Bartram's troubles: Not about funds? Notebook
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
The stump speeches have begun, and the opinions are divided.
Parents at two North Philly elementary schools are fast approaching a vote that could forever alter the academic trajectory of their children.
Here the distrinction is not Democratic or Republican, but "District-run" or "charter."
by Bill Hangley Jr.
As news of violence and disarray at Bartram High School dominated Philadelphia headlines, national education researchers were downtown at the Convention Center, discussing the theory and practice of a “portfolio” school reform strategy that relies on management changes – converting low-performing schools to charters or closing them.
And although many have tied Bartram’s troubles to the budget cuts that sharply reduced staff levels at the school, Philadelphia School Partnership head Mark Gleason does not agree.
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In the wake of Gov. Corbett’s budget cuts in 2011 and the release of the Boston Consulting Group’s school transformation blueprint in 2012, which promoted school closings and expanded private management, many in Philadelphia have aggressively challenged the School Reform Commission’s leadership of city schools.
Using the tactics available to social movements, hundreds of activists have worked to educate the public about the issues facing our schools. Protests have demanded full and equitable funding, opposed mass school closings and charter expansion, and decried attacks on the District’s unionized workforce.
The haves vs. the have nots. AxisPhilly
Lessons in play. Inquirer
Revival from the roots: A tour of Philly's neighborhood schools. Media Mobilizing Project
Is parental involvement overrated? NY Times
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
In a year that's seen budget cuts all but eradicate librarians from the Philadelphia School District's buildings, the District is now leaning even more heavily on the Free Library of Philadelphia to help make up for that shortfall.
The schools and the library have merged their databases and determined that roughly 98,000 of the School District's 136,000 students do not yet have cards for the city's public libraries. Based on that data merge, the library and the District will now distribute personalized library cards to every student without one.
by Samantha Osaki
April 16, 2013, seemed to be a day of unmitigated success for Dimner Beeber Middle School’s community. Initially slated to close as part of the Philadelphia School District’s downsizing process, Beeber was spared because, according to Supertintendent William Hite, an alternate proposal put forward during a community meeting to reshape the school had urged the School Reform Commission to rethink its decision.
Though two other factors (safety concerns surrounding the death of a high school student and the co-location of the Science Leadership Academy, a touted magnet school, in Beeber’s building) may have been enough to save the school regardless of the community’s efforts, parents were indispensable. According to Beeber teacher and education activist Sam Reed, parents were critical to "the preservation of the nature of the school [as] a place that’s by and for the people who live" in the Overbrook/Wynnefield area.
The latest "friend of the court" brief in the legal battle over whether the School Reform Commission can impose contract terms on the teachers' union, in the face of stalled negotiations and a worsening budget scenario, is from the Philadelphia School Partnership and PennCAN.
The groups urge the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where the SRC filed its motion, to act soon. "The situation has deteriorated to the point that it requires prompt and definitive resolution," says the brief, which was prepared by the law firm Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young.
School violence in Philadelphia. WHYY/Radio Times
Acting education secretary discusses funding formula. Delco Times
I had to go to a national conference to find out what was happening in my own city’s schools. Conveniently, the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting was held in Philadelphia this year, the first time this gathering of 15,000 academics and policy folks has met in our city.
The conference lasted for five days, and at any time there may have been as many as 50 different sessions going on. In deference to the host city and in recognition of how much experimentation is going on in our public schools, a number of the sessions focused on Philadelphia, covering such topics as portfolio management and parent engagement. There were also planned visits to local schools and communities to meet with locals and plan or share research.
My own highlights and "low" lights:
by Mary Wilson for NewsWorks
Pennsylvania's Senate could vote this spring on a proposal to eliminate school property taxes.
The sponsor of a Senate plan to replace school property taxes with higher sales and personal income levies says it has bipartisan backing -- and enough co-sponsors to pass a vote.
But opponents of the measure are mobilizing.
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
Criticize your boss publicly ... and your job security may be at risk.
That's the mantra many Philadelphia School District teachers follow in keeping their criticisms of the current funding crisis confined to anonymous message boards.
Making peace at Gratz. AxisPhilly
Are you there God? It's me, Bartram. Daily News
Making up for lost time. Notebook
The new school reform model: ‘dumping the losers.’ Answer Sheet
Questions for Paul Kihn on cost of proposed new Renaissance charters http://t.co/hdmQ30Knzm
— joseph dworetzky (@josephdworetzky) April 9, 2014
Former School Reform Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky penned a letter to Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn this week, nudging him with questions about the cost of converting two traditional District schools to Renaissance charters. Answers to those questions, Dworetzky says, would make clearer, and more public, information useful in deciding whether to hand management of two North Philadelphia schools over to charter school operators.