Friday, January 30, 2009

Open letter to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and the Pittsburgh Board of Education

Mayor Ravenstahl:

I am sure you are aware of the planned delay scheduled for Pittsburgh Public Schools this upcoming Monday, February 2.

I want you also to be aware that, happy as I am for the Steelers, this is in no way appropriate, and I am livid, and disappointed beyond belief, with the people in charge of my child's education.

I am the parent of a second-grader and a kindergartener in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system. My children have had at least three previous snow/cold days this winter, and at least a couple delays. Inconvenient though these may be, I fully understand the necessity of keeping our students safe, warm, and protected from the elements and/or hazardous road conditions.

But to schedule a school delay because of a football game (however "important" and exciting it may be)? The event is the NIGHT BEFORE, not during school hours (not that I personally think that would be ok either, but that's neither here nor there.) I am beside myself with anger and astonishment. We are tacitly condoning any sort of immature behavior that would affect parents' and employees' ability to do their jobs the next day- to get their kids to school, and to transport and teach our students. Worse (in my opinion), we seem to be expecting this sort of behavior from people to whom we entrust our children, and I for one think it's insulting to my sons' fine teachers and aides to assume they can't be responsible enough to perform their jobs the next day.

How can PPS continue to try to lure parents to the public school system, using, among other things, the Pittsburgh Promise, improved test scores, and incentives such as the IB program, and then delay school because of any or all of the above reasons? How do you expect the students to take our efforts as engaged parents and educators seriously? What sort of example does this flagrant disregard for the importance of education set for our children?

Also, we must consider the impact a school delay has on many parents who struggle to obtain adequate childcare for legitimate delays. To force a parent to juggle these issues for a football game is insulting.

In addition, my son will miss, for the third week in a row, his scheduled gifted education program. I plan to look into how these district-enforced absences impact his IEP, and perhaps the tax dollars received by the district due to the services they are supposed to provide due to those IEPs.

I have emailed everyone in charge I can think of and asked them to consider canceling this delay. I have asked them to please consider impressing upon our children how very important it is to be mature and responsible about the privileges of education.

And you as Mayor of this fine city should know that if you intend to continue to improve Pittsburgh's public school system, this sort of disregard for educational standards is completely unacceptable.

Thank you.


Dear 'netties:
If you wonder where I am, I have spent all my creative energy firing off angry missives similar to the one above to everyone I can think of who might have anything to do with the above insanity.
Perhaps when my anger has cooled (and the Steelers have won), I will have some energy to write actual posts about things like BOOKS.
Or I may need a nap.



Anonymous said...

Good letter. We got an e-mail from The Boy's Head of School on Wednesday saying that they wouldn't have a delay unless weather dictated; kids who ride PPS buses to school have to make other arrangements.

I'm as happy as can be about the Super Bowl, but . . . that's just ridiculous.

That said, though, my sister and I have talked about petitioning the NFL to move the Super Bowl to Saturday. More people would be able to travel to enjoy it, fewer people would miss work the following Monday, and bars are restaurants would make a killing.

Everyone wins.

teachergirl said...

At first, I thought this was one of your witty, tongue in cheek posts. However, after visiting the Pittsburgh Public school website, I was mortified to find this statement:

"For the safety of our students, a two-hour delay has been scheduled for Monday, February 2, 2009 for all Pittsburgh Public Schools. "

The safety of Pittsburgh's students? What the hell is going to happen to Pittsburgh? I grew up in DC and I don't remember getting a two hour delay when we won the Super Bowl. I felt pretty safe. I got to school on time.

In this era of accountability and NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, how can any educator explain away this delay? For a football game? Please. Someone needs to lose a job.

I can't even get a snow day. I dream of a snow day. I envy you your snow days.

Jess said...

But...but...THE GAME! (ducking)

You're absolutely right, that's ludicrous. What's next? A Bring Your Alka Seltzer to Class Day?

Terri said...

I am outraged as well. What kind of example is the school board setting. I have two daughters in the PPS system and they would be able to make it to school on time. To allow students to go in late just teaches the students that it acceptable to shirk your responsibilities if it suits you. When our children eventually enter the work force are they going to be given the day off for frivolous reasons? They will be expected to make it to work on time regardless if the Steelers go to the Super Bowl. All the PPS board of education is saying is that football is more important that our children's education.

Anonymous said...

I hate to be the one in the outside majority, but I'm just going to tell you why the *might* have decided to open late, based on my experience.

I lived in Tampa after they won the Super Bowl. and the roads between 3 am and 9 am were seriously hazardous. People had been drinking all night, trying to drive the next morning, with one hand on the wheel and one honking their horn. Everyone was honking their horn. I almost got in accidents on the way t work that morning, twice, and I lived two miles away from my job. And being Tampa, there's no snow or ice or slickness, I imagine it would be worse where you were.

Not an excuse. Just a reason.

Anonymous said...

My mouth is hanging open in disbelief.

Two hour delay - wonder who decided it would only take an extra two hours for all the drunken parents to sober up??

Anonymous said...

if there were no dealy , and god forbid something would have happened- you all would be the first one to bitch about the safety of our kids... this was a resonsible move by the board- i wish more superintendants would have followed suit... this says nothing about our students, parents or teachers, but as a driver we are alwayts taught to "0look out for the other guy" and as idiotic as society has become you must take every precaution we can to ensure safety...

get your head out of your asses and take a look at the things that happened in oakland- you weant your kids to see that our walk through the mess and risk injury or cuts ???

- with love,
commen sense

BabelBabe said...

when all is said and done, I admit you are right.

but it still pains me that the underlying message from the PPS is that this is ok.