Friday, May 15, 2009

How frustration builds with a school district

There has been a bit of buzz about the recent fight at Oliver High School. Some footage made it to the web, I guess. So, I dust off my concerns and re-ask on some pressing points.

Oliver is a school without a plan, sadly. Here is one chunk of plans for discussion. The suggestions have been made before. My cooling off period on this matter is passed. Nancy is one of the top administrators for the district of Pgh Public Schools. She helps to launch the new initiatives.

Kodman, Nancy R to Mark


There are many good ideas and recommendations from people in the PPS Community that come to central office. Written proposals may be submitted to the District for review through the Superintendent's Office. You may wish to do that with your 13th year option idea and other recommendations that you proposed in your email.

There is a chair and an administrative designee for every Board Committee. The chair and the designee work collaboratively to finalize the agenda. Topics for consideration arise through input from Board members as well as input from staff. Agenda items align with the Board goals and the academic focus and priorities of the District.

I checked into your question about the "new policy where the speakers get a post-card of thanks and a hint of a message as to the topic" following speaking at PPS Public Hearings as you mentioned that you spoke on the topic of 13th grade as an optional choice for students/families in Pittsburgh. I contacted the Public Hearing Office and was informed that a postcard was sent out to you at a 108 S. 12th Street address on February 17, 2009.


Okay, sounds good -- but -- the answers she give don't match the questions given. I don't want a form letter reply. I went to the school board meeting and gave public testimony. I didn't get the curtosy reply post card, by the way. I didn't get the questions any attention.

Meanwhile, a new public process with hand-picked participants is brewing about Peabody High School's long term fate. This is in the wake of the prior committee's work that was done while sworn to secrecy in the fall of 08.

I was very happyt to get a voice mail message from Nancy to confirm that I was NOT invited to the hand-picked group to ponder the fate of Peabody.

Some of the lingering elements where I would like feedback from district administration:

What about the 13th grade option?

Let's have a meeting so I can deliver to you this concept and you can then schedule me for a presentation to the board's education sub-committee.

Next, I'd like some feedback from you as to these points in a blog post from April 3, 2009.

To save you the click:

PURE Reform: Proposed options for future uses of Peabody HS: "Proposed options for future uses of Peabody HS"

#1 I think PPS wants 150 IB kids per class, for a total of 600 students (grades 6-12).

#2 I think that we can fit in 50 extra seats for a 13th Grade Option as well. So, round that to 650.

#3 The traditional Frick school (grades 6, 7 and 8) would need to stay at Rise&Shine Middle School. This should be part of the counter plans. What about middle school for IB track? Missing element must be proposed.

#4 Idea: Put 600 at IB Jr. High (Reiz), 200 in each grade (6, 7 and 8). Figure at the leap to HS, 20 kids go each to CAPA & Dice and some to other HSs and even CTE.

#5 By all means, the IB Middle School is NECESSARY to making the IB High -- work. Would 600 in that building be okay with the economics?

#6 Furthermore, the CTE students in certain grades would be able to have half-days at school and half-days at other sites / jobs, etc. The student load with half days could be greater on the CTE side? I know that the kids at South Vo Tech often were out of the building but still in 'school time' as they were on the job.

#7 I don't like the CISCO option for Peabody into the future. It is a dead / close source technology. It is too much like that offered at computers at Brashear and the Sci Tech too.

#8 All our efforts in networks and tech should be with an open-source approach. Perhaps a computer programming / languages model -- to rely upon the thrust of writing and languages (foreign, PERL, JAVA, etc.) would fit.

I reserve judgment if the idea of a mixed IB / CTE school at Peabody makes the most sense. It is a worthy investigation, for sure.

The boutique option of only IB is something that Mark Roosevelt wanted, I dare guess. That isn't a priority of mine.

#9 How about an IB Jr. Sr High School with one or two CTE options -- such as Robotics and Open Source Programming. Don't get all overboard on new programs that would fill the CTE menu and eat up a lot of space.

#10 I think we should still demand a FULL CTE school to be built. State of the art, etc. Wonderful for the trades. That would be, I dare say, in a new site.

#11 I would like to see single gender, city-wide magnets for public high schools put onto the table. These could also include smaller single gender middle schools too. Perhaps there is a push for 6-12 schools. It might be present as an option.

#12 Put a boys high school at Westinghouse and a girls high school at Reizenstein. Or, do it the other way around. Or, flip the gender at the schools every three or four or five years. The other option would be to use OLIVER HS for one gender and Westinghouse for the other. Put 75 kids in each grade, 6, 7, an 8. Put 100 or more in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12.

+ The single gender option would be cheap to implement.

+ The single gender option would sink or soar on its own merits. If they get a good program and good teachers, more will want to go there.

+ The single gender public option could and should compete for students with Oakland Catholic and Central Catholic.

1 comment:

deegazette said...

I have to run so I will look at this more closely later, and think/comment about it. At first blush, I like the Rise & Shine Middle School name. Funny. And, although I know I might sound a little "Rosanne Rosannadanna" but I read the suggestions so quickly that I found my self wondering why anyone would think PPS could support an international track program. Yes, yes, I do KNOW about Tracks, and Track and Tracking...It never pays to rush