakers; they were well-prepared and articulate. The Schenley students tried to get the point of Schenley being more than just a building; it is a diverse group of kids who really want to stay together. Schenley works; why mess with something that works!!!

Our goal this evening was to convince the board that they should not vote for any capital improvements until there is more discussion of alternatives and more complete information is available. One of our Frick students did an excellent job of making his point (which I am afraid I can not restate nearly as well as he did): when a kid makes a mistake, he tries to cover it up. Secrecy is a childish trick. (Sorry, Demetri, I knew that I couldn't get it right!).

Jet did a great job in the final speech of the evening. He researched the bus routes and even called PAT for clarification. The only bus routes that go to Reizenstein are from Wilkinsburg, Penn Hills, and White Oak (I hope that I got those right; I am not real clear on my local geography). the plan was obviously not well thought out!

I hope that each of you will pay attention to the upcoming votes. Although it is nearly impossible to vote an incumbent out of office in Pittsburgh, it can be done. Few people thought that Patrick Dowd had a chance when he ran for District 2 school board but the grass root support worked. These upcoming school board decisions affect not just Schenley or Frick but every high school in the city. Unless you are planning to send your child to a private school, it is important to know what is happening.

I know that I left a lot out. If anyone wants to share with the group (or correct my faulty memory), email me and I will pass it on.

amy moore

Jason said...

"I am a Libertarian that believes in Public Education."

In its current state? Are you sure you are a Libertarin?

Well I am a Libertarian Republican that beiieves in the public funding of education for everyone under the age of eighteen.

If full vouchers were in place this major right sizing would have happened over time. Schenely, Frick and the others either would have been closed years ago or they would have had the money to pay for the repairs as needed, since each school would have control of their own budgets.

The massive state subsidy for the PPS has allowed the decreasing enrollment get out of hand by hiding the unrealistic infrastructure carrying costs the PPS has had for decades.

Anonymous said...

Please read the email below and consider helping us in our battle to not only Save Schenley but also fight the High School Reform that is happening without adequate input. Closing and dividing Schenley will have far reaching consequences that will extend to all of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. This is not just Frick and Schenley's battle. We need our friends from Allderdice and CAPA and the other city schools. I was told by someone that some 'Dice students wanted to come to the march last night but they were told that it was just for Schenley students. We do need you. Schenley is being closed, not because of poor performance of its students, but because of poor planning by the board. Although it is unlikely that Allderdice will be divided, it is not impossible under the High School Reform.

Sarah Antonucci wrote:
I need you to get some info out to the parents, family, supporters, etc. for me. We have planned an organizing activity for Saturday and Sunday. We are going to be sending Schenley Supporters out with petitions to get signatures from residents. We need to show the school Board that their decisions affect MORE than merely the students and parents at Schenley High School.

I'm going to need some help with this. We need parents and adults to both help us collect signatures and help us chaperone our children. Saturday and Sunday starting at noon we need to have students, family members, parents, alumni, everyone - to help us go through the neighborhoods and ask for signatures from the residents demanding that the Board slow down this process so that the community can get the information it needs and gives the input they are entitled to as BOTH taxpayers and residents.

If you have any input on how the petition should be phrased, please let me know, because I'm trying to put it together now. But we need to get the word out that all weekend long we NEED people to go out and help us get signatures from people.

We will also need to print up flyers advertising the petition/letter drive so kids can pass them out at school to make sure all of their peers are aware. We will need parents to volunteer to carpool/chaperone as well!

Any parent who wishes to volunteer to be a "group leader" for a specific neighborhood, please email me directly at sj.antonucci@gmail.com and I will forward you more specific information, including a copy of the petition.

Please forward this out to people so we can start getting parents who will volunteer to take leadership roles for different neighborhoods. We need maximum participation to get the maximum effect. Let's show this City WHY Schenley should be saved!!!

Mark Rauterkus said...

Good point Jason. Yes, if we had school choice and dollars that went with the kids -- this mess would not occur.

Jennifer said...

My understanding is that Alderdice will in effect be divided. There will be no more schools with neighborhood feeder patterns--which is a large part of Alderdice's student body. So All the schools that are currently neighborhood schools, or have at least part of their students assigned by where they live, WILL be split up.

Jason said...

Before you attack me on this I do not have enough information and I am asking this in all seriousness.

Why is splitting Alderdice necessarily a bad thing?

Unless things have changed significantly since my days there in the 80's Alderdice is already "divided"

Mark Rauterkus said...

The bad thing is giving the green light to spend $30-million on a plan that is half-baked.

With Dice, the split might come with 6th, 7th and 8th graders going into the building along with the present 9-12.

We just don't know.

Dice might have asbestos problems too. ???