The A+ report: Face of failure
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012, 8:59 p.m.
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Nearly one-third, 31.5 percent, of Pittsburgh Public Schools students did not graduate in 2012.
An estimated 42 percent of seniors don't even carry a 2.5 grade-point average. That's a midlevel C.
For black students, that number is a shocking 61 percent. And the achievement gap between white and black students has grown.
Those are some of the lousy results from the latest annual district report card, as compiled by A+ Public Schools. It's pretty stunning what half-a-billion dollars a year won't buy. That's the district's annual budget ($522 million, to be precise).
And the declining performance comes even with a carrot at the end of a long string on a big stick — The Pittsburgh Promise, which guarantees college and/or training scholarships of $10,000 a year, even for decidedly mediocre students.
Oh, and the Pittsburgh district also is one of nine statewide being investigated for state testing “irregularities,” the educratic system's euphemism for cheating.
Outrageously, Superintendent Linda Lane proffers some weak if not shocking rationales for the declines.
Perhaps teachers fearing furloughs stopped doing their jobs, she effectively says.
Or perhaps they didn't sufficiently encourage students to do well on assessment tests, fearing it might violate state testing rules, Ms. Lane adds.
And perhaps a pack of dogs ate everyone's homework, too?
A harsh assessment. You bet. But no harsher than the failures of Pittsburgh Public Schools.
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From which planet is the superintendent viewing this sad situation? Her transfer of blame is disgraceful. Statements such as “Perhaps teachers fearing furloughs stopped doing their jobs,…”. How dare she blame the teachers! Isn’t she supposed to be “in charge”? Isn’t she the teachers’ boss? Contrary to popular belief, teachers are evaluated. Their performance is monitored. And any fool knows that if you’re in danger of being laid off, you don’t “lay down on the job” in your current position. That just means you cannot use your current employer as a reference. As someone who has had to find employment in the professional world a number of times due to layoffs and plant shutdowns, I know for a fact that applying for future employment (even in another career path) requires a solid resume. No matter what your opinion of teachers, teachers’ unions and tenure, these are well educated individuals. I doubt seriously that many would use such poor judgment as to slack off, hurting their chances for future employment and punishing the students for the economic mess the state and the country are in. Such a statement is shameful, illogical and totally unfounded! And the statement “Or perhaps they didn’t sufficiently encourage students to do well on assessment tests, fearing it might violate state testing rules” makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. What rules would ever prevent a teacher from encouraging their students to do well at anything, including assessment tests? I know a number of active and retired teachers very well. And each and every one of them is of the highest integrity. Each now takes or has taken the best interests of the student into account in their decisions and their methods. Therefore, saying that the teachers might not have encouraged their students is a further insult to the teachers, and again, is not based on sound logic. It appears that the Pittsburgh School District needs a new superintendent to address the serious problems facing public education before those problems can be effectively solved. Deferring blame to subordinates is a sure sign of incompetence as a leader.
Submitted by: Peter K on Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Well, where is the money spent? I feel sorry for the Superintendent. Instead of taking action, rewarding success she dithers. Must be Bush's fault.