Donate today!
view counter

Promise Academy Saturday attendance poor

By Benjamin Herold on Jun 9, 2011 10:54 PM

Only slightly more than half of students in the School District’s six current Promise Academies participate in one of the schools’ most significant – and expensive – interventions.

According to month-by-month reports released by the District this week, the median student attendance figure for the six schools’ Saturday school programming was 54 percent. The schools are open for two four-hour Saturday sessions a month, which are used for both academics and enrichment activities.

The figures provided by the District for each school show student attendance in the Saturday programming ranged from a high of 64 percent (at Dunbar Elementary, which is the smallest of the Promise Academies, with 170 students) to a low of 48 percent (at University City High, the second largest of the Promise Academies, with 638 students.)

For several of the schools, the District data show tremendous variation from month to month. At Clemente Middle School, for example, 71 percent of students attended the first Saturday session, last October. By May, however, that figure had dropped to 41 percent.

“The kids who have been coming are the ones who are your better students, but it’s the kids who aren’t there who need the extra help,” said a Clemente teacher, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.

“Our principal has been auctioning off iPods and bikes to get attendance up, but I don’t think it’s had very much impact,” the teacher added.

Although Saturday attendance has been low, weekday attendance at the Promise Academies has improved. The newly released District data shows that through May of this year, all four Promise Academy elementary and middle schools have an average daily attendance over 90 percent. The two Promise Academy high schools, University City and Vaux, both have average daily attendance over 80 percent.

But it costs extra to operate the Saturday classes, because all teachers are required to work the extra time and are paid their hourly rate for doing so. With the District facing a $629 million budget shortfall, the added expense of operating these District-run “turnaround” schools, which are overseen directly by Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, has become a hot-button issue.

While planning to slash the allocations to most other schools by as much as 30 percent, the District has fought hard to maintain most of the added expense of the Promise Academies, calling it a “moral obligation” to provide the extra resources to some of the city’s neediest schools. 

In a statement that accompanied the release of the data, District spokesperson Elizabeth Childs seemed to acknowledge that the Saturday student attendance figures are cause for concern.

“We are considering options for next year to maximize the effectiveness of this educational time while being sensitive to the students’ and their families’ schedules and the taxpayers’ dollars,” wrote Childs.

Extra instructional time is one of the key components of the Promise Academy model. In addition to the Saturday sessions, the six current Promise Academies stay open an extra hour from Monday to Thursday. 

Overall, it has cost the District approximately $7 million this year to cover the additional time for roughly 280 teachers in the existing Promise Academies. District officials were not able to provide an exact cost figure for the Saturday sessions at the six schools so far this year.

For next year, the District is budgeting well over $20 million for extra staff costs in the Promise Academies. Starting next fall, 11 new schools – including several large high schools – will join their ranks.

But as the District’s budget crisis continues to generate headlines, some aspects of the Promise Academies have become increasingly controversial.

During weeks of public hearings, some parents, activists, and City Council members have questioned the District’s decision to prioritize the as-yet unproven intervention despite proposing to cut programs with a clear impact, such as full-day kindergarten.

“We need a concrete commitment from the District to use its resources for initiatives that produce significant and demonstrable results for students,” wrote Councilman Bill Green, a frequent District critic, in an open letter to Mayor Nutter last week.

Because this is the first year for the Promise Academies, there are not yet any solid student performance data on which to measure their effectiveness. As evidence of the model’s success, District officials have pointed to the results of so-called “predictive” tests, as well as data indicating improved school climate at the schools.

The District is also attempting to exempt some Promise Academy teachers from the mass layoffs it is undertaking. That decision prompted a lawsuit from the teachers’ union. 

“It’s a basic issue of fairness. The School District cannot pick and choose arbitrarily who is laid off,” said Jerry Jordan, the president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, upon winning an injunction last week that temporarily halted the layoffs of 1,523 teachers.

Click Here
view counter

Comments (103)

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 5:43 am

While I do not know if this is true at the Promise Academies, I have worked at a school with low attendance where the principal marked students present who were not at school. This is easy to do - just change their attendance on the on-line system - "Scholarchip." We had to have 80% a day so the principal told the secretary to mark enough students present to get to 80%. Hopefully, this is not occurring at other schools but if a school is under a lot of pressure to increase attendance, just as school "cheat" on standardized testing, they may "cheat" on attendance.

Even if the numbers are not inflated, the expenditure for Saturday appears to be ill advised. This is especially true if those who attend on Saturday are not the students who require the extra time. Maybe, rather than making it mandatory (and costing money that is better spent elsewhere), only students who need extra support should attend. I believe this is what is done at some charter schools like Mastery.

As a parent, it would be nice if the School District would provide my children with a lot of extra opportunities but this is coming at the expense of other children. If students at "promise academies" receive many extra curricular activities/academic supports after school and on Saturday while most students in the SDP will get nothing because of budget cuts, the money needs to be more equitably shared. It is the same with Ackerman's summer program. In tight times, less expensive alternatives need to be considered.

Submitted by Frank Murphy on June 10, 2011 7:48 am

 In these fiscally challenging times, our district leaders clearly need to cut spending.  This is a step that they have long avoided as they pursued their pet projects.  But even now in the face of financial ruin, they still refuse to cut funding to extravagant activities of dubious value and limited utility to the broader student population.

Educational funding should be spent on proven strategies that will provide the greatest benefit to all of the children enrolled in the School District.  While it is difficult to ensure that important programs will be left untouched when facing such an enormous budget gap of $629 million, keeping less essential activities of similar cost, such as the Promise Academies, benchmark tests, and a summer program is not

It is in moments of great crises that the moral fiber of leaders is tested.   What they choose to sacrifice and what they struggle to save during a devastating financial downturn tell us much about their values and beliefs.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 3:53 pm

I am going to slightly expand on your points.

First, you said it nicely but I wholeheartedly believe it: these are inflated by 5-10%. I have no firm basis for this except that one can almost guarantee that either a) they are lying b) they made mistakes or c) kids came and then left. There is a "d"-- kids came and weren't counted-- but that is most likely wrong or balanced out by reason "b." Oh, and I have been to these schools on the weekends, and no one is there except for frustrated teachers.

Then, the article notes that while no exact cost figure is available, it is probably around $7M. Now stick with me here through. Each school houses: D: 170 S, EA: 387, PT: 415, C: 708, V: 339, UC: 638. That total attendance is: 2,657.

Median attendane is 54%. Like I said, I believe that is high. I give them 50%. So you are looking at 50% of 2,567 students (1,284) at $7M, which is an additional $5,450/student cost. (You can disagree with my methodology-- I am just doing a little basic counting, nothing fancy, I know you could do it better.)

So you could just stop there and ask: do the returns on educational outcomes for kids justify that cost? What other alternatives are there at that price?

A more specific question to ask would be, What educational gains can be causally linked to the value of this program? Does it so happen that student A, who attended Saturday school consistently from September, drastically out-performed his peers even though he was similar in most respects to them? Does that justify the expenditure? Or did he not?

Oh, but that would be logical-- instead the District has no idea. But don't worry: it just knows this is the best choice. Trust them. When have they been wrong when it comes to the best uses of money for kids? Hey, turnstiles help educational outcomes. They just do.

Unfortunately, the school district has repeatedly shown that it 1) possesses no long-term planning with respect to research-based outcomes 2) will wantonly skew or misuse data to prove its agenda (*see Audenreid takeover) and 3) has absolutely no one who I think is any good at anything in terms of research at their headquarters (and I have interacted with some of these people).

Despite having incredible resources at their command-- Temple, Drexel, Penn, the City-- this administration has routinely showed that not only is it tone-deaf to political issues (South Phila HS) but also ignorant in utilizing a myriad of resources to improve its policies. So when we criticize them for ridiculous financial mismanagement, politically-motivated decisions (D. Evans) and general stupidity, let's not not forget that in terms of research-based decision-making, they are also morons.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 10:03 pm

Your last point is so important and I would really like to see more reporting on why the District and the colleges/universities and the City do not work closely together; and, in many ways, been shut out of the process of building viable partnerships with the schools. In speaking with individuals from all schools mentioned above, I have found similar concerns and interests in working with the schools, but no real interest from the District. I wonder why and how to recify the situation if necessary, and move forward so that the schools and the District can work together in meaningful ways.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 4:51 pm

we also mark students present when they are not, as our number s also have to stay up. We also don't suspend students even when they should be, because those numbers are also viewed.Too much shady business to keep track of, it is a shame.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 11, 2011 2:09 am

I have worked for the Philadelphia school district. The problem is many fold. I will say that until people accept that there is a deficiency in the culture, there will be no change in the education or achievement of any black youth. People in power within the city establishment have made it unacceptable to criticize or challenge these kids. Where they suffer most is not only the lack of preparation before they enter high school, but also the unwillingness to say these kids are not appropriate to proceed to the next year. The biggest disservice to these intercity kids is that now one has the clout to say they are not ready to accept the challenge they are given. Not because they are not genetically capable, but because we have allowed a culture to exist that doesn't value the intelligent, regardless of race.

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 10, 2011 6:07 am

Another pertinent Notebook article on a subject the Inquirer has completely ignored. They still haven't reported on Dworetzky's moving to CA and keeping his SRC job.

Thank you for staying on top of items like these (and please report on the shell game being played with teacher layoffs - nearly 1,000 or more retirements/resignations and yet they laid off 300 more people than they originally claimed - about 50 percent of total layoffs were teachers) and keep asking questions rather than ignoring big issues to write press releases for the district, as Kristen Graham, the Inquirer's 'top' education reporter, continues to do.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 11:48 am

Extra-curricular activities come from families that run booster clubs and bake sales. The Philadelphia School District wants to give children advantages found in the more affluent 'burbs. I understand the noble impulse, however, if we fail to teach kids basic reading and math, their advancement to the next level will never happen. The extra-money will be a cruel joke. it already is.

Here's an idea. Male the Promise Academies places where homework counts and parent participation is rewarded. So, for a child that does their homework for the month, perhaps their family can recieve $100 to be used for a mortgage payment, school supplies, or a celebration dinner at a fancy restaurant. IN OTHER WORDS ENCOURAGE THE STRUCTURAL REFORMS WHICH WILL BENEFIT THE CHILD AND THEIR FAMILY AND THIS CITY LONG-TERM.

The strange thinking from the Philadelphia school District leadership is the problem! Their is more than enough money to change our schools for real long-term improvement! Since I can do Dr. Ackerman's job better than she can, may I get a job teaching next year? LOL

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 1:02 pm

This data is yet another example of how you don't have to actually succeed in order to rise in the PSD. Ethel Allen was recently featured in a lovely piece of propaganda during CNBC's Town Hall last Sunday. The principal was more than willing to pat himself on the back, yet look at his performance when it comes to this costly reform. The data was horrible until the three months leading up to the PSSA. It seem like the suddenly got religion, then lost it again once the test was finished.

The principal of Vaux was recently promoted to run King, yet he could only get 1/2 of his students to attend during the three months prior to testing.

As with Linda Wayman (whose data at Rhodes was distinctly unremarkable) , data only applies when it can be used against someone they want to be rid of.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 5:06 pm

Of course they weren't showing clear signs of improvement until recently-- Ethel Allen became a Promise Academy because of extremely low scores. It takes time to make improvement. Students have come a big way since the beginning of the year!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 5:22 pm

Stop hiding behind children. My post addressed adult conduct. The PSD chose to feature Ethel Allen in a propaganda film about the alleged successes of Promise Academies. The data shows that they had pretty much the worst Saturday school attendance until it spiked dramatically in the immediate months preceding the PSSA. Obviously improvement takes time, but I'm not the one patting myself on the back about what is, at best, a dubious solution to a very real problem. The kids are smart, so if you teach to the test the scores will rise. Big deal. Will they eventually be ready for college? The data is NOT promising.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 11, 2011 2:13 am

The answer for Philly kids is not easy. I can guarantee charter schools are not the answer though. These schools kick out the most difficult kids, then boast great test scores. Any school can achieve without having to deal with the problematic kids that naturally come with the area. Education is essential to the success of not only our city kids, but the success of all suburban students who hope for a reliable public education.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 6:56 pm

I disagree wholeheartedly concerning Wayman. Rhodes made significant GAINS. Though the data was still low, in some cases it doubled in specific grades year over year while she was there.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 9:27 pm

Please provide evidence. The PSSA reading data I was shown revealed a few years of wild fluctuation, that led to significant gains (59% proficient or advanced) in the final year. But again, there was heavy emphasis on teaching eligible content. Anyone can teach to a test and make scores go up, but that doesn't prepare kids for higher learning. Wayman bullies people into the 7-step lesson and all that other test prep business, but the people at the top are only making themselves look good. The kids are not learning enough. The data speaks for itself.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 9:09 pm

Rhodes is not a role model. According to the SDP, 11th grade math scores in 2010 were about 28% proficient and in reading about 38% proficient. In other words, more than 70% were not proficient in math and more than 60% in reading. Considering Wayman runs a testing factory, these are not good results. Wayman's dictatorial style and disrespect and disregarding for other's opinions makes her a lousy so-called leader. Wayman, and her inept support staff, need to be replaced by a competent leader who know something about teaching and learning and support staff who know what should happen in a high school. Wayman's only concern is getting students PSSA ready - which she obviously did not do well at Rhodes - rather than career/college ready.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 10:32 pm

Check your numbers. Those are the previous year's results. The numbers practically doubled last year.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 10:51 pm

Everyone knows that if numbers double there can only be one explanation.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 11:02 pm

Umm ... what? A lot of hard work?

You sound like a disgruntled teacher with your shameful innuendo.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 10:52 am

Yes, they were multiplied by two!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 10:36 am

Nothing you are saying refutes my original point. The data under Wayman went up, down, then up again, yet never achieved a measure of success that should have warranted that she and her incompetent staff be in charge of high schools. That is, unless we have no respect for children and their ability to learn. You're talking to people that are armed with facts, and who don't need to hide behind tired homilies.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 6:37 am

My numbers are correct - this is math from the SDP web site for the 2009-2010 school year (last year) -

This is reading -

The emetric site has Rhodes combined 7th, 8th and 11th grade scores. That gives Rhodes a "bump." But, if you are comparing Rhodes 11th grade scores to other high school scores (since high schools only have 11th grade test scores), they certainly are nothing to brag about. Other neighborhood high schools have higher scores.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 8:15 am

It has to do with making GAINS, and it takes time to create any kind of change. Many other schools in the district have remained stagnant - that is nothing to brag about. Also, that SDP number includes ALL schools, including special admit.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 8:06 am

Unfortunately, you and the person who accused me of making a shameful innuendo are missing the point. These schools are playing a zero sum game. Teach to the test, scores will rise. The real picture, however, is that this pedagogy, however well executed, is NOT preparing students for higher education. Students are not being taught to read in serious and substantive manner. They are taught to look for one right answer, one correct way of interpreting things. That is what is shameful. And as for the one who accuses me of shameful innuendo - when the Roosevelt scores spike dramatically Ackerman praised the principal. But there was cheating.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 9:45 am

Cheating went on at my school as well. It is amazing that no one will listen to what we actually live and breathe every day. Watching kids get burned out and sick of testing. The hoop la that builds up before the PSSA's. Taking regular classes away from kids so they can practice PSSA prompts. It is a crime. My school we lost about 2 months of meaningful instruction. Our ability to teach the content was destroyed.....all the while my principal was saying stay on track with the curriculum. It was impossible. Who suffered......The Students.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 9:37 am

I understand your concern, as it is my concern as well. I agree that any person who can read in a "serious and substantive manner" should be able to easily pass the PSSA. However, district-wide students are not being taught basic literacy. We need to be honest and say that whether or not we like the test, it is a necessary evil and it does measure reading ability. Though many great works of literature are open to interpretation, the PSSA requires only that you can synthesize what you've read. Many students in the district have not been taught this basic skill. If you start there, then you can progress to collegiate level interpretation. One step at a time. It takes patience and strategic teaching.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 1:28 pm

I really have to disagree with your position on test. In the first place, the results aren't necessarily valid or reliable. Look at Roosevelt and by all accounts there are many other such examples. Additionally, it is questionable that tests accurately reflect ability. There are too many other variables involved, and testing tends to convince many kids and some teachers that ability is fixed. Finally, the test often drives instruction and that is educational malpractice.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 12:34 pm

The scores prove Wayman's approach does NOT work. Her bully / threatening tactics against students and teachers do NOT work. Her rigid, follow the script, 7 step lesson does NOT work. Wayman is good for one thing - bullying and threatening into submission. The AD - 1 office is a joke. No one in the office is qualified to run high schools.

Submitted by Veteran of WPHS "Renaissance" (not verified) on June 11, 2011 9:39 am

You should check out the mobility rates at Rhodes, the number of suspensions, etc. It is shockingly high. Over 100% (meaning many students are being suspended multiple times.) It would take some serious analysis, but would be interesting to see how that relates to test scores. Who is taking the test and who isn't? Are kids being sifted to make sure higher performing students are present/continue to be enrolled in the school?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 10:40 am

I'm familiar with the data. It is related to creating a culture of accountability and maintaining an environment that is conducive to learning. Certain behaviors are not tolerated, which is important for academic and real world success. For the record, EVERY student takes the PSSA at that school.

I think it's sad that all the hard work teachers and administrators undertake every day is being completely discounted - and never mind the hard work of all the students. Is it so hard to believe that it's just a little elbow grease, love, and dedication that can make a difference? It's sad, really.

Submitted by Veteran of WPHS "Renaissance" (not verified) on June 11, 2011 11:26 am

Is anyone tracking what happens to those kids who are suspended multiple times? Are they eventually buying in the "culture of accountability"? If so, how many suspensions does it take to enculturate them?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 11:29 am

I appreciate your piety, but this post is truly hilarious. There is not person that questioned the quality of the teachers. Like many others who claim to be data driven, you change the subject when confronted with reality. To assert that an extremely high suspension rate is about accountability is patently absurd. It is quite obvious that students don't take that threat seriously. If you are suggesting that teachers leave because they don't want to be accountable, nice try. I personally know of many highly qualified teachers who left Rhodes because they were tire of the abusive actions directed at both children and teachers. They were tired of being micro-managed and bullied. Everyone who has experienced Wayman's team knows this is true. These people know absolutely nothing about the art and science and pedagogy. This why there is only response is the test factory model, the model that is clearly failing because students are not ready for college.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 10:10 am

Many students leave the school because they know the work load will be easier at other institutions.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 2:40 pm

I've heard about faked attendance data from several people at different schools. I've also heard that teachers at one of the promise academies combed through PSSA's and contacted students individually to get them to complete tests. Sadly, neither of these reports strikes me as unlikely.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 8:57 pm

Nothing would surprise me about the Promise Academies and yes, I have heard lots of nonsense like that too. Like Charters, Promise Academies are a farce, a charade masquerading as exceptional schools. Truth is they are less successful than traditional public schools who are considered obscene. Just crap in all directions.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 3:18 pm

Have you BEEN to any of the Promise Academies?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 5:52 pm

How would one get in? I'm told they look very good...and I'm sure they have many dedicated teachers. But I believe that there is tremendous pressure placed on them to put on the proper dog and pony show. I trust the person who told me there was cheating. It didn't surprise me.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2011 12:31 pm

Of course there is cheating. Cheating is everywhere but the stress at a P.A. is even worse. The whole thing is a farce and we all know it. No CLB, AYP et al are all nonsense.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2011 12:32 pm

Of course there is cheating. Cheating is everywhere but the stress at a P.A. is even worse. The whole thing is a farce and we all know it. No CLB, AYP et al are all nonsense.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2011 1:50 pm

No, I don't have the Nuclear Code needed to get in. Plus, those sniper nests are difficult to avoid. Just a complete farce in plain sight.

Submitted by Broken record (not verified) on June 11, 2011 5:03 pm

Most people will never believe school test score data until the tests are administered and scored by an outside organization. There is just too much test procedure "variability" in this district.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 6:51 pm

This is true. They know it's true. They also coached students and whispered in their ears.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 4:31 pm

Having taught in the Summer Slam and Slam Dunk program last summer, I can attest to the wasteful spending of millions of dollars. Very few students opted to stay in school until 3 pm after 5 hours spent on reading and math. Their afternoon fare consisted of doing activities out of a book entitled The 7 Highly Effective Habits of Teenagers. This book held NO interest for the students. Many teachers resorted to showing movies to keep the students under control.

Slam Dunk was created for the over-age drop-outs to return to school for 3 weeks to "earn" a diploma, turn in a piece of foolishness to count as a senior project, and participate in a graduation ceremony. Student attendance was sporadic, to say the least. My student attended twice, yet she received her diploma with pride, and Dr. Ackerman praised herself from her to kingdom come about the increase in the graduation rate. Attendance was faked, grades were faked. The summer enrichment program is a bust and the SDP cannot afford to waste valuable dollars needed to support students and teachers during the regular school year.

Submitted by Inspired_Apple on June 11, 2011 12:05 am

If you taught at a high school in Summer Slam 2010 you know a few truths:

1) The attendance rate INSIDE of your classroom was 1/5th of the actual students that were put on your roster.

2) If the students attended 100% of the program and completed 100% of the work, they would have, at best, made up for about a quarter of a traditional school year's worth the work.

3) Students that graduated by making up credits can barely read, especially if they have an IEP, but they have done one thing -- raised the PSD's graduation rate / number of graduates which Ackerman can put on her data-centric "unprecedented" resume.

4) All graduates of Summer Slam should get internships at all businesses and firms associated with the SRC. By buffering the graduation rate to make themselves look 'unprecedented' in the pecksniffian manner that befits a district official in the almighty name of "the children" -- I propose the only solution to getting those students a job: hire them. They're 'your babies' that made it through hard work, overcoming adversity and ::coughs:: forging documents to obtain a diploma without the skills to perform basic workplace functions.

You can shove them a diploma, SRC & Ackerman -- but will you hire them?

If you wouldn't give money to students that graduate from unprecedented, educationally sound programs that you oversee -- why would you ask us to spend the money?

We know your agenda.
We are the parents and teachers of the children you do not see, yet control unilaterally.
We are the graduates of a system in Philadelphia that didn't Summer Slam our diplomas: and for that we are capable of putting the facts together and weep at the fact your idea of 'raising the graduation rate' will only dilute the value of ours.
We know you do not care, because you will be gone before the true wake of your damage impacts our community.
We are the pronoun you use when you spat your pejorative, "they don't know what's best for the children." "they, they, they, they, they" -- We are the 'they' that is the enemy. We are the 'they' you can ambiguously vilify to sleep at night.
We are your neighbors, we are your colleagues and we are the Philadelphia you see every day and destroy in the name of the children we raise. We are everywhere.

We want to see you spend our tax dollars on our children equally and stop front-loading it into programs that make your data look 'unprecedented'. We'd much rather actually generate a community of Philadelphians that have an unprecedented education and not the illusion of one.

Love always,

The Ubiquitous 'They'

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 6:40 am

A much better investment for high school students would be a work/study program. They can work 20 hours/week in exchange for minimum wage - which isn't bad considering the economy - and requiring them to attend school for four hours a week if they need support ("remediation"). They will learn more in the four hours while working than sitting in school for 20 hours. If a student fails a course during the school year, summer school will not make up for what they missed or did not understand. So, be honest, devote minimal time to "seat time" in a classroom, and focus on something most students would appreciate - job opportunity and some money.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 11:40 am






Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 13, 2011 7:01 am

Hate to tell you but with Jerry Jordan in charge, we may have no say, I am NOT convinced that he;s not in the Queen's pocket so to speak but he certainly seems NOT to be a Union Leader. Maybe, a follower but not a leader. I hope I'm wrong and time will tell but right now, what has he done to counteract Ackerman's abusive antics, replete with lying in all directions?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 6:42 pm


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 10:38 pm

Amen Again!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 10:17 pm

It seems that what no one wants to admit is that we don't know how to serve up en masse programs that reach our hard-to-reach kids...because a cookbook formula doesn't work...Ackerman thinks that total brass will do this...if only it were so easy.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2011 10:55 pm

I have heard all negatives from colleagues remaining at Promise Academies. I am only happy to hear the wasteful spending and poor planning brought to light. I understand school reform is necessary, but please have a plan in place prior to July, 2010 for the 2010-2011 academic year. The plan becomes more important when you plan on spending millions and millions of dollars the district does not have.

I also find the layoff exemption at Promise Academies to be a joke, not to mention a breach of contract. The reason provided by Ackerman & Company was to end high teacher turnover at schools who have been plagued with this issue for so long. PLEASE! The school I left had a fairly solid staff with good intentions. Most were on board when Promise Academies were introduced, however, each time we heard more about the plan, or lack there of, we knew it would be a disaster. Only the brave remained, but I am not sure of the numbers after year one - a statistic of curiosity. From my understanding, quite a few teachers exited the Promise Academies before December, sounds like high teacher turnover. Not to mention principal turnovers, anyone know about that? Stability at its finest.

Back to the issue at hand - I think the City of Philadelphia should start with the books at the Promise Academies since more are opening in the fall and they require much more money to succeed than traditional schools. I am currently at a traditional school where they are accomplishing everything the Promise Academy envisioned WITHOUT the extra money and we are making gains!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 6:47 am

I'm not sure why people still think that Promise Academies were exempt from the layoffs, because they were not. There were just as many pink slips handed out this past Monday at the Promise Academies as there were at other schools. I know this because I teach at a Promise Academy and have friends that teach at other PAs as well as at traditional public schools.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 7:49 am

Some of the PA teachers don't understand the notices you received. You were going to be getting slips, anyway. The rest of you were exempt. This is more of the smoke and mirrors....a trick to make the public think you were not exempt from the layoffs.

WE REPEAT----Promise Academies were exempt from the layoffs, altogether. Some of the teachers receiving slips at the PAs had 2 and 3 years in the district. However, most first year teachers did not receive slips. Those are the teachers the principals like. This is why we need the union to oversee this administration.

I am sure the PA teachers feel guilty collecting checks for low student attendence for Saturday School. They have also said they don't feel good about collecting money for summer school knowing that the kids don't come. They are saying that regardless of the numbers, all teachers are required to be there for PA summer school. That's crazy!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 9:53 am

People comparing who got slips and who didn't need to consider CERTIFICATION area. At my PA, seniority was followed precisely as dictated, at least with the force transfers. In fact there's at least one case where the principal didn't particularly hide that he was unhappy with which teacher had to be cut.

I would be willing to bet that first-year teachers not getting cut are in areas like science, math, or SPED, where the layoffs were probably much less severe.

Submitted by Anon and anon (not verified) on June 11, 2011 6:51 pm

I personally know many math teachers that were laid off--both first and second year (I'm one of them). I also know of several SPED teachers that were laid off, including some in their second year. I only know of a few science people.

I've heard that the Promise Academy teachers that got layoff notices were ones that were not "retained" by their Principals. I do not know if this is true or not but sounds plausible.

It certainly doesn''t seem like the layoffs followed the required "seniority by certification" formula. It also seems like way more people were laid off than necessary--I guess they have to create a pool of desperate people to take jobs at all the Promise Academies.

I hope that the union has access to the full data about who was laid off and what the criteria were for layoff notices. Things were not done right but time is critical as people who were laid off can't participate in site selection.

I'm very glad the Notebook covered this issue of Saturday school. What a waste of money. Cut that, cut summer school, and bring back some teachers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 9:10 pm

You can participate in site least for now. But who is to say all the principals don't have a list of us that were laid off. Maybe they are just making it seem like we can site select.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 10:53 pm

I know. My Principal just sent an email saying "you can site select!" while I got an email from HR saying I was laid off. Even if they don't have a list it is easy to tell from our resume who is laid off.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 10:59 pm

YES! PA teachers were laid off!! And not because they were going to be "laid off" or "forced transfered"anyway! They did go by seniority. It was very evident at my school. Please stop with the lies!

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 11, 2011 10:29 pm

This is pretty odd - why would the judge agree to a restraining order if this was so? I know of a 2nd year counselor that was laid off, then hired at a PA - it's all very disjointed.

Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on June 12, 2011 8:57 am

 According to this morning's Inquirer the District has asked the State Supreme Court to overrule the Common Pleas Court and uphold the District plan to exclude Promise Academy teachers from layoffs, citing ACT 46 as the legal basis for this extraordinary move.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 9:28 am

This seems preposterous given that city council wants reductions on PA spending anyway. Ackerman is a menace to Philadelphia and both she and the SRC must go.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 10:16 am

I do hope the PA Supreme Court hears it, since I think this issue might end up there anyway (Act 46 leaves a lot of open questions), it would be good for everyone to get the ruling right away rather than after working through all the levels of the court system.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 8:10 am

Ackerman's rationale to prevent teacher turnover is a joke. She is only worried about the turnover rate at the Promise Academies. I am at a small traditional school and over 11 teachers got laid off and only 5 were spared. That is some MAJOR teacher turnover, and sadly not one of our staff members wanted to leave. Instead we got laid off.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 10:28 am

I agree. Of 20+ teachers at my school, only 3 will be there next year. A few are leaving education permanently but most are just laid off. We all wanted to stay.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 7:39 am

Why does Ackerman seem to convert (to charters or Promise Academies) many of the schools that have high numbers of English language learners? Sounds like discrimination.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 7:18 am

Ackerman is asking city council for money to fund pet projects such as her Promise Academy.

From Research for Action:

42.5 % of PA teachers were new to the SDP, 12.9% are emergency certified, 67% are fully certified.
Conversely, in several Promise Academies and charter-managed schools, teachers conveyed
frustration, sharing that the administration had cultivated an “us versus them” school culture. The
teacher stated that, “the environment here is reactionary. You don’t know until you mess up and get
in trouble.”

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 8:21 am

Are these the statistics based on teachers currently in PA's or do these figures include those that were also hired in PA's for the 2010-2011 school year? I am at a school that will become a PA next year. I will tell you that those that were slated to go to a PA next year were laid off---particularly 1st year teachers who had appropriate certification. So, those people did not just get "laid off" merely because they would have been "force transfered" out.

Based on these statistics, what is the actual number of teachers that currently work in a PA? I know at my school, there were many senior teachers that applied, but were not asked to continue the selection process. Having said that, there were still senior teachers that interviewed and were asked to stay. Most of the teachers that got selected to remain at the school I am in were "TFA" teachers. I am wondering if this is the case due to the fact their contract states that they must return to the school that they were originally hired in. If anything is "unfair", it is the selection process of these teachers. Fully certified teachers should be entitled to some type of preference over those that are on "intern" certificates.

So, based on the numbers that were planning to return to their school when it became a PA, and were laid off, were legitimately let go. TFA teachers planning on returning to that same school, were not! I wonder if this is the issue that will be argued in court on Tuesday. It seems that that contract for TFA is the issue that others got picked to stay while others were let go. Very sad indeed!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 9:55 am

Ackerman needs us more than we need her.........I say we WALK OUT! She is playing with the lives of thousands of people. All of us are affected!
I am a teacher.....but I will also fight for every other person that got a pink slip. Could you imagine? Put the word out to anyone you know. Parents, teachers, Principals, Assistant Principals, students, custodians, NTA's etc.....The PFT is having a rally at 440 on Monday at 4:30. It isn't just about us teachers.......we ALL need to stand together and fight this fight for our students and our schools.
Even my principal can't believe what's it would be great to see Principals and Asst. Principals there as well.
Spread the word

Rally at 440, Monday at 4:30......wear your RED

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 9:03 am

TFA teachers can get laid off/force transferred. It happens all the time, including this year. I'm at a PA. TFA teachers were force transferred and laid off. Lots of factors, especially certification status and content area, are the main factors that impact this stuff. I don't understand why it's so hard for people to understand that once they are hired by the District, teachers placed through TFA are subject to the exact same contract rules, etc. as District teachers. The teachers have signed a contract with TFA that they won't leave their school (or they lose the education stipend), but the District doesn't give them special treatment once in the door. (And, honestly, compared to many other Districts, Philly is pretty uncooperative with TFA in getting teachers placed in the first place).

It doesn't seem clear exactly what the District did. They clearly didn't completely protect Promise Academy teachers from layoff. But it seems that they did lay off Promise Academy teachers who were getting force transferred due to enrollment fluctuations. But those people never got a force transfer notice, just a layoff notice, which is very odd.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 6:05 pm

This is true. Administrators don't like the students who throw off the data. This means ELL students. They know some groups of students don't get along with others and that clearly there are racial tensions in many of these schools. When this is reported, it is ignored in the same way bullying is usually ignored. They always turn around and blame the teachers saying we are supposed to manage our classroom. They don't respond to anything unless there is a serious incident.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 11:04 am

The answer is The School District of Phila. IN fairness, Principals have to answer directly to Ackerman or one of her talking heads so they need to cover themselves too. Having said that, we're all dead with the Queen in charge.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 11:08 am

Are any principals and/or assistant principals being laid off? Are the retirements of principals/assistant principals equivalent to the number that need to be laid off? CASA (administrators' union) has been silent.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 9:42 pm

From what we've been told about 35 AP's are going to be laid off. Their union has been very quiet.. other than to state that they are willing to renegotiate their contract..

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 12, 2011 10:21 pm

And what a disappointment that willingness is. They could have stood together with the PFT, School Police and Building Engineers. CASA's got a pretty pitiful leader.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 13, 2011 3:05 am

Considering the district hired a brand new Principal from outside of the district for a promise academy and several teachers were hired to be new AP's in promise academies it will be interesting to see how that plays out for them.

lay off 35 current AP's.. but then hire new ones from the classroom? and a new principal from another school district?

Pitiful is an understatement

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2011 12:49 pm

War is the word I am thinking of. WE better win and Jerry Jordan needs to grow a pair or get the h out of the way. How many times does the Queen have to bully him blatantly before he reacts like a UNION LEADER not some guy in the bleachers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2011 12:09 pm

I agree. Solidarity is always the answer !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2011 12:34 pm

A cowardly and union busting move to say the least. Just plain dumb--never give in to bullies Never or the bullying will NEVER STOP. Their leader needs to be fired.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2011 1:18 pm

I don't know the answer to that but ALL UNIONS NEED TO STAND TOGETHER !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 8:32 am

Are those of us who got laid off going to end up at the new PA's that are opening? It seems like all they have done is shift us around.....can someone please shed some light on this.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 11:49 am

NOBODY will be without a job when the dust settles. Politics as us al with the caveat that the Queen has no credibility everywhere. A house of cards--a farce of the first order. You'll turn up somewhere just don't allow them to pit you against other teachers to divide and conquer. We're all in this together--SOLIDARITY !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 11:43 am

Yes, we are all in this together and I too believe in SOLIDARITY!!
There is strength in numbers.
I do know the SDP is notorious for scrambling in August to fill positions, but my concern is all the schools that are becoming PA's and Charters. Don't they take positions away from us?
I'm nervous about all the restructuring. Any insight?
A part of me belives we'll all be ok.......but we haven't been laid off is such great numbers in a long time. That worries me. Any insight?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 4:00 pm

I wish I knew anything that was going on. I am a 2nd year teacher who WAS being forced transfered from my school because Mastery is taking over, and now I hold a lay off notice in my hand. Unfortunately I am also a new home owner and a mother of a 3 year old...they are considerably messing with my life. Come Tuesday maybe we will have some answers....hahaha, right.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 5:32 pm

I truly believe you'll be OK and by the way, Mastery is a house of cards just like other Charters--wait and see. In any case, you'll turn up somewhere and all will be well. Just don't let them divide and conquer us by pitting teachers against one another. Solidarity.

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 11, 2011 10:54 pm

I can't imagine your stress. I agree with those who say you'll be rehired before/during September, but going through this must be horrible. Good luck to you. I hope for a quick outcome for all of our sisters and brothers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2011 12:45 pm

I believe you will be fine--I really do.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 5:42 pm

The folks are catching on little by little that Charters are a farce for the pols to make money off the backs of the kids. It is finally sinking in. The PA are still public schools with needs to fill. You'll be ok and after you get back in, stay and gain senority and in 15 years when they try something else crazy, say the same thing to the new people--SOLIDARITY.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 16, 2011 12:42 pm

I truly believe all the people who are properly certified will be in a job in September. The Queen is a drama queen.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 6:55 pm

I guess this is why our principal is always yelling at us about attendance and blaming the teachers for students not coming to Saturday school. They say we are responsible for making Saturday school fun for the kids. This means field trips on empty buses and activities that are supposed to be fun. They always make things up at the last minute. The principals know they are fudging the numbers because the kids don't want to come on Saturday or to summer school. I don't know how they will be able to afford to pay for trip buses and fun days for summer school. The kids don't even care about the ipods and bikes. It' s like we are bribing them to come.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 11, 2011 8:24 pm

guess you need better bribes

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 11, 2011 9:48 pm

Who's paying for the iPods and bikes????

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 9:39 am

You are and it ain't working because kids are kids. The bottom line is this is ALL about Ackerman and nothing about kids. The cost means nothing to her because she has lots of money for herself and, by extension, her programs. It's all nuts that can't get better until she is gone. Archie, still employed and sitting with her, is beyond corrupt and farcical. You just can't make this stuff up and Corbett loves it all. Add in Jordan with his Foghorn Leghorn Act and a circus you have--all in plain sight. Just to be mean, where does Ackerman get those gowns she wears? Who sells tham and does anybody else on Earth buy them?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 9:10 am

Ackerman believes she is a law unto herself. Clearly, the PA model is not all it's cracked up to be but she still doesn't get it. She lacks the sophistication our city is begging for.

She and the principals are very much aware of the racial tensions existing in many of our schools. She is also converting (to charters and PAs) schools containing high numbers of English language learners so that they don't reduce the chances of certain schools (yes, certain schools) making AYP.

The schools also continue to fail to address bullying issues.

Ackerman can't handle managing this district. Corett's helicopters will be swooping down soon as evidenced by this link from the auditor general addressing school violence:

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 10:25 am

You sound like me. Putting Dwight Evans, Kenny Gamble and John Q. Porter in the same sentence with education, you need to stop speaking. Ackerman is a bully, yes, but even more, she's corrupt and abusive while playing the race card to fool the inner city people who are in dire need to help. Ackerman and the others are the worst kind of people similar to folks who steal from the poor boxes at Churches and drives away in their Benzs.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 10:44 am

Ackerman believes she is a law unto herself. Clearly, the PA model is not all it's cracked up to be but she still doesn't get it. She lacks the sophistication our city is begging for.

She and the principals are very much aware of the racial tensions existing in many of our schools. She is also converting (to charters and PAs) schools containing high numbers of English language learners so that they don't reduce the chances of certain schools (yes, certain schools) making AYP.

The schools also continue to fail to address bullying issues.

Ackerman can't handle managing this district. Corett's helicopters will be swooping down soon as evidenced by this link from the auditor general addressing school violence:

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 12, 2011 11:20 pm

If you are laid off and have to cash in your unused sick days you are saving the district 3/4 of their value. If you are rehired, you cannot buy back those unused sick days so the district makes money on everyone who is laid off and rehired.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 13, 2011 6:35 am

I believe you can leave all your sick days in place. I don't think you automatically have to cash them out.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 13, 2011 8:36 am

I don't think so. The original information was that all sick and personal days would be cashed out.
Check into this before you swear by anything here.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 13, 2011 8:57 am

The FAQ given with the layoff notice said you CAN cash out your days, not that you must.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 13, 2011 10:21 am

That's why I would verify... I am not sure and this is a big issue. Check with human resources before any action is taken.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 13, 2011 11:04 am

If you have personal days in your bank, I believe you can keep them there until you retire. They are worth 100% pay. This is a good question to ask the union.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 13, 2011 7:10 am

At Harvard University the motto is, "Veritas" which means truth. At Columbia University the motto is, "In Thy light we shall see the light." If Ackerman is the product of the Ivy leagues---and has a "job for life" at another ivy league institution, what does this say about the people who are supposed to be our best and brightest? PHILADELPHIA IS NOT IMPRESSED WITH THIS WOMAN'S CREDENTIALS WHILE AS THEY ARE BEING ALLOWED TO BREED INCOMPETENCE AND CORRUPTION ON THE BACKS OF CHILDREN.

Ackerman is supposed to be the smartest person standing in the room, but her motives are questionable at best. She has no poise and no grace. We realize she was sent to this city to bust the unions, rock the boat, and be controversial but what happened to students being the priority? It's like this woman and her carpetbagger crew have been allowed to invade our city. When Rome declined, there was an overall gradual, societal collapse due to a lack of morals, ethics and values, imperial incompetence, decadence, political corruption, a failing economy, etc.

Has our city opened its door to an era of decline and dismay in which we pacify Ackerman's appetite for power? NO!!! We are the centerpiece of American history. Our ideas and actions led to the birth of independence.

And this too shall pass.....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2011 1:35 pm

Saturday school is a little rough. It's the day when children go to the barber or hairdresser, dance and music lessons, help parents with chores and prepare for church on Sunday. I think at Mastery only those children who need extra attention are required to attend Saturday school.
As much as we want our children educated there must be a balance just as there is in our lives. They must have the opportunity to participate in things like PAL, YMCA, community work and other things they may like or want to do. The extra hour daily is enough unless extra help is needed.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 11, 2015 4:26 am

It is in moments of great crises that the moral fiber of leaders is tested. ..... to hear the wasteful spending and poor planning brought to light.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

By using this service you agree not to post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable. We reserve the right to delete or remove any material deemed to be in violation of this rule, and to ban anyone who violates this rule. Please see our "Terms of Usage" for more detail concerning your obligations as a user of this service. Reader comments are limited to 500 words. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

Follow Us On

Read the latest print issue

Philly Ed Feed

Recent Comments


Public School Notebook

699 Ranstead St.
Third Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215) 839-0082
Fax: (215) 238-2300

© Copyright 2013 The Philadelphia Public School Notebook. All Rights Reserved.
Terms of Usage and Privacy Policy