I was able to attend the community meeting hosted by Pittsburgh Public Schools this past week at Perry Traditional High School. Called, Excellence for All. Mark Roosevelt, superintendent, spoke about the new push for teacher effectiveness and the as yet un-official Gates Foundation Grant.
At the outset of the meeting, I had a brief moment with Mr. Roosevelt and told him congratulations on his new contract.
After the meeting, I sent along an email to Mr. Roosevelt and Mark Conner, Parent Engagment Coordinator. Stay tuned / scroll down.
Some of the points in the presentation make great conversation starters. I'll try to comment and wedge some of my opinions and obserations into the text of the blog.
Before the video camera ran, a testimonial from a recent PPS Graduate now getting Pittsburgh Promise scholarship money as he attends Penn State Allegheny (McKeesport) for engineering was shown. That first person account was from a recent meeting at Perry hosted by the head of the Pittsburgh Promise. The district has been hosting Pittsburgh Promise outreach meetings at all of the schools. Interesting. Those meetings are part of the PPS monthly calendars -- see the web site, http://www.PghBOE.Net.
Part 1 via YouTube:
Part 1 via Viddler: (Exact same file as above, just different server.)
Part 2 via YouTube:
Part 2 via Viddler:
Part 3 via YouTube:
Part 3 via Viddler:
Part 4, via YouTube:
Part 4, via Viddler:
Thanks for the grub and a few comments from last night
Hi Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Conner,
Thanks for the food and presentation last night at Perry. Sorry I had to leave the meeting as questions began. I had to get my son at the JCC after his swim practice. I'll get to and post the video today.
QUESTION: Is that "Cold Play" video on the web? It should be on YouTube.
QUESTION: Is that interview about the Promise Testimonial from the Oliver HS grad now at PSU Allegheny on the web? That should be on YouTube too.
The student in the video fell between the cracks in 9th grade (booted from Schenley) and 10th (at Oliver). If you do put the video onto the web, make sure all who watch understand that the standards for the Pgh Promise have been made more difficult. The 9th and 10th graders of today (and the future) can't slack off and still be 'promise ready.' That has been stressed to the kids at our school -- but it is a very important change and update that impacts the on-going telling of that testimonial for the sake of clarity going forward. So, I'd suggest an extra footnote on that video as it goes out to YouTube.
My reaction for discussion concerning that student as to why/how he was able to slip so much in 9th and 10th grade goes to his 'afterschool sports.'
Was he an athlete? What sports did he play? He would have been NOT ELIGIBLE, perhaps, due to grades. And, a sports coach (as I know them to be in healthy situations) COULD HAVE and SHOULD HAVE been on his back and able to monitor / coach / develop that student so as to keep him / get him back to the straight and narrow (Pgh Promise Pathway).
I'll bet he wasn't an athlete with one or more coaches who were hawks that were looking out for that kid's total student life.
The effort to make 'clusters' of adults in the school to monitor the kids -- home room teachers, guidance, etc -- is what great coaches do all the time.
More than 75% of the boys and aprox 55% of the girls should be in scholastic sports. The national numbers are not being reached in Pittsburgh. And, our coaches are fumbling, by and large.
Plus, that's a story that gets repeated in all urban districts. For example, Philly wasn't a part of the PIAA. Pittsburgh isn't a part of the WPIAL.
Pittsburgh does not have a massive cadre of caring adults watching out for a sizable majority of our middle school and younger high school aged students as our sports landscape in our schools in Pittsburgh stinks.
The push to master teachers (rock stars even), mentoring, monitoring and performance standards are nothing new to me -- as this is what we do all the time in swimming and sports.
The platform, goals and increased expectations you are embracing are splendid. I am in full support of that. But I fear that the sports / coaching support is missing, still, in the PPS execution. It is like a 3-leg stool with teachers + principals/administrators + COACHES / SPORTS / AFTERSCHOOL. You are getting there with the principals and data and now the teacher elements. Great. That's 2 of the 3 legs that are getting attention and fortified. But the easiest element and the
one that will have massive returns is still getting ignored.
Furthermore, what I talk of is getting worse with all the school mergers.
I'd be most happy to talk about this with you or others.
SUGGESTION: Go to Eddie Wilson (PPS) and ask to peek at the 4 different binders I delivered to him in early October: That round of the RFP imploded, I guess, due to a stimulus funds snafu. Nonetheless, those binders make a work packet and hit upon vision / benefits. They are packed with opportunities and potential to get our kids
performing. Check em out. (Swim & Water Polo Camp, Lifeguard Camp, Olympic Sports Camp, Sport Manager and Entrepreneur Camp). That's a first step. There is plenty to do for this leg of student support, and it needs to start with the superintendent.
Keep up the good work in those other areas. My request: The sports efforts should begin now too. And, frankly, Gates can get the credit. But for a fraction of the costs and a much smaller investment of time at the Board Levels -- an overhaul of sports would make a much bigger impact for our students. I'd love to make it so and prove it to you.
Reply from Mark Roosevelt to me
Mark - I agree with you about sports and much that you say below. I will
make more of an effort to push this forward in the coming weeks.
GREAT QUESTION: What is the status on the Title IX report on sports? Is it out?
Have you seen it? Is it worthy of a discussion?
I don't think it is out yet. I'm putting in a call now to ex-PPS Board Member, Heather A.
What percent of our kids (boys / girls) are in scholastic sports in Pittsburgh High Schools?
PPS does not have that number, so I hear from the Athletic Director of PPS.
I think it makes sense to do an overhaul of sports in Pittsburgh while that Gates Foundation Grant is about to roll out. The coaching and teaching parts can overlap a great deal. We need to spotlight our city's mentor coaches. We need to have a coaching center of excellence, and so on. Most of all, sports participation can help to keep the kids on the straight-and-narrow through high school. So sports coaches can address a chunk of the mentoring and overall evaluation of the kids so as to insure that they are 'Promise Ready.' I'd much rather have sports coaches play a bigger role in the lives of the kids than home room teachers and security guards. The coaching staffs can be that year-in-and-year-out glue to the kids. But, we'll need coaches to be invited to the table and be more robust with greater numbers of kids.
Advocate style: I'm trying to connect the dots -- for the benefit of the kids and athletics. Ride the wave, so to speak.
> 4. We are currently reviewing the Athletic Program however, the Gates money is not earmarked for anything related to Athletics at this time.
I understand that the Gates money isn't for athletics. But, some of the efforts of the work at the board / administration could dove tail into athletics as it is going into the realm of teaching and CARE for the students.
-- We need to show the ability of teachers (and coaches) to move students to more advanced levels.
-- The whole issue of TENURE with coaches needs to be dealt with.
-- And, this plan creates the opportunity for highly effective teachers -- as it should also go to highly effective coaches.
-- Coaches can move the students to high levels. Are the athletes the ones in the district that are doing better than the non-athletes? (Duhh. What about data there! They are going to follow kids according to teachers they had in 9-12th grade. What about coaches too? What about college performance in sports too? Would they be shocked to learn that certain sports players in certain sports teams with certain coaches are GENERALLY far more accomplished in college success because of their fitness and discipline and X-FACTOR with being an accomplished athlete / exposed to accomplished coaching.)
-- And, coaches need to be included with the cadre of school professionals as each student is evaluated to be on the pathway to the promise.
-- Mentoring is a new push with PPS -- and we need to hook the mentors with athletics / middle school sports too.
The Gates Foundation money as well as the mindset now being embraced by PPS Board / Administrators because of the new goals -- SHOULD have a tie in with Athletics.
-- They are talking about WIDER recruitment of teachers -- highly effective teachers. New teachers we hire need to be spot on 80% of the time. We need new teachers hired into the district who are excellent teachers. And, hiring non-traditional teachers is now a possibility too. So, a great coach could be -- to use Mark Roosevelt's term -- a ROCK STAR coach and TEACHER. Let's use that wider net of the recruitment of teachers to also include the recruitment of coaches. Then these folks can get to the new teacher academy to sharpen up the academic skills that already have been proven in the coaching ranks.
Frankly, I'd love to see half of the new teachers within PPS being accomplished coaches before hired by PPS. Then they'd get the support of the intern year.
Furthermore, the others who are in the teacher academy need to be given coaching expertise too -- so that when they are placed in new school settings, they are able to coach sports teams there.
I'll talk with John Tarka next.
No need to reply. Perhaps I'll see you at a soccer or football game or volleyball championships in the next week or so.