Monday, June 13, 2011

How to fix PPS, IMHO.

Plenty of new evaluation and pondering is being put forth by others now in terms of our schools. So as to aid in this global conversations, here is my two cents.

My solution for Pittsurgh Public Schools calls for a "horizontal cut." Then re-slice with vertical cuts by region of the city for the younger grades. So, in the end, what is now one PPS for grades pre-K to 12 would become at least four distinct school districts.

Face it, as of now, PPS is too big. It is too remote and big for any hopes of accountability for the families. And, PPS has a board and adminisration with too many different challenges.

The fix, cut it up. But how he cuts happen is important to this plan and the eventual success of the city's educational landscape.

PPS stays but turns into a district just for grades 9 and older. Include 13th grade and adult education, plus community enrichment. Kids from all around the city would be able to go to any high school in the city as the borders of PPS do not change. Raher the scope of PPS changes as it gets a new focus for students of High School and older ages.

Then, make new K-8 school districts by region. I am flexible as to how many districts to craft and where the borders should reside as well as what to name them. Perhaps, for the sake of this illustration we call for the establishment of: Pgh K-8 Northern, Pgh K-8 Western, Pgh K-8 Southern, and Pgh K-8 Eastern.

Each district has its own elected board. Each has its own budgets, tax base, adminisrations and options to merge services or not with each other.

At present, voters in Pittsburgh elect 9 to the school board. With this new solution, each household would elect two board members as one would be devoted to the stewardship of K-8 grades and the other would be on the board with a focus on High Schools.

As a whole, rather than 9, Pittsburgh would have 36 new, elected, accountable board members for a total of 45. These are volunteers. None get paid. All have a duty to set policy for the administration to follow and carry out.

We need more oversight. We need more eyes watching smaller realms of operations. We need more engagement. We need more direction from those who live here, and those who pay the bills.

Most of all, we need more confidence that our students are not falling in between the cracks of a massive district that is out of control and can shaft whole chunks of students at a blink of an eye.

Our present PPS board does not worry about Vo Tech nor HS sports much because it is so over taken with other issues. They have so much on their plates that closing a school, such as Oliver High School (it could be the next school on the chopping block) happens with one 15 minute discussion.

As a clincher to the long term vision of this plan, I think, in the decade to come, it would be wise to some how, some way stage a merger with new PPS (focus of education for those beyond the 8th grade) and CCAC. Interaction among those associated with PPS and CCAC branches is not as fruitful as I expect. There is plenty to do and talk about when thinking about the systems and CCAC too.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

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