Saturday, January 19, 2008

Message from PPS about cultrual whatever

Pittsburgh Public Schools, Division of Communications and Marketing


  • There is an opportunity for two parents to serve on a committee for Culturally Responsive Education
  • The initiative is focused on the culture of African-American children
  • Interested parents should reply to Pat Fisher - - by January 31st
  • You must include responses to the three questions below in your reply

Dear Parents,

As a result of a partnership between the Pittsburgh Public Schools and The Heinz Endowments, we are proud to announce a new initiative in an area termed Culturally Responsive Education (CRE). The Pittsburgh Public Schools currently defines CRE as work that reflects and is in dialogue with a child’s ethnicity and culture. In the case of this initiative, we are particularly focused on the culture of African-American children.

Pending board approval on January 23rd, this initiative will run for at least three years and will couple artists with schools who plan to increase the African-American cultural content of their environment. In the spring, the District will produce a Request for Proposals for schools that would like to develop deep (or deeper) relationships with artists over the next three years as a way of more actively engaging African-American children and their families.

As this is a new area of focus for the District, we are developing an Advisory Committee for this initiative consisting of community, parent, teacher, and artist representatives. It is our expectation that the committee will meet monthly in its early stages before transitioning to quarterly meetings.

Role Description for Parent Representative on the CRE Advisory Committee

The two parent representatives should have a working knowledge and interest in African and African-American culture, as well as an interest in the arts and the role of arts in education. The representatives will be particularly appropriate if they have a belief in the importance of parental involvement in schools and are interested in how artists might increase the current levels of parental involvement in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

If you are interested in serving on this committee or would like more information, please submit your responses to the questions below to: Pat Fisher, Executive Director on Special Assignment at


1. Please describe your experience practicing, teaching or observing arts of the African Diaspora.

2. Please describe your experience in building relationships with parents, children and community leaders inside or outside of traditional systems.

3. Please describe your experience in developing or observing connections between the arts and other academic subjects such as reading or social studies.

So, the parents get TWO, count em, "one, two" on the 'advisory board.' How generous.

Who else is on that advisory board?

Why are the others on that board.

How about if we put ten parents on the advisory panel and then have one principal help to coordinate.

Why not just have the people that we elect -- the school board -- be the people that are on that board. They can work out the details. They can make the decisions. Those are the people that we empower to guide the district's educational policy decisions.

Who gets to pick who gets on the board.

Just as I've barked about in the authorities and with the other panels in the city and county -- I have no problem with people being appointed -- as long as those people are subject to 'retention votes' on election days.

Take letters of application. Pick the people. Then, at the next election, we'll vote and let you know if they can continue to serve on that board in that capacity -- or else you'll need to pick another person -- or ticket of people until the next election.

Meanwhile, there are a bunch of other mini-boards perking about in the Pgh Public School District now. But, the make up and purpose of these adivsory panels are unclear and unannouced. Who is on them? When do they meet? Where are the minutes of the meetings? What votes are being conducted? Who got to pick them?

There is a facilities group.

There is an I.B. group.

There is a high school reform committee for some time. Those people stopped meeting months and months ago. There are times when one or two people are pulled out of hiding to help front a new effort that has NOT gone to the entire committee.

This is a classic case of divide and conquer.

This is a classic case of giving up a few crumbs from the table.

This is OUR school district. It is paid for by the taxpayers. The parents are the one's who have to have faith in the district. We choose to live here. And, it seems, that the administration does all it can to block the parents from involvement in our schools.

The number one reason schools succeed -- or don't -- is parent involvement.

What parents and what taxpayers were at the negotiations with the teachers union? Where are the terms of that deal? When are we going to find out what's what there.

A longer list of parent concerns about the school teachers contract was passed the last two times to the board and administration. However, we understand that those worries were never really talked about in those negotiations.

Then they wonder why the district's student population is dropping lower and lower.

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