by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
Wawa is circulating literature that raises concerns about a proposal to tax cigarettes in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia's City Council voted last week to impose a new $2 tax on every pack of cigarettes, but the proposal still requires state legislation. It is part of a plan to bail out the city's schools, which are facing a $304 million budget deficit next fiscal year.
Wawa shared a document with some Pennsylvania lawmakers and the Corbett administration, which states that the $2 tax would create a black market for cigarettes.
See also: State eyes $100M boost for Philly School District. Daily News
See also: Council: We've done our part for schools; now Pa. needs to help. NewsWorks/Notebook
The day that Gov. Corbett jumped the shock. Daily News
See also: Germantown High's rich history. Daily News
Goodbye Germantown. Daily News
Where is the Council's school funding guarantee? Parents United
by Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks
Philadelphia City Council is poised to pass its funding solution for the city's public schools this week. But the formula will depend on cooperation from Pennsylvania legislators.
The Council plans to pass a tax of $2-per-pack of cigarettes, proposed by Mayor Nutter, combined with enhanced revenue collection of about $28 million in back taxes.
Discovery Charter School staged a festive ribbon-cutting for its new building in Parkside on Tuesday, declaring in a press release that it had settled a dispute over payments with the School Reform Commission and that its charter had been renewed.
Discovery did agree to repay the School District for students it enrolled beyond what was called for in its signed contract, according to District spokesman Fernando Gallard. However, he said, Discovery officials have yet to sign a new charter agreement.
by Sonia Giebel
Natalie Hawtin is in demand. “Parents are clamoring to have their children in her class next year,” wrote Greenfield Elementary School parent Jacqueline F. Bershad in a letter to Superintendent William Hite, “even though the other 2nd grade teachers are excellent, beloved, and much more experienced."
Another parent, Serena Dignan Fisher, wishes she “could just clone [Ms. Hawtin]” because she is “that good.” For example, Hawtin helped introduce a nationally prominent literacy program to 2nd grade this year, which was her first at the school. Hite himself visited her classroom in October, and left impressed.
“He thanked me for my hard work and told me my classroom looked great,” Hawtin said.
by Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks
As the budget process in Philadelphia nears a conclusion, the group that oversees the city's finances is cleaning off its magnifying glass to take a look.
Sam Katz, head of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, says that with the city receiving a boost to its bond rating this week, taking care of the public schools appears to be the biggest problem. He says the city, state, and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers all need to be part of the solution.
by James H. Lytle
When I started working for the School District in 1970, there were 300,000 students attending 265 schools. When the new school year begins, there will be 200,000 students at 303 schools, including charter schools. There are now more and smaller schools than there were in 1970, when some high schools had 4,000 students and were on double shifts. In one sense, this shift can be seen as an improvement, because small schools tend to be more caring and effective than big schools.
But as the number of schools increased, the demand for school leaders -- principals -- grew markedly too. At the same time, the job of principal has become more complex, more demanding, and less attractive in a District ill-equipped to support or retain quality school leaders.
by Mary Wilson for NewsWorks
One Democratic state lawmaker is warning that poor schools are being overlooked as the Pennsylvania legislature gets down to the final two weeks of budget negotiations.
Sen. Anthony Williams points to the Philadelphia School District, which is laying off nearly 3,800 workers, and says other financially distressed districts will join it soon if the state doesn't send more money.
Lawmakers are too busy trying to find consensus on policy issues orbiting around the budget, he said.
See also: Four go on hunger strike for Philly schools. Daily News
Graduation speech to the SLA class of 2013. Practical Theory
Dwight Evans’ laughable plea for school funding. Chalk and Talk
Forum Stirs Enthusiasm for Community Schools in Philly. Our City Our Schools
Easing the transition to South Philly High for students at Bok. Philadelphia Student Union
Two parents and two employees of the School District have begun a hunger strike in response to the recent layoffs of 1,202 noontime aides, MSNBC reports.
The strike, called “Fast for Safe Schools,” began Monday morning on the steps of the governor’s Philadelphia office. The activists plan to drink only water until the state and city have the funds to rehire aides.
by Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks
With Philadelphia's public schools bracing for a bare-bones budget in the fall, a City Council hearing looked at other countries as places to emulate.
Republican Councilman-at-large David Oh called for the hearing, saying that fixing Philadelphia schools will take more than restoring budget cuts.
"Just throwing money at a problem isn't helpful, and I think it's irresponsible not to try to fix the problem. While there are some good schools and students that benefit from those schools, overall our students are not doing well and do not have the type of educational experiences or resources that they should have."
The Notebook announced the winners of the ninth annual Philadelphia Student Journalism Awards for high school journalists at its “Turning the Page for Change” event last week. The Notebook recognizes and honors the best work of Philadelphia's high school newspaper writers and editors during a special awards ceremony at the annual event. This year, illustrations and photography were also included in the honors.
Twelve high schools submitted entries from print and online publications. Notebook staff and volunteers evaluated the submissions and selected a winner in each of four categories. The winners received prizes, including a cash award, and honorable mentions received citations during the Notebook’s event, which was held last Tuesday at University of the Arts, Hamilton Hall.
Here are this year's winners and honorable mention recipients.
Deathly ill public ed needs state meds. Daily News
Schools' friend in Harrisburg. Inquirer
Karen Heller: An academic turnaround Inquirer
View of an education apocalypse. Inquirer
Can school reform hurt communities? NY Times
by Mark McHugh
Members of the Philadelphia Student Union and the faith-based organizing group POWER conducted a boisterous rally in front of Gov. Corbett’s Philadelphia headquarters on Friday afternoon.
Several hundred protesters were there to object to the “doomsday” budget that the School Reform Commission recently enacted due to insufficient revenue. They marched from LOVE Park, past City Hall, to Corbett's office at 200 S. Broad St.
The other shoe has dropped: The School District issued layoff notices Friday to 76 employees in its central and regional offices, eliminating 137 jobs.
"The new round of layoffs will impact all central administrative offices, including academic and operational functions," said a District statement. The layoffs will save $23 million. Some departments were cut by 40 percent.