Monday, December 16, 2013

To Pittsburgh Public Schools: Crazy talk and charter schools.

My name Is Mark Rauterkus. My family and I reside at 108 South 12th Street on thehistoric South Side of Pittsburgh. I have a home on the internet at, a Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates Blog and many of my insights are on Facebook too.
I coach PPS athletes in swimming, golf, and water polo as a leader of Summer Dreamers' as an activity partner with the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation and Swim and Water Polo Camp.
Tonight's (December 16, 2013) board conversation concerns charter schools. I have been a big fan and advocate for PPS and Public Schools. I am also a big fan of freedom, liberty and choices for kids and families. In my humble opinion, I think the PPS board should approve these charter requests.
Approve the charters because: The crazy talk in PPS is too great and too frequent.With so much crazy talk and we should add, crazy deeds, it is no wonder that the people of Pittsburgh have been voting with their feet. Enrollment is in decline. If PPS was doing its job well, there would not be a demand from others to open nor attend charter schools.
Crazy Talk sounds like these words from Dr. Lane at her State of the Districtpresentation, "Fewer Sports." Our kids don't need fewer sports. That is the wrong way. I feel strongly that our students need more sports. We need better sports. We need management of sports. We need sports reform. Pittsburgh is a great sports town.
My biggest request is that if you do act to make PPS with fewer sports, then you do so quickly. We need prompt decisions. Make a fast decision. On the chopping block at present is swimming, golf, tennis, and all intramural sports at the high school level. Middle school cuts are slated for volleyball, wrestling and swimming. Uniforms, transportation and other cuts are due too.
We understand that the axe is going to swing in many places. But, you need to know that all are dying now, already.
As Dr. Lane says, "5 to 10 schools are going to close or get realignment" that is code for:
I can't make up my mind.
Or, I know what's about to close and change, but I am not going to tell you now.
+ Or, We have no clue as to what we are doing.
+ Some decoder rings reveal: We have not yet hired the consultants to crunch the numbers to tell us what schools are the most expensive.
Or, to the citizens of the world, the code reads as: “Don't move to Pittsburgh.” And, citizens of Pittsburgh, the classlessness is manifested as: Sign me up for a charter school. Or, it is time to get a home or apartment in the suburbs.
The lack of leadership is both "mean" and it means all schools suffer by way ofstarvation.
I live just 2 blocks from South Vo Tech. Remember South? For 5 years, the standing rumor was that the board was going to close South. South is going to close soon. Teachers bailed. Then word was solid that people shouldn't send their kids to South because the school was about to close. This became a self fulfilling prophecy. Board members and administrators must have had a policy of “Starve em. Wait it out.” Of course we have to close those schools.
Likewise, of course we need to shut down golf, tennis, swimming, and intramurals.Why get devoted to those sports as they are dead end activities. Don't go there. Don't waste your time. You're not valued.
Five to ten schools are in jeopardy, but really, all are frail and falling fast.
Smart move.
About five or six years ago I had an initial meeting with Mr. Gavlik, the over arching Athletic Director for all of PPS. I remember well when he said, "Swimming in the city is dying."
I said, "No way. Swimming in the city is thriving. Oakland Catholic had just won the state Championships. It is hard to find an extra minute in any suburban school swim pool. The Pitt Christmas Meet is big time HUGE. Swimming is suffering in the citybecause PPS has done plenty to try too kill swimming.
Mr. Lopez at the Homewood Children's Village is saying that swimming is going to be a part of their educational mission. For that alone, I would vote to approve that charter.
Above script are the speaker notes for the PPS Board Hearing slated for today, Monday, Dec 17, about three charter school applications. 

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