Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Cheating for the charter schools

I found this story on Slog:

Schools must hit certain targets at every tested grade level to make AYP. But for a district to meet the benchmark, it needs only to hit targets in one of three grade spans: grades 3-5, 4-6 or 9-12.

Under Pennsylvania law, every charter school is considered its own district. So by using the grade span methodology, about 59 percent of charters made AYP — a figure that supporters touted, comparing it with the 50 percent of traditional schools that hit the target.

Yet only 37 percent of charters would have made AYP under the individual school method.

I’ve never been a fan of charter schools, they tend to wreck the financial system of public schools, bringing everyone down.  But I don’t know enough about the system to really be able to debate more than that.

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Shame on IUP Professor

A professor at the Eberly graduate college of business is accused of making harassing and homophobic remarks to a student.  IUP is investigating, and good for the students who rallied today after words spread of the incident.  KDKA covers the story here.

IUP is a public school: our tax dollars help to pay for it as part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and from what I’ve heard from some current students, a fairly tolerant place (and their actions today show that).  However, for this professor to spout off like this, at a public institution, is reprehensible.

If you’d like to contact the Dean of the school (be respectful!), his contact info is here and his direct e-mail is

Update: A second student has come forward with similar accusations.  I have the link at home, I’ll be updating more later tonight.

Here’s the link to the follow-up story.  Five years ago, the same happened to another student, who complained to the school, although it seems nothing was done.  He has a fantastic quote:

“You see teenagers and college students committing suicide because they don’t feel accepted, and you know we just can’t afford to lose another life to bullying,” said Michael Heller. “Especially from a university professor – a tenured university professor – who should be teaching business not bigotry.”

The passing of William S. Dietrich II

We just learned here at work that Bill Dietrich passed away last night.  Mr. Dietrich was a former steel executive, and major philantropist to the Pittsburgh region, including large gifts to CMU and Pitt.  He was a member of our board and also a major donor. In fact, our board room was just renamed in his honor, and will feature a newly commissioned work of art featuring Mr. Dietrich and his passions: higher education, Scouting, The Marines (I think that’s the flag), the Pittsburgh Ballet and the PSO.

The flags Council Flag at Flag Plaza is at half staff today in his memory.

The Post-Gazette has a small write-up, with a follow up coming tomorrow.

My Alma Matter rallies together

My Alma Matter (at least for K-4) is banding together to help a fellow classmate, 9 year old Jasmine, who is recovering from her second of three surgeries to take care of a brain tumor.

The students, teachers and parents held a bingo night, and will be holding multiple dinner fundraisers in the fall as well.  As I find out about more events, I’ll post details here.

WTAE has the story here.

The Midwest In A Global World

Jim Russell posted a link to Dick Longworth’s interview on Chigago Public Radio about his new book called, Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism. Dick seems to be thinking about a lot of the things I have since I came to Pittsburgh more than 4 years ago. The entire center of the country seems to be slipping off the global map and losing it’s vital connections to the world, right at the moment it needs them most.

The world only seems to be flat for those regions that are interested in actively embracing it and doing everything they can to stay actively linked to it.

Jim posted this on Rust Belt Bloggers.

Failing Our Kids

Anyone who has seen the South Side Barf walk should be concerned about this issue. We fall behind again. Are we preared to do what it takes to attract kids to Pittsburgh?

Colleges and the city

I did an early post on here about why I consider Point Park to be one of Pittsburgh’s most important schools in spit of its relatively small size. What I admire is that it seems very serious and successful at developing synergies between itself and the city. I think this is mainly because it doesn’t have the size and power to play the gorilla like Pitt. What has always amazed me since I have been here is just how little impact the cities huge schools have on the region and I think the main reason is the way they are designed as ivory towers posted on an Acropolis.

“New York is a city with dozens of colleges which play a huge role in it’s life. There is Columbia, NYU, Fordam, Pratt Institute, Saint Johns and the huge City University system. There are also tons of smaller schools scattered throughout the city. Parsons, SVA, FIT, Cooper Union, Hunter College, The New School, Juilliard, Baruch College and John Jay are a few. Not surprisingly a lot of these schools have strong specialties in the major “industries of NY” – art, film, media, fashion, theater, music, law, business, design and food.

One is sometimes struck, by the rather unassuming nature of some the schools. Few have stadiums, elaborate sports facilities, fancy campuses or massive buildings. Many of the most respected are pretty low key and functional. But looks can be decieving in that few of these schools beg for applicants and degrees from a lot of them are highly valued. A few like SVA, started small but have grown into sizable institutions. A lot of them do a booming and I think lucrative business in continuing education.”

An obvious way to build synergy with the city would be to place key parts of the schools in the areas of the city to which they best relate. CMU’s art and music programs might be a good fit downtown; Pitt and Duquesne’s law and business programs might be better close to the courts. This would likely make it easier to develop internship programs with local employers.

Perils for Pedestrains on Pittsburgh

Perils for Pedestrians is a monthly tv show that airs on the DISH network, public access and (thankfully) the internet. This months episode is all about Pittsburgh.

–We talk with the head of Bike Pittsburgh;
–We learn about Friends of the Riverfront;
–Free Ride recycles abandoned bicycles;
–The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission looks at transportation issues;
–A study at Carnegie Mellon University examines the history of pedestrian crashes.

I have watched part of this episode and I am eager to see the whole thing. I am thrilled to see anyone advocating for more pedestrian safety. Especially since Pittsburgh is #14 on on the Forbes list of most sedentary cities. This video is also great because it shows off some of the great things going on here in Pittsburgh.

A Professor’s Dreams

Randy Pausch is a computer science professor at CMU. While this alone would be no small feat, he has also been integral in the creation and development of virtual reality and landmark educational initiatives. He has three young children, a wife and inoperable pancreatic cancer.

While the greatest burden of sadness lies with those who know him best, I can’t help but feel moved by his story, which you can read at the PPG site. The world is most certainly a better place having had him in it.

Though I never had Dr. Pausch as a professor, I think he still has something to teach me, and maybe something that we can all learn. The guy who cuts you off on the parkway, the screaming children in Giant Eagle, the snotty people at work – these and so many other struggles are such brief, meaningless trifles. You think you have problems?

Dr. Pausch had a handful of dreams as a child; if you exclude the dreams most marked by childhood longing (being Captain Kirk and playing in the NFL), he accomplished every single one of them.

The lesson I learn, and the most valuable lesson to those of us who only know him from the news, is that life is too short to let fear of failure or the appearance of daunting obstacles prevent us from achieving our own dreams. The fear that prevents us from acting can be controlled, cast aside, ignored. Dr. Pausch may not have been able to accomplish everything he wanted to, but at least he tried.

If you knew you had only months to live, could you say the same?

Whether you say yes or no, there’s no rush – you have the rest of your life to change your answer.

(thanks go to PittGirl for writing about this first)

Flow Fest


Even in the rain, the Flow Fest on Washington’s Landing today was a delight. Sponsored by PA CleanWays of Allegheny County, it’s a free art/music/eco festival celebrating Pittsburgh’s Rivers and it’s going on until 5:00 today. Great music, people to talk to, and hands-on art-making for all ages.


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