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Countdown, Day 3: Class-size challenges and split grades loom

By Paul Socolar on Sep 6, 2013 03:00 PM

The School District's staff has shrunk by 3,000 since June, with 17,144 employees (full-time equivalents) now on the payroll. That's a 15 percent staffing cut. The District has not yet released information about how many of those eliminated positions were teachers.

But when schools open the doors to students on Monday, classrooms will be feeling the pinch from reduced staff in a few different ways.

The District anticipates starting the year with about 100 split-grade classrooms, according to Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski. Rarely seen in Philadelphia schools since a push by parents to stop the practice in 2007, "splits" are a way of saving a teaching position.

"We did have more than 100, but we're using [federal] Title II funding to address especially the [grade] 3-4 splits," Stanski said.

To eliminate all the split-grade classrooms would cost the District $11 million.

And that's money Stanski said the District simply doesn't have. 

He confirmed that the District has succeeded in eliminating what was once a $304 million budget gap -- primarily through $254 million in budget cuts.

But in this year's budget there is no slack at all, and he anticipates that the District will end the new fiscal year next June 30 with a fund balance of zero dollars.

"That makes it much more difficult to deal with emergency situations," he said. The District had hoped to maintain a reserve through the fiscal year but has fallen far short of its revenue and savings projections.

Reports from schools make clear that the District has been stingy in its teacher allotments, and many schools are looking at class sizes far above what has been the contractually negotiated limit -- 30 students maximum up through grade 3, and 33 students for grades 4 and up.

According to Stanski, the District has brought back a pool of 26 teachers to be assigned to schools to address some of the splits and the most "drastic" classroom overcrowding. "That pool is there to address any major class-size issues we see on the first day of school," he said.

In addition, the District will review all of its teacher assignments and conduct a leveling process beginning in late September when actual enrollment patterns are clearer, and it will "move instructional resources accordingly."

"Leveling" is the process by which the District waits a month and counts how many students actually show up and stay before deciding on a final allotment of teachers. It is a longstanding District process, designed to make the most of existing resources. But it also can lead to much shifting around of teachers and instability.

Now, there is no budget for additional teachers beyond the 26. And in some cases, class sizes are headed through the roof.

A high school social studies teacher at the Academy at Palumbo tweeted Friday that she has a class with 48 students on her roster.

At Furness High School, teachers report that the school was alloted teachers based on a spring enrollment projection of 507 students. The population has since mushroomed to more than 680, but no new teachers have been assigned there.

"Last year my largest class was 22 students," said Roxborough High School math teacher Heidi Rochlin. "Now this year we have rostered classes with up to 41." 

District spokesman Fernando Gallard noted that typically up to 30 percent of students will move in a given year, and it is necessary to be as economical as possible.

"This is particularly a difficult financial situation we’re in, and we want to make sure we wait and see how many students are in a classroom before we hire any more teachers," he said.

High class sizes are another reason many schools will be missing their counselors, who are available to intervene when students need special attention. The District has restored 126 counseling positions (some schools have more than one), but for now, nearly half of District schools will not have a counselor based there who can respond to a student in distress.

Stanski said there are 156 additional laid-off counselors formerly paid from the operating budget, but the District needs $17.3 million to restore them. And 80 additional counseling positions that were funded with categorical dollars are gone.

The School District of Philadelphia faces an unprecedented situation – uncertainty over whether it will be in a position to open safe and functioning schools in September.

This feature, appearing each weekday, is an effort to highlight developments and motivate action as we get closer to the beginning of the school year. We encourage readers to send us information about both concerns and breakthroughs to

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Comments (81)

Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on September 6, 2013 6:35 pm
There are many high school classes with over the top enrollment. How long will we, teachers and students, have to wait for some sanity? Waiting until October means the Hite/Khin/SRC/Phila. School "Partnership" administration has decided it is okay to start school in October. Would they accept this for their children?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 6:14 am
I hear the desperate cry from principals, teachers ,parents abd students that schools are not safe to open because there are over crowded classes and no APs and counselors in every school.What a shame. There are so many laid off employees after working for the District with more than 10 yrs. what do they do? Hite is still hiring principals from other states and there are APs and counselors on unemployment.
Submitted by Concerned Phila Parent (not verified) on September 6, 2013 6:53 pm
Hite, Khin, Gleason, Gallard... Would you send your child to a Philadelphia public school on Monday? If not, then you shouldn't expect anyone else to send their child. Shame!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 11:06 pm
I can only speak for Fernando Gallard, someone I once admired and counted as a friend. He moved out of Philadelphia due to the public schools, and lives in the suburbs so they can attend well-funded suburban elementary schools. What I cannot fathom in all of this school churn and double-speak, is why the Broad Foundation connection is not thoroughly investigated by the Press? Eli Broad is the unseen hand in the destruction of the Philly public schools--Hite is a graduate of the non-accredited Broad Superintendents Academy--and he will not rest until until all of the public schools here are run by corporations. We are experiencing a takeover of the public schools by corporate interests and the Press is standing around pointing the finger at teachers, at troubled children, at poor parents. In other cities, the Broad people have been thoroughly discredited and parents re-asserted control--not completely, but they have begun the process. Why can't we do that here?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 11:49 pm
"Who is Eli Broad and why is he trying to destroy public education?"
Submitted by Concerned Phila (not verified) on September 7, 2013 7:14 am
Gallard plays games. He touts the party line - whether Ackerman or Hite - and lives in the safety and comfort of the suburbs? If the School District is not good enough for his kids, then why should it be good enough for anyone else?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 9:46 am
How dare you criticize a minister of truth!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 11:23 am
Exactly my point. There is nothing but hypocrisy as a way of being at 440.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 7:59 am
We can as soon a Kristen Graham is ready to win another Pulitzer! Kristen? Kristen?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 8, 2013 7:46 pm
Hite and SRC do not CARE about anything. Hite will mess the 4000 families in Philadelphia and move to different school district and mess another 4000 families. STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS.
Submitted by anon (not verified) on September 6, 2013 6:44 pm
hite and the src have demonstrated nothing to earn our confidence that they are in the least bit capable of running this school district in a safe, fair and effective manner. time for them to resign.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on September 6, 2013 6:05 pm
I have 46 kids in one class and an average of 38 in the others. I have 24 desks and there are no more for me or any other teacher. Brilliant planning.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 6, 2013 7:33 pm
Poogie-----As you well know, it is planned exactly this way to make the real Public Schools so unattractive and yes, dangerous, that parents demand a change--The Shock Doctrine---and refuse to send their kids to school and/or gladly file suit as soon as a problem develops. ALL of these strategies come from the same handbook---"Churn." It's the big secret that everybody's in on, Nutter, Hite, Corbett, The SRC and yes, our dear President too. Destroy unions to cut overhead so the shot callers can make even more money. They used to call it, cutting out the middleman.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 10:56 pm
Yes. You have hit the nail on the head.
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on September 6, 2013 6:22 pm
Did anyone else realize that it states point blank - THERE IS A BALANCED BUDGET??!!!! They have eliminated 304 million deficit with 254 million in budget cuts. WTF!! So - by this accounting there are no union concessions necessary, no?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 6:34 pm
I noticed the same thing! Maybe that includes our phantom concessions.
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on September 6, 2013 7:19 pm
It can't include them. They are not budget cuts - they are givebacks that were needed to reach this point of "balance" right? I think it's a slip and we are just totally being BS'd about the numbers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 7:54 pm
The budget is an implicit threat. You will have to deal with these under resourced schools unless you take pay cuts. The district has to pay for its bills within a year and since they have said they won't use bonds it has to be balanced. The funny thing is they could run the district with almost normal resources if they hadn't racked up so much debt in the past.
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on September 6, 2013 8:46 pm
Sooooo if we get through this ridiculous year we will be debt free? Without concessions?
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:38 pm
Nutter signed off on firefighters arbitration award. They get back pay from 2008 as well as hefty increase in city contribution to their health insurance. I assume other city unions will want the same. Are only PFT members being left out in the cold? Nutter claimed there was no money for firefighters but now there is money. So, if Hite/Khin/SRC/etc. want to find money, they will find the money by starting with Corbett.
Submitted by Paul Socolar on September 6, 2013 9:00 pm

It was not widely understood, but the District had a plan A and a plan B. Plan A was to secure $180 million in new revenues and $133 million in labor concessions to close the $304 million gap and thereby keep operating budget staffing and services similar to last year. Plan B, which was implemented in June when it became clear that Plan A wasn't coming to fruition, was to implement the so-called doomsday budget, the massive layoffs and budget cutting plan. The budget was balanced primarily with $250 million in personnel cuts and by spending down the District's remaining reserves. So the budget gap was essentially closed by July 1, by implementing the doomsday budget.  

What's been happening since then is that some $83 million in revenues and savings have been secured and so about 1/3 of the cuts have been restored to somewhat mitigate the doomsday budget. The District has stuck with the SRC's commitment not to spend any money that hasn't been secured.  At this point, the District says union concessions or additional revenues would help pay for restoration of counselors, assistant principals, teachers, spring sports and instrumental music, etc.

Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on September 7, 2013 1:51 am
Gotcha. Much better understood now.
Submitted by Lisa Haver (not verified) on September 7, 2013 7:59 am
I'm not sure that Hite has stuck to his earlier statements that he would not spend money they did not have. He brought back music and sports when the city began to promise the $50 million. They are counting on the additional revenue from the increase in sales taxes but that is not in the budget yet. And although not widely reported or understood, even disbursement of that money--not just the $45 million--has to be approved by the state Secretary of Education (whoever that is this week). Some of Hite's inconsistent statements: • July: we cannot afford secretaries, counselors, assistant principals, librarians or safety workers; schools will have to open in September without them. August: we cannot open schools on time; they will be unsafe unless we can bring back the support staff laid off last month. • June: we will not spend money we do not have. August: we can bring back workers with just the promise of money from the city and state. • June: we must find $304 million, no matter where that comes from, in order to operate a system of high-performing schools. August: we must have $50 million for schools to operate at a “functional” level. • June: there must be “shared sacrifice” among all involved. August: the city has promised $50 million and we’ve gotten $2 million from the state, so the union should cough up $133 million. • June: we have an absolutely bare-bones budget; there is no more. August: we can’t tell you how or from where, but we just found $33 million in the budget to being back some secretaries and safety staff. And hey, call me a cynic, but when you pass a "Doomsday Budget" so you can lay off 3859 worker, then "find" $16 million in savings a few weeks later, I say you hid that money. I say it is just one part of a crisis manufactured to give Hite and the SRC the time and the justification to take away seniority rights and step increases.
Submitted by Lisa Haver (not verified) on September 8, 2013 12:23 pm
You can ask them to their faces at the next SRC meeting.
Submitted by Teacher in Philly (not verified) on September 9, 2013 2:49 pm
"You can ask them to their faces at the next SRC meeting. " But don't count on getting any answers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 6:27 pm
ML King's actual enrollment right now is 1300. That's not even taking into account kids who show up on the first day of school unannounced. The District says that only 850 will show, so has only given enough money for that many teachers at MAX capacity (33). So currently, there are 40+ students in EVERY CLASS for EVERY TEACHER. Some classes are as high as 50. For many teachers, there isn't enough room for more than 30 desks in their classrooms! ... and we keep hearing about this potentially dangerous King-Germantown merger... ... and there's only ONE counselor... ... and there's only ONE Vice Principal... who was hired late last week... ... many teachers have NO textbooks or keys (both of which would normally be handled by the assistant principals)..... And it sounds like other schools are in similar desperate straits. Don't get me wrong, the Principal, Vice Principal, teachers and staff have been there working non-stop to get ready, but so many things are lacking that are completely out of their control. Every parent of a student at King HS needs to be banging down the doors at 440 N. Broad St and Mayor Nutter's office. This is a recipe for disaster.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 6, 2013 7:45 pm
This is ALL BY DESIGN and it is a "call to arms" for all thinking people of good faith. A STRIKE is not only appropriate; It is mandatory or this setting up for failure will only continue, replete with scapegoating the PFT for being "Greedy and uncaring." If it weren't so dangerous and cold blooded, it would be funny. Corbett and his minions and vermin like Hite, Nutter and The SRC are doing everything humanly possible to destroy Public Education In Philly and along with that, democracy in the truest sense and all things, worker rights' related. The big money shot callers are pulling their strings and Obama is allowing all of this to happen under his watch, make no mistake about it. He's both more then willing to blow to bits people of color in Asia for oil as well as destroying democracy and justice in the inner cities. What A guy !!!!!!
Submitted by A Teacher (not verified) on September 6, 2013 7:45 pm
Wow! What I am trying to figure out is how did that arrive at that 850 number. They can't go by previous years because this is a brand new scenario with the merger. It is nothing more frustrating then not having enough desk to accommodate all of your students. Most of the time you try to grab a few from a colleague. But what if they don't have them? Now what?
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on September 6, 2013 7:23 pm
folding lawn chairs... maybe Dr. Hite, Mr. Khin, Mr. Gleason, Mr. Ramos, et al will donate a few
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 10:20 pm
And don't forget......RESTORATIVE PRACTICES!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 7:02 pm
For the first time since becoming a teacher, I can honestly say that I have absolutely no idea what to expect on Monday. We also are rostered at 38 students in each classroom, and most classrooms don't have enough chairs. I was looking on Craigslist earlier today to find more seats for my students. I decided that not everyone needs a desk or a table, they can put a book in their lap. I also have two lawn chairs from home that I will bring on Monday. This whole thing is just astonishing. I really think you have to be a part of this to truly appreciate how third world it is. It's so easy to think it cannot possibly be real because most functioning members of society have no frame of reference whatsoever for this level of insanity. I know that before becoming a teacher in Philadelphia, I had never seen anything like this. It was an abrupt reality check six years ago, and now it doesn't even seem real. This is a second career for me. I had twenty good years of working in relatively easy conditions in a different career field and a different city. When people refuse to believe how bad things are in the district, I really understand. It's truly amazing that in the United States, in the year 2013, a classroom, school and school district can look the way it does here. I wish everyone could see it for themselves. It's horrifying and fascinating, like driving up on a really awful accident. Unfortunately, it's a really awful accident with hundreds and thousands of young victims who don't even realize that they deserve better.
Submitted by Teacher2 (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:08 pm
This is the sort of story that needs to be shared with the general public.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:29 pm
Frankly, don't bring any extra chairs or any other stuff.It's the District / schools problem.If enough kids have to stand, sit on radiator, floor, etc. maybe the District will do something. By you enabling them by making accomadations that the 440 people could careless about, it makes the problem worse. Remember teachers, staff we are in contract negotiations and doing this enabling does not help the cause.Just makes the District look better, when they run in like a s---hole. Let parents, community, media and so on see the mess 440, SRC, Hite, Corbett, Nutter, Gleason, Waltons, Koch's , Gates, etc, put the schools in
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:46 pm
Correct! I agree 100%. I look at it this way,...if your child had a toothache and the dentist said it was a cavity that needed to be filled, you will temporarily (mainly novacaine shot) give the child MORE pain. The end result however, is a better dental situation. Bringing in chairs from home is like giving the kid with said tooth problem an Advil or Tylenol or something like that. You are not fixing the tooth and making it better. Hope I make sense.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 2:13 pm
You are 100% right. The existing district strategy is doing nothing except prolonging the pain. They need to convert most schools to charters. Charters are a mixed bag but there are enough good to great charter operators to take over schools!!
Submitted by A Teacher (not verified) on September 6, 2013 10:03 pm
This is where it becomes tricky. I agree 100 percent% with you, but then you are held responsible when things go wrong. I am big on safety, and no one wants any serious accidents to occur on their watch. So you plan ahead. So I do understand the sentiment to grab some extra chairs.
Submitted by Lisa Haver (not verified) on September 7, 2013 10:05 am
That's why it has to be an organized effort with as many people participating as possible. The idea is not to create a situation where teachers are competing against each other, but one in which teachers are supporting each other. The SRC is making teachers pay for a disaster created by the SRC. PFT members have got to make the point that the district will not buy enough supplies for the children. When you enable them, people start to believe that is the teachers' responsibility. Go to the SRC and ask them why they will not adequately supply classrooms. Whether they answer or not, you have reminded people that they have failed the children in yet another way.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 6:46 pm
My question is where are all the chairs and desks from the schools that have closed ?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 8, 2013 12:34 am
they're all at bok high school.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 11:08 pm
As I am reading posts about lack of chairs, desks, overcrowding of classes, I see as usual that teachers are trying to be creative to make up seating for children and that is a wonderful, thoughtful gesture, but is it really? The more teachers accommodate and come up with creative solutions, the less the School District is going to do to fix their problem that impacts teachers doing what they were hired to do, teach children. And as I type, I am thinking about this new evaluation tool that will be implemented and how once again things like having adequate materials to teach children in many schools are lacking, how the lack of school supplies that the District should be supplying they can't and won't and again teachers have to be creative and purchase or obtain donations from parents and outside sources is going to impact all of the teachers evaluations. And these lack of materials and textbooks are not the teachers fault, yet the teachers are going to be held accountable. And to add insult to injury, the School District wants to take away even more from their teachers who are already giving each time they are in Dollar Stores, making purchases on line for their classrooms, the School District wants to take away from those they have charged to teach Philadelphia's children who don't deserve the short end of the stick. This situation is beyond disbelief! Teachers stop being creative, really, enough is enough!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 11:34 pm
Exactly, it won't ever change if the District doesn't supply the tools we need and teachers go out and keep buying stuff.That needs to stop.I realize your geneousity but as other districts ,SDP should meet their obligations. I doubt Hite, the SRC members, Corbett and Nutter go without toilet paper as many schools do, after all who would wipe the s--- they dish out.
Submitted by Maureen Fratantoni (not verified) on September 7, 2013 12:42 am
That would be a viable complaint. You can't have kids sitting on the floor. They are supposed to have what they need to succeed. We went to PILCOP for some tips on what our children's legal writes are. If the children are without something that they need for their education(ex: Arts, music , dance or theater) a formal complaint can be filed with the state. There is a state number that can be called with questions. I was glad we had the press conference with Parents United and PILCOP and ELC. We let officials know that we are empowered and still in the fight for our children's education.
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on September 7, 2013 1:01 am
Also, if there is any kind of accident that occurs because of an item you have supplied I believe you could be libel for the damages. Wouldn't that be ironic and sad? A teachers getting sued because a lawn chair they brought in to help out folds up on a child and breaks a finger or something worse. Plus, none of this stuff is within fire codes. You don't want to be cited for that either. The school will have to deal with this mess. If enough parents complain maybe something will be done.
Submitted by Geoffrey Winikur (not verified) on September 7, 2013 9:01 am
Teachers providing for students lets principals off the hook. The principal is, by definition, the instructional leader, and therefore is responsible for providing ALL necessary supplies. Let the principals descend on the Hite and SRC. Let their union fund commercials decrying the lack of resources. Make them do their jobs.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 7:33 pm
Send your overflow students to the VP's office.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 9:39 am
Send the overflow students to the VP's office....or to the new SDP Virtual Academy. This is what "powers that be" are hoping will happen--parents will opt out of brick and mortal schooling.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 9:15 am
How about this idea? Teachers with overcrowded classrooms, students standing or sitting on the floor, take photos of them on Monday, blur out their faces, and let's post them EVERYWHERE. A shameful montage of the real, tangible result of all of this. Children forced to attempt to learn in these conditions. For 2 years, I worked in a school system that had similar conditions to those that we will face this coming year. Only one desk for every 2 students, no computers or copy machine or copy paper or even chalk for the chalkboards, no books. However, that school system was in a third world country, where I taught as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Philly schools have officially achieved 3rd world status. Shame, shame, shame.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 3:12 pm
We are doing a documentary at our school. Every single day, we are going to have students interview other students and teachers about what has changed in their school situation, what they are struggling with and how they think things should improve. Maybe just a few minutes each day. Then, we will put it all together with i-Movie. Maybe at the end of the year, maybe sooner. At least we will have documentation of the madness.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 3:53 pm
Are you at a school that has a counselor?
Submitted by Anon (not verified) on September 8, 2013 6:10 pm
And they'll get sent right back to you!!!
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on September 6, 2013 7:47 pm
If you look on School Net, the School District's current enrollment is 144,203. Hite/Khin/Gallard keep quoting 135, 000 - 136,000. This might account for the "undercount" at neighborhood schools. If I can find this on School Net, so can Hite/Khin/Gallard.
Submitted by A Teacher (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:07 pm
These numbers represent the students that are in the system. What about the ones who "show up" on Monday. I know in the past the first day can be hectic with registration, roster problems and new admits. Most schools have staff positioned to help out. I know the counselors have done it in the past....Maybe the AP's will...opps the one...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 8, 2013 7:14 pm
No counselors and APs. Call Hite and Klinn to help you out.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 8:52 pm
In all my years I have never felt more sick or.... Terrified. I wish you all a safe and productive year. Hopefully, our dirty politicians will see the light...and I hope nothing too severe needs to happen to make that a reality. Help your colleagues, lend support, do what we have to do...Good luck to all... We are in this together.
Submitted by JMH (not verified) on September 6, 2013 8:30 pm
My biggest fear...our collective fear is that some awful tragic event will occur and .....then what? The blame game will start? SDP will finally figure our that they messed up? Politicians will run for cover? What will happen?
Submitted by A Teacher (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:42 pm
No...I am sure they will say..."If only those teachers would have made the necessary concessions early on....this never would have happened."
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:55 pm
They're counting on it, banking on it and yes, then the pols like Nutter, Hite, The SRC and One Term Tom will all blame the PFT. I know that stance will sit badly with some but think about it. What outcome would you expect when you do everything possible to set up that exact scenario?? Connect the dots !!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 11:11 pm
Of course, unfortunately something will happen and the District sued for negligence. Less money for students. You think all the players in this made-up budget shortfall actually care? Come Monday,Hite,SRC and the rest of that bunch will be sitting at their desks, relaxing sipping coffee wondering what paper on their desk to shuffle next in-between reading the newspaper filled with their ineffective leadership. By this time, they may need a bathroom break, after all that coffee and their bathroom breaks can be at anytime for as long as they want. Just a relaxed atmosphere for them, as we deal with the mess they left us. That bunch has no stress, no mess, not watching many students wander around the school aimlessly the first day, looking for a teacher, security, aide, counselor, or AP,(to maybe help them out),lack of desks, paper, books, personnel, bus schedules ,(I am sure going in all directions arriving late). Just a total school climate for chaos that they all created intentionally. Nutter, Hite, Corbett,SRC, are already, after their morning coffee and lounging around all morning, deciding where and what to have for lunch. Not a worry in the world-as they listen to the song Carefree and Monday ,Monday.
Submitted by Teacher2 (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:46 pm
So did Jerry and Michael meet as reported? Our union president owes us a full account of the meeting.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:36 pm
Make no mistake.... this is all part of an effort to drive students out of district schools.
Submitted by tom-104 on September 6, 2013 11:08 pm
Agreed anon...this is about accelerating what they have been doing for the past ten years. Create as much churn as possible to drive the parents to putting their children in charter schools. It is the culmination of Ackerman's five-year plan called Imagine 2014.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:00 pm
No one is talking about the transient counselors. We met ours...she comes once every 7 days! She also has no experience with the high school application process. Just another job everyone else will have to do! And no you can't have a nervous breakdown today or tomorrow. The counselor won't be here until next week! RtII...who is really spearheading that? DHS are you the school's contact when you ARE NOT HERE! So not only do we have outrageous class sizes, we have to do everyone else's job!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 2:16 pm
You mentioned Rtii. All but two of my students are in tier 2 & tier 3. I have no idea what that means as I am a former Head Start teacher. I know that its fit addittional supports but what do the tiers mean & what's the qualification process. A friend told me it was the steps before special ed, but with that being the majority of my students it just isn't making any sense to me. If you can shed some light I would appreciate it.
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on September 7, 2013 3:47 pm
Oh my are you in for a rude awakening! We have been a bit insulated in Head Start. Wait until you get to class Monday. God luck!
Submitted by BJ Murphy (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:11 pm
Maybe they should just kick out the disruptive/disturbed ones after two weeks and warehouse them somewhere, or better yet, have them actually work for a living. That would bring the numbers down.
Submitted by Teacher2 (not verified) on September 6, 2013 9:47 pm
So did Jerry and Michael meet as reported? Our union president owes us a full account of the meeting.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 10:06 pm
There should be daily updates by PFT and CASA. Members need to know exactly what is going on as it happens and not through the media or other forms of communication. Rumors and false information will cause even more chaos.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 10:24 pm
You know what would be really interesting and useful? If the notebook created an open source blog where teachers, students, and families could post what they actually experience Monday. Can you imagine the traffic it would get? The way it would amplify student and families' voices? What do you think?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 10:07 pm
I second that motion.
Submitted by FrankyPants (not verified) on September 7, 2013 1:13 am
In the famous words of Smokey Robinson, I second that emotion
Submitted by Paul Socolar on September 7, 2013 7:00 pm

Here's an option for those who tweet ... #Philly1stDay hashtag


Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on September 7, 2013 8:12 pm

Actually, it is #Philly1stDay

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2013 11:58 pm
There is a section on the PFT website where you can share your story to help get more school funding.
Submitted by Alison McDowell (not verified) on September 7, 2013 9:59 am
I encourage everyone to share out conditions via twitter #phillyeducation. Also Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia is working with parents and teachers to document "curriculum deficiencies" that limit students' ability to access a "free appropriate public education" due to the funding crisis to the State DOE (groundwork for class-action lawsuite). Here's the link: Also additional information available on Parents United Website
Submitted by Concerned Phila (not verified) on September 7, 2013 2:51 pm
Another example of injustice: World Communications Charter should have been shut down. Its scores were in the toilet and it was corrupt (nepotism to theft). Instead, the District kept it open. Now, look at the number of administrators in a school with 600 6th - 8th grade students: They have a CEO, principal, 2 assistant principals, 2 curriculum coordinators, a dean of students, a technology coordinator, and a business manager. Meanwhile, Philadelphia schools with more students are lucky to have a counselor. Gleason? Hite? Khin? Ramos? spin man Gallard? Are you listening? How is this "just" and "equitable?"
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 8:54 pm
Just to be clear - World Communications Test Scores were never in the toilet. While the other issue that you raised may have existed, the scores were not one of the issues. The Charter Schools have learned that in order to succeed, support for the instructional process is needed. In most successful charter schools, there is a group of people who lead the school. It is only in the SDP that it is put forward that a principal alone can lead a school.
Submitted by Concerned Phila (not verified) on September 8, 2013 1:27 am
The scores at World Communications Charter were in the toilet. In 2011-2012, the math proficiency level was 15.6% and reading was 32.8% in grades 9 - 12. Its graduation rate was 40.88% - much lower than most neighborhood schools. Considering it is a city wide admission school versus a neighborhood school, these are low scores. Here is the link - How does World Communications Charter have the funding for so many layers of administrative staff? What are teachers paid? How many teachers are certified? How many TFA does it have to hire because it can't hire fully certified staff? Why is it still recruiting students? (see web site) This is another example of a "failing" school yet it is allowed to stay open. Meanwhile, public schools are closed within a few months of announcing their closure. Inequity? Injustice?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 8, 2013 7:23 pm
I have no vested interest in World Communications so I will give up on what I see as a misreporting of the data. The questions you ask are questions for charters in general - there should be a push to ensure that charters are fairing as well as, or better than, the surrounding schools or the schools where the students come from. But attacking one school in particular is not right and should not be done. Fight the war not a personal battle with one school!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 7, 2013 6:46 pm
I know that as I was counting and recounting the 42 4th graders in my class I was also listening to the new evaluation system and wondering just how I was expected to be proficient or distinguished with that number of students in my class. Our scores dropped we were told, we must do better we were told, there must be growth we were told. What were weren't told were how this is to happen when the children are falling over one another, I don't have enough books and we have no support (no counselor at our school).
Submitted by bull***t meter (not verified) on September 8, 2013 1:37 am
Teachers...Please stop being such good caring souls and please stop buying supplies. LEt it go to hell and fall on the heads of the SRC and the black Suit Gov. the more you do the less they have to provide. Send the excess kids to the principals office. the principal may be a good person but the buck needs to keep getting passed up not down..No books no paper oh chairs go to the office or sit in the hall. this type of work action is necessary..Share pics (with no faces) and post it everywhere..FIGHT BACK!!! PLEASE!!!
Submitted by Educator (not verified) on September 8, 2013 7:59 pm
Do you really think a principal is going to take the overflow for everyone?? Get real!! If you want your job, you better think of another strategy!! Lol!! Your principal is NOT your enemy!

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