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New co-principal at Bartram speaks about changing school climate

Submitted by thenotebook on Wed, 04/09/2014 - 22:15 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

After a staffer at Bartram High School was knocked unconscious by a student last month, the Southwest Philadelphia school has faced increased public scrutiny.

The District has responded to the outcry by bringing in one of its veteran school climate specialists: retired District principal Ozzie Wright.

'Dump the losers': Where do city and District leaders really stand?

Submitted by Helen Gym on Wed, 04/09/2014 - 12:50 Posted in Commentary | Permalink

How shocked should we be really?

On Friday, Philadelphia School Partnership’s Mark Gleason embraced a stunningly blunt description of the District’s “portfolio model” at a session of the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting. Gleason was attempting to explain why the portfolio model depends on school closings in a system where multiple operators run schools.

“So that’s what portfolio is fundamentally. ... you keep dumping the losers, and over time you create a higher bar for what we expect of our schools,” he said.

Parents weigh prospect of turning schools over to charter operators

Submitted by thenotebook on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 15:00 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

Tara Magras has close ties with Edward T. Steel Elementary in Nicetown.

She lives a block from the school, volunteers there almost everyday, entrusts her three young children to the faculty and staff.

Although she concedes that the school's "test scores are low," the prospect of Steel becoming a charter school makes her uneasy.

"I don't have anything against charters," she said in an interview outside of the school. "It's just that I like the teachers here."

Penn offers summer program for Philly students

Submitted by thenotebook on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 12:01 Posted in PSA | Permalink

by Jeseamy Muentes

Applications are now being accepted for the Penn Summer Scholars Program, a three-week intensive program for “academically exceptional” Philadelphia public and charter high school students.

Kihn: It's a misconception that Renaissance charters will get 'extra' money

Submitted by thenotebook on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 09:37 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

by Bill Hangley Jr.

Updated | 11:21 a.m. 

Philadelphia Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn said this weekend that, contrary to some media reports, schools that opt to become Renaissance charters next year won’t be getting several thousand additional dollars for each pupil.

“The finances of this are so commonly misunderstood,” Kihn said after making a presentation at the American Educational Research Association  conference. “From a student and family’s perspective, [a school gets] exactly the same money if it’s run by the District or run by a charter.”

New arguments in legal battle over teacher work rules; PDE and SRC press urgency

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Mon, 04/07/2014 - 18:15 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

The legal battle over whether Philadelphia's School Reform Commission has the power to unilaterally impose new work rules on the District's teachers is getting more intense with the filing of new arguments urging quick action by the Supreme Court.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) maintains that "the collective bargaining agreement ... has proven a particularly high barrier to the District effecting reforms essential to providing services in a fiscally responsible and manageable manner." 

From AERA: The 'portfolio model' and where it's headed in Philadelphia

Submitted by Paul Socolar on Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:07 Posted in Commentary | Permalink

The American Educational Research Association conference is taking place in Philadelphia. These are prepared remarks from a presentation on Friday by Notebook editor and publisher Paul Socolar in a session about "The Landscape of Education Reform in Philadelphia." He was asked to discuss the "portfolio model" and how it has developed in Philadelphia; subsequent comments by Philadelphia School Partnership head Mark Gleason have spurred controversy. [Listen to the entire panel discussion below.]

First a cursory definition: Portfolio school districts rely on a variety of operators of public schools within the city, with the stated aim of providing high-quality learning opportunities … so ultimately every family can choose a slot in a good school. The term is borrowed from Wall Street: You're going to hang on to the successful companies in your stock portfolio and dump the losers. Proponents here talk about replacing “low-performing seats” with “high-performing seats.”

From AERA: Are the schools in Philadelphia trending in the right direction?

Submitted by Paul Socolar on Fri, 04/04/2014 - 17:14 Posted in Commentary | Permalink

The American Educational Research Association conference is April 3-7 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the downtown Philadelphia Marriott hotel. This excerpt is from a presentation on Friday by Notebook editor and publisher Paul Socolar in a session about "The Landscape of Education Reform in Philadelphia." The topic was whether there are positive trends in school performance in Philadelphia.


Yes, since the state takeover in 2002, the trends are positive on a number of indicators … and not just test scores. Graduation rates are up – now, finally, two-thirds of students are graduating high school within six years. And more of the graduates are going to college.

But the story of how Philadelphia schools are doing is complicated and much murkier.

PFT asks state Supreme Court to reject District's petition

Submitted by Paul Socolar on Thu, 04/03/2014 - 15:32 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has asked the state's highest court to reject the School District's recent petition for confirmation of its authority to unilaterally abrogate teacher seniority rights and other teacher work rules.

On Thursday, the PFT filed its response to the state Supreme Court, arguing that the court doesn't have jurisdiction over the work rule changes and that the issues under dispute should be subject to collective bargaining as they have been in the past. The union's attorneys argue that the "grievance and arbitration dispute resolution mechanism" established by state labor laws "is the only method for resolving these issues."

'Hero' teachers to be honored tonight at National Liberty Museum

Submitted by thenotebook on Thu, 04/03/2014 - 12:30 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

by Jeseamy Muentes

Eight Philadelphia teachers will receive honors at 6:30 tonight at the National Liberty Museum’s Teacher as Hero ceremony. The seventh annual event, also sponsored by State Farm Insurance, will recognize a total of 19 teachers from throughout the region.

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