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City and School District give library cards to nearly 100K students

Submitted by thenotebook on Tue, 04/15/2014 - 15:02 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

In a year that's seen budget cuts all but eradicate librarians from the Philadelphia School District's buildings, the District is now leaning even more heavily on the Free Library of Philadelphia to help make up for that shortfall.

The schools and the library have merged their databases and determined that roughly 98,000 of the School District's 136,000 students do not yet have cards for the city's public libraries. Based on that data merge, the library and the District will now distribute personalized library cards to every student without one.

Revisiting Beeber: Crisis averted or simply postponed?

Submitted by thenotebook on Tue, 04/15/2014 - 14:03 Posted in Commentary | Permalink

by Samantha Osaki

April 16, 2013, seemed to be a day of unmitigated success for Dimner Beeber Middle School’s community. Initially slated to close as part of the Philadelphia School District’s downsizing process, Beeber was spared because, according to Supertintendent William Hite, an alternate proposal put forward during a community meeting to reshape the school had urged the School Reform Commission to rethink its decision.

Though two other factors (safety concerns surrounding the death of a high school student and the co-location of the Science Leadership Academy, a touted magnet school, in Beeber’s building) may have been enough to save the school regardless of the community’s efforts, parents were indispensable. According to Beeber teacher and education activist Sam Reed, parents were critical to "the preservation of the nature of the school [as] a place that’s by and for the people who live" in the Overbrook/Wynnefield area.

PSP, PennCAN weigh in on District's move to impose contract terms

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Tue, 04/15/2014 - 10:56 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

The latest "friend of the court" brief in the legal battle over whether the School Reform Commission can impose contract terms on the teachers' union, in the face of stalled negotiations and a worsening budget scenario, is from the Philadelphia School Partnership and PennCAN.

The groups urge the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where the SRC filed its motion, to act soon. "The situation has deteriorated to the point that it requires prompt and definitive resolution," says the brief, which was prepared by the law firm Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young.

High and low points from the AERA education conference

Submitted by James H. Lytle on Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:32 Posted in Commentary | Permalink

I had to go to a national conference to find out what was happening in my own city’s schools. Conveniently, the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting was held in Philadelphia this year, the first time this gathering of 15,000 academics and policy folks has met in our city.

The conference lasted for five days, and at any time there may have been as many as 50 different sessions going on. In deference to the host city and in recognition of how much experimentation is going on in our public schools, a number of the sessions focused on Philadelphia, covering such topics as portfolio management and parent engagement. There were also planned visits to local schools and communities to meet with locals and plan or share research.

My own highlights and "low" lights:

Opposition forming to Pa. plan for scrapping school property taxes

Submitted by thenotebook on Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:34 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

by Mary Wilson for NewsWorks

Pennsylvania's Senate could vote this spring on a proposal to eliminate school property taxes.

The sponsor of a Senate plan to replace school property taxes with higher sales and personal income levies says it has bipartisan backing -- and enough co-sponsors to pass a vote.

But opponents of the measure are mobilizing.

Teachers create website to document District's budget crisis

Submitted by thenotebook on Mon, 04/14/2014 - 10:20 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

Criticize your boss publicly ... and your job security may be at risk.

That's the mantra many Philadelphia School District teachers follow in keeping their criticisms of the current funding crisis confined to anonymous message boards.

But a new website designed by a recently formed faction of the teachers' union, the Caucus of Working Educators, is turning that philosophy on its head with "Philly Teachers Sound the Alarm."

Questions about Renaissance charter costs from a former SRC member

Submitted by David Limm on Fri, 04/11/2014 - 16:37 Posted in Latest news | Permalink


Former School Reform Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky penned a letter to Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn this week, nudging him with questions about the cost of converting two traditional District schools to Renaissance charters. Answers to those questions, Dworetzky says, would make clearer, and more public, information useful in deciding whether to hand management of two North Philadelphia schools over to charter school operators.

Notebook editorial: Making up for lost time

Posted in April 2014 Edition | Permalink

One of the many casualties of the extreme budget cuts suffered by Philadelphia schools in recent years is a drastic reduction in extended learning time offerings – afterschool and summer programs. We won’t shed tears for some of the “drill and kill” test prep activities that bit the dust. But a good school system must provide access to supports like tutoring and academic enrichment activities after hours and in the summer. And those programs have been decimated.

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