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Special ed cuts won't hurt students, Philly school officials say

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 15, 2014 09:31 PM

The Philadelphia School District laid off 157 special education classroom assistants and one-to-one aides last week in a move that officials say won't negatively affect children.

School advocates in the legal community, though, remain highly dubious.

Chief Financial Officer Matt Stanski explained the District's rationale to the School Reform Commission at a June 30 meeting.

"We believe we can maintain existing services for our special education students and, in fact, enhance them through management efficiencies and still see this expenditure reduction," Stanski said.

IRS awards independent tax-exempt status to the Notebook

By thenotebook on Jul 14, 2014 06:28 PM

The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, an independent, nonprofit news organization launched in 1994, has been awarded 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service.

The Notebook publishes in-depth education news daily online at thenotebook.org, as well as a bimonthly print newspaper. For its first 19 years, it operated as a project of the nonprofit incubator at Resources for Human Development, a tax-exempt human service organization.

City's summer camps transform into classrooms

By Dorian Geiger on Jul 14, 2014 11:05 AM

Nate Kersey-Williams, a camp counselor at the Frankford Boys and Girls Club in Northeast Philadelphia, is sprawled out in the corner of his club’s stuffy gym. The sound of basketballs meeting hardwood echoes around him. There is no air conditioner. Beads of sweat trickle down a collage of tattoos on his neck.

Philly youth of color discuss struggles and successes with Arne Duncan

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 12, 2014 12:15 PM

Drug abuse. Violence. Incarceration.

Those are the pitfalls that plague far too many young men of color in America, according to the White House.

In order to steer young men away from that fate, President Obama has started the initiative called My Brother's Keeper, a federal effort to call special attention to the plight of young Black and Latino men and develop best practices to help them fulfill their potential.

Philly delegation seeks meeting with Big Tobacco

By thenotebook on Jul 11, 2014 01:16 PM

The Pennsylvania Senate's Philadelphia delegation has asked to meet with representatives from Big Tobacco after hearing that its lobbyists had a hand in altering, and thus stalling, legislation for a Philadelphia-only cigarette tax to fund the city's schools.

From the archives: Lawsuit charges state with racism

By thenotebook on Jul 11, 2014 10:47 AM

The Notebook was launched in 1994 as a newspaper committed to ensuring quality and equity in Philadelphia public schools. We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first publication this spring. We are featuring an article from our archives each week, shedding light on both the dramatic changes that have taken place in public education and the persistent issues facing Philadelphia's school system.

From the Summer 1998 print edition, this story describes the racial bias lawsuit that was filed but later withdrawn by the District as part of the state takeover agreement in 2001:


by Lynette Hazelton

Send your child to any school within the city and the average per pupil expenditure is $6,800. Transfer to one of the 61 school districts outside the city and the spending increases – the average is $8,800.

Teachers' union head rejects Corbett's call for concessions

By Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks on Jul 10, 2014 03:47 PM

As Gov. Corbett asked for contract concessions from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers on Thursday morning, 300 layoff notices were on their way to School District employees.

The head of the city teachers' union says, "No way."

District announces 342 layoffs, mostly aides; move unrelated to cigarette tax

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 10, 2014 01:25 PM

Updated | 3:25 p.m.

The School District announced 342 layoffs Thursday, most of them noontime aides and special-education classroom assistants.

But the total also includes eight assistant principals, three conflict-resolution specialists, and 15 assistants in Head Start classrooms.

District spokeswoman Raven Hill said that these layoffs were mostly the result of budget decisions made by principals and are not related to the 1,300 layoffs that may be necessary if the legislature fails to give final approval to a cigarette tax to raise funds for the District.

Without cigarette tax, Hite says, layoffs would begin Aug. 15

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 9, 2014 05:59 PM

After winning a major victory in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives last week, the proposed cigarette tax for Philly schools appears stalled in a game of legislative pingpong.

On Tuesday, the Senate sent the bill back to the House by adding amendments, and now the House isn't scheduled to reconsider the measure until Aug. 4.

School leaders say that leaves plans for opening schools in September in total disarray.

Williams defends vote for sunset amendment on cigarette tax

By thenotebook on Jul 9, 2014 05:05 PM

Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams has been criticized for being the only Philadelphia Democrat in the Senate to vote for an amendment that would "sunset" the $2-a-pack cigarette tax for Philadelphia schools after five years.

In a statement sent to reporters, Williams said he did so as the best choice available to get the tax approved.

Following is the text of his statement:

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