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Hearings start Dec. 8 for 40 new charter school applicants

By Kevin McCorry and Paul Socolar for NewsWorks and the Notebook on Nov 26, 2014 06:55 PM

For the first time in years, the Philadelphia School District is accepting applications to open new charter schools.

Many of the applicants, which are listed below, are already familiar names. KIPP proposes three new schools, String Theory seeks four, and Mastery wants two, as do American Paradigm and MaST.

There are also some interesting newcomers making pitches.

UPenn report finds Pa. schools need an additional $3.5 billion

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 26, 2014 04:52 PM

A new report from the University of Pennsylvania finds that the state's school districts need an additional $3.5 billion to educate all students to meet academic proficiency standards.

Education issues to consider in the mayoral race

By James Lytle on Nov 26, 2014 02:00 PM

Although the mayoral primary isn’t until May, prospective candidates for mayor are already testing their prospects. 

Four have already announced their intentions to run: former head of the city's Redevelopment Authority Terry Gillen, former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo, former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, and State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams. In the view of many Philadelphians, there is no more important issue than the future of public education in the city. And advocacy groups like the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools are already determining what issues to focus on and which candidates they might support.

In some respects the issues seem obvious: increased funding, local control, and restored services like libraries, counselors, and nurses. But the devil is in the details. What specifically would the candidates do? What is the candidate’s record on support for city schools? What experience does the candidate have in dealing with City Council and Harrisburg? 

Campaign for education funding draws broad support statewide

By Shannon Nolan on Nov 26, 2014 12:14 PM

More than 40 organizations joined forces in early October to launch a statewide campaign that calls for a fair school funding formula and access to quality education for all children, no matter where in Pennsylvania they live.

Known as the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, the coalition has a mission of ensuring that Pennsylvania adopts a K-12 public education funding system by 2016 that is “adequate and equitable,” with a focus on the importance of accuracy, stability for students and schools, shared responsibility, and strong accountability standards.

"Every child deserves a chance to succeed,” said campaign manager Kathy Manderino at the press conference announcing the effort. “We need a fair, sustainable and predictable method for funding public schools that recognizes the shared responsibility we all have – and the shared benefits we all receive – when every Pennsylvania child gets that opportunity."

Member organizations, including businesses and faith-based groups, educators, school district representatives and child advocates from across the state, agreed that sufficient resources are necessary so children can achieve success and that a collective effort is imperative, according to a campaign statement.

Constitution High students march to Liberty Bell to protest Ferguson

By Shannon Nolan and Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 25, 2014 03:07 PM

Cimani Cox was sitting in English class when teacher Rob Paul brought up what had happened the night before in Ferguson -- a grand jury's decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

She decided she had to do something about it. After all, this is Constitution High School.

Before long, she had the support of principal Tom Davidson and teachers for a protest march. 

Reader feedback invited: Teaching about Ferguson in Philadelphia

By Paul Socolar on Nov 25, 2014 01:03 PM

Many Philadelphia students have yesterday's news on their minds today -- of the non-indictment in last summer's police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. And some teachers and schools have changed their plans for the day to give students an opportunity to respond.

The Notebook would like to hear from teachers, parents, and others about how you are engaging with young people about that news. Please share your experiences and thoughts in our comments.

Addressing childhood trauma in schools: Expert views

By Paul Jablow on Nov 25, 2014 12:36 PM

William Hite had not even started his first day as superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia in August 2012 when he called for changes in climate in the system’s classrooms and corridors.

At a principals' summit that month, Hite said, “We can't arrest our way to higher student achievement. … We can't suspend our way to higher student achievement. We can't arrest or suspend our way to safer schools.

“Sometimes that angry look, that stare, that inappropriate response, is a cry for help more so than anything else.”

Neff: SRC action on teachers' contract was unfair, but conditions in schools are unjust

By Marjorie Neff on Nov 24, 2014 12:27 PM

The School Reform Commission’s decision to cancel the contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and require teachers and staff to contribute to their health insurance premiums has been described as unfair. I agree.

I expect that my colleagues on the SRC feel the same way. But our decision was born in response to a larger and profound injustice being inflicted on Philadelphia’s children. 

When we describe something as unfair, we usually mean we think it’s wrong. When something is unjust, it goes beyond issues of fairness to violate a moral code. People of good will can disagree about whether requiring teachers and staff to contribute to health insurance premiums is the fair or right thing to do.

But there can be no argument that denying children basic conditions for learning is an injustice.  

Researcher delves into Adverse Childhood Experiences

By Paul Jablow on Nov 21, 2014 02:20 PM

Since the spring of 2013, Roy Wade has seen the impact of trauma on urban youth and adults in low-income neighborhoods from three vantage points.

One is from his Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia research office 13 floors above Market Street.

A second is from his pediatrics office in the Cobbs Creek section of West Philadelphia.

And the third is from his travels in the neighborhoods to such places as boys’ and girls’ clubs, YMCAs, community health centers, homeless shelters, primary care sites and behavioral health organizations.

Beers, bars and babies: Next generation of Philly school parents gets serious

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 21, 2014 12:59 PM

Dark bars, craft beers, cooing babies and a basic philosophical belief in the power of public education: Meet the new generation of urban-professional parents who just may be crucial to the long-term success of the Philadelphia School District.

At two separate evening events in the city this week, throngs of young, civically minded parents gathered at bars to drink in the pros and cons of sending their not-yet-school-aged children to the District's oft-beleaguered neighborhood public schools.

For Tom Wyatt, an attorney by trade, that neighborhood school would be Andrew Jackson Elementary.

From the archives: Policy 102: the District’s stated commitment to equity for all

By the Notebook on Nov 21, 2014 12:58 PM

The Notebook launched in 1994 as a newspaper committed to ensuring quality and equity in Philadelphia public schools. We celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first publication earlier this year. We are featuring an article from our archives each week, shedding light on both the dramatic changes that have taken place in public education and the persistent issues facing Philadelphia's school system.

This piece is from the Fall 2002 print edition:


by Shauna Brown

When the Philadelphia school board adopted the “Multiracial-Multicultural-Gender Education” policy known as Policy 102 on January 24, 1994, advocates of equity in education saw a glimmer of hope in a city and school system plagued by a long history of inequality and discrimination.

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