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SRC approves new KIPP charter school and transfer of Douglass to Mastery

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 21, 2015 10:33 PM

The School Reform Commission Thursday approved a new K-4 KIPP charter school for West Philadelphia to open in 2016 and voted to transfer management of Young Scholars Frederick Douglass Charter School from Scholar Academies to Mastery.

The three-year KIPP charter was approved by a 3-1 vote, with SRC chair Marge Neff dissenting. Commissioner Farah Jimenez recused herself due to a potential conflict of interest.

Nurses protest District plans to privatize school health services

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 21, 2015 10:13 PM

Umbrellas in hand, more than 50 people demonstrated outside School District headquarters Thursday against District plans to outsource school-based health services, a move that could further reduce the ranks of unionized school nurses.

Several speakers said that the proposal was nothing more than a union-busting move that would line the pockets of private health care providers on the backs of children.

SRC meeting tonight: Will Young Scholars-Douglass go to Mastery?

By the Notebook on May 21, 2015 05:02 PM

At the monthly voting meeting of the School Reform Commission tonight, the District will decide the future of Young Scholars Frederick Douglass Charter School in North Philadelphia.

The District has recommended that the school, one of the original seven Renaissance schools, be kept open under the condition that the school's management be turned over to Mastery Charter Schools. 

Students tell their stories: From the verge of foster care to YESPhilly

By Dale Mezzacappa | Video by Trenae Nuri on May 21, 2015 03:12 PM

In researching our edition on "boosting graduation rates for all," the Notebook interviewed young people who had dropped out and were now reengaging in school. We asked why they left, why they returned, and what obstacles they face. Some described heartbreaking personal situations and herculean struggles. But all displayed hope and optimism about their futures. They were all eager to tell their stories.

State pension crisis: Where do we go from here?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on May 21, 2015 01:03 PM

There may not be three more yawn-inducing words in the English language than public employee pensions.

But because the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is saddled with $53 billion in state employee pension debt, those words are at the center of nearly every conversation in Harrisburg this spring.

Was school choice on Tuesday's ballot in Philadelphia?

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on May 21, 2015 09:45 AM

Three billionaires gave more than $6 million to support a candidate in favor of school choice, namely State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, in this year's Democratic primary for Philadelphia mayor.

But at the polls Tuesday night, voters pushed more buttons for public education stalwarts like Helen Gym instead.

Cuts could put graduation gains at risk, Nutter and others warn

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 20, 2015 05:17 PM

A key author of a new report showing rising graduation rates in Philadelphia, especially among vulnerable student groups, warned that the impact of recent District budget cuts has not yet shown up in the data and could affect future classes.

Group asks state Supreme Court to hear school funding case

By David Limm on May 20, 2015 04:15 PM

Several school districts, parents, and groups have taken a lawsuit alleging Pennsylvania's school funding system to be unconstitutional to the state Supreme Court.

An appeal filed Wednesday by the plaintiffs seeks to force the state's highest court to hear a case dismissed last month by Commonwealth Court. In that decision, the court ruled, as it has in prior lawsuits, that the question of school funding and what level of it is constitutional is a matter for the state legislature to decide.

How, and how much, are teachers paid in Pennsylvania?

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on May 20, 2015 01:59 PM

In the Multiple Choices podcast, Keystone Crossroads senior education writer Kevin McCorry joins with Paul Socolar, publisher and editor of the Public School Notebook, and Notebook contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa to explain and explore the history, complexities and controversies of public education funding in Pennsylvania.

A lot, relatively speaking. The average starting salary for a teacher in Pennsylvania as of the 2012-13 school year was $41,901. Nationally, that number puts the state ninth for highest starting teacher pay, behind Alaska, California, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Wyoming.

The average starting teacher salary for the country that year was $36,141.

SRC to vote on turning over Young Scholars-Douglass to Mastery

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 19, 2015 10:01 PM

The School Reform Commission plans to vote on a resolution Thursday that keeps open the academically struggling Young Scholars Frederick Douglass charter school in North Philadelphia on the condition that its management be taken over by Mastery Charter.

Douglass is one of the initial seven low-performing District schools given to a charter operator for academic turnaround in 2010 under the Renaissance schools initiative, and it is the first to be recommended for transfer from one charter operator to another. 

State pension crisis: How did we get here?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on May 19, 2015 09:45 AM

Pick your favorite issue or cause in Pennsylvania: public education, services for the poor, tax breaks for businesses.

Chances are, there's going to be less money for any of these moving forward because the state's public employee pension bill is growing exponentially, with a current unfunded liability of $53 billion.

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