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Local campaign launched to have all students reading proficiently by 3rd grade

by Dale Mezzacappa on Dec 20 2013 Posted in Latest news

A newly formed coalition in Philadelphia is joining the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, an effort to make sure that as of the year 2020, all city students read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade. 

"Reading proficiency by 3rd grade is the most important predictor of middle school and high school success," said Mayor Nutter at a Friday morning press conference that included Superintendent William Hite and Ralph Smith, the national campaign's managing director. Nutter said that low literacy rates contribute to "poverty, crime and loss of life opportunities." He noted that city agencies such as the recreation department and community-based organizations must be part of the effort. 

"There has to be more support for summer reading, universal pre-K, Head Start," the mayor said.

Hite added that "we have to start thinking about this work when a child is born." 

Smith, a vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and a former School District chief of staff, said that getting all children to read by 3rd grade is a "corrosive challenge." Students that don't reach that benchmark "are not likely to graduate from high school, especially those from low-income families. We can and must do better. ... A country that will not teach its kids to read is undeserving of leadership in the world." 

Philadelphia's coalition to devise and implement a strategy for the initiative appears to have attracted nearly every player in early education and child welfare in the city. A group of 75 people met in a planning session before the press conference. The Barra Foundation has donated $87,000 to plan the six-year campaign. The planning will take six months. 

"We have to align our work, revise our practices, and create new ways of working together," said Leslie Winder, the chair of the board of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY).

Donna Cooper, PCCY's executive director, and Sharmain Matlock-Turner, president and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition, are spearheading the effort.

Cooper described five major challenges that must be addressed: high absenteeism; students entering school with poor vocabularies and little or no pre-K exposure; summer reading loss, especially among students who live in poverty; parents lacking the tools they need to help their children with reading and vocabulary development; and failure of schools to use effective instructional techniques for students who have many different needs and learning styles.

Among the attendees was Deborah Grill, a retired school librarian, who noted that just 16 certified librarians remain in District-run schools, the victims of budget cuts as most schools shut their libraries. Children need to be able to choose books that they can read for pleasure, and a shuttered library sends exactly the wrong message, she noted.

She also lamented the loss of the Reading Recovery program, which had some success with 1st through 3rd graders. It was discontinued due to expense; it required virtually one-on-one tutoring and specialized intervention.

"That's what it will take," Grill said. "You can't do this on the cheap."

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is already in some 140 communities in 39 states or U.S. territories, Smith said. 

"Conditions of poverty, incarceration, health care, all of those are inextricably linked to illiteracy," said Hite. "If we can direct all our attention to ensure every single 8-year-old is on grade level reading, we've gone a long way to correct some of the ills facing this city and all other cities in the country."

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Comments (40)

Submitted by Susan Manbeck (not verified) on Fri, 12/20/2013 - 22:12.

Oh, please. Stop this. Unless they are going to pay teachers an acceptable salary and stop screwing with their livelihood, unless they are going to stop messing with the staff at schools which gives students a sense of unease that affects their learning, unless they are going to give schools and principals the funds to help deal with the deficits the students have because of no parental involvements, this is nonsense.
Phony bologna. George Bush redux.

Submitted by anon (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 01:14.

hite's once again putting the chicken before the egg.

"Conditions of poverty, incarceration, health care, all of those are inextricably linked to illiteracy," said Hite.

and enough already with the setting of impossible goals. isn't reality enough of a challenge to deal with?

"If we can direct all our attention to ensure every single 8-year-old is on grade level reading, we've gone a long way to correct some of the ills facing this city and all other cities in the country."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 18:00.

Its not just the responsibility of the schools and the teachers, its also up to the parents to take the responsibility of making sure their kids are learning. I fell on tough times and my ex-husband left me with no money, but I found a way to get a computer for $60 and made sure my kids (even the toddlers ) had what they needed to learn!! I didn't leave it up to the schools, I took responsibility myself! I was lucky enough someone told me about Team Children and I met Mr Robert and told him about my situation and he got me a computer for $60 and it has software that both my little kids and my middle school kids use. I am not going to sit back and wait for the schools to teach my kids and I had said that I could not afford to buy my kids a computer but I can tell you this….my kids are dang sure with more than $60 and now they are learning more than any of the kids in their class. Call Team Children and I bet they can help you too. They have a website too at team children .com

Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on Sun, 12/29/2013 - 10:14.

Exactly Right !! Hite should be ignored whenever his mouth opens as everything sp ewing out are lies. Longshanks is no friend of the kids here and like One Term Tom, an Amber Alert should sound wherever he is. At least Ackerman's Vaudeville Act was funny in a gallow's humor kind of way. This guy is devoid of humor and a massive fraud, pretending to care about the kids while only caring about making money off the kids. He and the Rooster and their minions will want to close another 30 schools in a couple months.........................because they failed the kids-------------RIGHT !!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 06:10.

First of all, 100% grade level in reading is impossible. Grade level is always an average. There will always be some students above and some below. If you want to have all children reading out of the same book, it has to be at everyone's independent level which is not grade level.

The word "proficient" is an arbitrary term based on an arbitrary number or score.

Also, if we are going to talk about school readiness, we must begin before the child is born. Good pre-natal care must be guaranteed. That means universal health care in place. After birth, the child's health care must be guaranteed. Waiting until the first grade for many children is already too late. They need to have vision, hearing, dental and all other health issues corrected and supported.

Housing is also important. Children in poverty will suffer from diseases associated with poor housing like asthma.

The loss of school librarians is indeed a real issue. Librarians are also teachers and show children how to select books at their interest and independent level. They teach them how to use the library for research. They help the classroom teacher to plan units using instructional materials from the library.

Of course early childhood education is essential. Programs that involve the parents are important also. Real true Head Start must be available because it is a well organized child centered pre-school not just a baby sitting service.

It would also help if we had a real anti-poverty program in this town. Most of the problems with learning happen because families are struggling with everyday survival. Hunger, homelessness and substance abuse are all symptoms of poverty that must be corrected along with a well supported educational system.

Leaving it all up to teachers is simply ridiculous.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 17:16.

Gloria, it is always a pleasure reading your comments because you are such a well informed educator with an obvious high level of expertise in reading instruction and the issues integral for its understanding. And, of course, you obviously have a background of experience in actually teaching reading,

I always love joining discussions about reading ability and its growth because I taught reading for 20 years and have a Masters degree from Temple's once famous -- reading clinic.

If they are serious about what they say, this is what needs to be done:

(1) All elementary school classes pre K - 3 should have a maximum class size limit of 22 students.

(2) All students who fall behind in reading should be taught by a certified reading specialist in very small groups every day.

(3) All schools should have libraries, librarians and books for children to take home and do extended reading with books which hold their interest and motivate them to read. And as you say, supportive programs do matter.

Even then, there will still be those who fall behind because between 3% and at least 10% (some experts have estimated as high as 20%) suffer from dyslexia. For those students, every gain in reading is a struggle.

Students with learning disabilities and emotional difficulties also lag behind because every gain in reading for them is also a struggle.

What amazes me the most is the pervasive "lack of knowledge" of even the most basic concepts of reading instruction and how "reading ability actually does grow."

Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 17:33.

Thanks, Rich. The feeling is mutual. Those who never taught a single reading lesson like the mayor or the governor or all of the members of the SRC have no idea how the process works.

There are many reasons for dyslexia. Sometimes it is connected to hearing because of all the infections young children get. Sometimes it is simply because English is the child's second language. There are autistic children and children with developmental delays. Children do not come in one size fits all packages. They are not refrigerators or light bulbs.

What these guys want is to arrange reading (and math) into a set of standards that can be tested electronically. They are putting keyboards into the hands of kindergarten children and showing them how to do programmed work. They want to reduce all learning to that kind of metric so they can sell more testing materials. It is becoming a global business.

The word "proficient" applies to an arbitrary standard, not an actual grade level. Look what a fiasco NCLB is in demanding 100% "proficiency" by 2014. This new campaign sounds like just as goofy an idea.

Parents must demand real education not this cockamamie shlock!

Merry Christmas, Rich. 8-)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 09:57.

It starts from in uteru and the maternity ward. So much occurs from birth to the maternity ward even before children step foot in classrooms. A child at age 5 who starts kindergarten from a low income family has thousands of less words in his/her vocabulary. Its the million word gap that Dr. Rebecca Shore and others have studied. Great idea for a program but it confuses me because this is the same school district & city that outsourced 2,000 Head Start seats to private providers because the benefits & salary of SDP teachers were too high. So now over 2,000 SDP PreK students are receiving a "quality" education at mom & pop daycare providers. Seems to me that was a gigantic step in the wrong direction.

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 10:03.

Didn't PCCY endorse the closing of many Head Start classrooms and outsourcing them to daycare centers?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 10:20.

Yes they did. PCCY also read a statement at an SRC meeting in support of closing SDP Head Start centers and outsourcing them. So now over 2,000 Head Start students are being taught by uncertified, poorly educated and trained hourly workers.

Submitted by Education Grad ... on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 00:27.

Anonymous,

To characterize the men and women who work with Head Start students as "uncertified, poorly educated and trained hourly workers" is not entirely accurate. Some are certified and highly trained. Not all are hourly workers. I try to look at evidence before making general statements. I'm curious if any research is following students who attend different kinds of Head Start centers. What are the levels of parental involvement? How are students with special needs receiving services? How are the children doing on measures of cognitive functioning and adaptive functioning? Are they developing positive attitudes toward learning and reading?

What are we doing to address the underlying issue of less early childhood funding? For whom are we voting?

Submitted by Ken Derstine on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 10:43.

No Child Left Behind in 2001 set 100% proficiency by 2014. How has that gone? The main lesson of NCLB is that if the government does not provide resources for equitable funding of public schools, no matter how well intentioned the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading may be, the political problem of lack of support for education will not be solved by charity from corporations or philanthropies. It is using a bandaid when the patient has a severe illness. As Deborah Grill points out, most public schools do not have libraries. How can an after school program increase reading levels if there is continued denial of resources and no working with classroom teachers and restoring libraries in all schools?

Submitted by Wendy Harris on Wed, 01/15/2014 - 15:43.

The Notebook would like to reprint your comment to this blog post in the "From our readers" section of our print edition. From our readers is a section of the paper much like letters to the editor, where we list comments and opinions to our content. Please let us know if we have permission to reprint this comment in our Feb. edition. If so, could I also ask if you could rework the beginning of your comment so that it doesn't feel as though it jumps right in the middle of a conversation? I realize that the comment was a part of a dialogue that took place on our site, but we do like to have a beginning and end to each entry that appears in the "From the readers" section. We do edit the entries for space and grammar, but thought I would see if you would first like to rework the comment in any way. We would like to have the comments back by Fri. Jan. 17, if possible. Thanks very much. You can email me at wendyh@thenotebook.org. 

Wendy Harris, Managing Editor

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 10:37.

Cooper is extremely duplicitous and I struggle with wether or not to add hypocritical. She addressed the SRC in support of closing Head Start centers in the SDP this past Spring. How this woman is spearheading anything to address early childhood education amazes me. She spoke before the SRC and stated that children sent to mom & pop daycares would receive the same quality education as they recieve by certified SDP teachers. Much like Hite stating that degrees don't matter but Hite made it a point to tweet out congratulations to the 45 new National
Board teachers in the SDP. Go to the SDP Office of Early Childhood Website and look at the exhaustive list of "partners". All of those "partners" represent closed SDP Head Start classrooms. Many of those centers have repeated violations documented online through the State. Violations including inappropriate documentation of staff credentials, lack of criminal background checks, inappropriate supervision, child endangerment and abuse. All of this is readily available on line and none of this mattered because it was cheaper to outsource because of the exorbitant SDP teacher salaries and benefits. Now the "partners" are hiring most at $8 an hour for teacher assistants and no benefits and teachers at $12 an hour and also no benefits. Needless to say the teaching staff at the "partners" has a high turnover rate which directly impacts instruction. If you check out the employment sections the "partners" are always hiring because they cannot keep staff which also violates program requirements. The issue is the SDP gives a said partner $100,000 for 60 students. Out of that $100,000 the partner can decide staff salaries & because these are mostly Mom & Pop centers they pay their workers the bare minimal in order to maximize their profit. None of this is about education its all a game of politics and economics.

Submitted by Education Grad ... on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 00:41.

Anonymous,

Please provide sources for the state violations. Also, are most of these centers mom and pop or are they chain centers, such as Brightside? Also, are they nonprofit or for-profit? Are you making general statements or are you basing your statements on experience?

Please explain the following statement: "If you check out the employment sections the 'partners' are always hiring because they cannot keep staff which also violates program requirements."

I'm playing devil's advocate here. I'm concerned about the outsourcing of Head Start slots for a variety of reasons. My school has Head Start classrooms. It is valuable to have Head Start at my school for a number of reasons. One reason that many people may not consider is the ability for staff to collaborate and work together. The kindergarten teachers are able to talk to the Head Start teachers which provides a more seamless educational experience for students. When Head Start is present in an elementary school building, parents who have multiple children at different grade levels can have all children in the same building. Children in Head Start are not exposed to much of what happens in the school because they eat lunch in their classroom and, at least at my school, have a separate entry. The children don't typically walk around the school. So the children are sheltered, in a good way, but the parents and staff benefit from being in an elementary school.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 02:02.

Go to the compass website for pa dept of public welfare. Type in a provider name then click more information and all of the current violations will show. Brightside is the most notorious violator of all and the violations I listed earlier were all found at Broghtside locations including other horrendous violations such a striking a child, leaving children unsupervised as well as several staff people using inappropriate language including profanity toward children. These violations were noted by trained DPW licensing reps who only check centers maybe 3 times a year which suggests that those behaviors were part of the norm. Brightside also could not locate a 2 yr old who was later found slumped over and dead by her teenage brother on a hot playground where she was left unsupervised. I stated facts as I have a background in journalism and facts are important to me. Do you actually think that any of these things could have happened at a SDP school location? All of this was presented to the Office of Early Childhood and the SRC last Spring yet SDP centers were still voted for closure. These issues have also been addressed in old notebook forums last Spring. Everyone was so focused on the school closures that no one was paying attention to the 2,000 Head Start seats being outsourced. The reason given by the Deputy Chief of Early Childhood was that SDP teachers cost too much. She also told teachers at the Trinadad center that if they wanted to stay find someone to pay their salary and benefits. This was all part of SRC testimony. The SRC voted to close Trinadad but approved a $100,000 grant that a teacher wrote for a playground. That teacher lost her job at Trinadad and was replaced by a partner. But the SDP owns that building so they are still paying for faculty costs and insurance but its still cheaper then paying teachers a decent salary and benefits. Displaced Head Start teachers became grade teachers and many teacher assistants are still unemployed. I know for a fact that Brightside pays teachers $12 and hour and assistants $8. Brightside is not the place for anyone's child. I'll say again the SDP should be ashamed.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 02:12.

There are staff to student ratios as part of the PA Code as well as Head Start guidelines. There are also education & training requirements. If you pay your teachers $12 an hour when they get an opportunity to make $20 with benefits they will leave. Check out Craigslist under education and right now there are 6 partners desperately looking for staff. It'll say PreK Counts and/or Head Start. That's all federal money given to the SDP and funneled out to "partners". There are numerous guidelines to adhere to the grants in order to be in compliance. Right now the SDP Head Start is out of compliance because the SDP Head Start centers are under enrolled. An email was sent out on Thursday to all SDP Head Start centers. Now the irony is that the SDP chose to outsource 2,000 Head Start seats and now the remaining centers are under enrolled. Check with the teachers at your school I'm sure they received the email as well.

Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 11:53.

The United States has the second highest poverty level in the world and Finland has the second lowest (after Iceland).

Finland guarantees health care from before birth to forever. They offer free education from infancy to college. Yes, this is socialized medicine, but it works. Their kids are not born with birth defects or developmental lags like so many American children. Their kids grow up to productive lives.

It is particularly heinous that the earliest education of our urban children has been outsourced to amateurs. Can anyone imagine how an untrained worker treats these small children and the stress level they are under? Studies show that stress inhibits brain growth. Put small children in the wrong environment and they will suffer untold damage. A well run Head Start provides a secure, nurturing environment with health checks, hot meals and time to play, all with professionally trained supervision.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 12:53.

As a parent ,the true colors are visible. In order to have our children proficient by the 3rd grade, the teachers will need more MONEY!! What happened to "It's for the Children".

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 13:15.

I don't believe any one said teachers need more money. It is honestly about the lack of resources and qualified professionals. If head start teachers are hourly workers who are in many cases great but don't have the experiece and education to educate these students at the highest level, this will impact their education. If in a first grade classroom teachers have no access to a copier, no materials, AND no books, this will impact learning outcomes. If parents don't work to support their children's learning in the formative years this will impact the learning outcomes. It's not about the salary, it's about the salary along with lack of resources, materials, support, and morale for educational professionals. You can be the greatest doctor, but if you go into an empty room without the tools needed to work effectively your patients will suffer, regardless of your good intentions.

Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 15:21.

This is correct. Surgeons cannot operate without instruments and trained staff to help. Construction workers cannot build without tools and materials. But for some reason, there is a myth out there that teachers can produce any lesson they want out of thin air. Or that they do not need trained people in key places like the nurse's office, the counselor's office or the library.

As I said above, it is of course about the money. It is inexcusable for 23% of children in the richest country in the world have to live in food insecure homes. In urban areas like Philly, the concentration of children in poverty is much higher.

Poverty has negative effects on the lives of everyone but especially on children. Head Start is an anti-poverty program. And it works. Outsourcing the services of HS to amateurs will not have the same saving effect.

And let's face it, college trained personnel are indeed more expensive than amateurs. Teachers with masters degrees are more expensive than aides with a community college degree if that. RNs are more expensive that medical assistants.

If the plan is to starve a system and then declare it a failure because it cannot make water into wine, that is what is happening.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 15:07.

Where did anyone mention that the teachers needed more money? Often times you do get what you pay for. I would prefer that my child is with a college educated, state certified and trained early childhood professional instead of an hourly worker with a GED and/or CDA as a certifying credential. I want my child to be educated by someone who is educated. Surely you don't suggest that I can find a Master's level certified teacher at one of these Mom & Pop centers. Its not going to happen. Why would anyone with a Master's settle for $12 an hour and no benefits. Its not about teachers making more money but about the SDP outsourcing to save money. As a parent who's child is eligible for PreK Counts my choices were limited because the providers did not meet my standards. As a SDP teacher I know what a quality early childhood faculty looks and sounds like. You have to first have an educated staff to educate young children. The SDP should be ashamed to partner with certain providers and operators & owners who demonstrate limited education levels and skill set. One such operator/owner admitted to barely finishing highschool. There isn't an educational requirement to operate a child care facility in Philadelphia. Its all disgraceful.

Submitted by Alison McDowell (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 15:44.

Are these folks willing to lobby and advocate for our youngest students? How are teachers supposed to support literacy in early grades when class sizes are pushed to the max? How can they be truly effective when all literacy supports have been removed bit by bit every year until none are left? How can kids learn to love to read when schools do not have functioning libraries? Small class sizes, personal attention for the kids that need support, lots of books, and certified librarians to instill excitement about the possibilities available in books are key. This is not rocket science. C'mon Hite and PCCY you know what kids really need. Why not focus on that instead of some self-aggrandizing publicity stunt.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 15:55.

That's exactly what all of this is a great grandstand publicity stunt. As if someone just discovered that money needs to be invested into early education, as if we all didnt already know that being on grade level by grade 3 is critical. Exactly where is the news in all of this. Maybe the SDP will wake up and reduce class size to 15 for K-3. PreK is already capped at 19 with a full time assistant. How about we use this money to do what should've been in place long ago. K classes with 33 students and no assistant, is there any wonder why the children can't read by the 3rd grade. The SDP has been setting up its students for failure with this antiquated model of large class sizes. Use the money to hire more teachers and assistants. The student to teacher ratio has to be reduced.

Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on Mon, 12/23/2013 - 20:38.

The cap was upped to 20 students this year.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 18:39.

Susan asked for an acceptable salary, I would think her current salary is unacceptable!!!

Submitted by Education Grad ... on Sat, 12/21/2013 - 21:08.

This is a joke. It is impossible to have 100% of students reading at grade level. Even in the "high performing" and economically affluent suburban districts, not all students are reading at grade level. What about students with IEPs, especially students with intellectual disability or multiple disabilities?

Students who have learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, other health impairment, and most other disabilities only have to be reevaluated every 3 years. Students with intellectual disability must receive a re-evaluation every 2 years. Some of these students who were in EI end up receiving diagnoses of intellectual disability and/or autism later on, often in second or third grade once the mandatory re-eval is due. So a child who was in Early Intervention due to a language delay, developmental delay, LD, OHI, or other disability could go three years without receiving a more accurate diagnosis. There are a lot of complicating factors related to special education and having all students reading at grade level by third grade. The people promoting this initiative don't appear to have considered that some children learn differently and that some have disabilities.

Where is the funding and support for implementing such an initiative? All of the kindergarten teachers at my school have 30 students and no assistants in their classrooms. How is it possible to help students read at grade level when there is one teacher for 30 kindergarten students? There is a lot of research to show that smaller class sizes MATTER for grades K-3.

There should be a reading specialist in every building which has the primary grades. The District needs to ensure that every K-2 teacher has quality professional development and training in teaching foundational reading skills. This includes special education teachers and ESOL teachers. Classroom assistants should have professional development to help enhance their practice. Principals and Assistant principals also need to have professional development in this area so that they know what to look for when observing teachers and providing feedback.

As for Pre-K, reading should not be pushed so much on these young children. Young children need to learn how to SOCIALIZE PROPERLY and build healthy relationships with peers and adults. Young children should be hearing read alouds, learning their ABCs and 123s, and building oral reading skills, but it's not healthy to push such young children to learn to read, especially if they are not ready.

Mayor Nutter's words are empty fluff. He does nothing to expand universal access to pre-K. What has he been doing to hold the state's feet to the fire regarding funding? NOTHING. How about talking with Dr. Hite and encouraging the SDP to SUE the Commonwealth for not properly funding the SDP. Where was Nutter when the District was downsizing Head Start?

The District needs to invest in a program with good evidence for it, like Success for All. The District uses programs like Lexia and Earobics for RTII, but these programs have limited evidence of effectiveness according to the Best Evidence Encyclopedia (http://www.bestevidence.org/reading/begin_read/limited.htm) and the What Works Clearninghouse. One-to-one tutoring programs such as Reading Recovery and the Success for All program are much more effective than computer based interventions.

Having adequate personnel, resources, and making sure that teachers, principals, and classroom assistants are well-trained and implementing programs with fidelity will help more students read at grade level by third grade. But doing so requires adequate funding.

The number one goal right now needs to be ensuring adequate funding because nothing else will work unless there is enough money.

Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 01:10.

EG - Thank you for your substantial and totally sensible comment on the impossibility of having all children at the same reading level at the same time and for all the valid reasons you gave.

Also, thanks for again explaining the different kinds of resources needed by children with reading problems. And especially for the need for well trained and experienced staff.

People who are not paying attention think that all this is just an excuse to create high paying jobs for union workers. That is of course nonsense. When hospitals are understaffed or poorly supplied, people die. When that happens to schools, children do not learn.

And we still need to address the causes of reading problems starting with the care a pregnant woman receives. This is definitely a poverty issue.

Nutter needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 07:35.

replace 100% of those lazy, good-for-nothing pfteachers with all their whining, finger pointing, and excuses and maybe the kids could learn to read. no tenure, no seniority, no principals union. get the focus on children's progress not adults complaints.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 08:49.

Thanks for making me laugh. What do you want a dictatatorship? The SDP is only 1 district and it is the bottom of the barrel. Imposing such terms will only drive the good teachers out. But thank you for making me laugh. Seems to me that 2013 was the year to blame the teacher. Maybe 2014 will bring the reality check that you & so many other people need.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 09:40.

I assume you are writing this from North Carolina, or another similar state with non-unionized teachers. Thanks for the weather today! And how smart are the kids in the south??

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 10:26.

take out the selective admit schools and the charters and this is north carolina. and you did it. yes, the goal is to get a lot of you to leave. contrary to your delusional feelings of importance, you are replaceable. and for many of you, the replacement would be a huge improvement and that's no joke.

Submitted by HS teach (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 11:32.

You clearly don't have a slightest idea what you are talking about. I have been witnessing for at least last three years now how scores of good experienced teachers leave the district just to be replaced mainly by totally clueless, albeit well meaning individuals, who are also completely on their own in a situation of increasing chaos at schools. People who quit are usually great professionals who can find better options outside the district. Warm bodies are the ones who stay behind.

I find it interesting that people who call themselves "reformers" are mostly clueless know-nothings. Is it because instead of asking professionals about their opinion we listen to so-called "reformers" our country is going to hell in a basket?

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 12:10.

you identify yourself as a high school teacher and you correct me about the quality of the teaching staff? you are one of the delusionals. you know that high school in the district is really only about 0-12 special admit schools and maybe 2 citywide schools. before i even waste my time with you, please admit that you don't send your children to the district. if you don't disclose that information, i don't want to hear your nonsense. i've got shopping to do. and by the way, you are in the hand basket and reformers didn't put you there. you are unable to find work in your suburban school district. soon as you do, you'll join those "scores of experienced teachers" and your children in the suburbs.

Submitted by HS teach (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 17:47.

1. Teacher quality dropped in the last few years due to "reforms". I witnessed good teachers leaving to become college professors, patent lawyers, accountants, and day care providers.
2. I live in the city, and my child goes to a district school.
3. I am sick of being put down every step of the way, and I am leaving after this year for a much better place.
4. Your goal in writing these comments is to insult as many people as possible, not to make any sense. Go shopping, waste your money on worthless stuff, this is what you good for.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 12:20.

That is the truth. The exodus of great educators out of our system has been happening for a little over a decade now. I watched it happening first hand, and to be honest -- it is so sad to see.

The Hope is that the New Generation of Great teachers will rise to the occasion and save the Profession of Teaching.

What we need most is a true Renaissance of real public education so we attract and keep the best and brightest of us all and ensure that our profession is attractive enough to keep them here for life.

That is, if we really do care about our schoolchildren.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 10:41.

Yup. One more way to hold teachers solely accountable for an outcome that is affected by a myriad of issues over which they have no control. It's a freakin' witch hunt. Unfortunately, all of the good, sane, rational teachers are leaving. In what other "profession" are your words recorded and documented as a measure of your "effectiveness?" Really?!! Good luck with all that.

Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on Mon, 12/23/2013 - 20:55.

I don't want to be redundant and repeat a lot of what has ready been said here but I feel obligated to comment on the Head Start discussion.

The outsourcing of Head Start to partners was/is the beginning of the end for our program in SDP. The district used to match the grant and allowed the program to grow very large. Now, it's all early childhood grant money and they still have to fill the same amount of seats with less $. Outsourcing was seen as the only option. It's a bad option. The quality is diminished and the staff turnover at partner sites is so great that no one can keep up on training of new staff in a proper manner. Add to this no experience with all the paper work involved in staying in compliance, and no real investment in the program and I have very little faith that we will pass the federal review in 10 days.

The grant which funds SDP Head Start as the ONLY Head Start program run as a part of the public school system will be awarded to another provider. We have run one of the highest quality ECE programs that reaches more families than any other program of its type since 1970!

Because of the outsourcing, difficulty with paperwork and numerous other minor violations (one was not having the trash can lids on at all times!) the district will lose this invaluable program.

Submitted by Judith Robinson (not verified) on Tue, 01/07/2014 - 18:48.

As a Headstart Gmom ,who demand that all children read level as part of Judith Robinson Community Development Plan presented to the SRC. LET
THE PARENTS MAKE THE DECISIONS...Six years? To plan with the same folks in charge of the $$$ . Give us the $$$,we guarantee our children we be on grade @ -Anna Pratt Headstart_ North Philly!

Submitted by Judith Robinson (not verified) on Tue, 01/07/2014 - 18:59.

We are proud to report our BY bY...Ichildren reading at? 2years old in North Philly... Our Babies read !

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