by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
There's a game-changer on the horizon, a piece of legislation rumbling through the halls of Harrisburg that, if passed, promises to alter forever the landscape of public education in Pennsylvania.
It's called Senate Bill 1085, referred to by many as the "Charter Reform Bill."
Proponents say it will raise the standards by which charters are opened and evaluated, while ensuring the creation of more high-quality educational options for all Pennsylvania's students.
by Elizabeth Fiedler for NewsWorks
Once your kids hit the age of 5, it's time to move to the suburbs. Or at least that's how it has gone for generations of middle- and upper-class parents in Philadelphia.
Most of the news out of Philadelphia schools lately has been the kind to lead city parents who have the option to start lining up a moving van: deficits, school closings, teacher layoffs, cheating scandals.
But these days some Philadelphians are taking a different approach. In neighborhoods from Graduate Hospital to East Falls to Fishtown, they're vowing to stay put, pitching in to help their neighborhood school improve. And they're doing this well before their children are ready for kindergarten, or even before they're born.
by Benjamin Herold for Education Week
With fewer available seats in good public schools than families who want them, many cities face a vexing challenge: How do you decide which children go where?
Enter Neil Dorosin.
"You have to allocate public school seats fairly, transparently, and efficiently, but it turns out that's not so easy to do," said Mr. Dorosin, the executive director of the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice, based in New York City. "We help cities solve that problem."
Defense continues in charter fraud case. Inquirer
by Connie Langland
Last spring, Springboard Collaborative won a contract with the District by promising to replace learning loss over the summer with reading gains for some of its lowest-performing students.
The program included five weeks of instruction for struggling readers in grades K-3 in four District schools and workshops to train parents to teach reading at home.
The effort apparently paid off. Overall, 642 students in eight schools (four charter schools also participated) gained 3.3 months in reading skills, according to Alejandro Gac-Artigas, Springboard’s CEO. He cited research showing that low-income students experience a three-month learning loss over the summer months, not progress.
by Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks
A new grassroots group wants to transform Germantown High School's shuttered building into a cutting-edge vocational technical school.
On Tuesday night, more than a dozen community stakeholders met to discuss the future of the hulking property, one of 24 schools that closed in June as part of the Philadelphia School District's facilities master plan.
by Naveed Ahsan
Winter break is still weeks away, but the deadline for high school applications is nearly here.
This Friday, Dec. 6, is the last day for students to submit applications to attend citywide admission, special admission, career and technical education programs, and neighborhood high schools. All students who will be entering 9th grade next year, even those who want to attend their own neighborhood high schools, are being encouraged to submit an application.
by Liana Heitin for Education Week
U.S. performance in reading, math, and science has remained stagnant since 2009 as other nations have plowed ahead, according to new results from a prominent international assessment.
Nineteen countries and education systems scored higher than the United States in reading on the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, up from nine systems when the test was last administered in 2009. Germany and Poland, for instance, have seen steady gains on the reading assessment over time and are now ahead of the United States.
Would Green mimic Vallas? Inquirer
Nunery testifies in charter fraud trial. Inquirer
How Northeast High School tripled college-eligible test scores in 6 years. Technically Philly
Key PISA test results for U.S. students. Answer Sheet
City Councilman Bill Green has long taken a special interest in the School District of Philadelphia, and a few years ago he laid out a detailed education agenda that, in essence, favored the abolition of the School Reform Commission, expansion of charters, and more parental choice.
Sources confirm that the councilman now would like to head the SRC and has spoken to members of Gov. Corbett's administration. One Harrisburg source said that Green is "definitely in the mix" as Corbett looks to fill the vacancy left by Pedro Ramos, who resigned for personal reasons. A second vacancy is expected when Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky's term expires in January. Dworetzky is a holdover appointment of former Gov. Ed Rendell.
In an interview, Green would not comment on whether he is interested in the SRC post or had talked to Corbett's team about it. However, he was willing to discuss education policy generally and clarify how his thinking has evolved since he released the policy papers on the School District in 2010 and 2011.
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
For many, "Cyber Monday" may mean shopping.
But for the more than 35,000 Pennsylvania students attending the state's 16 cyber charter schools, it's just another day of the hitting the e-books.
The question now is: Should those numbers climb higher?
In the last few weeks, six prospective cyber school operators have made pitches to the state Department of Education in hopes of gaining a charter.
Looking at the performance of the 16 existing cyber charters, some education advocates say the state's decision should be easy.
Why Do Teachers Quit? Atlantic
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
In the wake of the Philadelphia School District's budget crisis, a group of prominent area musicians have banded together to stage a Thanksgiving weekend benefit concert.
They're drawing inspiration -- and the event's name -- from the 1978 Martin Scorsese concert film that documented the farewell performance of The Band on Thanksgiving Day 1976.
It's The Last Waltz for Philadelphia schoolchildren.
by Joan Benso
There’s been a lot of much-needed discussion about Pennsylvania’s academic standards – known as the Pennsylvania Core Standards – and the related Keystone Exams for high school students. Much of that talk has focused on school funding issues, the notion of “over-testing” students, and fears of unfunded state mandates being pushed on school districts.
Those arguments have clouded the main reason that the Pennsylvania Core Standards and Keystone Exams are badly needed. For too long, Pennsylvania schools have been graduating tens of thousands of students each year who failed to show proficiency in core subjects like reading and math. In 2012 alone, one-third of all Pennsylvania public high school graduates -- about 44,000 kids statewide -- did not score proficient or advanced on the 11th-grade PSSAs or the 12th-grade retake, but they were handed diplomas anyway.