Thursday night will be the first Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting since it terminated the teachers' contract in a surprise meeting last week.
The meeting was already expected to attract a firestorm of protest, but conflict may have been further fanned by School Reform Commissioner Sylvia Simms scolding students at a film screening Wednesday night.
The forecast for tonight's School Reform Commission meeting shows every sign of being a tempest.
Before the meeting convenes, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and its supporters will be out en masse protesting the SRC's decision to cancel its contract with the teachers' union. At the same time, it's been reported that a small coterie of "counter-protesters" paid by a guerrilla marketing firm to circulate anti-PFT information, is expected to turn up at the demonstration. The firm was hired by the Commonwealth Foundation, a right-leaning think tank, which today unveiled a new website called PFTFails.com.
[Notebook editor's note: This commentary appeared on NewsWorks Thursday morning. Shortly after, Sylvia Simms said on Twitter that she would like to meet with the student protesters.]
Yesterday evening, students from the Philadelphia Student Union disrupted a screening at the School District headquarters of Won’t Back Down, a film largely critical of teachers' unions and supportive of charter school development.
The students sat silently in the first few rows of the auditorium, only to break out of their seats about 20 minutes into the film to sit in front of the screen and clap and chant in support of a fair funding formula and against the recent decision by the School Reform Commission to cancel the teachers’ union contract.
PFT seeking a fair contract. Inquirer
Letters: A plea for R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Daily News
Under Gutmann, Penn increases involvement in Philadelphia schools. Daily Pennsylvanian
Hearings began today on the School District’s effort to deauthorize and shut down Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School, even as the founder’s plan to steer the school through its immediate financial crisis has apparently fallen through.
Speaking after this morning’s testimony, Palmer said he does not know how much cash the 1,200-student school has on hand or how much longer it can stay open without some kind of fresh financial support.
A conservative, free-market think tank in Harrisburg is behind efforts to pay people to distribute opposing information at a teachers' union rally and protest planned for Thursday, Billy Penn has confirmed.
Cindy Hamill-Dahlgren, spokeswoman for the Commonwealth Foundation, confirmed Wednesday that the group hired New York guerrilla marketing firm GoGorilla, which will pay about 12 people to hand out fliers and hold banners in opposition to the teachers’ union — however, she said she wouldn’t characterize this effort as a “counter-protest.”
Parents and public school advocates announced their solidarity with Philadelphia teachers Wednesday and denounced the School Reform Commission’s decision last week to cancel the teachers’ contract.
As they stood on the steps of the District’s headquarters in the rain, their message was clear: Philadelphia teachers deserve better, and their students’ parents are willing to fight for them.
Four-time Grammy award-winning group Boyz II Men returned to their old stomping grounds Tuesday, performing a private concert at their alma mater, the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.
But before they took the stage, in a pre-show press conference, member Shawn Stockman had encouraging words for CAPA students, who just a week earlier had protested the School Reform Commission’s decision to cancel the teachers' contract.
"Keep protesting,” Stockman said.
“The more people that are bringing this to a head, where the public can’t ignore it, the better. These teachers need it, the kids need it, and the city needs it, whether they believe it or not.”
The national spotlight is once again shining on the student editors of Neshaminy High School and, specifically, the word Redskins.
Some of the country's top journalism groups are rounding up support for the Bucks County teens who vowed last fall not to print the name of Neshaminy's decades-old mascot because they found it outdated and offensive.
Philadelphia Teachers Hit by Latest Cuts. NY Times
What comes after SRC? Daily News
Charters lack sufficient oversight. Daily News
Boyz II Men takes it back to school. Inquirer
Boyz II Men perform at Philly alma mater. NewsWorks
Letters: Everyone must pitch in for pupils. Daily News
How do we help our schools? Daily Pennsylvanian
Education adviser Tomalis had no employment contract. Post-Gazette
With resources stripped to bare-bones levels, parents in the Philadelphia School District filed more than 800 complaints last year with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
The office has not investigated the claims, and last month the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court on behalf of seven parents and the advocacy group Parents United for Public Education in an attempt to compel action.
On Friday, acting Pennsylvania Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq petitioned the court to dismiss the case.
Organizers of the third annual Mifflin School Community Festival persevered Saturday morning in the face of inhospitable weather and low community turnout, moving the day's programming inside to the auditorium and setting up the arts-and-crafts marketplace in a nearby hallway.
Alex Keating, a member of the Friends of Mifflin School Committee, said the elements presented a particularly formidable challenge for community organizations holding neighborhood events.