Some public school advocates where excited for a fall-2017 public policy victory with Pittsburgh Public Schools. The school board voted and eliminated the practice that gives a school suspension to children in the youngest of grades. Yep. Those in first and second grade are not going to get suspended any longer.
Is that a victory that gives pause and a cause for a celebration?
Some wonder if in reality the suspensions still going happening but have been classified with a different name. Ugh.
The challenges facing Pittsburgh Public Schools are enormous and fixing this one problem is nothing that excites me to a point where we now have the confidence to proclaim Pittsburgh Public Schools is back to where it should be in terms of educating our city’s youth.
Twenty years ago we were talking about these issues with sports, athletics, participation in fitness activities and other areas I care about — such as swimming — for the sake of the educational value, community enrichment and personal growth. And, frankly, little has been done. Nothing of significance was going to happen in the era of Dr. Linda Lane in terms of PPS Athletics — except a continued back slide in expectations and standards.
Below is a blog post from 2010 that featured a “blast from the past” from another, older posting from 2001. We have been talking about these issues when the kids who are graduating from college were born. We’ve lost entire generations due to inaction from PPS.
Read this makes me frustrated.
From: Saturday, May 15, 2010, as published at Rauterkus.blogspot.com:
Blast from the past: A PPS sports proposal is uncovered and mostly unrealized.
I did not write this. I did just re-type it. It is not on the internet, until now.
My slim connection to this report below comes from the follow-up meetings that were held in the wake of this report’s delivery. There were a few meetings among concerned parents and community members that were held. I attended a couple of them. After a while, the meetings stopped.
A fellow parent with kids in PPS who has also worked in a couple of different government posts with community and economic development was my contact to that group in the past. Furthermore, this parent stayed involved in the process into 2011.
This report was the first matter of business, of sorts, for the new task force. It was shared by Mike G, of PPS, as a way to kick off the conversations and review what was suggested in the past and how much and how little was changed as per these suggestions.
Recommendations for the Improvement of the Interscholastic Athletic Program of PPS:
Submitted to Dr. John Thompson, superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, by the Athletic Excellence Task Force, 2000-2001
The School District of Pittsburgh is committed to providing a comprehensive educational program that addresses the intellectual, emotional, social and physical growth and development of every child. Interscholastic Athletics has always been an important part of that educational experience for the student athletes and the student body at large. Students participating in the Athletic Program get a chance to learn not only the knowledge and skills associated with the sport, they also develop important life skills such as teamwork, sportsmanship, cooperation, planning, goal setting, time management and many others. Many student athletes develop lifelong relationships with teammates and colleagues through their involvement with Interscholastic Athletics.
The Athletic Program has provided the opportunity for many students to utilize specific talents and ability while participation in an enjoyable part of school life. For most athletes, sports activities provide the involvement in and connection to school that raises self-esteem and school pride. It also provides an opportunity for parents to become involved in their child’s school activities. It has long been a way for the community to remain involved in the total PPS program.
The athletic program may not only be physically demanding but also academically challenging for the student athlete. Student athletes must devote countless hours to athletic practices and contests while remaining their commitment to academic success. Therefore, we owe the student athlete, their parents and peers, excellence in Athletic Programming including coaching, facilities, equipment, training and academic support. Since athletics is such a positive experience for many students, we must not only continuously improve the program we must also provide a system that ensures maximum student participation.
It is in this regard that the Athletic Excellence Task Force was convened. We offer the following recommendations as a means to improve the overall Athletic Program. While there are many recommendations included in the report, we are prepared to remain as an advisory committee to the District, to develop a prioritized action plan for implementing any recommendations that may ultimately be approved by the Board of School Directors.
Participant List from 2000-2001
Ray Ames, Faculty Manager Patsy Aluise, Principal Cherri Banks, TLA Dwight Clay, Official Terry Cowden, Coach Rico Davis, Official Al Fondy, PFT George Gensure, PFT Kelli Jackson, Coach Brenda Jones, Coach Phyllis Jones, Coach Andrew King, Student Services (what?), King was PPS Administration Fred Lucas, Coach Sarah Martin, Health & Wellness Robert Miller, Principal Pamela Murray, Parent Robert Pajak, Athletics Vernon Phillips, Principal Sandford Rivers, University Staff Dana Schumacker, Parent Donald Smith, Parent James Solters, Moderator Bill Tenney, Parent Un-Named Parent Art Victor, Parent Brian White, Student Services
Where possible have two divisions for all Interscholastic Sports at the Middle and High School levels. Schools would be periodically reassigned to a particular division to maintain parity and competitiveness among teams. Longitudinal studies could be completed every three years to determine divisional assignments.
Require each school to play a minimum number of exhibition and regular games to increase the playing experience of teams.
Modify the Middle School program to include:
- Football at the 7th and 8th grade levels,
- Baseball instead of Softball,
- A track and Field program,
- Interscholastic opportunities at K-8 schools.
Maintain Intramural funds centrally and allocate to schools once program is established.
Explore strategies to enable elementary and middle school teachers to coach at the High School level with minimal intrusion on their teaching responsibilities.
Explore strategies to minimize the intrusion on teaching and learning activities due to student participation in athletic contests.
Establish equity of access to athletic programs, equipment and facilities: this may involve use of alternative sites for practice and contests and pairing of schools to ensure adequate team membership.
Add an additional professional position to assist the Program Manager of Athletics with the following:
- Completion and implementation of a systemic plan for implementation of Task Force recommendations;
- Developing a PPS Athletic Program web site.
- Developing and implementing a marketing plan.
- Establish partnership with the City for sharing fields and other facilities.
- Establish partnerships with local professional teams for financial and marketing support.
- Establish viable and active PPS Interscholastic Alumni group.
- Develop equitable funding formula for all sports.
- Monitor practice sessions, athletic contests and intramural activities.
- Assist with the selection, training, and evaluation of coaches.
- Developing a plan to secure supplemental funding from private and public sources.
- Establish a Pittsburgh Athletic Association to support the PPS program.
- Develop and adopt a Code of Student Sportsmanship that would be signed by student athletes and their parents. This code would establish parameters for acceptable behavior during practice and athletic contests.
- Develop a form for spectators or staff to use when reporting an alleged incident of unsatisfactory sportsmanship. Form would be submitted to Athletic Office and appropriate principals and the incident would be investigated.
- Increase number of viable junior varsity athletic teams by including more sports and adding an assistant coach where appropriate.
- Develop manual for all student athletes that includes eligibility guidelines, college entrance requirements, NCAS guidelines and academic support information, e.g., tutoring, mentoring, homework assistance and Code of Sportsmanship.
- Improve and maintain a safe and appropriate surface on all grass fields.
- Explore possibility of another site for playing District football games and Track and Field events and Baseball games.
- Establish equitable sizes and seating capacities for gymnasiums.
- Provide equal access to gymnasiums for Middle Schools.
- Develop multi-sport training facilities.
- Group schools where possible to increase access to adequate facilities.
- Ensure that each program has access to safe and appropriate equipment for training needs.
The report also has some background memorandums.
One is from John Walluk, Director of Facilities, dated May 10, 2001, about costs to bring all the high school and middle school athletic field facilities up to an equal standard. It includes a few charts.
Another memo is about substandard Middle School Gyms.
The student eligibility memo from the task force is enclosed too. It was prepared by a sub-committee. I’ll re-type that memo soon.
Selection of coaches is another memo with a sub committee. That inclueds some forms for coach application resumes for the Human Resource Dept of PPS.
The code of ethics for coaches is enclosed as is another memo, training of coaches. That included a coaches rating factor table. It was from a sub committee for the evaluation of coaches.
It is 2018, and I’m still trying!
For our swim team at Obama Academy, and throughout the city at a majority of the other schools, it is easy to say that many things have gotten worse.
For the first time ever, we have not been permitted to have 6 AM swim practices at Obama. They blame security.
I don’t want to list all the ills. But, they’re documented in my archives. The sports-dystopia is bigger, bolder, and stronger than ever.
Planning meeting to come.
In a week or two, a meeting has been scheduled with a few top administrators. I’m excited to have that next opportunity to make a case as to what should be done, urgently, for our city kids, their schools, our larger community and the taxpayers as well.
Pittsburgh Public Schools was on a kick to start “Community Schools.” That is a nice place to start. We can put swimming, aquatics and athletics into the PPS Community School model and get some progress in the weeks to come, with some programs that span among a few different schools and covers some of the city.
Same info, but without the PDF format follows.
Coach Mark Rauterkus
Head Boys Varsity Coach at PPS Obama
Executive Director, SKWIM USA
108 South 12th Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203-1226
412-298-3432 = cell
January 24, 2018
Delivery to participants and spectators at PPS Middle School Championships
Dear Swimmers, Guardians and Coaches:
Three cheers to you for completing the middle-school season and competing in today’s championships. Hopefully, you choose to continue swimming, as we’d love to see you at 11:30 am on Saturday at PPS Oliver High School on the Northside.
You are invited to sign-up for a brand-new,
All-City, Aquatics All-Star Team!
First meeting and swim clinic is this Saturday, January 27, 2018, from 11:30 to 1 pm on the Northside at PPS Oliver High School, 2323 Brighton Road, 15212.
Second meeting and clinic is next Saturday, February 3, 2018, from 11:30 to 1 pm at PPS Oliver.
If interested, call, text or email.
Or, sign-up in advance at Play.CLOH.org/rsvp.
We are seeking 25 or more middle-school athletes, boys and girls, of any swimming ability, for this low/no cost program. It is a labor of love from the coach(es). We hope to organize the swimmers, guardians and boosters for an All-Star experience with specialized practices, coaching, training, and lots of play and competitions. We’ll swim, exercise, use technology tools. We’ll also learn, practice and play water polo and SKWIM, a water-disk game. We stress sportsmanship, teamwork, and conditioning with help of digital badges. Playing well with others happens with in-house meets and game-days — if we get your support and your participation.
Expect more information at the first clinics. Other practice opportunities in other city neighborhoods are possible too. Call with questions. See Swim.CLOH.org.
Boost your fitness, swim knowledge, circle-of-friends, swim speed and aquatic game-play so that you can become a future lifeguard and a stronger varsity athlete, in any sport.
Thanks for the consideration.
Coach Mark Rauterkus
CLOH .org = Caring, Loving, Open, Honest.
On this first day of the new year, let’s consider the first concept, CARING.
Comment from Kevin DeForrest via a Facebook post.
That’s a contract. “If you _____, then I’ll ______.” A covenant, on the other hand, says “I will _______ no matter what you do.” Caring is covenantal, not contractual.
Dictionary for convental: Of or pertaining to a covenant.
covenant (from Websters)
- a binding and solemn agreement to do or keep from doing a specified thing; compact
- an agreement among members of a church to defend and maintain its doctrines, polity, and faith
- [C-] an agreement of Presbyterians in Scotland in 1638 to oppose episcopacy
also called National Covenant
- [C-] an agreement between the parliaments of Scotland and England in 1643 to extend and preserve Presbyterianism
also called Solemn League and Covenant
- [C-] an agreement of Presbyterians in Scotland in 1638 to oppose episcopacy
- a formal, sealed contract
- a clause of such a contract
- a suit for damages for violation of such a contract
- the promise made by God to humanity and the relationship it established, as described in the Bible
The psychology and deeper meaning of the new vision for Pittsburgh Public Schools has merit, if it is put into practice. The slogan is being put everywhere, such as on the web site, on stationary and on posters throughout the district. The slogan is getting plenty of practice, as it is repeated often. But is its message being implemented?
The motivational message makes sense. Furthermore, the actions need to speak volumes too. Words and deeds are both required.
You get what you expect. Your expectations are the source code of your creative possibilities.
We are all swimming in a soup of sensory inputs. So focus is needed. Easy to understand that the leaders of Pittsburgh Public Schools are confronted with a seemingly endless set of challenges. The leaders are putting out fires on multiple fronts any given week, day and hour. But, what are they really hoping to accomplish and what is expected?
What the leaders pay attention to is what they see and hear. Sadly, it seems to me, the leaders do not pay much attention to the support of those who are expecting greatness.
Understanding the power of expectations comes with both opportunity and warning.
My mission and what I’m looking for with PPS builds upon the concept of “summer dreamers” and goes to “year-round achievers.” I expect great things and have always lead the struggle to bring brushes of greatness to the students, through sports and swimming programs. Our holistic approach offers championship competitive swimming, but it goes to personal improvements and building upon our shared community capacity of playing well with others.
Part 2 goes to leadership.
Our swimmers are intellectual bloomers. We have the magic sauce for the self-fulfilling prophecy that has proven itself every year, to a certain extent, with most of our student-athletes on the varsity swimming team.
Agents and management have to understand the power of expectation and also keep grounded in the real world. When we have coaches and principals with ordinary track records and below satisfaction results, be done and find others who want to reach and want to aspire to the performance high bar.
Message from Dr. Hamlet at the opening of the maker space at PPS Obama Academy in December 2017
First, “We are hiring.”
Second, “Let’s go swimming.”
Mash those above expressions together, and you can begin to make your life as exciting as mine!
Thanks for the consideration and “YES” vote.
Presently, those that have jobs with the City of Pittsburgh, (such as firefighter, policeman, EMS worker, and city council member) can NOT be hired as coaches with Pittsburgh Public Schools. Let’s fix this with YES votes.
Time to get back into the water!
After-school aquatic fun with Coach Mark begins this week.
Bring your swim suit and show up to the Obama swim pool after school, every day except Fridays.
Middle School at 4 pm to 5 pm, then activity bus.
High School students from 5 pm to 7 pm.
Adults and community programs at 7:30 to 9 pm on Mondays & Wednesdays.
All abilities welcome. Even if you don’t know how to swim,
we’ll teach you.
We’ll play water polo, SKWIM, and refine our swimming strokes, dives, flip turns and gain plenty of fitness.
Extra Coaching and game days: Saturday Swim School, Oliver HS pool,
2323 Brighton Road, Northside from 11:30 am to 1 pm.
Coach’s contact: Mark@Rauterkus.com 412-298-3432 CLOH.org