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School Reform Commission to reconvene today after summer break

By thenotebook on Aug 21, 2014 01:16 PM

Weeks before Philadelphia schools open -- on time but with more budget cuts, a cigarette tax likely but still not enacted -- the School Reform Commission will convene its inaugural meeting of the new school year today at 5:30 p.m.

On the agenda for the meeting are two District presentations, one on curriculum and instruction and the other on "serving students in care." A host of resolutions will also be voted on, including the adoption of a new student code of conduct and policies relating to the use of cell phones and other electronic devices in school. 

Notably, also among the proposed resolutions:

Dozens more schools lose school police due to budget cuts

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Aug 21, 2014 12:44 PM

In a move that leaders hope will be temporary, the Philadelphia School District will not fill its staffing vacancies for school police officers, causing a few dozen additional schools to share an officer when classes begin Sept. 8.

This inaction amounts to a 10 percent cut in school police workforce — saving the district $2.4 million.

The 26 elementary and middle schools affected will only have an officer in the building for half of the week.

PDK/Gallup Poll finds rising awareness, majority opposition to Common Core

By Lauren Camera for Education Week on Aug 20, 2014 04:31 PM

Although more people know what the Common Core State Standards are than last year, most of them oppose the standards, according to the 46th edition of the PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

Overall, the wide-ranging survey found, 81 percent of those polled said they had heard about the common standards, compared with 38 percent last year. However, 60 percent oppose the standards, generally because they believe the standards will limit the flexibility that teachers have to teach what they think is best. Last year's poll did not specifically ask respondents whether they supported the standards.

Watch a short video about the Notebook's 20 years

By Tim Cravens on Aug 20, 2014 11:32 AM

At the Notebook’s 20th anniversary celebration, held this past June 10, we premiered a short documentary about the organization. Through interviews with members of the Notebook community, the video hearkens back to the publication's first days and reflects on the impact of two decades of education coverage.

Interviewed in the video are several of the Notebook’s founders, including editor and publisher Paul Socolar, board member Len Rieser, and past board member Helen Gym, who describe the Notebook's inception and growth.

New research consortium to focus on Philly's District and charter schools

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Aug 19, 2014 06:59 PM

A first-of-its-kind research partnership that could prove highly influential to Philadelphia's public schools was announced Tuesday.

The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC) – funded by a three-year, $900,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation – will "provide research and analyses on some of the city's most pressing education issues" for the city's District and charter sectors.

The nonprofit Research for Action will act as the consortium's home base.

Talking summer learning loss with PhillyCAM

By Dorian Geiger on Aug 19, 2014 02:31 PM

In late July, Notebook editor Dale Mezzacappa and I appeared on PhillyCAM’s Around the Corner, a public access talk show that highlights nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia.

The show's host, Albert Lee, spoke with us about “Summer Lost: Stopping the Slide,” the Notebook’s multimedia series focusing on the phenomenon of summer learning loss in Philadelphia, which has been running since early June.

Philadelphia’s moral arc is bent toward justice

By Judy Robbins on Aug 19, 2014 12:07 PM

We Philadelphians have a special kind of love for this old city. It is a love rooted in family, food, neighborhoods, and, yes, our schools. As a “lifer” in the Philadelphia School District, from 1999 to 2012, I have a vested interest in its future.

Over the last two years, I’ve observed the District’s budget crisis from the comfort of my computer screen in my dorm room at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But this past May I traveled 400 miles back home and took action alongside hundreds of other Philadelphians who refuse to accept the meager hand being dealt to Philly students.

Students left on corner as District reduces busing service

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Aug 18, 2014 05:59 PM

"Transportation is a privilege, not a right," says the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Last week, the Philadelphia School District announced that 7,500 fewer high school kids would be so honored.

The move came as the District announced that it would close its $81 million budget gap with a mishmash of cuts and hopes.

School registration now open for District students

By thenotebook on Aug 18, 2014 04:09 PM

The end of summer approaches, with the first day of school inching closer. Parents and guardians should make sure students are registered at their assigned schools before the official start of the year on Sept. 8.

Now until Sept. 5, registration for students in the Philadelphia School District is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. Registration is closed on weekends and for Labor Day observance on Sept. 2.

Plan would require more Pa. charter teachers to be certified

By Mary Wilson for New​sWorks on Aug 18, 2014 11:49 AM

Traditional public schools and charter schools don't have the same rules when it comes to teacher certifications, but one new proposal would bring the two types of schools a little closer together.

All professional staff at traditional public schools in Pennsylvania are required to be certified by the state. Contrast that with charter and cyber-charter schools, which are only required to have 75 percent of their teachers state-certified.

Forthcoming legislation from State Rep. Thomas Murt, R-Montgomery, would increase that requirement to 80 percent.

Shorter school year is off the table; District offers cuts to close budget gap

By Kevin McCorry for WHYY/Newsworks on Aug 15, 2014 07:00 PM

Philadelphia's public schools will open on time and – for the time being – mass layoffs will be averted.

Superintendent William Hite made the announcement Friday morning after a month during which he offered both options as a way to cover the District's $81 million budget gap.

The District is banking on the assurance of top Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg that Pennsylvania will pass legislation authorizing the $2-per-pack Philadelphia cigarette tax in mid-September.

If so, the District expects revenue collections will begin Oct. 1 and generate $49 million for the District this school year.

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