Friday, November 22, 2019

Fwd: PPS response to Auditor General DePasquale's review of district provided records

----- Forwarded message -----
From: Superintendent Hamlet 

Much has been reported in the media lately following Auditor General DePasquale's press release regarding his review of district-provided records.  As a valued partner of public education, I want to ensure you have access to my statement in its entirety.  Also, Board President Lynda Wrenn provided a response, which is below. 


I do believe that the best way for me to address these criticisms is by proving myself through my ongoing commitment to transforming the Pittsburgh Public Schools. And while nobody enjoys criticism, I do recognize that it is part of the territory when you have a job as important as overseeing the education of more than 23,000 children.


I also believe that information is power, because it allows us to base our decisions not on what we have always done in the past, but rather on what are proven best practices that will lead to the best possible outcomes for our children. That's why one of my first acts as superintendent was ordering the most objective look at the past and current practices at Pittsburgh Public Schools.


One result of that audit was a clear indication that we needed to upgrade our professional development significantly. Simply put, we need more people in our District to be better acquainted with cutting-edge theory and practice in public school education. We, therefore, expanded our professional development budget to allow for this type of development across a wider array of staff and administrators.


While we always seek opportunities to supplement professional development related travel utilizing grant funds whenever possible, our current spending amounts to .06% of the overall District General Fund expenditures. Furthermore, it is in line with what many comparable districts around the country are spending. The auditor's comparison to Philadelphia is clearly an attempt to make statistics work against the District. Philadelphia is a school district that was under state oversight for 16 years during which time all investments were minimal. Even so, a District survey in 2018, found overall travel expenses in Philadelphia totaled $924,000 compared to the $362,705 expended in PPS for travel-related professional development.  


I recognize that any new spending is cause for concern in a District that is funded by taxpayer dollars. I also know that an investment in our staff development will pay dividends for years to come in improving the quality of public-school education in Pittsburgh. We cannot continue to follow the same practices that have led to stagnation or deficits in student achievement — sometimes, to achieve different results, change is necessary.


Regarding contracts:

It's worth noting that our procurement process for contract approval aligns with the Pennsylvania state code and federal grants guidance. Whether a contract is procured through a competitive or non-competitive process, we still use factors to evaluate the effectiveness of a service before presenting it to the Board for approval. Technology is one of the great equalizers in education. It allows us to more objectively assess how well we are reaching students and more closely identify areas to target for further improvement. For example, the Edmentum program for intervention uses data to help teachers and administrators make better instructional decisions and create a better curriculum based on objective evidence. The Naviance program, widely used in large public-school systems across the country, assists students with college and career.


I believe that it is my job to serve as a role model for the children in our District, just as all educators should view themselves as role models. And what I would like to show them is that even when you face challenges such as public criticism, you cannot allow that to get in the way of doing your job to the best of your abilities. You must be willing to look at yourself with an objective eye and ask: How can I do better? And then do that. Our continuous improvement model includes regular check-ins to ensure the practices we are putting in place are getting the results we seek for our children. We take the information we receive in all audits seriously. We will review the details of the auditor's findings to use them to get better.



Statement from School Board President Lynda Wrenn in Response to the Auditor General's Press Release Related to District Travel

Let me be clear:  the board has addressed the superintendent directly  - and in a cooperative manner - as it relates to the district's travel policy. First, the board's charter states that we are only to be overseeing the superintendent's travel, not that of his administrators. Travel numbers pointed out by the auditor general include that of all administrators and staff. 

Even so, the board, along with the solicitor and human resources manager, went over district travel policy with the superintendent and executive cabinet. Moving forward, the superintendent has directed new administration policies to be in place that ensure there's clear employee onboarding of the district's travel policy. 

As a board, the outcome we want for our students is to ensure that they have the best possible education. In order to get to that outcome, we recognize the importance of professional development. We do not want our administrators to be isolated -- we want them to be aware of and engaged in best practices. The board has worked to resolve any ambiguity related to travel and will continue the most important work that we are elected to do: advocate for better education opportunities for Pittsburgh Public School students.




Dr. Hamlet



Pittsburgh Public Schools

341 South Bellefield Avenue. Pittsburgh, Pa 15213

412-529-3600(W) │ 412-622-3604 (F) │

Parent Hotline: 412-529-HELP │


Saturday, November 16, 2019

Fwd: Monday Livestream: A Policy Discussion on the Future of Local News

-- Forwarded message ---------
From: John Sands, Knight Foundation

View this email in your browser ↗ 

Dear Friend,

On Monday morning, I hope you will join us via livestream for the launch of a new study by Gallup and Knight Foundation, and a timely discussion on the future of local news. 

As news publishers compete with search engines and digital platforms for both attention and advertising revenue, local outlets across the nation are facing a financial crisis. The strain – especially for the local newspaper industry – has hollowed out many newsrooms, leaving some communities without a fundamental democratic institution. 
Using new Gallup/Knight research as a starting point, this event will explore the spectrum of policy approaches to these challenges. 

See details below. We hope you will join us. 

Public Good or Private Enterprise? A Policy Discussion on the Future of Local News

Monday, Nov. 18, 8:30 - 10 a.m. ET
Livestream online at


  • Penelope Muse Abernathy: Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics, University of North Carolina
  • Danielle Coffey​: Senior Vice President and General Counsel, News Media Alliance
  • Howard Husock: Vice President, Research and Publications and Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute and Contributing Editor, City Journal
  • Chris Lewis: President and CEO, Public Knowledge
  • Ben Monnie, Director, Global Partnership Solutions, News & Publishing, Google News Initiative  at Google (Google News Initiative)
Copyright © 2019 John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, All rights reserved. 

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
200 S. Biscayne Blvd, Suite 3300
Miami, FL 33131

Mark Rauterkus 
Executive Director of SKWIM USA, a 501(c)(3)
The Pittsburgh Project - swim coach and head lifeguard
Coach at The Ellis School for Swimming, T&F and Triathlon
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team & Renegades (Masters) 
Coach of the Duquesne University Club Swim Team

412 298 3432 = cell

Friday, November 08, 2019

Fwd: How Getting Hit By A Car Made Her A Better Coach

----- Forwarded message ---------
From: Dr. Rob Bell <>

I fell off a cliff in college, but I was a loser at the time...

Paul Higgins- Having a Kidney Transplant was a Blessing!!

I fell off an 80-foot cliff and was badly injured.

But, I was a kid, drunk, and walked off.

Donita, on the other hand, was a teacher, mother, wife, a swim coach.

She was motivated! She loved setting big goals!

She had a goal to ride her bike across the entire United States! On her very last training ride, the day before she was to fly out to California to start her ride, she was struck on her bike by a car flying past.

The amazing story of mental toughness, gratitude, and perspective, by this inspiring coach, is why I do this podcast. Her story of faith and mindset during recovery will leave you in awe!

Please subscribe so you don't miss an episode.

3:30 Donita getting hit by a car.
6:42 Donita describes the details of her cycling accident.
9:45 Her first true memory after being hit.
10:35 The significant people involved in her rehabilitation process.
14:12 Her mindset and faith during recovery.
16:45 The power of prayer: truly the only way I survived.
17:45 How having an athletic mindset transformed her healing process.
20:34 Our difficulty lies in how we see our injury.
23:42 The perspectives and gratitude gained as a result of her injury.
25:25 Meeting the woman who struck her with her car: I wanted to be able to help her.
27:38 Donita describes how this incident made her a better person in all areas of her life.
28:34 I am where I am right now because of this accident.
28:56 Donita gives examples of how her coaching has changed.
31:45 The questions she asked herself while laying in the hospital bed.
32:21 The parallels between coaching and her recovery.
33:29 The positive changes that have been made for her swim team.
34:13 Looking at her athletes as a whole with empathy and compassion.
36:01 The life lessons from sports are more important than the wins and losses.
38:18 Donita's advice to parents.
39:29 Continuing to bike after her accident.
41:37 Her daily biking goal now: go faster.
45:21 Where I am today would not have happened without thousands of people.

Dr. Rob Bell is a Mental Toughness Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Has worked with Executive athletes, champions on the PGA Tour, USTA National Champion, and Olympic medalists.
6 Natural Ways To Reduce Stress
Stress and anxiety are major problems for many Americans. When stress becomes extreme, your mental, emotional, and physical health all suffer. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to reduce your anxiety and improve your quality of life. Here are six natural stress management techniques that you can try. 6 Natural Ways to Reduce […]
Principles of Use of the ADI-R
The Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) assists with the diagnosis of autism in individuals of all ages. It may also be used as a tool for assessing related disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). The ADI-R is an extended interview that produces a range of information.   The interviewer administering the ADI-R must be experienced, […]
5 Convincing Reasons Why You Must Challenge Yourself
5 Convincing Reasons Why You Must Challenge Yourself Let's be blunt here, staying in your comfort zone seems nice and cozy. And, it is. At least for a while. But, if you want to get better, you must challenge yourself.  We build walls around us by staying warm & cozy and remaining in our comfort […]
How To Not Feel Bad About Yourself (INFOGRAPHIC)
How To Not Feel Bad About Yourself No one can tell you how you should feel. Feeling good all of the time is not a goal, because if we never struggle with adversity, can we truly appreciate everything? Adversity and struggle provide us with perspective and humility which lead to gratitude. What matters more is […]
5 Super Effective Ways To Respond To Adversity (INFOGRAPHIC)
5 Ways to Respond to Adversity I've written six books on mental toughness and in NO FEAR: A Simple Guide to Mental Toughness, the concept of respond, don't react was a huge component of mental toughness. I was caddying in a professional PGA Tour event and I caused my golfer a two-shot penalty. My golfer was […]
7 Awesome Facts Of Super Bowl Champions (INFOGRAPHIC) 
7 Awesome Facts of Super Bowl Champions The Super Bowl may not represent the two overall best teams of the season, however, it does represent the two teams that played the best. The nature of upsets and playoffs allow anything to happen, which is why we love it.  The margin between winning and losing is […]
Stay Focused: How Hall Of Famers Think
Stay Focused: How Hall of Famers Think       The following blog post is an excerpt from the book- The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness        Here is how the mental game works. We are not only working on our own game, but we are also working on ourselves. The skills […]
Accountability is the missing sauce of mental toughness
Accountability is the missing sauce of mental toughness I knew training for my ironman would be hard. I had approximately 90 days to prepare for this grueling 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run. Which part of the race or training would be most difficult for you? The bike was the hardest for me, namely […]
Vicarious or Supportive Sport Parents?
Vicarious Or Supportive Sport Parents Do you live through your child or with your child? This post is an excerpt from the book- Don't "Should" on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness Your child is having a great season as the post-season approaches. He or she is worried. He or she asks you the question, […]
Exploring Four Reasons Why Exercise Really Does Help Clear Your Mind
Exploring Four Reasons Why Exercise Really Does Help Clear Your Mind It's very easy to find yourself in a state of mental confusion, exhaustion or weariness in the modern age when the world can be immensely overwhelming. Why do you think Forrest Gump started running?  However, one helpful tip can be done anywhere really. So, […]

Monday, November 04, 2019

50th anniversary issue of the GASP newsletter

---- Forwarded message ---

Hello GASP Friends,

We've just celebrated GASP's 50th anniversary! And to top it off, we have published a 50th anniversary issue of the GASP Hotline, our semiannual newsletter. This may be your first time receiving a link to our digital, full-color version of the Hotline, but we wanted to make sure we didn't miss sending it to any of our friends and supporters.

Take a look inside for inspiring stories about our award winners; remembrances from a founding member of GASP; fun details about our historical mascot, Dirty Gertie; photos from our anniversary gala; and much more in this expanded version of our regular newsletter. Here's the full list of content:

 - Michelle Madoff Award of Environmental Excellence Winners Honored
 - GASP's Key Accomplishments in 50 Years
 - GASP at 50: Remembrances from an Original GASPer
 - October 1 Proclaimed "GASP Day"
 - After 50 Years: Remembering GASP Founder Michelle Madoff
 - Just Call Him Richard: Son of Dirty Gertie Unearthed at GASP Archives
 - 50th Anniversary Gala
 - GASP's Founding Activists an Inspiration for Citizen Environmentalists book
 - GASP's Legacy
 - Thank You Event Sponsors
 - Spotlight on a GASP Staff Member: Amanda Gillooly

Finally, be sure to check out our new online store with GASP's 50th anniversary commemorative items.

If you are not interesting in receiving two email messages a year with a link to the GASP newsletter, it's easy to unsubscribe using the link below or you can simply reply to this message with your request.

Thanks for your interest in GASP as we work together for cleaner air!

Marla Ferrency
GASP Hotline Editor
GASPhotline mailing list


Mark Rauterkus 
Executive Director of SKWIM USA, a 501(c)(3)
The Pittsburgh Project - swim coach and head lifeguard
Coach at The Ellis School for Swimming, T&F and Triathlon
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team & Renegades (Masters) 
Coach of the Duquesne University Club Swim Team

412 298 3432 = cell