Monday, December 10, 2007

The point of CHOICE is not being delivered in these plans

Pittsburgh just got more Promising Superintendent Mark Roosevelt said the Promise alone won't stabilize enrollment. Parents and students need more choices. The district plans a new International Baccalaureate school for grades six to 12, a science and technology school and a university-affiliated school.
This gets to the heart of the matter in what I've proposed to the school board in some of my rants. Listen Brian.

When the I.B. program closes at Schenley High School, if it does, and it shouldn't, it will end a choice. There is no new choice by putting all of the I.B. Students into the new I.B. High that is now in the east -- at Reisenstein.

To increase the choices offered, offer TWO schools with I.B.

A new I.B. High coupled with the existing Schenley where I.B. is also present inserts choice.

Furthermore, the reduction of FRICK as a I.B. prep -- or ISA (International Studies Academy) magnet will diminish 'choice.'

The same held true when talking about the stadiums. Our city's landscape was diminished with the removal of 3RS (Three Rivers Stadium) and Pitt Stadium (where high school playoffs were once played) and the arrival of PNC Park and Heinz Field. The math was +2 -2 = NO NET GAIN.

If they had built Heinz Field and kept Pitt Stadium, then there would have been a net gain. The Peterson Event Center could have been built in Hazelwood, near to Panther Hollow.

With these schools, there is extra stength in the choice, options for families and flexibility of staff. For example, our elementary level music teacher is only in Phillips School for one day a week. The other days are spent at other schools. Same too could be the case for a teacher of Chinees or Japanees or Italian.

Likewise with the middle school program for the creative and performing arts. Rodgers Middle School is in the east part of town and it presently operates for grades 6, 7 and 8. Then some of those kids go to CAPA, downtown, for grades 9 to 12. Rodgers works! Same too with Frick.

Keep what works. Replicate it. Allow more options there!

If they want to make the Downtown CAPA a school for 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12th grades -- fine. But expand the high performing school and retain the existing high performing school in the process.

Forcing all kids to downtown for grades 6 to 12 is NOT giving a choice.

Likewise, there a kids that attend FRICK in middle school years and then attend a different high school -- such as Alderdice.

Keep Frick as a high school and put the new Science and Technology High School program in at Westinghouse.

Even with Phillips Elem, our school has two programs. One classroom in each grade is called a 'neighborhood school.' Meanwhile, the other classroom in each grade is called a 'language magnet.' Parents, students and those who are considering a move into the area can make the decisions that best suit the needs of their students.

With real school choice -- and the Pittsburgh Promise details worked out, Pittsburgh can better itself. We must insure that is so. But, we must not fool ourselves into thinking that there are choices when new programs arrive only to gut the good that was already present.

No comments: