Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Reports on IB 6-12 and School Site-Based Budgeting Meetings Released

Additional reports from the Spring Forum Series, “Excel.9.12: Community Input into the Continuing Plans for High School Excellence”, are now available on the A+ Schools website at These reports include presentation summaries and community feedback for each meeting. The reports cover the follow-up meeting for the International Baccalaureate program as well as the meeting entitled: “Schools & Money: A Community Discussion about School Budgets”.

Lack of Logic:
Report says: One location for an IB school presents a chance to increase the number of distinct choices that families can choose for their students.

Logic says that moving to one location limits choices. More locations offer more choices. More flexibility offers more choices and more options too.

It is a blasted shame when the school district officials, such as Kate and Mark Roosevelt, get confused between addition and subtraction. As subtraction occurs, less options are available.

Report says: Ms. Reed also pointed out that one of the administration’s initial Excel.9-12 goals, presented in the Spring 2007, was to increase participation in the IB classes.

Golly. If the aim is to increase participation, then increase offerings, increase choices, widen flexibility. Duhh.

I've said from day one that the I.B. program is a successful one within the overall district. I.B. offers students and families a choice -- and that is a good thing for a large, urban school district. I'm fully in favor of I.B. education as an option. I'm also keen on the idea of expanding I.B. within Pittsburgh. Too many people leave the district, drop out of school, and get poor results. We've got to do better and I.B. is one tool in that process to both grow kids and grow the city.

However, the double talk from the district stinks. They can't be trusted to really want to expand I.B. Often it is the case where they can divide and then conquor. Or, in this case, dismiss. The PPS administration could put I.B. into its own school this year only to close that school in the future. It does not help to put I.B. into a school that is a 'temporary location.'

The long-term future of I.B. education is on thin ice, thanks to the administration.

Rather, I would like to see a second I.B. program established. Keeping Schenley High School with an I.B. option would be possible along with a specialized regional magnet on the eastern border of the city. That is called "addition." That is growth.

Frankly, I don't care if it is 'hard' on the 'administration' to have programs span different buildings and located in different parts of the city. They get paid. They have jobs. If it is too hard for them -- others can be hired. However, the place where we need to have easy access is for the students and the families that live here. I want it to be easier for students and their families to go to school here, stay in school here, and even move to the city to go to a school here.

Report says: She explained the coordination of an MYP across two buildings is challenging for staff and students alike.

Nope. There is no challenge for students when more choices are made available. The staff challenges and the student challenges are different and need to be understood.

However, the school district did exactly what it wished against. The 9th grade students who are in the I.B. program are now in a different school and NOT a part of the regular I.B. High School. They made life a huge blasted challenge for more than 25% of the students -- by design. School populations are divided because of the PPS solution.

If the district was really worried about two buildings as a challenge then the 9th graders who are now in the basement of Frick Middle School would be in with their school mates in Reizenstein. Now they are on activity buses and living in a dual world that is a big burden for families. Hence, people have left the district and left the school.

Report says: The focus of the IB Programme is very intense, and the administration believes that it is best achieved with continuity.

Wrong. Continuity might lead to complacency, not intensity. One of the best ways to foster a culture of intensity is with changes of locations. Going to middle school should not feel like it does when going to high school.

Life is intense enough for middle school aged kids without the need to deal with high school kids in the same building. If you want intensity, specialize. The demands, requirements, management and intensity of a 6th grader are not like that of a senior.

Report says: Ms. Reed then reviewed the feeder patterns into the IB programme. Currently, there are a total of 1,538 students feeding into the program from other schools in the district. This number represents the following grade levels:
180 Kindergarten (Class of 2020), ... etc.

There is no such thing as a 'feeder pattern' from grade K to a high school I.B. program. Feeder patterns, by their nature of slots in schools because of a factor of where one's house is located is not about choice. Feeder patterns are mandated choices that eliminate choice.

I.B. is a high school program with a specialized high school diploma. Meanwhile, students in grade K are in a feeder pattern for that flavor of a high school diploma? Makes little sense.

If the I.B. program is a success, people will want to opt into it. If it is flounders, people will opt out. They will go elsewhere. Feeder programs from grade K will not be a way to insure that a high school program is a success.

Natural transitions are necessary for the overall system to be productive for its citizens. Kids that are motivated and want to opt into an intense educational system with languages and I.B. concentrations need to be able to do that -- without needing to have their parents sell their house and move from one feeder pattern to another.

The I.B. program should be constructed as a city-wide magnet that has little to nothing to do with 'feeder patterns.'

The PPS Administration is trying to put a round peg into a square hole. They are not constructing a customer-centric system that educates kids and provides real choices based upon the diversity of the student and our city's population.

Report says: ... the district was very pleased with the current makeup of next year’s ninth grade class at Pittsburgh Frick, which represents almost the exact make up of the district as a whole. The class will consist of 46% males and 54% females. Sixtyseven percent (67%) of the class will be African American with 33% representing other races.

This is funny. The current makeup of next year's class was a forecast. What happened in real numbers. And, percentages are not telling as the real numbers. How many did they expect in May and how many showed in in September? What are the real numbers? How many didn't make the transition to 9th grade into Frick from last year's 8th grade? And, how many affluent kids left.

They never deliver honest numbers. Even attendance figures at ALAs that started in mid-August have never been reported. Shameful FUD.

The entire training and certification of the staff is a joke. Those problems are solved in hiring. Offer contracts in April, not August, or September. Those are human resource matters and the district has been a failure in these matters.

Report says: Ms. Reed reminded the audience that sports are typically not played or
practiced on site at a school, so the logistics regarding sports are no different than in the past.

The swim team practices in the rivers, according to PPS Administrators, not at their schools. Right.

That's one of the many problems. Sports should be practiced within the school sites. Things are different than in the past -- they are worse. And, what was happening in the past stunk.

Report says: personalization is critical for every student and the central focus of

I have no problem with "personalization" as a valued program attribute for our kids and their educational choices. But, the administration's approach to personalization is specialized schools which means that the students who shift gears need to drop-out of their school and re-enroll in another school. Personalization means flexibility.

Schenley was good at this because it was not a botique high school. At I.B. World, if you want to get out of I.B, you hit the road. There is no personalization until you uproot.

Likewise, if you are a student at CAPA and are creative enough to want to study two musical insturments, or change from trumpet to piano, or take creative writing and an instrument -- then you have to drop out of CAPA and enrol in a more comprehensive school, like North Hills. Students can't dual major at CAPA. Students can't change their instrument at CAPA. Personalization works in PPS as long as you get into your shell in 5th grade and don't want to go anywhere else until after your 12th grade year.

They call that rigor. I call it a sure pathway to a declining district enrollment. It is really just a lack of flexibility.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you check each school's demographic page the numbers are updated on the first day of every month and the page carries the date last updated. Just a little something I learned at my school's meetings last year.