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Three Philly schools get grants to expand

By Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner on Apr 24, 2013 02:18 PM
Photo: dianecordell/Flickr

The Science Leadership Academy will receive $1.9 million from the Philadelphia School Partnership to expand into a second campus inside Beeber Middle School.

Three of Philadelphia's most innovative traditional public schools are set to expand, thanks to $6 million in grants from the nonprofit Philadelphia School Partnership.

All told, Center City's Science Leadership Academy, Germantown's Hill-Freedman Middle School, and the Navy Yard's Sustainability Workshop are expected to add 1,600 new students over the next three years. The hugely popular SLA, a project-based high school known for its use of technology and its partnership with the Franklin Institute, will expand into a second campus inside Beeber Middle School in West Philadelphia.

Beeber was recently given a last-minute reprieve from closure.

PSP executive director Mark Gleason praised his group's newest grantees.

"These are schools that prepare students of all backgrounds to succeed in college," Gleason said in a statement. "Schools with visionary leaders who have the ability to build outstanding teams of educators, and schools where leaders and teachers believe that all students can achieve at high levels."

In the coming year, PSP is also planning to make an additional $2 million in grants to "receiving schools" -- those schools that have been identified to receive an influx of new students after the shuttering of 24 District schools this summer.

Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite called the funds "a valuable opportunity for us to work with principals to provide schools with the supplementary resources needed to serve incoming students and replicate our most successful schools and programs."

Grants for receiving schools will be "contingent upon school leaders with strong track records making it through PSP's grant-approval process with compelling school turnaround plans," according to a statement from the District.

Since being formed in 2010, PSP has given $19.2 million to support the creation of more than 10,000 "high-quality seats" in city schools. All but one of the group's previous grants had gone to charter or Catholic schools, prompting criticism from some defenders of traditional public schools.

Plans for three schools

At SLA, the plan is for 125 9th graders to form a new class at a second campus to be created inside Beeber Middle School, located in the city's Wynnefield section. Beeber, which is three-quarters empty, had been recommended for closure before District officials suddenly reversed course last week.

SLA, a selective school that takes students from all over the city, now operates in a leased building at 22nd and Arch streets. The lease, which will cost the District $1.4 million next year, is set to expire in 2016.

SLAMedia, the school's student-run online news site, reported that the school will maintain a single admissions process and that the new 9th-grade class will be made up of students from the school's current waiting list.

"This represents an amazing moment in time for the School District to put a stake in the ground and say these are the kinds of schools we value," SLA principal Chris Lehmann told the site.

The PSP grant for SLA is for $1.9 million over three years, with an expectation that 500 new seats will be added.

Hill-Freedman, meanwhile, will receive $2.6 million over three years to add 600 new students and expand to include a high school.

And the Sustainability Workshop, now a pilot project, will expand into a full high school, to be known as the Workshop School. An inaugural class of 60 students is expected to start at the school next fall, at a location to be determined. The school will receive $1.5 million over three years.

The moves to expand three District schools come on the heels of the SRC's recent decision to close eight others, part of an unprecedented downsizing effort.

Acceptance of the grants and at least some of the expansion plans are contingent on the approval of the School Reform Commission.

PSP's goal is to give $100 million to "transform or replace" the worst-performing schools in the city and provide 50,000 students with better options. The group has raised more than $50 million to date.

This story was reported through a partnership in education coverage between WHYY/NewsWorks and the Notebook.

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Comments (72)

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 3:16 pm
The Sustainability Workshop is NOT a School District of Philadelphia school. How is the SDP opening a new, SPECIAL ADMISSIONS high school while closing other high schools????? Hill-Freeman and SLA are also SPECIAL ADMISSION schools? Sure, special admission schools get better results but that is a no brainer. The "chump change" of $2 million for the "receiving schools" is nothing considering how many "receiving schools" are in the District. Once again, it is screw the neighborhood school and brag about special admissions schools. Schools like SLA, the Workshop and Hill-Freeman will never accept all students. Schools that accept all students should be supported rather than closed and trashed by the SDP. My sympathy for the Germantown community. You had a plan that was trashed by Hite/Khin/SRC.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 24, 2013 5:23 pm
Increasing seats in SDP special admission schools is a great way to stop the "bleeding" to charters. With more seats, these schools will be more accessible. More students will be included in their group effort. That is not a bad thing at all. There is nothing stopping other/neighborhood schools from copying the approach of these special admission schools; the selection process is to find students who would be successful there. I'm glad to see Hill Freedman expand. It is a gem that is often omitted in the naming of the SDP's top performing schools, rarely mentioned alongside Masterman and Central, though it performs (its students perform) on par with these. It is located in the Germantown area, so that is a plus for that neighborhood.
Submitted by Andrew Saltz (not verified) on April 24, 2013 6:50 pm
>There is nothing stopping other/neighborhood schools from copying the approach of these special admission schools; the selection process is to find students who would be successful there. That is, at best, untrue. SLA and other Magnets require prospective students to both apply and perform (SLA requires a presentation, I believe). Neighborhood schools have to provide a seat for any student in their catchment. As someone who has worked in the neighborhood schools and now a citywide select (slightly different process), I can tell you it makes a huge difference. For example, SLA has a higher percentage of diagnosed "gifted" students than those with disabilities (via schoonet). Oh, and my understanding is that the Workshop School is closer to a citywide select, and takes a pretty decent sampling of all students. Anyway, both schools are awesome (I don't know about Hill Freedman), and PSP should be commended for being less evil than usual. But let's not call a Magnet school something other than what it is.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 8:09 pm
The Workshop is NOT a school. It has run for two years with an enormous amount of grant funding. Apparently, since the Phila. Partnership wants it to be a school, it will be a school. "The Workshop" has taken top performing senior students from neighborhood schools. Therefore, it drains neighborhood schools of students the NEIGHBORHOOD schools have nurtured (and taken through standardized testing). The students have to apply (essay, interview, etc.) so they "fit" with the program. (They take a few "token" others. The Workshops motto is they take students who "fit" with their program. It also kicks out students who don't "fit.") So, its claim to "fame" that most of its 2012 students went to college is because the student were prepared for college in their neighborhood high school - not at "The Workshop." The Workshop has no track record of anything other than some leaders with very bloated egos and a lot of grant funding from STEM advocates. Why is the SDP adding another high school when it is closing schools? You got lucky with Robeson. What is Robeson was closing? Would you feel the same about "The Workshop?"
Submitted by Andrew Saltz (not verified) on April 24, 2013 9:51 pm
I'd ask you to cite any of your information. But I know where that would go. For anyone actually interested: Michael Clapper has been a champion of urban education for a decade. Feel free to contact him. And, to answer your trolling: Saving Robeson took a lot of luck, but we also had to make our opinion known. And that meant facts, data, and putting our name on what we said.
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on April 24, 2013 9:49 pm
You are clueless about The Workshop. I teach at a school that has suffered the consequences of "The Workshop" taking top performing seniors and then claiming they created a "miracle" at the Navy Yard. Clapper and rest of his crew at the Navy Yard have played the game to get tones of grant funding - including the endorsement of the Phila. School Partnership - which is why they are being handed the school they wanted. Why has the Phila. School Partnership been given the keys to the School District? Why is the Partnership determining which schools get funding and, in the case of The Workshop, even created into a school? (It has only been a program for selected seniors since 2011-2012.) You can strut at the SRC for Robeson - and trash on Sayre, a neighborhood school - but you certainly don't know what is happening around the District.
Submitted by Timothy Boyle on April 25, 2013 9:55 am

So Furness and Southern and West (along with numerous other people and systems that are non-school related) did a wonderful job preparing the kids who were chosen to learn at the Sustainability Project. It is more than fair to question why a group that has $50 million dollars holds so much sway over the policies and decsion-making at the SDP. But it has to be said that the Sustainability Workshop and SLA are doing work that is qualitatively and quantativly different than other schools in Philadelphia. Supporting schools that are doing such work is important and right and good for kids. 

Discussing the implications of creating 1,500 more special admission seats (for lack of a better term) is a worthy discussion to have. I would say that casting stones on successful programs, and fellow PFT members is counter-productive. Special admission SDP schools are not going anywhere, ever. How the District migates the situations that arise for comprehensive high schools because of special admission schools is the place for a robust, honest discussion. We'll get better as a District when we can speak constructively about change and policy instead of tearing down others.

Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on April 25, 2013 10:54 am
The "Workshop" is NOT a District school - it is funded through grants. Therefore, the staff at the Workshop are NOT District employees. They have used their connections since their creation to establish a program for SELECTED seniors. The took primarily TOP seniors from neighborhood schools - perpetuating the "brain drain" on neighborhood schools. The tearing down of others happened at the SRC meeting to close DISTRICT schools. Neighborhood schools, once again, were "trashed on." Now the Philadelphia Partnership apparently is running the system - creating a school that does not exist and determining which magnet schools will get money. When will the SDP allow neighborhood schools to have the same financial resources, same connections with institutions, de-emphasize testing, and allow alternatives in neighborhood schools. I won't hold my breath...
Submitted by Teachernphilly (not verified) on April 25, 2013 1:16 pm
Not "casting stones" on any students or teachers, just pointing out the glaring inaccuracies and faulty logic at work here. What is the true cost of expanding SLA and SW? Is public education in the city equitable? Let's compare SLA to it's neighbor University City: SLA: 8% Special Ed & 57% Economically Disadvantaged UC: 25% Special Ed & 95% Economically Disadvantaged Are we re-segregating schools?
Submitted by Andrew Saltz (not verified) on April 25, 2013 4:26 pm
I read all your comments. Your question is a good one. Are these innovative models scalable, or do they only work if you skim students? I think that's a crucial question that needs to be answered.
Submitted by Teachernphilly (not verified) on April 25, 2013 8:16 pm
I believe that all students can achieve, but when you begin the 9th Grade reading at a 3rd Grade level you need interventions and supports that are becoming scarcer and scarcer in neighborhood schools. In a perfect world we could have it all: magnet schools that bring select students together and comprehensive neighborhood high schools that provide a differentiated program. Sadly, we celebrate the achievements of the special admit programs while underfunding and stigmatize neighborhood schools because they struggle to make AYP.
Submitted by Teachernphilly (not verified) on April 25, 2013 12:12 pm
Michael Clapper may be a "good guy", but how about we try this instead: Allow a neighborhood school to toss out all rules, policies, standards, and requirements placed on it and allow it to select its own students. Guess what you would have: The Sustainability Workshop! I would challenge Michael, Simon, and the rest of the SW staff to walk into a neighborhood high school and replicate the program they run with our student population, not the hand-picked team of students they have.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 25, 2013 12:50 am
Mr. Saltz, I understand neighborhood schools must accept all students. By "approach", I did not mean having admissions criteria, rather I meant the actual special program, whether it is the academic rigor, as in the case of Hill Freedman, Masterman, Central, or project based learning, as in the case of SLA or Workshop School. My statement, sorry to say, was sarcastic, in protest of the opinion that admission requirements are wrong; because of course being able to offer certain programs requires students who are able or interested enough to do the work. Hill Freedman's students are required to read a grade level ahead. To SLA's credit, they do not use test scores, only the interview for admission. I spent more than 2 years trying to improve my neighborhood elementary school. This work included trying to build a partnership with the nearby neighborhood high school. I sympathize with the predicament/handicap that neighborhood schools are left with when their good students leave, but it could be an opportunity to concentrate more on the special needs students there.
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on April 25, 2013 4:58 am
SLA uses test scores, grades, attendance and behavior - just like the other schools. In addition, there is an interview. SLA does not require the top tier test scores like Central or Masterman but all students are proficient/advanced.
Submitted by Andrew Saltz (not verified) on April 25, 2013 11:10 am
OK. E-Sarcasm isn't definitely not my thing. There's a healthy debate to be had over special admit schools, Robeson included.
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on April 24, 2013 8:30 pm
Ms. Cheng - Have you ever visited a neighborhood high school? Vallas decimated neighborhood high schools by creating layers of special admit schools. This is nice for students who are accepted into magnet schools. There is everything stopping neighborhood schools from copying the special admission process starting with having admission requirements. You are way off on this one.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 24, 2013 11:34 pm
When I said that there was nothing stopping neighborhood schools from replicating the methods of special admission schools, I did not mean the admission criteria, I meant the rigorous academic programs; This in response to the opinion that somehow admission criteria is wrong, and that students would do better if they were mixed level, and segregated by the neighborhood (by definition neighborhood school) in which they lived. I once believed this too, but through observation have had to revise my opinion. There are not enough students to house magnet programs, as they currently exist, within each neighborhood school. Also, having good students in the same class with unmotivated students does nothing to motivate the unmotivated ones, and often results in the good students being held back academically. I worked to try and improve my neighborhood elementary school, and establish a partnership with the neighborhood high school (yes, I have been in one). My kids graduated from the elementary school, and went on to a magnet school. They (and I) appreciate the difference. When you increase the seats in a magnet school, it will draw more of the middle ground students, likely to these students' benefit. These are the students that the SDP is competing with charters to keep. Yes, that will leave neighborhood schools with a larger concentration of special needs children, but shouldn't this help target services to these children?
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on April 25, 2013 4:10 am
I don't think you recognize the implications of concentrating students with a variety of needs - not just academic - in neighborhood high schools. There is already a significant stigma places on the neighborhood high schools. There are not additional resources in most neighborhood high schools to address the layers of need. (The exception was funding with the Department of Labor - DOL Grant. Money isn't THE solution - it helps - but it isn't the solution to the academic, social, economic, etc. segregation in Philly schools.... Please keep reading.) Neighborhood high schools used to have internal magnet programs and a few still have them - Northeast, Washington. Fels is adding a magnet program. Why not all? Is it because parents "fear" sending their children to neighborhood schools? If they "fear" the schools, why? What has the School District done to perpetuate the stigma placed on neighborhood schools? The process of closing schools added to the stigma. The fact the SRC, once again, is "expanding" or opening a new magnet schools while simultaneously closing neighborhood schools further damages all neighborhood schools. (Remember the testimonies during the SRC hearings on closings? Some schools, like Robeson, used their "facts" to trash on a neighborhood high school to "lift up" their school.) There will always be students who academically, socially, emotionally, etc, etc. will not be accepted at magnet and charter schools. The current system segregates students into bandstands. Yes, an apartheid system of education. Adding more magnet "seats" wont' change the facts on the ground.
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on April 25, 2013 5:30 am
Sorry for the misspelling - that is not "bandstands" but "bantustans."
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 25, 2013 9:32 am
Yes there is stigma. I ignored this (because I believe in inclusiveness also) in seeking a partnership between our neighborhood h.s. and e.s. I worked out an arrangement for my oldest son to take 9th grade Algebra and English at the h.s. while still in the 8th grade because he had finished the 8th grade work in 7th grade. I hoped this would continue with other students at the e.s. At that point, my son was still interested in academics. He told me that students were selling drugs in the hallways at the h.s. (note: since that time with a new principal, there has been better supervision). He was matter of fact, and had no reason to lie. I told no one, and we finished the term there nevertheless. It only takes a few reported incidents (all the kids that attended there knew what went on) for parents to avoid a school. The level of the classes he took were not rigorous enough for him to test out of retaking these subjects in the magnet high school he went to. Yes, I don't know what the outcome of having a greater concentration of special needs children might be. Schools like Hope Charter have taken on this task, and rightly along with Special Ed teachers push for alternative measures for achievement. It takes tough discipline, bordering on what is used in military schools to establish enough order for a class to be taught in a traditional way in schools where there are behavior issue children. I would like to see more of an emphasis on enrichment of these children, as their behavior will allow -more use of Title I money here. I personally funded (disaster budgeting taught me how and when to borrow against time) a short filming/script writing and acting workshop, and watched how some of these attention challenged children were able to be engaged. I also saw how different were the levels of the children in this one class, and how the teacher had a huge challenge in teaching them all at once. As neighborhood schools get a greater concentration of what will likely be behavior issue kids, they will need to be allowed to adapt. Definitely they will need alternate/supplementary assessments. I am a fan of Arts based curriculum to engage multiple levels. Final note on resources: The Academy in Manayunk (recently moved to Conshohocken, thanks to Philly taxes no doubt) is a school for learning disabled children, specifically ADD/ADHD with success using an Arts based approach. The cost is equivalent to private college tuition, so it's not likely to be replicated in a public school; however it shows what is possible if these children are given time and care (not widely possible in our business/industrial revolution models). I had to look up "bantustans". Yes, Philly has the scars of racial oppression, but the inequity has moved on to socioeconomic factors. Hill Freedman is predominantly African American after all. Helping students from a culture of poverty is not easy. I decided I was not cut out for the task after I was attacked for trying to help. I found my little group to help, and continue in my thenotebook.org0A
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 25, 2013 9:01 am
In the last sentence, "thenotebook.org0A" was "small way". Technology :)
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on April 25, 2013 4:57 pm
I referenced apartheid and bantustans not to imply the School District's segregation is only racial / ethnic - although that is very real - but to the masterminding of a system institutionalized discrimination and segregation. Apartheid ensured the minority of the population would reap the benefits while the majority of the population provided the labor and was literally kept "in their place." If the SRC/Hite/Khin are willing to relinquish their power to the Philadelphia School Partnership (and Knudson the William Penn Foundation) and its ilk, they are complicit or even explicit in allowing a non-public, private institution to run a public school system. That is not a model for equitable public education.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 25, 2013 6:41 pm
I agree with you about disclosure to the public. The SDP however, is as bad if not worse than a private institution in that regards. If, prior to the involvement of the W.Penn, Gates foundations, and the PSP, there had been disclosure that suddenly disappeared when these parties appeared, then we might be able to blame them. As it is we don't know if it's just business as usual at the SDP, or the nefarious newcomers. Who might this minority be and who might be those who are "kept in their place"? I have a hard time believing this is deliberate policy rather than consequential chaos from lack of planning and lack of accountability (years before Gates). $6 million is really nothing compared to Federal Title I monies, specifically earmarked for the poor, and specifically for enrichment, for the entire SDP. This has been mismanaged to triviality in the struggle to educate the impoverished. Who is the greater villain, the SDP that has lost a cooler size supply of beverage, or the PSP who is baiting with a junior size juicebox (both to ensure the existence of future Walmart workers)?
Submitted by teachernphilly (not verified) on April 24, 2013 7:01 pm
Great point!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2013 9:45 am
We actually come from Furness, Benjamin Franklin, and South Philadelphia High School, which are all comprehensive high schools under the School District of Philadelphia. There is no process to be admitted into the workshop, we just had to have a desire to be here. Students here are at different academic levels. Our work here is addressing real world issues, allowing our teachers to gain grant money to support the school. This has been a wonderful experience for all of us especially since it's a life changing experience. It gives us the opportunity to take risks, to be innovative, passionate,inspirational, determined, open minded, and trustworthy. The workshop allows us to come together as community, all with the same intention to leave our footprints on the world. This prepares us for the next steps we all will be taking after we graduate. -Students from the Sustainability Workshop
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2013 10:07 am
Thanks, students, for having the courage and the savvy to speak truth to the small-minded angry defenders of a broken system that make this site their echo chamber. Best of luck and congrats on your hard work.
Submitted by Teachernphilly (not verified) on April 25, 2013 1:56 pm
I am not an "angry defender" of a broken system, I am an agent of change that exists in the system that does not agree with this model of school reform. Why not bring Project-based Learning and the open classroom format to all the students of Philadelphia? I would welcome the opportunity, but creating more Charter Schools and Special Admit programs is just further segregating the student population. I am also uncomfortable with the idea of Philadelphia School Partnership having so much sway over how education reform will happen in this region. Who are they accountable to? What will be the unforeseen outcomes of their efforts? Where is the money coming from and where is it going? I am not even going to start on the rampant fraud that is occurring regarding charter school finance! Lets face it, PSP is based on the idea that independently run, publicly financed schools will outperform traditional public schools and give parents/students more choices. However, Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes study of charter schools revealed that only 17% outperform nearby traditional schools, and that 37% are doing worse that nearby traditional schools. The charter school movement is also re-segregating public schools: not ethnically, but according to student performance on standardized testing. Case in point, just this week I was talking to two of my 10th Graders during a lunchtime advising session and they revealed to me that neither plan to return to next year. Why? As Ninth graders both were rejected by the Magnet and Charter schools they applied to. Now that they have tested "proficient" and "advanced" they were told to re-apply because now those schools would love to have them. Great for them, but what about everybody else? If that trend continues, than what becomes of the neighborhood high school that is given the task of teaching "everyone else" with fewer and fewer resources?
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on April 25, 2013 4:22 pm
Again, while the SRC/Hite/Khin are closing Germantown, Lamberton HS, Univ City, ETC, they are opening up two new magnet high schools. This is part of the Philadelphia School Partnership agenda - a non-public organization with enormous amount of funding run by a man (Gleason) who consistently advocated for closing District schools. SLA "West" and the so called "Workshop" have been given amazing flexibility in staffing, recruiting, daily schedule, course requirements, ETC, ETC. Meanwhile, neighborhood schools are threatened, stigmatized, and defunded. It is not only the staff that gets the shaft - it is the students and families.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 26, 2013 8:14 am
You missed the point that the SRC still has to approve these grants and the expansion of the seats they will support. The PSP is not "making policy" by themselves (though I doubt this will influence your judgement in any way). Also, it is likely that these expanded "seats" will not take from neighborhood schools, rather from charters. In fact I know a parent at Mastery whose child had chosen SLA before Mastery in his h.s. selection application. Had he been accepted rather than waitlisted, that is where he would be. So this grant will help the SDP in its overall budget by reducing demand for charter seats.
Submitted by Teachernphilly (not verified) on April 25, 2013 12:16 pm
To the students of the SW: This is not about you. You have done amazing things in a great environment. This is an argument about "everyone else". Out of the 9 students from Furness this year, 5 of them are ranked in the Top 25 of the Class of 2013. I hope that you understand how this this number is skewed. Last year, a student that was not performing up to SW standards was "sent back" to Furness. This is not an inclusion model that educates all students. If some isn't achieving up to standards in a traditional neighborhood school, where do they get sent? You do not need to feel attacked or besmirched. This about equity in education for all students in the city. The negative comments are not directed at you. It is a commentary on the movement to create more and more special admit programs and charter schools while asking the question: where will "everybody else" go to get their education...
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on April 26, 2013 6:28 am
I am glad that students at The Workshop have found their experience "life changing." Nevertheless, I know that isn't true for everyone - there are students who, in the words of the men(Clapper, Hauger, Riggan, Downey) who run the Workshop, who are NOT School District employees, "don't fit." That was true last year and it is true this year. If "The Workshop" was truly open to anyone, there would have been a lottery to recruit students at all of the schools. There is a process for admission - the men running "The workshop" met with the principals at the schools, held "barbecues" for selected students, had student submit essays, and met with selected students. Then, the men from The Workshop selected the students who "fit with the program." They primarily took the most motivated students from the schools - that may be why you were motivated enough to "have a desire " to be there. (There are obvious perks - you go to school when you want and have a very flexible schedule, are served a very nice lunch each day, do not have homework, do not have to wear a uniform, and many other perks that students in neighborhood high schools are not given.) The Workshop has more money for 30 students than a neighborhood high schools has for its entire senior class. If The Workshop model is "scalable," then the admission process should be "blind" and not only for students who "will fit." If you think the program is "life changing," why not offer it to anyone? Even if The Workshop is "city wide admissions," students will need to have good grades, good behavior, good attendance, and good test scores. As of now, students who are interested have to contact the Workshop. Will the men at The Workshop again take the top seniors from a few neighborhood high schools or will they have a more equitable process if their model is so unique? Will they continue to get grant funding that is not accessible to neighborhood high schools? This is an issue of educational equity - something sorely lacking in Philadelphia School District.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 26, 2013 7:21 am
I believe the goal is "everybody"; Right now they have to select, because they are essentially a "start up". From my experience, what they are asking students to do requires a certain amount of interest in the goal presented. Whether it is a desire to create/engineer or a desire to build a concrete solution. Not every person is driven/motivated in this way. There is a great need for skilled engineers, so what they are doing is very valuable. It may lead to a way to integrate this education into industry. So quick to judge and tear down - so sad. By similar thinking, there is no right to be different or successful because of your difference, because it doesn't apply to "everyone else".
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on April 26, 2013 8:42 am
Ms. Cheng - You don't know much about the Workshop. They are not preparing future engineers. Students in the program pick what the work on - last year that included poetry and a lesson plan on immigration. (That was to be published - still not on their web site.) Their claim to fame from their first year 2011-2012, was "most students went to college."' Sure, when the students you pick have already been prepared and planned on going to college. Just like many neighborhood schools, most students apply to college (this includes CCP), a trade school or the military. Applying is one thing - finishing is another. If a school has to be selective to work, then neighborhood schools are doomed to failure. It is not "tearing down" - it is taking off the rose colored glasses that perpetuate the inequity.
Submitted by Tina Tran, Brittany Butler, Matthew Williams and Sagar Patel (not verified) on April 26, 2013 9:32 am
If you haven't been to the Workshop, nor spoken to the teachers, then please don't assume things. You are invited to come see our work down at the Navy Yard at the end of the year exhibition which will clarify all your assumptions. It's a shame that there is good work being done and you're only looking at the politics. Once again, if you need clarification on our school, come down to 1413 Langley Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19112 at Quarters A.
Submitted by Teachernphilly (not verified) on April 26, 2013 7:38 pm
You have done great things while at the workshop, the frequent amount of press coverage (not to mention your website's Blog, Flickr stream, audio/video streams, etc) go to prove that, a visit isn't nessecary to see your creativity and commitment. Kudos to you! This is not about you, it is about the impact that expanding specialized programs will have on neighborhood schools and the students left behind. It is also about the shortcuts that are being taken so that you can still earn a HS diploma. I wish all administrators had the flexibility to play around with credits and classroom time spent on specific subjects, but we can't. Is that fair? I know that you are all caring and empathetic people: isn't it a low down dirty shame that some kids will get to go to the Workshop School (.003 of the students in the city) while everyone else is left out? Meanwhile, FHS is handcuffed by budget cuts, rules, and regulations that make it nearly impossible to improve the school. What if I told you FHS planned a major innovation initiative on the same level of creativity as the SW, but it will never happen because it will cost a little more money and require us to "bend" a few rules they way they do at the SW right now. I know each of you FHS student personally, you are great kids. I am proud of you, but ask yourself, why didn't EVERYONE from the Class of 2013 get the same opportunity? There are many students that will just never be welcomed into the SW like you were. That is the problem here, not you. It is a matter of equity. If you have learned anything, I hope that you still know how to ask tough questions and be honest about the answers you find. You are awesome, your work demonstrates what creative young minds can do when given the opportunity. You seem upset that the "politics" are being debated here. Guess what, we have to worry about the politics because long after you have graduted and gone on to amazing things, we will still be here pouring every ounce of our energy and passion into teaching not some, not most, but all of the students of this city. Maybe my concerns are completely unfounded. Maybe five years from now the SW will have a graduating class that mirrors that same population as the rest of the city (9% ESL, 18% SpEd, etc) but like most other special programs like this, it will not. History proves this. I accept your invitation, and I invite you to come and discuss this with me further in person. Some of my most interesting and compelling discussions have been with you in the past, and my door is always open.
Submitted by Tina Tran (not verified) on April 26, 2013 8:25 pm
I understand that there is concerns regarding the politics and we shouldn't worry about it because it's none of our concern. But this is about us the children also. We were ALL given the opportunity to come to the workshop. Some of us took that opportunity and some didn't. If you would like to talk personally, please email me at
Submitted by Teachernphilly (not verified) on April 26, 2013 9:07 pm
Reality and Perception are often two different things. There are students that will NEVER be given an opportunity to do something like the SW. It's not your fault or your problem. You are just lacking the perspective our informed understanding required to see it. Programs like SW, SLA, Special Admits, and Charter schools need detailed, transparent recruitment policies to ensure they are targeting a diverse (whch means more than just race) student applicant pool representative of the broader community. This should be followed by an analysis of the results that can be vetted in a public forum. That way we can see if these programs are staying true to the mission of Free Universal Public Education as "The Great Equalizer". That is why I am asking for. Once again, take pride in what you have accomplished. You have earned it.
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on April 27, 2013 4:43 am
Its not "merely" politics - it is principles. As TeacherinPhilly has written, it is about equitable access not only for students - which The Workshop DOES NOT provide - but also communities. The Workshop moto is students have to "fit" with their program - by definition "fit" is not "All." The Workshop is allowed privileges - and disproportionate funding - because the 4 men in charge are well connected to the social, political, economic and educational capital that very few have in the U.S. They have the unquestioning support of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. They have a partnership with Drexel University. They have a budget for 30 students that stretched for hundreds of students in a Philly public school. The principles include equitable educational opportunities, equitable access to resources, non discrimination based on ability, interest, skill, etc., Progressive education should include the creation of a more just and equitable society. The Workshop model does the opposite. The Workshop perpetuates privilege and inequality. The "losers" are those who don't "fit" their model and, who don't buy into their agenda. I don't blame the students for taking an opportunity to have a fun senior year. You chose to leave the high school that nurtured you for 3 years - that is your choice. I blame the 4 men running the program, their funders, their unquestioning supporters, and the SRC. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia School Partnership, a private entity responsible only to their very wealthy funders, is running the School District by deciding which schools will be created and expanded. Imagine if instead of closing Germantown High School, Lamberton High School, Comp Tech High School, University City High School, Carroll High School, ETC, the SRC/Hite/Khin/Philadelphia School Partnership had allowed those schools to have a project based model of learning and instruction? Imagine if the money spent per students at the Workshop was available to ALL students? Imagine if all teachers had a ratio of 1 teacher per 7 or 8 students? (4 teachers at The Workshop for 30 students) Imagine if ALL students were given the flexibility of coming to school when they want, not having to move from bell to bell, were given a lap top, didn't have to wear a uniform, etc, etc. ? If The Workshop model is for ALL students, not just those who "fit," then Univ. City, Germantown, etc. students should have been given the same opportunity. Instead, neighborhood schools are stigmatized and destroyed. Meanwhile, the students who don't "fit" are left out of the inner circle of privilege perpetuated by the "Workshop."
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 28, 2013 4:19 pm
Then are you saying that the number of seats should not be expanded, and that the program should be discontinued because it can't happen in all the existing SDP schools right now? Wouldn't there be greater pressure on the SDP to modify their rigid, inflexible, demeaning programs and evaluations if more kids can testify to the benefits of doing so?
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on April 28, 2013 5:35 pm
"The Workshop" could have been part of a neighborhood school. It does not have to be its own school. It can be an academy / small learning community which is open to all students by lottery. That would be much more equitable. It would also mean the teachers would come from the School District - not outsiders who either left the School District or were never part of the School District. There is NO need for a new high school when other schools are being closed. Why not put The Workshop at Univ. City? Germantown?
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 28, 2013 5:31 pm
Would they have been granted the same freedom they have now, had they been part of a neighborhood school? Or more likely, would they have had to modify their program to fit the host school?
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on April 29, 2013 12:20 am
When there were special admit programs in neighborhood high schools, some programs had more flexibility than other programs. Rostering could be different, students could have internships, etc. All of this is possible with sufficient flexibility and funding. If The Workshops is for ALL students, it will have to modify their program. To date, they have run two senior classes with 30 students and 4 staff. That is a modification all of us would like. They also have a very spacious, new site. Yes, we would like that modification too. They also have an enormous amount of funding - they are able, for example, to give all students a lap top. Again, I'll take that modification. Lastly, they have never had to prepare students for standardized testing. I'll certainly accept that modification. Freedom is a slippery slope word. Individual freedom - or in this case freedom for a very small group - may conflict with the freedom of others. Is it freedom at any cost? Does the collective good matter? Based on the actions of the 4 men running the program, their freedom trumps others. Instead of working with teachers at the students' respective schools, they totally ignored the teachers. The men at The Workshop had this option because they have had substancial funding. The Phila. School Partnership became their advocate and one of their many funders. The goal of the Phila. School Partnership is to dismantle - if not destroy - public education for ALL in Philadelphia. So, freedom isn't always free.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 29, 2013 7:04 am
Your points are valid, but not the conclusion that the goal is to destroy public education. With all these desired modifications, that is smaller class size, better technical resources, and less importance given to standardized testing, we should want the Sustainability Workshop to succeed. I have seen, as our neighborhood e.s. lost enrollment that highly enviable class sizes of 13, 10, even 1, produced no gain at all. Also, at personal cost, I brought opportunities for extremely low cost/free resources in Arts and community workshops; but these were only taken advantage of by very few, some by none. Interestingly, I was met by the attitude/resentment, that I must be trying to "show off" or "take control" -not much different than the reaction this latest offering of grants is getting. As the Sustainability Workshop proceeds (and it is ironic that the word sustainability is in their name), they will need to learn to work with others if what they are doing is to continue. In the meantime, hostility and resentment, to hamper their work, is just wrong. Their budget is not coming from the SDP's (60 students shouldn't lower any school's utilization significantly); It is no certain thing that they will displace current teachers. There are a lot of unfounded assumptions and fears when these same teachers oppose such work. I would ask these teachers to examine these (fears) that they are so sure about.
Submitted by talking dirty to a woman (not verified) on May 31, 2013 9:19 am
Excellent article. I'm going through some of these issues as well..
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 3:28 pm
Swag! Go SLA!
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 24, 2013 5:17 pm
When did the plan to put a second location of SLA at Beeber come about? Was this in the works or something that happened because of someone having clout or due to the well-organized plan that Beeber's staff presented to the District? The expansion of the SLA into West Philadelphia is a good choice because unlike areas like South and NE Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, particularly the Overbrook/Wynnefield neighborhoods, don't have any special-admit high schools or charter high schools, to my knowledge. There has been a lot of criticism of PSP lately. I feel like they might feel compelled to help District schools in order to look like they don't blatantly favor charter and private schools. Education Grad Student
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on April 24, 2013 6:17 pm
I think, before the SRC or the Public gives this plan approval, I would advocate that we put this plan to the "strict scrutiny test" and understand all of the implications of that plan. I am a big supporter of SLA, project based leaning, and Chris Lehman. I also support a well thought out plan for that school to serve more students. Hooray for the SLA students! However, there are bigger issues to be discussed here as we look at "the big picture" and the future of public education in Philadelphia. What is done on the one hand crucially affects what happens on the other hand. The need for the school closings in the first place was because of poor planning by previous administrations and previous SRC's. The first question is what does this plan do to the plans the Beeber School Community is making to "Renew Itself" and draw more elementary students to Beeber from their catchment area? What does the Beeber community think and did anyone even consult the local community on this or any of that community's representatives? And of course, there is the bigger festering issue that PSP, once again, works outside the SRC and mandatory public procedures of the Sunshine Act, to roll out their plans for the district. Who even knew such plans were being discussed? Will, the SRC again, just rubber stamp PSP's plan?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 24, 2013 8:19 pm
Rich, You are so right about the PSP driving policy that is not theirs to drive. What authority, other than money, does the PSP have to say which schools should expand? There's an interesting commentary about the role of philanthropy in education that Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post posted in her column The Answer Sheet. It's called "How private money is driving public education policy" by Stanley N. Katz who, among other things, teaches at Princeton. See it here: Education Grad Student
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on April 24, 2013 9:36 pm
Apparently, the way to open a school or expand a school is to get the endorsement of the PSP. We no longer need the SRC ! I wonder how students / families from Lamberton feel? They are closed buy SLA, a magnet school, is opening in their area. Imagine how students at Univ City, Germantown, etc. are experiencing the "good news" of expanding magnet schools?
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on April 24, 2013 7:29 pm
Yeah, that probably is it... I'm sure the people at psp are real stressed about the criticism they get on the notebook
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 24, 2013 7:11 pm
Rich---Right again. The answer is NOBODY in the Beeber community knew anything until this group's representatives marched into Beeber and announced their arrival. Also, read between the lines and Beeber will very likely be a very short term school. The tragedy at Overbrook is the ONLY reason Beeber is still afloat today and all thinking persons know it. In any case, this is just another example of politics as usual. Throwing a crumb here and there to a traditional school is nothing more than window dressing as they steamroll Public Ed. out of the way.
Submitted by teachernphilly (not verified) on April 24, 2013 7:48 pm
You have to be a little concerned when the opening statement of an article is incorrect. Lets be clear, none of these programs are "innovative traditional public schools", thry are special programs that cherry-pick the highest performing students from the neighborhood schools. As a teacher that helped prepare the Sustainability Workshop students from 9-11th grade, I am extremely proud of the hard work that Furness High School kids have done at the Sustainability Workshop over the past few years. In reality, the further expansion of these "Special Admit" programs just helps to widen the gap between Charter programs and the neighborhood schools that are charged with trying to educate "everybody else" with fewer and fewer resources. Take SLA: they have an 8% Special Ed population and less than 2% ESL population. Furness has an 18% Special Ed and 38% ESL population. Gee, I wonder which school will perform better on Keystone Exams? So while the SLA students get more funding, Furness faces a 20% budget cut! We are approaching a situation that will require a "Brown v Board of Ed" type of lawsuit to put public education back on the right course that will provide an equitable education for all...
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on April 24, 2013 8:50 pm
Furness students in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 are the reason "The Workshop" shines. Those students spent 3 years at Furness yet the leadership of "The Workshop" doesn't even have the decency to recognize Furness nor meet with Furness teachers. Vallas created a slew of high schools with admission requirements - the neighborhood schools were decimated. This is another nail in the coffin of neighborhood schools. Philadelphia School Partnership is running the show.
Submitted by diraj (not verified) on April 25, 2013 8:21 pm
when you cheat the students out of correct GPA averages as the school district did for years with an antiquated system they can do anything. why do you think HITE is smiling while talking about need more money. Bush was smiling too when he talked the same game of weapons of mass destruction. Hite is wearing a 100 dollar shirt 200 dollar pants and a George Bush smile to go with it. their friends need more tax dollars to build their school that they will own ands make money off of it. Its like the tax payers buy e a store and give me money to stock the store and I get all the profits without giving anything back to the tax payers. very smart business. charter schools are for profit business what is the difference between a corner store that has your needs and a charter school
Submitted by diraj (not verified) on April 25, 2013 8:26 pm
please pass this along no one knows who actually runs the PSP. imagine one corporation takes over the entire school system in the world because charter schools and others are for profit. One education one rule. scary but it is happening we must educate each and everyone and the pen is mightier than the sword.
Submitted by Helen Gym on May 2, 2013 10:42 am

PSP's board is right here:

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on May 2, 2013 11:36 am
Thank you Helen! I read the biographies of the trustees on that site. Coincidentally, I noticed that it says Janine Yass was the "founder of Boys Latin." Ohhhhhhhhh. I see. I thought David Hardy was the founder of Boys Latin? To put it in the exact language of the Charter School Law, How is the board of trustees of Boys Latin "appointed or elected?" Who chooses their board members?
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on April 25, 2013 9:52 am

What is occurring here is the PSP, as the agent of the corporate school reformers, is using the manufactured fiscal crisis and its war chest of money to make strategic decisions about public education…decisions that rightfully belong to citizens and their elected representatives.


The District, having no money and few prospects, can hardly say no.  PSP sweetens the deal with a couple of million for schools that are taking children from the closed schools, but otherwise continues to promote its “model” of big bucks for so called good seats.    I think Simon Hauger and Chris Lehman are great educators but that’s not the issue.


The strategic choice that is being made is to focus on creating selective schools that, one way or another, do not address the needs of the children who are now in neighborhood schools that are being progressively starved of resources and are ever more segregated.   Philly Parent and Teacher has it right.   It is educational apartheid.  


The unstated logic of this strategy is that our future as a city depends on retaining the allegiance of the young professionals and similar folk who have been happily gentrifying our neighborhoods and need suitable educational options for their children.   The assumption is that this can only happen by creating more magnets and charters.


Schools that have diverse populations and take all students in a neighborhood can work.   Classes with students with varying levels of motivation and academic skills can work.   It requires commitment from the District, skilled principals and teachers, and social capital from the neighborhood in the form of parental and community involvement.   Unfortunately in the absence a strong commitment from the District and a steady drain of social capital to charters and magnets, neighborhood schools face nearly insurmountable problems, particularly middle and high schools.    

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 25, 2013 11:13 am
Mr. Whitehorne I have tremendous respect for your experience and knowledge, and I welcome your differing viewpoint. I am bothered however by the superimposing of social issues over educational issues/realities, to the point that facts are being misrepresented. Neighborhood schools are receiving far more per child in funding right now, a combination of the greater concentration of Special Ed and the declining enrollment/lower utilization. The special admission schools are suffering just as much from the budget crisis; they have not been given preferential treatment here. The required support from District, caregiver, and community involvement I agree with, and having skilled principals and teachers also. But this is what all this shuffling is about. There is not equity already in the neighborhoods of Philly, and the District historically has shown difficulty managing its principals well, which has led to poor management of teachers. We would be here till "the end of time" if we wait for someone/anyone to fix the management problems. If we increase access to the "commitment capital" that special admission schools are guilty of having, then we are using that to lift others who may have less, in a manageable way (reference the need to have a certain percentage of socioeconomic middle class in order to improve a school community). Believe me, if you have less than this critical percentage, you will have caregiver (the ones that tried to help) "blood" and pain on your hands. In terms of school closures, yes you want those middle class professional families staying in the City and choosing the SDP. To stop the need for closures, you must increase the numbers of school age children in the SDP. It helps if they have socioeconomic capital to bring. There is nothing that says a special admission school can't grow to occupy a school building that is now underutilized and at risk for closure.
Submitted by tom-104 on April 25, 2013 11:56 am
Ms. Cheng, You said, "I am bothered however by the superimposing of social issues over educational issues/realities, to the point that facts are being misrepresented." How on earth can you separate social issues from educational issues? It's thinking like this that got us in this mess! To ignore social issues distorts what is happening in education.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 25, 2013 11:09 am
Yes, but you are to the point of sacrificing education to social issues. Think about it.
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on April 25, 2013 4:42 pm

While you are correct that neighborhood schools get more per capita than magnet schools, I don't think in the current context of extreme austerity that means much.   Both kinds of schools are being short changed but the minimalist program at the neighborhood school level is far more devastating in terms of the impact on children.   I'm not categorically opposed to magnet schools.   I just think the bedrock of a good system must be quality neighborhood schools that serve all comers.    That is not the direction the District is moving.   

I don't believe I'm superimposing social over educational issues, but think they are invariably bound up with each other.  

Submitted by diraj (not verified) on April 25, 2013 8:06 pm
you are correct. it is not about the students any more, if you look at Hite, he has the same smile as George Bush when he was asking for billions. Hite is no different than Bush, more money to fund private for profit charter schools which means more money in their pocket. they no longer see or care about the kids. Hite and the others got bit by the Bush bug
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 26, 2013 9:33 am
Agreed, there is a great need for/it is important that we have schools that will accept anyone. The District needs to rethink its strategy for the special needs children that includes accepting alternative assessments. Having championed my own neighborhood school, and leaving my children enrolled, I would probably not do so again. I was fortunate to have caring teachers for my oldest that recognized he was not being challenged, but the best that "differentiated" instruction could do was allow him to sit in the math and English class one grade ahead. Even at the local h.s. where I worked out, again with the help of caring teachers, for him to take classes, he found the classes "easy". He had a negative bullying experience there that later ruled out returning to this h.s. when he lost interest in academics at the magnet school he was accepted to. I believe he is ADD "gifted", but we did not pursue this as he was no longer motivated, had moved on to writing and producing his own music, and dropped out. My younger son had things stolen from him, and came home in tears from being told he was "no good" because he did well in school by another child. He is doing much better at the magnet school he was accepted to. The District is large enough that "differentiation" may mean individual schools. The neighborhood school (that I grew up with) may not fit Philly, where neighborhoods are so unequal. Yes you can accept everyone, but you don't have to mix them to ensure "equity", that is you may actually have to separate them for better delivery of services. Separation in education by educational needs doesn't necessarily translate to segregation (something I had to change my mind about through the experience I had with my own children). Yes, often (but not always) these needs correlate to socioeconomic status, but all the better to target such as Title I or other grant money more. I had "equity" idealism, but it didn't stand the test of reality.
Submitted by diraj (not verified) on April 25, 2013 8:45 pm
when you cheat the students out of correct GPA averages as the school district did for years with an antiquated system they can do anything. why do you think HITE is smiling while talking about need more money. Bush was smiling too when he talked the same game of weapons of mass destruction. Hite is wearing a 100 dollar shirt 200 dollar pants and a George Bush smile to go with it. their friends need more tax dollars to build their school that they will own ands make money off of it. Its like the tax payers buy e a store and give me money to stock the store and I get all the profits without giving anything back to the tax payers. very smart business. charter schools are for profit business what is the difference between a corner store that has your needs and a charter school
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 25, 2013 9:21 pm
If neighborhood schools could figure out how to do a better job with educating all students, special admission schools would be extinct. In the meantime, special admission schools save the lives of kids who are not challenged, viewed as different and who would otherwise fall through the cracks of schools that can't get it together. And I wish someone would do the math and reveal if low performing schools get more money than special admission schools. My gut is they do.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 28, 2013 5:25 pm
You can find the school budgets on the SDP's website: see the link that Mr. Boyle has in his comment. You need to go to the "schools" section to find the corresponding enrollment for the particular FY you are looking at. Last I looked, I used the total budget and divided by the enrollment. I don't have the exact figures that I came up with (FY 2010/11) in front of me, but the magnet schools did spend less, sometimes a lot less, per child than the neighborhood schools. For example Central H.S. was less than $5,600 whereas Roxborough H.S. was over $12,000 per child. I appreciate your comment: you make good points about the students special admission schools serve. If we lose the stigma of low test performance, the neighborhood schools should actually be benefiting from an increase in seats in special admission schools. Their resulting smaller class size should result in more attention being able to be given for each child.
Submitted by Timothy Boyle on April 26, 2013 9:54 am

To look up each school's budget for the past 5 years.

We'd have to define more money, in terms of do grants like School Improvment (SIG) and Department of Labor (DOL) or IDEA-B funds count? Do we divide the total budget by how many kids?

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 28, 2013 5:53 pm
You should count all the money that a school spends regardless of the source. They spend it. You can find the enrollment in the "schools" section for the corresponding FY.
Submitted by Helen Gym on May 2, 2013 10:00 am

I'm days late to this conversation but just want to put in thoughts about the Sustainability Workshop because I think there is a difference between the complicated situation facing many schools and the integrity of that school and its leadership. I can only speak for Simon Hauger personally, but Simon was a 13-year West Philly High teacher who founded an amazing program at West - and that really is an understatement. It was a renowned program that came out of West's automotive dept., and got youth working on innovative environmental auto design and taking their designs to compete in competitions not just nationally but internationally. His taking the program out of West Philly High happened at a time of great turmoil at West (Ackerman had just kicked out the highly regarded principal, four principals followed Saliyah in quick succession, etc.). It would be hard to blame him for doing so. 

So for those commenters asking SW to try doing this in a neighborhood school, you just don't know what you're talking about. It was founded in a neighborhood school and left amid the dysfunction facing one. It's tragic but it's real, and we as an education community have to talk about that if we care so much about neighborhood schools.

The Sustainability Workshop is NOT a charter school. It is a tiny selective admissions school but its not based on test scores, and it's essentially a similar model to the one it had at West.
I think there are valid complaints about Philadelphia School Partnership cherrypicking and selecting the schools they want to spend money on then taking credit like they did any of the work. But I don't see how it serves us to kick down the Sustainability Workshops, SLAs and Hill Freedmans because of it. There is no money in the District. None. Everyone is going to PSP - charters, public and otherwise. It's tragic and sad, but it's not the fault of the schools and schools are not automatically evil for doing so.
But it's not just about money. The District sorely lacks vision as well. At the point that our District would rather spend $15 million contracting with a cyber charter over doubling PSP's investment in these District schools speaks as much to the state of our District leadership as anything else. 
Sustainability Workshop made voc ed for neighborhood kids in West Philly not just cool and amazing but then took them places where they took on the MITs and Harvards of the world and ground their privileged butts into the ground. That's something to celebrate. Simon could have taken the Workshop to charter but chose not to. In an impossible situation he is keeping a glimmer of innovation possible in Philly.
Submitted by Citizen (not verified) on May 2, 2013 12:17 pm
You do not know the entire story. You don't know how students were selected in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Don't assume you know everything. The 4 men running the workshop never wanted to be a charter - they can't get a charter in Philly. We do not need more magnet schools to cherry pick their students.
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on May 2, 2013 3:22 pm
"Everyone is going to PSP - charters, public and otherwise. It's tragic and sad, but it's not the fault of the schools and schools are not automatically evil for doing so." Ms. Gym - You went after the William Penn Foundation / Boston Consulting Group. Now, you are sanctioning working with the PSP because they have the money. You can't have it both ways. The PSP is determining which schools are created, live or die. It is far worse than the SRC. PSP has NO public accountability. So much for integrity!

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