Monday, December 06, 2010

But the city doesn't even have a springboard!

Dear Community Members,

If you are receiving this note it means that you provided an e-mail address and attended at least one of the community meetings to discuss athletic reform. The three meetings are now complete, and all notes have been compiled and put on to the web (link: Athletic Reform Recommendations and Feedback).

First and foremost, I want to say thank you for attending. Your attendance and participation in the matter means a great deal to me and the committee working on athletic reform in the district. I also want to make it clear that your feedback matters, and that it will be used to inform future recommendations we make to the superintendent this year. Our goal from the beginning has been to bring forth recommendations to problems that were made evident by the Title IX self audit the school district released earlier this year. Change is needed, and we will do our best to put forth recommendations that are in the best interest of our children.

Thank you again for your commitment to Pittsburgh Public Schools and our students.

Best Regards,
Jake House
Pathways to the Promise Coordinator--Athletics
Office of Strategic Initiatives
Pittsburgh Public Schools
341 South Bellefield Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

O: 412-622-3706
C: 412-xxx-xxxx
I don't like to publish cell phone numbers, so I cut that out of the email for the blog.

My goal was not tied to the problems made evident by the Title IX self audit. The Title IX audit was a joke. It was late. It was a waste of time. And, the content of that audit was clear to any who cared far before it was approved.

Opportunities for girls in PPS Sports are very, very bad. Opportunities for boys are very bad. Take your pick. We don't win if we make them equal.

Meanwhile, the population decline within the city schools has been great. The city is getting close to a level point where the outward migration of city residents matches that of those who move into the city each year. But, that is not the case with the school district students where the slide continues downward. And, the outward migration of citizens from the city has been fueled, in part, by the schools and the opportunities for the kids.

I want sports to help to turn around the city: its schools, and its neighborhoods, and its global community. What we do in the city has great impacts on the county and the region.

The Title IX audit presented a bunch of pimples. The body is in the ICU, on its death bed.

Jake can't talk in a candid way -- as I do. Nor can the administrators who have run the sports in the district for the past years. Nor can the ones who have control of the purse strings of the district in terms of budgets, priorities and values.

Finally, for now, I'm not talking about more money either. This is way beyond some financial fix. This is about performance. This is about execution. This is a 'gut-check' -- as most sports experiences include.

The relationship frameworks institutionalized in PPS schools presents poor utilization of time and space. Our sports and after school opportunities are not what they should be.

The VISION, and MISSION and PHILOSOPHY of the PPS Athletic Reform effort needs work. To know where you are going, you need to have some compass. We're not on the same map. We don't share the same outcomes. The voyage is going to stumble. We have so far to go. Journey's are not successful without everyone going in the same ways with purpose.

PPS should become a magnet for growth for the city. People should want to move here to raise their children because, in part, we provide for an excellent sports landscape that is supportive, competitive, and full of opportunities that challenge our kids, especially while in school ages, but even in other years as well.

We should not be about the management of decline when it comes to athletics and sports. Let's turn that page.

Pittsburgh is a sports town. Our schools, its teams, coaches, athletes and boosters need to be as strong or stronger as anyone anywhere.

My personal / professional slogan as a vision is to CREATE LITERATE OLYMPIANS HERE. Anything less, then you are begging people to go and move elsewhere. (But, I don't expect nor presume everyone in the city will drink my flavor of Kool-Aid without hesitation. To have a mission that says our schools should create literate Olympians here isn't going to be put into place unless I have a heart-to-heart with the next superintendent and he or she should catch this excitement too.

Another VISION statement from elsewhere that I could live with:

Everyone. Every day. Enjoying and excelling through sport and recreation.

A Mission Statement (snipped from elsewhere too):

Creating a sport and recreation environment where more participate, support and win.

I think sports reform in PPS should be for the talking and planning of the full range of activities, from SPORTS to RECREATION to all AFTER SCHOOL activities.

I think we need to encourage and drive much more participation, support and winning. That's three distinct areas.
From Chatham-Polo
The statement that came to the group from the mastermind:
The PPS athletic program is interwoven into the fabric of our schools and the community. Our student athletes dream big and work hard both on the playing field and in the classroom. Our coaches and administrators teach not only the skills of the sport, but also the skills of life, and ensure that the PPS student athlete is driven to develop positive behaviors and habits, and to explore their ambitions and dreams. PPS Athletics is synonymous with character and class. The PPS student athlete represent their school and community with dignity and pride, and ultimately uses the lessons of sport as a springboard to succeed in life.
Speaking of springboards, we don't have any. The teams within the city schools doesn't have any divers. Our swimming and diving teams always need to scratch the diving events as we don't have any blasted springboards. The diving and springboards where take out years ago. But, diving happens in suburban Pittsburgh in the WPIAL. And, we want to join the WPIAL. Go figure.

Who wants to teach our kids that the key to success in life is 'hard work?'


Questioner said...

It is very true that something needs to be done very soon so that the state of the athletic program at least does not repel families from PPS, even if it cannot at this time help attract them.

Is Mr. House spending 100% of his time on PPS athletics? How does his vision differ from "create literate Olympians"?

MAC Cosmetics said...
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Mark Rauterkus said...

I am sure that the state of the athletic program has been a big reason why many have already left the city.

But, all in all, there is plenty of blame to go around. So, how much credit -- or bad credit -- is not worth even a blog post to bicker about frankly as there is so much to do otherwise.

I do think that Mr. House is spending 100% of his time on this issue. He is on 'soft money' for two years with a Broad 'grant.'

I'm not too sure how his vision would differ -- except to say that when I floated MY vision in an email months ago to the others on the committee, he objected. So, he would have seen my vision statements BEFORE the one that he later released. That speaks volumes.

No specific objections however -- other than "process."

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Questioner said...

Does he have a solid background in athletics- as an athlete, coach, director or assistant director of athletics in a district?

Mark Rauterkus said...