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Does the District really have a plan for school relocations?

by thenotebook on Feb 14 2013 Posted in Commentary
Photo: NewsWorks

Under the District's plan, Roxborough High School (pictured) would coexist with Lankenau High School in the Roxborough building.

by Eileen DiFranco

Few managers would embark on an ambitious venture without having a well-thought-out plan in place. Those of us who have attended school-closure meetings over the last several months have heard Karyn Lynch, the District's head of student services, speak repeatedly about the School District of Philadelphia’s plan to move 17,000 students into new schools this fall. This plan, according to Lynch and a December statement from the School District, has been in the offing for two years.

The master plan, which was unveiled Dec. 13, is long on generalities and short on specifics. For instance, Lynch and Deputy Chief of Staff Danielle Floyd, who manages the facilities plan, have yet to clarify how schools with specific programs such as Lankenau -- or Parkway Northwest or AMY at James Martin -- are going to coexist in one school building that is run under a different style of leadership and has a different school culture.

Parents are also worried about what will be -- for them and their children -- a profound transition. At a community meeting at Martin Luther King High School in January, Floyd assured a Lankenau parent that the District was in the process of planning the relocation. Her words carried the implicit understanding that the District, with its skeleton administrative staff, had planned for all contingencies.

As the union representative at Roxborough High School, where Lankenau is supposed to relocate, the only thing I knew, and continue to know, is what is written in the Facilities Master Plan: “Lankenau will be co-located at the Roxborough High facility and retain its special admissions status.” Beyond that sentence and a brief and unproductive site visit from Lankenau staff earlier this month, there has been no discussion between the two schools about how this plan would take effect.

When Floyd advised concerned Lankenau parents at that meeting that Roxborough High was composed of two buildings, she gave the impression that one building could be turned over completely to Lankenau for the school's sole use. In reality, we have one school building with a wing that is attached, on all three floors, to the main building. All the science labs, the gym, and the music room are located in the new wing, and the library, cafeteria, and auditorium are in the main building. There is, in fact, no way to keep the student bodies separate.

This lack of separation leads to other unaddressed questions. How will discipline be addressed in hallways and gathering places shared by two different student bodies? Will there be two sets of rules? What happens when a Roxborough staff member sees a Lankenau student misbehaving, and vice versa?  How much additional money will have to be spent to create another administrative office with different telephone lines? Will the PA system be separated?  Will there be any sharing of resources? How much will this relocation cost? These are just my questions. I’m sure many other stakeholders have additional questions.

Putting two distinct student bodies with two different school cultures in one school building is a daunting task. Planning for such a venture cannot be done on the fly. Aside from whatever plans the School District might have, the staff of both schools, the parents, and indeed the students should be meeting regularly to figure out the nuts and bolts of how this relocation is going to work. It is, ultimately, the staff of both schools that will be held accountable for the success of a project that no one in either school particularly welcomes.

The mass relocation of schoolchildren without adequate planning places an inordinate burden upon already stressed families and schools. The generalities that I have heard at community meetings are reassuring to very few. A move of this magnitude requires more than great expectations and promises that might not be kept. It requires the type of plan where a parent who asks for specifics is answered in kind.

Eileen McCafferty DiFranco, R.N., is a certified school nurse who has proudly served the schoolchildren of Philadelphia for 23 years. She is a lifelong resident of Philadelphia.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

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Comments (85)

Submitted by Frank Murphy on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 15:31.

It is frightening that so little thought has been given to the details of closing so many schools at once.  Recklessly disrupting the lives of seventeen thousand students and their family members is irresponsible.  As Sam Reed suggested in his post yesterday it is time to push the redesign button.       

Submitted by Darnel (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 21:54.

A good friend of mine, a teacher, recently wrote on a blog that the people in School District Administration are generally under educated low brow rudimentary thinkers. I believe she said that the they are lazy and always reaching for the unripened low hanging fruit while the more developed ripe ideas are up above just out of reach of these mental midgets. They are too dumb to know that they are too dumb. They are dinosaurs. They are aversive to change. They are still trying to hold on to the glory days that, to some extent, still exist there in 440. The rest of the district has been decimated, but just recently it was leaked that 25 staffers received totally obscene hefty pay raises. How many more that were not leaked? Everybody else in the district has either been fired or had to agree to concessions. Students have had to go without basic supplies and have had to deal with all sorts of program cuts and face uncertain futures. That is the most unfair of all. The people at 440 just continue to go on dumbing along and singing their song. They regularly make unthoughtful, incomplete and just plain dumb decisions. We all deserve better.

Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 11:00.

Well said, Eileen.   The District's plan is discredited, unpopular and, most importantly, will clearly not create a foundation for better schools or educational outcomes for our students.    Yet the SRC, supported by his majesty King Michael Nutter, forge ahead.   The PCAPS call for a one year moratorium to develop a serious alternative to the present plan has won broad support.   The District is now trying to derail that movement by closing down broad public discussion in favor of dangling a few concessions to individual school communities.   We need to continue to fight back and demand this plan and this undemocratic, divisive process is rejected.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 15:33.

It's clear to anyone (like me) who has watched or attended any of the community meetings, spends time in any of the affected schools, or has looked at the data that the District has not made adequate plans for transitioning students. They could not make these plans because their data and other information is not completely accurate. Another major issue is that the school closings plan is very top-down in nature, using the Facilities Master Plan and the Boston Consulting Group's report as a blueprint instead of the FMP and community input. Yes, there were meetings about the FMP, but who would have suspected but how much publicity did those meetings have? Did people know how important those meetings might be or the ramifications that the FMP might have?

A better approach for right-sizing the District would have been for Dr. Hite to (1) more thoroughly gather information from staff and members of the different school communities, (2) present the problem and the District's information and data, (3) and then elicit suggestions for solutions from the communities. In this way the community is involved throughout the process. So (1) gather accurate FMP information based on how the school actually functions. Then (2) make known that the District is wasting money on buildings where there are empty classrooms and seats, list the buildings where the utilization problems are most acute, and present the data. Finally, (3) make clear that the District will need a plan, and the District wants to incorporate community input from the start. Ask the affected communities for suggestions on how to better use the buildings, consolidate nearby schools and programs, and so on.

In this way, the District provides the background information of the problem, but initiates a more democratic and bottom-up manner information gathering process and solution-generating process. Someone with more experience in community involvement might have a better format that the process I have described, but the point is that the process needs to be more collaborative, proactive, and democratic instead of so top-down and imposing.

Even if the District had a plan for safety or transportation, that plan would have inaccuracies because the FMP is not completely accurate. I know this because I attended a meeting at which a principal had to correct some of the FMP's calculations for the principal's school utilization calculation. For example, the District was not accounting for the fact that in some classrooms, there weren't 25-30 students because these rooms were for special ed students. District officials said that they would make changes to the FMP information about the school based on what this principal said.

Without accurate data and input from affected communities, the District cannot make a plan addressing safety and transportation issues. This is why a collaborative approach engaging the communities from the start is so important.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 15:37.

*but how much publicity did those meetings have?*

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 17:58.

The skinny is very likely that they didn't expect this much push back. The agenda is to make charters from as many of those buildings as possible. Consequently, they didn't need to think through ramifications for kids in any real way. That might sound harsh but given their past behavior, it's likely along the right track.

Submitted by Ken Derstine on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:26.

The quote I posted yesterday from the Mark Gleason , of the Great Schools Compact, interview says exactly that. The agenda is to have at least half of Philadelphia students educated in charters and leave the rest of the students behind in underfunded and dilapidated public schools.

They know that parents will not accept having young children walk over a mile to school in unsafe neighborhoods or take public transportation; and have high school students going to high schools combined with different neighborhoods when they close these schools. Renaissance and charters will be offered as an alternative for desperate parents.

This is the second phase of the privatization of public schools in Philadelphia. The first phase, which caused 70,0000 students to be taken out of the public schools, was achieved by cutting support personnel, making unsafe schools, and resources for all schools. This
made the most severely distressed schools intolerable for parents.

Here is the comment I posted yesterday:

***********
This interview with Mark Gleason in the Notebook almost a year ago, given during the almost year long interim between the Ackerman and Hite administrations, is very revealing about the agenda of the Great Schools Compact and the SRC.

http://thenotebook.org/blog/124556/what-philadelphia-school-partnerships...

This statement in the article is especially of interest:

Gleason: Facilities is a big question because the District has lots of empty buildings, or underutilized buildings. We’re going to be surveying schools about their level of interest in occupying those buildings….
There’s a potentially mutual benefit. The District wants to shed some of the cost associated with these underutilized buildings, and charter schools are actively acquiring or leasing buildings as they expand…
One of the things we’re hoping will come out of the compact is [determining] if there’s a win-win here where charter operators can start to occupy some of these unused District buildings…It makes sense to have a taxpayer-financed school located in a taxpayer owned building.
**********

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:26.

Yeah Mark, it makes a whole lot of sense to have a taxpayer financed school located in a taxpayer financed building and then have the "charter operator" operate the school as a private business for the benefit and profit of those who "operate" the school.

From Eli Broad's mouth to yours..... What a joke.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:41.

I know---You just can't make this stuff up. It's stunningly corrupt stuff !!!!

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 11:51.

These comments do not give me great faith in educators. If educator you are; my guess is you are. Gleason clearly says "lease" or "acquire" - sounds like taxpayers or generous private donors will be chipping in. Did we not say empty buildings/urban blight was bad?

If all you keep saying is "we need more money" - well of course you're going to attract "money experts". Btw how many of your pension plans are not invested in profit seeking entities? I would much rather invest in private companies than government entities ... ah yes, Europe, notably Greece.

This article is a perfect illustration of the contradiction in this "charter bashing". We're not happy with the management of the SDP/"the man", but we wait on "the man" to bail us out and get quite angry when he doesn't, even accusing him of colluding with "the enemy". In the meantime we don our white hoods and burn effigies of corporations proven successful at management, because, well ...because we're really afraid of change.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 14:22.

Ms. Cheng----It's not change of which to be afraid but rather privatization and all its little, insidious appendages that should scare everybody except the shot callers. People's Rights should be of paramount importance if a democracy is to continue. Spend little time reading Thomas Paine, and to a lesser degree, Jefferson about how important a balance of power is to a free society.
Where education in Phila. and all the large, urban centers is concerned, the playing field is already uneven but these these "reformers" get their way, a caste system of sorts will be DESIGNED and that notion ain't American circa 2013. At least, the goal now, is justice for all but it won't be if the Gleasons of the world take over. To their credit or-----shame----they don't even hide their agenda anymore. I understand your points but I also know that you have a certain agenda emanating from some sour grapes with your former school. In any case, I think the big picture calls for all of us to follow the money and the ramifications for kids, especially "some" of the kids.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 17:16.

Joe, my "former" school is not an agenda. It is a bad memory that keeps reasserting itself. It is also part of the current bureaucracy that all the "democracy" supporters want to keep. So o.k. the agenda is trying to keep others from having the same nightmare.

"Uneven playing field" - oh boy, now you've hit my biggest trigger: Title I. Charters were the ones bringing their children to the theater with this; whereas my school was using it for a "Instructional Reform Facilitator". So (recurring) facts are my agenda. You all talk about "democracy" and you close your eyes to this. What is your real agenda?

Yes, privatization can bring unwise spending cuts; however, this is why you do not have a monopoly (as the SDP is right now). For all the criticism of "competition", it is crucial. When was the last time you went to your insurance agent with a quote from a competitor? Well that agent will magically give you much better service - try it some time.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 18:44.

Ms. Cheng----I believe I won this round, going away and since I'm the referee, my opinion is all that counts.
I am sure folks have/had misused funds but the goal was pure. I am unclear about your specific reference of course.
Competition is GREAT, as long as it exists. There won't be any if the privateers have their way. There will be BY DESIGN, a 2 tiered ed. system with the lower group having no resources and doomed to a real tough life. Tom "One Term" is getting new prisons ready as we speak.
I'm on my way right now to see my insurance agent in case you're right though.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 19:35.

Good day then Joe. Win you must.

When you come back, to explain the misappropriation: the misuse was not well intentioned at all (unless you think giving yourself a job is a good intention, but that's the same as taking a profit after all). All of our teachers were good teachers, several of them were outstanding. 90k of Title I to a position that was not necessary (or required) was basically stealing and stealing specifically from the poor kids.

You know when your sense of right is violated/wronged, it's hard not to want to right the wrong (white the wong -ha ha asian joke... time for me to go too:)

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 19:53.

Ms. Cheng----I think I love you.

However, you seem to be extrapolating a bit too much. Wrong is wrong and I'm cool with that but to take a specific situation and use it as a microcosm to include all situations, ain't cool. I have a very sneaky feeling that you were torn between the Principal about whom you had warm and fuzzy feelings and the wrong that he allowed to occur under his watch. Relationships are hard in the best of times but when conflicts of interests, enter the equation, there's no sleep for the weary.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Sat, 02/16/2013 - 06:42.

Thanks Joe. Take a look at the school budgets sometime from 2010-11, and 2011-12. You'll see this is not an isolated incident. What encourages someone who should know better to "turn a blind eye"? I would say a bad bureaucratic system. Did I forget to mention the mystery of why teachers didn't support each other? Having a school board instead of a SRC would result in no different (evidence the broad sweeping judgement in Arizona regarding ethnic history classes). Yes there are problems with charters. I don't agree 100% with School Based Administration, but all the stone throwers haven't come up with anything better. Ironically the suggestion of "achievement networks", without the private operators might have been worth trying.

As for Mr. Gleason, he's simply a young naive idealist. Yes it's annoying that his (probably mostly good looks) can get him such big backing, but he doesn't deserve the label "witch/warlock".

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Sat, 02/16/2013 - 18:22.

hang tough, ms. c. you've got the truth on your side.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 11:32.

reformer, your comments have been a welcome and refreshing respite from the misleading, mob inciting ones. Thank you for taking the time to post them. I am especially disappointed in teachers, who themselves should be "educated", for creating this specter of a "corporate agenda". Sorry to say it reminds me of the specter of "sterilization" that is being circulated in India regarding immunizations. So take your pension funds out of corporations, why don't you? - see how quickly the taxpayer will balk at having to shoulder your pensions in their entirety.

I forgot to add that before even looking at other schools' budgets, I knew that bad/corrupt management was a problem not with "just my school" (and I'm not sure how it's excused even if it were) because I took this (my school's Title I, my school's SIP) issue up with the District's Title I office. I was told, "Yes there is a problem with your school's School Improvement Plan", but NOTHING was done (the next year's plan was equally DEficient). The problems I had with my principal I took to the Regional Superintendent (now retired), and was told, "your school is losing enrollment, isn't it?" I would say the problem is definitely systemic, rather than isolated.

How do I know that charters were bringing in kids to the theater? - I was in contact with the Ed director at Philadelphia Theatre Company, who is an amazing advocate, even donating some of her time to helping us develop a grant project for our school.

I'm not one of those parents who is having a tantrum in the hallway because I'm not getting something or other for "little Johnny". We were poor ("knock on wood") only for a short time. I'm advocating for the 7th grader in the Chess club I helped start (with a wondeful teacher), who's eyes lit up when I brought in math flash cards to use with him, ones I had used with my own children when they were only 5 to 6 years old. Title I should have gone to him, not to self serving bureaucrats.

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 11:48.

you make an excellent point. they hate privatization, unless they benefit from it personally. they're the same way about school choice. thanks for calling out hypocrisy where you see it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 11:51.

It most certainly is not harsh, the children are always the last to be considered. They are treated like pawns on a chess board by "reformers" and this is not the kind of reformation a school district should have.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 22:58.

Joe, I agree that the District probably didn't expect so much push-back from the public. However, there has to be at least a couple of Philadelphia natives among those who work with Dr. Hite who know how much neighborhood loyalty there is in this city? If they didn't expect the strong push-back, the District's administrators were incredibly naive thinking that they could close 37 public schools.
EGS

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 23:23.

I contend that based on the recent bullying of the SCR and, of course, Ackerman, the powers at large, thought they could continue to bull rush any opposition and rely on the yes men and women to stay silent. Folks want to keep their jobs. If you google William Hite, you'll quickly see that he isn't a person who listens to opposing views well.
Most of the push back is coming from the Black Ministers who understand the marginalization process first hand. They "know the deally deal." They fully understand the real motives of the "reformers" and it ain't good for black people's rights in general and especially their kids'.
Keep betting that the yes people will continue to stay quiet, most notably, Uncle Mike.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 23:31.

Sorry--SRC.

Submitted by Samuel Reed III on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:11.

Education Grad Student;

What you articulated is the design process I advocated for in my testamony to City Council.

I tell my students all the time when we do Project Based Learning Assignments "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." This seems to stick with them. I hope the district can learn from our students.

 

Submitted by Eileen Duffey (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 18:16.

Great commentary Eileen. The nursing process, the process that serves as an organizational framework for the practice of nursing, might come in handy here: Assess, Diagnose, PLAN, Implement, Evaluate. You have demonstrated that there IS no plan for a successful co-location of Lankenau and Roxborough.
I agree with Frank Murphy's use of the word reckless. I've had a nagging fear that the district leadership is colluding with the corporate privatizers. Massive school closings with pseudo community input and no comprehensive plans aids the corporate agenda by helping the district die from within. Perhaps this is the real "plan".

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:42.

Eileen, not perhaps but rather definitely. Starving the neighborhood schools of resources, kills the neighborhood schools and makes charters the only other option by default. The fact that they're using the kids as cannon fodder, means nothing morally to them because you can't lose what you don't have.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 11:55.

Agreed Joe, and this is what happens when out of town folks are permitted to come in to run your school district. State control should've ended awhile ago along with the SRC which is facilitating the ruination of the Phila school system. And what does the mayor say?

Submitted by K. Maguire, DNP,RN (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 11:48.

Well written commentary and feedback from Eileen Duffey.

Submitted by K. Maguire (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 11:59.

Excuse me- great commentary by Eileen DeFranco and feedback from Eileen D. Both great supporters of Philadelphia Certified School Nurses devoted to the health and welfare of the children of Philadelphia.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:01.

Eileen,

Great piece. These are the kinds of questions which should be answered by the district and the SRC at the public meetings next week.

Lisa Haver

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:42.

there's a practical reason why they don't have detailed plans. they don't know if their proposed list will be acted on in whole or in part. if they did have a detailed plan it would only give their critics evidence that the src had already made up their minds. most of us expect there'll be more closures. if that is the case, the district would have helped themselves by adding more schools into the mix and giving a financial target. as long as the configuration of buildings that met the dollar amount required it would be acceptable. that would have allowed the community an opportunity to participate. what the new administration misjudged was the severity of the district's credibility problem. that's not his fault. despite all the objections raised, the sad truth is the right-sizing must begin very soon. maybe the district's first attempt wasn't well executed, but it was necessary. with only a few exceptions, it is hard to argue that they picked the wrong schools.

Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 20:00.

Well said and I agree 100%.

Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:44.

Obviously the surprised at this mess are people who do not work in the school district. I have been here 8 years coming from private industry and there is no management in the district. You have principals and especially assistant principals who exercise authority is an capricious manner mainly to inflate their own egos. I have been through 5-8 changes in curriculum and back to where we started. No one seems to be in charge. No one has a plan so they have abdicate management to the Gates, Broads and TFAs of the world.

This debacle results from them taking money from Gates, Broad et al and spending it on a consultant report. Since they spent a whole lot of money on the report the SRC had to implement it because they do not have a clue as what is going on. Nor do they know how to educate anybody. But they blame all this chaos on the teachers who are the only ones holding this clusterfuck together.

Submitted by Carol (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:48.

Eileen.
Thank you for your well written and insightful article. Deciding how this propsal is going to work needs to precede the decison to share the space.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 21:10.

Good job Eileen. An excellent thought provoking article. I was a student at RHS when the 2nd and 3rd floor were put on the "new wing" and I graduated in 69, they were never two separate buildings. How can they possibly move entire student bodies into building that they don't even know how they're structured? I sent four children thru the School District of Philadelphia, all graduates of RHS. Yet the School District of Philadelphia never ceases to amaze me with it's lack of accountability and foresight. The powers that be call RHS a neighborhood school but don't care enough about it to ensure the programs that would entice the neighborhood fighting us at every turn. It is time for a change and my community would welcome it instead of the winds of change that blow in this city whenever a new superintendent comes to town. Our community is working on a plan.

Submitted by Peg D (not verified) on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 23:21.

What will the nurse service look like when you have two separate programs located in one building? Will there be two different Certified School Nurses providing service? Will they work on different days? Will the nurses have access to all of the health records of the students in both programs? Will the computer system allow access to both school health records? Will the health department reports that are required be combined for both programs or will they be separate also? What about the reports that are required in Harrisburg? Will they be combined? Are there plans for when one of the programs has an outbreak of a communicable disease?

So many unanswered questions. seems like reckless endangerment to me.

Submitted by Joan Taylor on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 02:23.

When my school relocated from 49th and Chestnut to 48th and Fairmount, there seemed to be not one iota of oversight from downtown. Many of us finally dragged stuffed from our old building to our new one as the first day of school approached and we were in complete disarray. Lots of materials were lost and damaged in the process--including classroom sets of books that I had bought out of pocket. That was almost five years ago, and our move was not part of a massive relocation scheme. The SDP may be much better positioned to handle moves like this as they contemplate shutting dozens of buildings...but I doubt it.

The physical move is, however, the least important part of the process. Incorporating another school is no mean feat. We did it at my school when we made this move--although we had been assured by the SDP leadership that we would be maintaining separate schools. It was a tough year, but we managed, most likely because we were a small school with a mature staff, but the organizational piece of the transition was a challenge for everyone. How this will work in less successful schools is a mystery to me...and far more worrying because none of the current changes originates from a commitment to provide our kids with the best education possible.

As a teacher, of course, I see the SDP through the prism of my own experiences and prejudices, and my perception is that the farther one is from the classroom, the more likely one is to arm oneself with pie in the sky inanities about teaching.

The horrific cuts our system is expected to surmount would be more palatable if they weren't delivered with the insistence that this is the best of all possible worlds. The truly scary thought is that the people insisting on these cuts have talked themselves into believing that this is so. (And of course, this is what will always confer a certain level of illegitimacy upon the charter school advocates: how does one summon the nerve to see public education as a proper vehicle for the next IPO?)

The plight of our nurses just piles on the indignities. When I heard how our "communities" would step in to provide services for our students, my heart dropped. I had thought that the SDP had gone about as far as it could go in steamrolling over our kids, but I was wrong. Now we have another pie in the sky idea: apparently we don't need nurses. "The community" will take care of our sick kids. This is a cynicism that takes my breath away, the kind of brazen ignorance that only someone far removed from a classroom could have come up with. (Seriously...the most inept principal on the planet dreads having to substitute for a real nurse.)

I will continue to work hard as a teacher, and I will supply my kids with the materials I think they need. I will weave and bob my way around a lot of nonsense that emanates from the top...but I will do so in sorrow, knowing that we are capable of doing so much more.

Does the SDP really have a plan? Sadly, they think they do. By the time it is apparent that they have been horribly wrong, many of the individuals who form the SDP front guard will have moved on and learned to mouth whatever makes them the most money in whatever job keeps them out of the classroom.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 03:18.

I believe two schools are at 48th and Fairmount - Parkway West (9-12) and MYA (5 - 8). Are some staff "shared?" How is the building divided? Is this a model for a 5 - 12 school? The two schools combined have less than 600 students. (GAMP, by the way, is 5 - 12 and has only about 500 students.) MYA and Parkway West have admission requirements - or at least require students to apply - so it is not the same as combining students from neighborhood schools with no admission requirements. (Roxborough, although a neighborhood school, has admission requirements (see http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/schools/r/roxborough/for-parents "criteria based admissions)
and Lankanau has more stringent admission requirements. How will this work in one building?)

As you wrote, moving a school and closing a building requires a lot of planning and resources. If schools are closed, will they "rob Peter to pay Paul" or cut funds from schools which stay open to pay to move closed schools?

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:04.

Well said Joan and very poignant. Props to Eileen, too. Thanks.

Submitted by Joan Taylor on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 09:15.

MYA is not a special admission school but we do have some students who come to us via a lottery. Powel is our one feeder school. Last year we received some of Drew's students, and previously we incorporated Sulzberger's last class. We had relatively few disruptions because of this, perhaps because we were seen as an attractive choice and because our kids come from a variety of neighborhoods.

We do not share staff with Parkway West, just the building. Parkway occupies the third floor and half of the first floor; MYA has the rest. The Parkway kids have never been a problem, but of course, they don't have the neighborhood affiliations that plague other high schools, and their small size probably helps keep the environment safe.

My bet is that MYA's experience will not prove illustrative for schools that are less stable. I expect harder times to come for many of our students.

Submitted by K. Maguire (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 11:57.

The district once touted that the children come first. Has this gone by the wayside? Decreasing certified school nurses in the schools is detrimental to not only the health of the students, but the community at large- a public health nightmare. This is what happens when you have non-nursing administrators without the health/medical knowledge, skills and professional nursing training making decisions. Now the same communities will be uprooted and expected to adjust to new school cultures/climates with, most likely, little support from administrative offices. Who holds these offices accountable?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 14:40.

K. McGuire--------This is a giant, bitchslap to all the citizens of Phila. from Nutter and The SRC. Cancelling meetings ain't by accident. The "folks" need to step it up several loud notches.

Submitted by Concerned P. (not verified) on Sat, 02/16/2013 - 10:16.

Thanks to Eileen for the article. Great job! I feel that the district is only closing schools in strategic areas where big universities want the buildings, such as Temple, Penn, Drexel, or prime areas of the city where the buildings can be used for condos, etc. Look what happened to the 22nd and the Parkway building. Did we really need to sell that building? I am not even sure the district owns 440. Are we leasing when we had a building that was already owned?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/16/2013 - 11:17.

Why is Mastery allowed to open a new charter school - K-6 - in far South Philly? This is NOT an area of the city in need of another elementary school. There is suppose to be a moratorium on any new charter schools. Once again, the SDP will go farther in dept paying for the expansion of schools that are NOT needed. It is further privatization of the District. Mastery does NOT meet the needs of all students any more than any other school. It provides a very rigid, test prep environment. This is NOT preparing 21st century learners. Dr. Hite - WHY is Mastery allowed to open a school????? Would you send your grandson to Mastery?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/16/2013 - 14:50.

Mastery is allowed to do whatever Scott Gordon wants to because he is on the inside track to everything that is happening. Just look at the Gates Compact committee. What is happening needs to be put under strict scrutiny which includes the legality of what is happening.

Judith Robinson is absolutely correct in her protests of the "goings on."

How much money are we wasting with the "renaissance charter schools program" which to date has shown no legitimate improvement and costs us millions of dollars? Dollars which are going into the pockets of the "manipulators of things" with no accountability and no transparency.

And which is being unfolded to us from behind closed doors. Why is no one asking the crucial question: Which schools are being renaissanced and why?

Let's add a little transparency to what is actually "going on."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/16/2013 - 15:07.

Where does Scott Gordon live? Where do his children go to school? Where does Mark Gleason live? Where do his children go to school?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/16/2013 - 15:43.

Why did Mark Gleason all of sudden just come here from North Jersey? Why is Mark Gleason the CEO of an organization, PSP, which has secret contributors and no public meetings? Why does he only contribute to privatized versions of educational intitiatives? Why is he mouthing only the psychobabble of privatization with no credible evidence to back up anything he says? Why is Mark Gleason on the Gates Compact Committee?

Who does Mark Gleason represent?

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on Sat, 02/16/2013 - 19:04.

$$$ is the answer to all your questions................ But you already knew that. Listen, this isn't "reform" and everybody past the age of reason, knows it. For the first time ever, Corporate America is able to MAKE MONEY from Education and they're stepping over one another to bull rush the market. Scotty 2 Shoes is so smug that he makes you want to hurl and Gleason is just robotic, saying the same things over and over regardless of the questions, kind of like Michelle Bachmann.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 12:06.

Mark Gleason represents himself, and to all the "whys", the answer is , "he's young, good looking, and he can..." Don't know why everyone's so upset, he's giving the "evil" foundations "a run for their money". Perhaps we're just jealous? I can't take him seriously, and I don't know why anyone should feel threatened by him. Grant money is only as good as the use to which its put; often it creates more problems than it solves.

PSP has just made the SDP and Mayor Nutter look pretty silly chasing Gates Foundation money while leaving their house in disorder and crisis. The website created is anemic which only illustrates the problem with constantly starting something "new". Something much better could have been created by improving on the current SPI, which at least has measures in addition to test scores.

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 09:06.

do you suggest they go to strawberry mansion? almost an entire neighborhood rejected them? you're on shaky ground here because you've brought up the question of who sends their children to the district schools? how many pft members send their children to suburban, parochial, or private schools, if we got honest responses from the pft membership, they'd likely show that greater than half the members with children send their kids somewhere else to be educated. the dirtiest little secret is how many district employees have children enrolled in a charter. would the union consider a one year moratorium on their kids attending charter schools? who sends their children to district schools? who in the state legislature, the us congress, city council? mayor nutter? not the neighborhood school! who? it comes down to just two groups: those who get a choice (and who'd leave if they didn't get an acceptable one) and those with no choice (who'd leave if they had one). so don't ask about these gentlemen unless you ask ed rendell, chaka fattah, and blondell reynolds-brown.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 10:40.

I agree - far too many teachers / staff either do not live in Philly and/or do not send their children to public schools. It makes the PFT arguments much weaker. I have children in both charter and District schools. Next year my 3 children will be in District schools for high school. My children attended a charter after my oldest attended a neighborhood K-5 for K-1. This was when the "core curriculum" was being introduced. Our neighborhood school was "underperforming" (and now is a Mastery Renaissance). I applied to 8 District K-8 for my children but none, despite being in an "underperforming school," made the list. (I can't afford to live in the "catchments" - Greenfield, McCall, Penn Alexander, Meredith, the far Northeast, etc. - schools not under as strict / rigid curricular control by the School District.) I also applied to 9 charters - one child was on a wait list. Then, that child made the lottery and the other were accepted under sibling preference. The charter is a stand alone charter and certainly provided more than test prep. My children are not in Masterman or Central. Their District high schools aren't ideal but there aren't many "ideal" charter high schools in Philly.

I would like to ask Fattah, Nutter (did NOT go to an Overbrook K-4, then went to Masterman), Prichett (whose children went to a private school and then Masterman), ETC. if they would place their children in any schools other than private or Masterman/Central. At the same time, the PFT needs to think why so many teachers are living in the suburbs and/or sending their children to private schools. I work with very few teachers who send their children to Philly schools - charter or District. Many of the younger teachers - including TFA - are living in the 'burbs. Nevertheless, Gleason and Gordon (and the other supporters of privatization) need to answer why they also aren't enrolling their kids in city schools.

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 11:04.

you know the answer. most of them aren't that good. especially when you get to the high school level. unless your children are in one of a hand full of special admission high schools (because even all the special admits aren't special), you should be looking too. if your start with obama, #1 on the school choice hypocrisy list, you've got a whole lot of names to get through before you reach gleason and gordon. let me ask one last question: would you respect them if they said, germantown, vaux, uni, mansion, or lamberton?

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 11:09.

btw, a tfa corps member is more likely to live in the city than a pft member.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 11:17.

Not at my school - they are in the burbs if they stay more than 2 years. I'm sure that is the same across the city. TFA who stay for 3 or more years leave.

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 12:12.

Please provide evidence for this assertion. Make sure to include the percentage of TFA teacher that stay more than three years. Then think again before suggesting that a drive-by teacher is somehow more than those of us who put our money where our mouth is.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 16:27.

Yeah . . . for about two years and then they're out of the city and teaching profession. Too many are merely fulfilling their contract obligation and then splitting town.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 18:12.

In most urban districts, TFA teachers actually make it to Year 3 slightly more often than traditionally certified teachers. It's not that TFA teachers stay on for Year 3 is huge numbers (though I think it's over 50% who stay in the classroom [not necessarily in their original school--many choose to leave for charters once their contractual commitment to stay in their original school expires). It's more the case that traditionally certified teachers don't last very long, either. The main difference is that TFA teachers leave teaching completely, wile traditionally certified teachers split more evenly between leaving teaching and getting a teaching job in the suburbs.

TFA teachers are actually a lot less likely to leave for the suburbs than someone who plans on a career in education. The reason is fairly straightforward: they are more interested in tackling a specific problem--educational equality--rather than education itself. There are many arguments that this isn't a a great reason to go into teaching. But it's fairly universally true that it means that the vast majority of TFA-placed teacher who leave urban schools leave teaching completely. Very few take teaching positions in the suburbs.

Submitted by Samuel Reed III on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 19:47.

This was  a provacative read about TFA. I posted it on my twitter feed :  Teach for America’s hidden curriculum via

Sam

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 22:13.

all this proves is that you and bill ayers agree about tfa. yoou described yourself as a proud member of the pft, your position on tfa is consistent with that statement. from your name, you might be related to a famed phillly saxophonist. sadly, you're not nearly as innovative.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 22:50.

I found the article to be very enlightening. It helped me to connect a few more dots- TFA/Michelle Rhee/The New Teacher Project/Philadelphia Pathway to Leadership in Urban Schools/PSP/Gleason/Gordon/Mastery.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 22:57.

I agree! A wealth of information about the role that TFA is playing in the corporate education predators agenda.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 23:01.

Thanks, Sam. Excellent critique of TFA and its ilk.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 20:01.

Sam,

This is a great article about TFA. As the article points out, TFA made sense when high-need districts really were desperate for teachers:

"The second justification for TFA—that it exists to supply good teachers to schools where few venture to work—has also proven questionable. Though the assertion made some sense in 1990, when many impoverished school districts did in fact suffer from a dearth of teachers, the same is not so easily argued now. "

TFA was fine when districts would hire anyone with a bachelor's degree to fill teaching positions. However, the recession and the growth of charter schools has reduced the need for TFA's teachers.

My criticism of TFA ultimately comes down to the following point: If top-of-the-line school districts with many well-educated and upper-middle class or wealthy parents don't put TFA teachers in their schools, then neither should school districts with the poorest, neediest children.

EGS

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 11:19.

I'd respect Gordon if he send all of his children to a Mastery school and lives in the neighborhood. I live in a working class neighborhood - I can't afford to live in the neighborhood where I teach - which is a neighborhood high school.

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 11:45.

I wouldn't ask scott gordon, you, or anyone to send your children to anywhere but the best option available. i don't think this is about sharing the pain. it's about improving the options available for all. and why do tfa kids leave in 2-3 years? does the word unwelcomed come to mind? if I had my way, i'd hold on to more of these youngsters and bag the old goats that have been a big part of the decline of public education for the last 30 years.

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 11:49.

I am a graduate of the PSD and lived in Philly until seven years ago. I have taught in the PSD for close to twenty years, my mother for more that thirty. My spouse teaches at a private school and our children attend that school. While living in Philly and sending my kids to public schools may give me more credibility, it certainly wouldn't make me a better teacher. I work hard to provide my students with culturally relevant curricula and work with texts that I would gladly have my own children read at the same grade levels. At this point, my only regret about leaving Philly is that my last vote was for Nutter. I

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 12:48.

We are missing the explanation of why you left Philly.

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 15:04.

I'm guessing that your wife's school is outside the city too, so you know there's more to that suburban independent education than the reading level. don't feel guilty about wanting more for your children. that's what most of the parents of the district schoolers want.

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 23:25.

you are guessing correct except that reading levels do not exist.
why are you so guilty that you dare call yourself reformer.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 23:54.

Your ability as a teacher is not being contested. The premise that charters should be "fought" because they create an "uneven playing field" is. This inequity exists already, and most (not all) teachers inherently support this by enrolling their children in schools outside the SDP, whether by living outside the City or "investing" in private schools. In a 10 year span (2000 to 2010), the City lost 44,000 children ages 5-14. There was an increase in children under age 5, so "declining birthrate" is not the reason. I'd say, quality of available education (regardless of how hard teachers work) is more likely one reason. Well paying job growth could be another... then that leads us to taxes.

Insisting on the "right to be supported" even when there are far fewer children in the City is a sure way to bring down the entire system. So, so much for "for the good of all". The real vision is not about community effort at all.

Submitted by reformer (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 02:12.

jeff (that's that they'd call you at mansion before they kicked your butt), guilty is your suit. so don't pretend for one minute that you have some kid f moral high ground. at least have the guts to admit that you and your kids have the advantages. your wife teaches at a lesser pay to give your children an educational advantage (or are you living in one of those wealth suburbs with a failing school districts?), and you get the higher salary for producing minimal results. i'm sure that when you escort your wife to her school's cocktail party, you get the full martyr treatment. let's be candid, ms. chengs's math exposes your real motive, mo money, mo, money, mo money!

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 15:06.

There seems to be a lot of projection going on here. You suggest that I am guilt-ridden, view myself as a martyr and lack the guts to admit that my children have an advantage. The fact is that i have been extremely transparent about my personal decisions. You, on the other hand, have yet to share what makes you such an expert. Are you a teacher? If so, how long? Where do you teach? You criticize Sam reed for sharing info about TFA and then resort t personal attack. Stop hiding by your self-aggrandizing title and show yourself.

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 11:26.

Numbers tell a story, but so does personal experience. First of all, the assertion that "most" teachers send their kids to private or suburban schools needs to be substantiated with facts, not highly generalized accusations.

My wife grew up in a house that borders Beeber Middle School. She attended Gompers, then a Catholic school and finally a suburban Catholic high school. From there she went to an HBCU.

I attended segregated Greenberg, integrated CW Henry and all-male Central.

When it came to discussing school for our own children, my spouse was generally against Philly schools, or else we would have done everything within our power to get into the highly selective special admits. I capitulated because the PSSA oriented curriculum was so utterly senseless that I refused to subject our kids to it, and I will never apologize for that.

I currently teach in one of the communities where I was raised.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 13:47.

The numbers (general population no distinction made for teachers) only affirm your personal experience. Yes we would need a survey to confirm how many SDP teachers do not live in the City. At my neighborhood school, there were only 3 (out of fully staffed K-8, so 10 including SpEd?) that lived in the City, so better than half did not. Yes, only one school, but enough to get your attention.

Regardless, the point is that at this time an "unequal system" serves a "quality" (as voted by choice) education purpose. The other point is that many are not choosing SDP (if we use population numbers of families with school age children leaving the City, and growth of charter enrollment), so we can't insist on opposing choice when we are exercising this ourselves. PFT rallying around "we must preserve equality" (not choice) is hypocritical and self serving.

Those teachers who are investing in the City by living and sending their kids to school here can't "save the system" by themselves. I learned that when I hoped to do this for my neighborhood school. I was willing to keep my children in what quickly became apparent was a mediocre school, because I essentially homeschooled my kids, and invested my choice/sacrifice (of a job outside the home/second income/social security benefits) into intense volunteer work at this same school. Well I couldn't stop the other parents from leaving, and today the school is closed (but the neighborhood and the SDP is better off today as a result of the reshuffling). Even with all the time and energy I had invested into this school, I threw my support behind closure. I did this because I knew the kids personally who went there, and I knew they would be much better off with their closure options.

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 14:37.

You seem to be taking a bit of divide and conquer approach here. Teachers who choose (or maybe have limited options) somehow stand on higher ground when it comes to advocating for quality public education? I don't know... I hardly think that highly dedicated teachers who live outside the city or seek educational alternatives are standing in the way of quality. I've lived in Philly for most of my life; now I don't. I've travelled the educational map, both as student and professional. I most definitely work for the children I work with. I respect your work and your journey.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 15:25.

There is no intent to "divide and conquer"; the PFT will do whatever it can to preserve jobs and benefits, this is just the way it is. I would only like some honest discussion, not perpetration of fears.

I could not get the parents who left our school to understand that their presence would make a difference to the outcome there. They were not willing to take any chances. You don't see a similar case in your own situation, which is likely the situation for all those opting out of the SDP? You are part of the movement away from the SDP, despite your dedication to the same. In insisting on preserving jobs and benefits by fighting closures and the growth of charter enrollment, the discussion is no longer about public education, and no one is on any higher ground than anyone else.

The Asian culture is of an opposite extreme to the Western one. Self sacrifice to the good of the whole is what is expected. The result however is not always the good of the whole. Bureaucracies that support jobs to the aging at the expense of the young; stagnating economies. Choice, and the breakup of bureaucracies are what keep economies growing and healthy.

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 15:44.

So your solution is for those of us in direct contact with kids to sacrifice pay and benefits, then send our own kids to schools where critical-thinking is exchanged for eligible-content? Please clarify. Unions are not destroying this country.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 16:46.

No. No sacrifice in pay and benefits; but understanding that fewer teachers and administrators can be afforded. How does closing schools equate to sacrificing pay and benefits? On the contrary it is the pay and benefits that are dictating the school closures. There are not enough children enrolled to support these pay and benefits. How does the PFT oppose closures when they are needed to maintain the level of pay and benefits? (Please don't make me draw another ill advised connection between education people and math...)

Let's stick to the SDP, not "unions and the country". Unions that wisely work with management preserve jobs. (Topic for another conversation is some inconsistency in how unions are necessary in a manufacturing industrial revolution economy, and supposedly teaching in our country is not a manufacturing industrial revolution activity... another time.)

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 17:49.

Sorry Geoffrey I just realized my reply is not clear. The number of jobs can't be preserved, but the pay and benefits can. The argument against school closures is an argument to preserve the number of jobs along with the level of pay and benefits, but preserving all of these is not possible with the current level of enrollment.

Your reply indicates that parents/caregivers have little choice in the curriculum/approach if they enroll their children in the SDP and you would not subject your children to this; yet you say that what you use (as a teacher in the SDP) is what you would use for your own children. Which is it? I would guess the former. So where's the objection to charters, because not all of them use the same approach that the SDP uses, and at least parents/caregivers will have a choice?

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 14:02.

Kudos to you Philly Parent and Teacher for investing in the SDP! It does make a difference in the end, to the level of commitment you have. I have seen this firsthand in trying to get teachers involved in grant projects for our school. The two who saw projects through lived in the City. One helped a great deal who did not live in the City, but would not pursue the particular project past a certain point.

There are some benefits to investing in this somewhat backwards and "small town" thinking city that I hope you are taking advantage of. ASAP has just a mindblowing Chess Club program. The Free Library has an amazing outreach to teens. Our YMCA is walking distance away. Settlement Music School is proactive in giving scholarships to study. There is the Fleisher Art Memorial, the Kimmel, Philadelphia Theatre Co., the Clay Studio, the Clef Club, and the list goes on.

Very best to you and your children. There's a lot to education besides/beyond academic rigor.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 16:32.

Thank you for the suggestions. My children aren't very interested in the arts - to my dismay - but I can't impose my interests on them. (They have not turned me into a Philadelphia sports fan!) I was able to give a lot of time to their K-8 charter school - until about 2 years ago the school was very open to parent involvement beyond the Home and School Association. Now, the Board is much more corporate, TFA and there is far less interest in parent involvement other than fundraising. They also started benchmarks this year although there is still a project component for ALL students (not just so-called "gifted"). The information from the District high school - a special admit but not "the" special admits (Central, Masterman, etc.) - is very focused on test prep and what I consider a minimalist curricula. As a single parent and a teacher, I have limited time to do much more than help with homework and try to get them involved in extra activities I can afford AND they enjoy.

What discourages me as a very involved teacher (yes, I applied for an received another grant this year), are my colleagues who would never let their child in a city school. In a recent meeting, the talk was about the private schools their children attend or the schools in wealthy suburbs. I encountered the same attitude In a summer program sponsored by the Philadelphia Writing Project, - many teachers did not live in the city and some stated they would never send their child to a Philly school. (There were exceptions but not the majority). While I "hear" the arguments, I don't understand how anyone who doesn't live in the city and/or send their children to Philly schools can challenge closures. Yes, there are caring and committed teachers who certainly do more for their students than some teachers who live in the city and send their children to Philly schools. But, it is different to "flee" the city each day. My children ride SEPTA, I am active in my block committee, etc. I deal with the complications of living in a working class neighborhood in Philly just as my students deal with those complications. At my block meetings, I hear the grandmothers and great grandmothers (most of the women who attend are my mother's age) complain about Philly schools and want to get into charters. (I have a few neighbors who are retired classroom assistants and cafeteria workers. I also have some younger male neighbors whose jobs are on the porch... ) I want my children to be able to navigate their environment, feel comfortable with a variety of people, and find good in place others might dismiss. So, living and working in Philly is 24/7. As you wrote, there is a lot to education. I'd argue my children are getting academic rigor - it just isn't only in the classroom.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 22:18.

I am always amazed at single parents. How do you do all this? I agree with you that living with people in all walks of life is a much better learning experience than being secluded with only "successful" people. Sports - how about training for a marathon? Students Run Philly Style is a great program that is free for students. They have some awesome young volunteers...some of those 20 to 29 year olds that are enthusiastically repopulating/occupying the City (and its porches) after growing up in the suburbs or having never left the City.

The likely reason the PFT is arguing against closures is that there is a fear that these (closures) will put them at a disadvantage in bargaining. This is understandable, but illogical, and works against their credibility. I have nothing against unions, only objections to narrow minded thinking.

I wonder that no one has suggested sharing administrators, and even teachers (in the cases where class sizes are under 15), in order to increase utilization and preserve building specific programs. This would not decrease maintenance staff or cost and would slightly increase the need for support staff; but if extended to more than 37 schools, it might produce the sought after savings while also supporting smaller class size. It would also allow for flexibility in increasing staff if enrollment increased. I think Germantown H.S. is a good candidate for re-use or integration as, the vocational technical school that the SDP recently received a grant to establish.

It is interesting the trend you note in your child's charter school, towards a corporate approach. Perhaps the school needs to be reminded that they were chosen because of the greater influence they offered to parents/caregivers. My opinion is that eventually charters will have to consolidate to be able to operate effectively, and we may end up with "achievement networks" after all, BCG's suggestion that was so summarily dismissed. NBR had a good edition tonight on philanthropy, "Conscious Capital" that showed the power of good will and good business practices, definitely not mutually exclusive.

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 23:21.

Philly Parent:

I WOULD send my kids to public schools. Live with an educator who advocates for “boys of color” in “independent schools” as if that’s easier or costs less. Please. I walk into my class everyday with the same relentless anger and love of kids. You can't even imagine what it took to get thru PhilWP at a certain level and try to make it make sense in a different way. We all choose our own communities.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/16/2013 - 15:19.

I would like to know that as well. Is it a coincidence that a revised school closing list will be released early next week and that the Renaissance list release date, originally scheduled for 2/11, has been changed to 2/19? I think not.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/16/2013 - 20:25.

Renaissance schools are a huge problem. They have taken over almost 20 schools. Teachers and other union jobs are gone. I don't even think the kids from the area are still in the schools. I also hear they are kicking bad kids out and sending them to other schools.

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