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Casinos are an education issue -- and not because of funding

Submitted by Debbie Wei on Fri, 04/10/2009 - 09:03 Posted in Social justice in education | Permalink

I am ashamed to admit I did not join the fight against casinos until a location on the front steps of Chinatown was proposed. Either location for Foxwoods at this point threatens the community – the Gallery site is 50 feet from the nearest resident, the Strawbridge’s site is less than 200 feet from one of our daycare centers. But now that I’ve learned more, my passion against the casino plan is fueled by much more than the threat to my community.

Relationships matter

Submitted by Alesha Jackson on Thu, 04/09/2009 - 08:16 Posted in Class notes | Permalink

I recently worked with a group of new teachers at a large Philadelphia high school. We were discussing risk taking as part of lesson planning, but our talk wasn’t going very well. I’d hoped to get a dialogue going that might encourage them to think about the differences between merely “getting through the lesson” and really structuring time where students could connect personally with the work.

Budget update: Ouch, there went $35 million

Submitted by Paul Socolar on Wed, 04/08/2009 - 17:44 Posted in Eye on the budget | Permalink

The state updated its projections last week of how much money each school district will receive from the federal economic stimulus. Philadelphia stands to receive $35 million less than previously projected - due to a reallocation of the one-time pot of money described as "state fiscal stabilization grants."

Poverty = stress = brain impairment

Submitted by Erika Owens on Wed, 04/08/2009 - 13:50 | Permalink

A new study finds that students who grew up in poverty have less working memory than their middle class peers. The researchers say that the cause is the stress that living in poverty puts on the brain, as measured by physiological indicators like blood pressure.

Working memory is crucial for everyday activities as well as for forming long-term memories.

"It's critical for learning," [the lead researcher] said. "If you don't have good working memory, you can't do things like hold a phone number in your head or develop a vocabulary."

When the researchers analyzed the relationships among how long the children lived in poverty, their allostatic load [stress level] and their later working memory, they found a clear relationship: The longer they lived in poverty, the higher their allostatic load and the lower they tended to score on working-memory tests. Those who spent their entire childhood in poverty scored about 20 percent lower on working memory than those who were never poor, [the lead researcher] said.

Real school reform cannot be done to communities; it must be done with them

Submitted by Eric Braxton on Tue, 04/07/2009 - 14:00 Posted in High schools | Permalink

Recently I wrote about the need for greater community involvement in the Renaissance Schools plan. School reform advocates have argued for community involvement for a long time.  School districts, on the other hand, often pay lip service to community involvement by doing the bare minimum so that they can say people were involved while continuing to have real decision-making done by the same small group of insiders. 

Hundreds of schools, and one map to see them

Submitted by Erika Owens on Mon, 04/06/2009 - 13:54 | Permalink

The Notebook just posted this map to its multimedia page:


View Larger Map

Seeking Solutions

Submitted by Alesha Jackson on Fri, 04/03/2009 - 08:55 Posted in Class notes | Permalink

In a lively online discussion, you responded to teachers at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, where a shift in student behavior has teachers concerned about the future of the school. Last week, Feltonville’s recently-appointed principal talked back to the school community in a public meeting with parents. Teachers also widely attended, as well as Lucy Feria, the Regional Superintendent for the North Region here in Philly. 

In case you missed it, Mar. 30-Apr. 3

Submitted by Erika Owens on Fri, 04/03/2009 - 04:25 Posted in In case you missed it | Permalink

This week the Education First Compact and Cross City Campaign started a campaign for effective teaching.

Wide variation in breakfast participation

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Thu, 04/02/2009 - 10:26 | Permalink

At Thurgood Marshall elementary school in Olney, a K-8 school with an enrollment of about 600, more than nine out of ten students eat breakfast in school every day. Compare that to Andrew Morrison elementary just a few blocks away, a school with similar demographics -- a mostly African American and Latino population, 85 percent of which are poor enough to qualify for free and reduced price lunch -- where only about 30 percent of the students eat breakfast at school.

Go, Johnny, go, Johnny, go, go, go!

Submitted by Debbie Wei on Wed, 04/01/2009 - 13:28 Posted in Social justice in education | Permalink

Helen’s and Len’s blogs on lack of transparency in the SRC process are on point. Philadelphia has always had a Jurassic Age system of an appointed board, unlike most other places in the country where the school board is democratically elected.

Are we still a District in distress?

Submitted by Len Rieser on Tue, 03/31/2009 - 21:59 Posted in Education law corner | Permalink

The three people whose appointments to the SRC were unveiled last week are, by all accounts, excellent choices. But why was there absolutely zero public input into the selection process?

Does reforming high schools require starting with a new staff?

Submitted by Eric Braxton on Mon, 03/30/2009 - 15:20 Posted in High schools | Permalink

As I have said in nearly all of my posts, I am of the opinion that our neighborhood high schools need a major transformation, not just some small reforms. 

The culture and climate in these schools is just not conducive to learning.  Many people argue that creating this new culture requires replacing either all or some of the teachers in the building with a fresh staff that is on board with the school’s mission. 

A first look at the new SRC

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Sat, 03/28/2009 - 16:11 | Permalink

Patting themselves and others on the back for progress made over the last six years in the city schools, Mayor Nutter and Gov. Rendell nevertheless announced that it was time for a change in the leadership of the School Reform Commission.

Willard School project: a false start

Submitted by Paul Socolar on Thu, 03/26/2009 - 19:04 Posted in Social justice in education | Permalink

A celebratory groundbreaking ceremony for the long-awaited replacement of Willard School in Kensington took place in December, after years of promises and many frustrating delays. As recently as last month, District officials were saying its target date for opening the new school was Fall 2009.

In case you missed it, Mar. 22-27

Submitted by Erika Owens on Thu, 03/26/2009 - 10:07 Posted in In case you missed it | Permalink

In Philly the big news is the change in leadership at the SRC. We blogged about the breaking news that Sandra Dungee Glenn was ousted from the SRC.

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