Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Panel to analyze secondary schools in the East End

Single gender schools get a mention, but I'm not invited again, as expected.
Panel to analyze secondary schools in the East End: "Mr. Lopez's e-mail said the group will discuss grade configurations, feeder patterns and the possibility of single-sex 'academies,' extended hours and year-round schooling. He said another topic will be a timetable for the 'transformation and integration of the East End schools.'
Where is my invite?

The option for the establishment of one, two or more, single gender schools is much more than an east end issue, but I welcome that discussion. It is something that I've been wanting for some years and have mentioned in public statements many times.

Central Catholic and Oakland Catholic are REGIONAL high schools in the city operated by the Catholic Diocese. Boys attend one school. Girls the other. They work. They are successful options for families of both the city and beyond of many religions.

Pittsburgh Public Schools should make single gender schools to compete with Central and Oakland. These schools could be city-wide magnets. Then, any boy from anywhere in the city could choose to go to the boys high school in Pittsburgh. Same with the girls.

At one time I suggested that the boys school could be at Peabody and the girls campus could be at Westinghouse. Then every three years, the campus settings would flip from boys to girls. These schools need to be built with a goal of beating the private schools in all realms of being -- from academics to sports to service and to behaviors. Then there won't be a pressing need to beat up on each other, under the same roof.

Now, the locations are more of a moving target. One school could be at Oliver. The other might be at Reizenstein. Then the IB program could be put into Peabody.

But, back to the pressing need. We've got to have global conversations about single gender schools as city-wide magnets. That conversation needs to spill beyond the east end task force of hand-picked folks.


Anonymous said...

Panel to analyze secondary schools in the East End
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
By Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As part of its overhaul of high schools, the Pittsburgh Public Schools is forming a new advisory committee to recommend a "portfolio" of secondary schools for the East End.

Derrick Lopez, assistant superintendent for secondary schools, sent an e-mail Wednesday inviting at least 15 employees and civic leaders to serve on the committee.

Mr. Lopez's e-mail said the group will discuss grade configurations, feeder patterns and the possibility of single-sex "academies," extended hours and year-round schooling. He said another topic will be a timetable for the "transformation and integration of the East End schools."

"Our collective goal is to design a portfolio of schools and attendant support programs for the East End of the city that will best serve our children," he said, adding that "this committee will not be working from a blank slate, but rather we will be building upon the work" of others who have studied the issues in recent months.

Last December, a committee recommended that the district make the Pittsburgh Peabody High School building in East Liberty the permanent home of the district's new International Baccalaureate magnet.

That group made no recommendation about the future of Peabody, a comprehensive neighborhood high school, but another committee was formed to study the issue.

The district also convened meetings in Homewood to discuss the future of Pittsburgh Westinghouse High School and its feeder schools. That led to proposals to turn Westinghouse into a magnet for sports-related studies and to create a Homewood Children's Village -- modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone in New York -- to provide a range of services to struggling families.

In the meantime, the school board hired an Ohio firm, DeJong Inc., to study district buildings and enrollment trends.

The firm recommended closing 15 sites, including Peabody High and its building. The firm recommended keeping the IB magnet in its start-up location, the Reizenstein building in Shadyside. It also suggested sending Peabody High students to Westinghouse, which would be expanded to a school for grades 6 through 12 and also take in middle-grade students from two K-8 schools in Homewood.

The district has said it will use DeJong's report only as a starting point for possible school changes district-wide.

Mr. Lopez's e-mail said the first meeting of the new East End committee will be at 4 p.m. Thursday at district offices in Oakland. District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said the meetings are not open to the public but residents can offer input by e-mailing Mr. Lopez at dlopez1@pghboe.net.

"The work will be exciting and at times laborious, but it will be a labor of love and a rich opportunity to design a system of schools to meet the needs of our children," Mr. Lopez said.

Joe Smydo can be reached at jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09335/1017492-298.stm#ixzz0YRsBo0F7

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the single gender "school" will be more like a program within a school- ie, boys and girls separated for some courses at Westinghouse. There are not enough students for a separate career academy and not enough for a separate boys or girls school.

Mark Rauterkus said...

You might be right as to the direction that might unfold. However, I do feel that there would be plenty of enough students for single gender schools.

Back in the day, I went to a school with 120 guys. Later its numbers were more like 85. No problem.

There are more and more going into Oakland Catholic -- when the economy is tight and money for tuition is necessary.

If the school proves itself, there will be students -- for sure.

And, it does not NEED to be 200 or more students.

anon1 said...

I have to question how cost effective it is to operate large buildings with a low number of students. If the district is to grow it won't happen quickly enough to support the space we will use in the immediate future. I feel in the minority in many circles. We are operating like a super size district, even in the little that has been discussed about the Empowering Effective Teachers Project. Where the heck will all these grads from the teacher academy go to teach? How soon will we reach the saturation point in the principal ranks using the PELA program? When we talk about decreasing the number of operating buildings how can we add to the ranks of administrators?

Mark Rauterkus said...

I do not advocate for the spending of high costs so as to operate large buildings with a low number of students.

We can put low number of students into buildings that fit them, or into parts of bigger buildings while the other parts are closed, preserved, re-sold, etc.

Of course, if the district is to grow it won't happen quickly enough to support the space we HAVE in the immediate future. The challenge is to USE only what we need. Then the next choice is to OWN only what one should be using and might need to grow into.

Anonymous said...

A problem is that you need a certain number of students in a HS to offer a range of electives, courses, sports and extra curricular activities. So even if 85 boys were happy to be in a tiny school with very limited offerings, there would be that many fewer in the remaining high schools. Having programs within a school is an option- ie, the program for boys and the program for girls could share a school and join for electives. But that is very different from the Central Catholic experience and not likely to attract someone who wants that boys' school experience.

Mark Rauterkus said...

If you want a big range, go to a big school. Range is not the focus when the choice is for a single gender setting.

Central and Oakland Catholic have -- for the most part -- great sports. Way better than what is in the city, for the most part.

The same could be true if the city opened a public option to those schools.

They won't be able to offer everything under the sun. But, what they do offer can be excellent. Say in the fall, can't do Lacrosse, soccer, football, x-country and water polo -- with 85 guys to field all those teams. But, a school with 85 is plenty for a few of the options. You can do basektball. You can do an orchestra. You can do a musical.

What are the foreign language options at Central? I bet they don't offer 5 of them. ???

Anonymous said...

And yet somehow Westinghouse, with 300 - 400 students, has been able to field very little- basketball, football, but not much else. Remember that if the 85 students reflect the city, many of them will be struggling just to pass their classes.

Mark Rauterkus said...

To field a football team with 200 guys is a huge task. Once that is done, the male athletes in the building are sorta busy / taken.

Of course, sports participation needs a huge overhaul in PPS -- but that is another discussion.

Perhaps, with single gender school campus, participation in extra activities would increase ten fold.

In some other school settings (beyond Pgh), sports participation is mandatory.

anon1 said...

As a player, I have been on a team from a very small school, fielding a team that never wins a game is no fun. Many of our schools are already discontinuing electives to make room for double periods of math and english, right? Don't give me a small school, give me class sizes capped at 15 and I bet scores would improve.

PUREReform said...

The district's east end panel will for its first meeting attenc the first meeting of the alternative panel. All interested in raising issues involving area high schools should consider attending the meeting tomorrow (4:00 at the BOE building).

Anonymous said...

Did you make it to the alternative meeting Mark?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Nope. Coaching and then violin lessons.