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Tag Archive: Post-Gazette

  1. “We are a simple minded, mean-spirited people.”

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    Rick Wertheimer (founding principal of City Charter High School and author of The Principal’s Office) hits the nail on the head today with his post about the Post-Gazette’s wrong-headed editorial claiming that “suspension has a role in keeping order.”

    Our research in Pittsburgh’s schools, and research done by many others including the ACLU of Pennsylvania and  UCLA Civil Rights Project, has shown that suspension rates are more predicted by the practices of adults in the building than student behavior.

    What Dr. Wertheimer’s post lays out so effectively is the inherent institutional bias that underlies arguments for “getting tough on kids.”

    We are a simple minded, mean-spirited people. It is easier to blame the child… or the child’s parent. It is more nuanced to blame the lack of jobs, the breakup of families, the lack of ability of schools to be sensitive to the mental/physical/emotional health of all of its students. How dare the Post-Gazette use its bully pulpit to encourage removing children before they encourage schools to become healthy supportive institutions.

    We know what works, and suspension for minor infractions, isn’t it. Schools with principals reporting effective restorative practices, were more likely to have much lower out of school suspension rates, and reported better teaching and learning environments:

    Out of school suspensions

    But don’t just take it from us. Read the words of a local parent who wrote the following after reading the Post-Gazette’s editorial:

    The editorial board, in their piece, “A Place to Learn – Student Suspension has a role in keeping order”, Feb 25th, suffer from the same point of view that many educators and administrators in Pittsburgh Public Schools do. “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail” – Abraham Maslow.

    As a mother of two special needs children who suffered neglect as infants and toddlers, and who has seen what their history has wrought in behavior and learning deficits, I can tell you that the typical “no tolerance” policy in PPS or even the disciplinary system under which I was educated 40 years ago cannot and will not help children who come from an a-typical environment.

    A-typical can be children who live in neighborhoods that are stressed, who have two working parents or single parent households, uneducated or undereducated households, living under the poverty line (28% in Pittsburgh), caring for ill family members, even one-time witnesses to violence, just to name a few. And who of us has not seen our children go through difficult periods when “an event” has taken our kids off the rails?

    Pittsburgh children are stressed, as are all children, in ways that can be addressed by non-punitive, restorative justice and not by police. Police are for adult crimes. Children need thoughtful child behavior specialists setting the bar for discipline in schools. Children need thoughtful, communicative school administrators and teachers who are willing to do the work to create a better school environment that in the long run will make for a better neighborhood environment.

    Better students will not suffer, but will also profit short and long term if restorative practices become the norm. What child wouldn’t profit from learning how to “repair the harm, address the conflict, meet the needs to repair and restore relationships and the community?”

    The data and research is clear about how to help children grow into better adjusted adults. Is it easy? I can tell you, after five years of adjustment with my children, that it is not. But the rewards are astounding. PPS and the PG Editorial Board just have to stop seeing everything as a nail and put down their hammers.

    We agree. Let’s put down our hammers and follow the example of principals and schools within our own district that are working on changing school discipline so that it’s proactive, that it teaches children to make amends, and that helps children learn the social and emotional skills they’ll need to be successful in life.

  2. “A+ Schools is both an advocate and a watchdog”

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    “Thanks to the independent work and data of A+ Schools, the district is better able to identify its challenges and develop action plans in response.”

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 22, 2014

    This Thanksgiving we’re grateful for the friends and supporters who stand with us as we push to change a status quo that is not working for too many of our students. We’re grateful for students who are pushing for changes that will lead to better character development and safer schools. We’re grateful for parents who are volunteering at high needs schools to support the staff and students to help create better outcomes for children. We’re grateful for teachers who are holding high expectations for students and closing gaps in schools across the District. And we’re grateful to you, our community, who believe that poverty is not destiny and that education is the key to unlocking a better future for all of our students.

    In order to make the change we seek, we believe you have to start with knowing what is going on. Our 10th Anniversary Edition of the Report to Community on Public School Progress provides more information than ever before. We hope it sparks conversation, spurs advocacy, and inspires you to ask good questions of your school board member and administration. Below are a variety of additional resources to help you understand what’s in the Report.


    Request a Presentation

    We’ll come to you with a tailored presentation of the information for your school or community group. Click here to make a request.

    A/V Resources

    Video: Overview of the Report to the Community and Key Findings (November 17, 2014 Press Conference)

    Audio: Telephone Town Hall with Carey and Dr. Lane

    Web: Compare school data online.  NEW!!!!

    News Roundup

    New learning gap: The performance between city schools is troubling

    Report highlights wide gaps among Pittsburgh schools

    Pittsburgh Public Schools improving

    A+ Schools Releases Annual Report on Pittsburgh Public Schools

    PPS Shows Progress, But Not Equally Among Schools

    Annual schools report shows academic achievement down locally, across state

    A+ Schools Report: UPrep Westinghouse Lag Behind