Friday, January 24, 2014

We are having fun at Water Polo and wish you were there. Join us at 6 pm every Friday at the Thelma Lovette Y

We had another great session at the swim pool tonight. Adults get to learn and play water polo at 6 pm every Friday night. The game ends about 7:15 pm. If you want to swim some laps before or after, that's fine too. The Y closes at 8 pm.

This week was the third week and we had 11 players. Gave was 5 on 6. Worked out fine. The score isn't important.

Out of the 11 players, only two had been there in the past. So, nine new friends arrived. Some of the regulars were on travels and we understand -- it is the weekend. We want a drop in culture where folks can come and go without pressure. But, it would be GREAT if we had another five or six and then we'd be able to have a few subs.

Some fine athletes were in this week two. Two are 09 graduates of the US Coast Guard Academy and have had swimming experience.

Put it in your schedule. Bring a friend or come alone. We're in the water at 6. Come a bit early and check out the Y. It is new, clean, warm enough, and a wonderful asset to the city. If you work in Oakland or Downtown, you don't have an excuse.

The kids play at noon on Saturdays.

Check out our open Facebook group too: Pittsburgh Schenley Waterpolo. That's where I generally post the updates.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fwd: Register Now for EPLC's 2014 Education Issues Workshops

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: The Education Policy and Leadership Center <>

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EPLC Masthead
Education Issues Workshops

A Non-Partisan One-Day Program for 
Pennsylvania Legislative Candidates, Campaign Staff and Interested Voters 
Sponsored by The Education Policy and Leadership Center

Tuesday, February 25 - Harrisburg - 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
800 North Third Street, EPLC's 5th Floor Conference Room 

Wednesday, March 19 - Monroeville - 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh-Monroeville Convention Center

Thursday, March 27 - Philadelphia - 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
3440 Market Street, University of Pennsylvania 

Education Issues will be key topics for Voters and Candidates in the

2014 Pennsylvania Campaign.


Are you Ready?

Will you be the candidate best prepared to discuss these issues?

Will your campaign material and your statements highlight these issues?

Will you have the best ideas?

Will you be a leader?

Will you do your best in this campaign? 


Learn More About These Important Education Issues:  


Governance of Public Education
Special Education Funding
Intersection of Local, State, Federal Policy
Career-Technical Education Funding
State Education Policy Levers
Early Childhood Education
Changing Demographics
Arts and Education
Charter Schools and Cyber Schools
PA Core Standards and Keystone Exams
Overview of State Budget/Revenue Issues
Where PA Stands on Student Performance
Current 2013-14 State Education Budget
Helping Struggling Schools and Students
Proposed Education Budget for 2014-15
Teacher Quality, Supply, and Evaluation
Equity and K-12 Funding Reform Efforts
School Boards and Superintendents
School Employee Pension Fund Issues
School District Consolidation
Property Tax Reform
Higher Education Governance and Funding
School Choices in PA
Higher Education Access and Affordability
School Vouchers
Q&A Session with a panel of distinguished education leaders and advocates



Only $79 for Workshop, Issues Materials, and Complimentary One-Year Subscription to new Pennsylvania Education Letter.

(Workshop includes one-hour break for lunch on your own.) 
(Campaign funds may be used for tuition and travel expenses.) 


Register online or by mail to EPLC, 800 North Third St., Suite 408, Harrisburg, PA 17102
The Education Issues Workshops are led by Ronald Cowell, president of EPLC, a former PA House Education Committee chair, and former member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.  For additional biographical information, see here.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

School newspaper article: How to save our sports teams?

This article is by high school junior, Lucy Newman, Obama Academy, reporter for the Obama Eagle, January 2014

How to save our sports teams?:

by Lucy Newman
The school board will soon be voting on whether or not to implement
serious budget cuts that could mean the elimination of several sports
from the Pittsburgh Public Schools system. This could include high
school swimming, golf, and tennis; middle school swimming, volleyball,
and wrestling; and all intramural sports including open gym for
basketball and volleyball. Many students of the Pittsburgh Public
Schools are likely to suffer as a result of the cuts, should they be
implemented. According to Ms. Simmons, Pittsburgh Obama's athletic
director, "you can look at study upon study, and they all show the
results. There is a positive correlation between students' involvement
in sports and their health, academic success, and social life." The
benefits of sports clearly outweigh the costs. Fortunately, there are
several ways in which the Pittsburgh Public Schools can endeavor to
keep its sports teams while maintaining a balanced budget.

Ms. Simmons proposes that, in order to save our sports program, we
should create a contract with a corporation such as Nike. If we were
to buy all of our sports equipment and uniforms from one company, and
to advertise that we are doing this, that company would likely be
willing to help us out with other budgetary needs. Such an alliance
would benefit Nike as well as us. University and professional sports
teams often have sponsors in this manner; and the amount of students
in the Pittsburgh Public School system is similar to that of a
medium-sized college. Yet our sports budget is far behind what the
average college would give its sports teams.

In taking on a corporate sponsor, according to Ms. Simmons, the
Pittsburgh Public Schools would be able to continue its sports teams
as they are. Sports, she grants, are expensive. Just for swimming, for
example, you need thousands of dollars of fixed costs in equipment,
including starting blocks and a timing system. You also need money to
hire a coach, pay for buses and referees for meets, buy insurance for
the pool, heat the pool, fill the pool, and implement a sanitation
system for the pool, on a continual basis. It is also preferable to
have uniforms or even warm-ups for the athletes. It is likely that if
we were to get a sponsor, they would provide us a portion of these
costs free of charge.

There may be some disadvantages to corporate sponsorship. One
disadvantage is that would limit market competition, leading towards
monopoly or oligopoly in the sports equipment market. We would be
obliged to buy only from one company for a certain number of years,
even if there is a more attractive product from another company. Yet
companies could compete over contracts such that once one companies
contract runs out, we could either keep our business with them or turn
to another company that offers us more or better help than the first
one had.

Further, a corporate sponsorship would create a binding contract
between our school and a company that may not always be in our
interest. In theory, such a contract would be a relationship of
equals: We advertise for them, and they help us out with costs. But in
reality, we need a corporate sponsor more than any major company needs
our advertising, a fact that they may be able to exploit to their
advantage. However, if we ensure that the contract is fair to both
parties, we would likely be able to avoid these issues.

So with our options as limited as they are, the disadvantages of a
corporate sponsor are more than compensated in that it could allow for
the existence success of Obama's sports teams.

Mark Rauterkus, who coaches the Obama boys' swim team and the golf
team, proposes another solution to the sports budget problem in the
Pittsburgh Public School system. Rauterkus proposes that the sports
teams should be absorbed by Citiparks, the Pittsburgh Parks and
Recreation department. Citiparks has a separate budget and a separate
set of rules from the Pittsburgh Public schools. If our sports teams
were transferred to Citiparks, Rauterkus believes that programs could
actually be added and improved. “Then we could have water polo,
triathlons, varsity teams that could compete at the highest level,”
Rauterkus explains. Current budgetary problems have heretofore
prevented water polo and very competitive swim teams, and bureaucratic
red tape has prevented us from holding triathlons. Citiparks would be
more prepared to handle Pittsburgh Public’s sports needs than PPS
currently is.

Further, Mr. Rauterkus proposes that we have community events that
could gain money for the Pittsburgh sports teams. He believes that the
school system could make as much as $50,000 per year solely on Obama's
pool through having community swim lessons and events. This amount
could more than compensate for the annual costs of running the pool.
Further, if this idea were applied to every school pool in the
district, its benefits could be multiplied.

Community lessons and events are costly upfront. For lessons, the cost
of insurance would go up dramatically, as would the cost of
maintenance. Any major event takes money to plan and organize, and to
clean up after. Yet the benefits that such lessons or events could
provide to the schools could be well worth it.

Finally, another idea for helping save the PPS sports is to increase
the amount of tax dedicated to the issue. Increasing taxes is always
controversial. But Pittsburgh successfully applied a similar technique
a few years ago in order to save the public library system. There was
a referendum on the ballot that asked whether Pittsburghers would be
willing to increase the millage dedicated to libraries. The majority
voted 'yes,' and since then the libraries have been able not only to
begin paying off millions of dollars of debt, but also to expand
services and hours.

And, in addition to increasing taxes, if the City were to begin taxing
UPMC at a level appropriate to a company of its size, we would be able
to bring in further revenue that could make a serious contribution
towards the Pittsburgh school system. Classified as a 'non-profit
organization,' UPMC currently pays zero corporate taxes; it also holds
many expensive properties that are not taxed, including the UPMC
building downtown. It seems to be a common sense solution that UPMC
should pay its fair dues, rather than continuing to give its extra
revenue to top executives in the form of multi-million dollar salaries
and private helicopters.

Despite these ideas, the options available to those concerned with
saving PPS sports are limited. The school system does not allow
schools to sign corporate sponsorship contracts; they do not allow for
community lessons or events that would gain revenue on the scale that
Mr. Rauterkus proposes; and increasing taxes is an all but forbidden
topic in politics. Certainly, there is no perfect idea for saving our
school's sports teams; yet all ideas should be on the table at this

Before eliminating programs that have such direct, meaningful, and
lasting positive impacts on students, it is necessary to carefully
consider, discuss, debate, and compromise, on possible ways to prevent
such cuts from happening. Because it is more than likely that, with a
combination of the ideas presented above and further ideas not
discussed in this article, that the Pittsburgh Public Schools could
find a way keep its sports teams while keeping a balanced budget. All
those concerned with the fate of PPS sports are hoping that the school
board, the city council, and Mayor Peduto, will keep this in mind.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fwd: Commonwealth Court Overturns PA's Voter ID Law- Tell AG Kane not to appeal

From: Michael Morrill <>
Subject: Commonwealth Court Overturns PA's Voter ID Law- Tell AG Kane not to appeal

Commonwealth Court Overturns PA's Voter ID Law- Tell AG Kane not to appeal

The great news is that Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley said the Pennsylvania Voter ID bill is unconstitutional.

He ruled that the law is "invalid and unconstitutional on its face as the provision and issuance of compliant identification does not comport with liberal access and unreasonably burdens the right to vote.

"Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal."

Now the bad news.  It is still possible for the law to be appealed.  PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane  defended the Voter ID law before Commonwealth Court.  She may appeal the ruling to PA's Supreme Court.

 If she does appeal, the Voter ID law may be reinstated.

Tell Attorney General Kane that we agree with Judge McGinley.  Voter ID is "invalid and unconstitutional on its face."  Do not appeal Voter ID to the Supreme Court.

Click here to send your message

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Learn How Nutrition Affects Academic Success

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: NLA Training Series
Subject: Learn How Nutrition Affects Academic Success

You are what you eat. See how healthy foods create successful students. 
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The Role of Wellness in Achievement 

Free Training on Health and Wellness

Friday, January 17th from 9:30am-11:30am at the BGC Activity Center (map)

Come and discover how "you are what you eat" applies to our students and what we can do to help them learn about the role that nutrition plays in their academic success.

Malcolm Thomas is the Director of the Reaching Back Male Mentoring program at Neighborhood Learning Alliance. His focus on African culture, heritage, and pride is a unique and invaluable perspective in our city's continued efforts to close the opportunity gap for African American youth.

Five Nutritional Facts about Adolescents 

  1. Benefits of Healthy Eating 
    Healthy eating contributes to overall healthy growth and development, including healthy bones, skin, and energy levels.
  2. Diets and Disease
    Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult onset diabetes, has become increasingly prevalent among children and adolescents as rates of overweight and obesity rise. A study from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that one in three American children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
  3. Obesity Among Youth
    The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6-11 years has more than doubled in the past
    20 years and among adolescents aged 12-19 has more than tripled.
  4. Eating Behaviors of Young People
    Less than 40% of children and adolescents in the United States meet the U.S. dietary guidelines
    for saturated fat and almost 80% of high school students do not eat fruits and vegetables 5 or more times per day.
  5. Diet and Academic Performance
    Research suggests that not having breakfast can affect children's intellectual performance and the percentage of young people who eat breakfast decreases with age; while 92% of children ages 6-11 eat breakfast, only 77% of adolescents ages 12-19 eat breakfast.
For more facts, check out the full article from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Fwd: Schools are the biggest difference between City and Suburban life

My Message to KDKA Radio show with Brian O'Neil and John McIntire,

The hinge is KIDS. 

The opportunities for suburban kids and city students are vastly different.

Now Dr. Lane wants "FEWER SPORTS" -- and is swinging the axe and might cut varsity swimming, golf, tennis and all intramurals. 

Hippsters make babies, if you give them enough years to get it done.

Will those folks reside here and invest here for when they've got youngsters?

On most recent years, 1,000 kids DEPART the ranks of the city schools EVERY YEAR. (Last year it was closer to 350.)

That's 4 football teams, 2 marching bands, 6 water polo teams, 2 debate squads, 3 orchestras and 2 musical casts PLUS another 150 younger siblings. --- GONE --- EVERY YEAR.

We need to teach our kids how to play well with others and then spend some efforts with the people we care about.