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The semantics of Race to the Top

By Molly Thacker on Aug 17, 2010 12:37 PM

I have been thinking a lot about Race to the Top lately, as I’m sure many of us have. I’ve been thinking so much about the complexities and implications of the program that I almost don’t know where to start. 

I could start by discussing Arne Duncan’s recent interview on NPR, in which he praised the “amazing results” of the program; or by reviewing the formal criticism recently put forth by leading civil rights organizations, including the NAACP; or compare my own ideas to those of Diane Ravitch, posited in a recent article. For me, though, perhaps the most troubling aspect of the entire policy is a very fundamental one: language.

Notes from the news, Aug. 17

By Anonymous on Aug 17, 2010 08:59 AM

After two weeks on job, district official resigns The Inquirer
Lisa Mastoon was the District's chief communications officer. Superintendent Ackerman says she will consult the SRC and Mayor Nutter in the search for a new communications chief.

See also: Another communications chief out The Notebook blog
Ackerman's PR Person Quits Suddenly Fox 29
Philadelphia School District communications boss quits after 2 weeks Daily News

Dr. Ackerman, actions speak louder than words The Notebook blog
A reflection on the 2009-10 school year and how Ackerman needs "constructive criticism" from citizens.

Charter Schools KYW
A brief overview of charters in Philly, with a note that you can learn more in our Summer edition.

Onorato’s illusion of school choice PA2010.com
While analyzing Onorato's policy paper for education, blogger Adam Lang finds that school choice advocates would be disappointed with Onorato's stance.

Letters: SRC backs Ackerman's performance and pay The Inquirer
SRC Chair Robert Archie writes that it is the SRC's job to hold Ackerman accountable, and that the public should hold the SRC accountable.

When School Choice is Not About School Philly School Search blog

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Another communications chief out

By Paul Socolar on Aug 16, 2010 04:22 PM

Before completing two full weeks on the job, Lisa Mastoon, the District's chief public information officer, resigned Friday.

Dr. Ackerman, actions speak louder than words

By Frank Murphy on Aug 16, 2010 11:09 AM

The 2009-2010 school year was not such a good year for Dr. Ackerman. Problems developed as soon as the schoolhouse doors opened. The hurried implementation of the Corrective Reading and Math programs did not unfold smoothly. Materials were late arriving to schools, rosters assignments were repeatedly reshuffled, and there was little professional development.

Notes from the news, Aug. 16

By Anonymous on Aug 16, 2010 08:54 AM

Phila. police veteran is new school security chief The Inquirer
Chief Inspector Myron Patterson will remain on the police department payroll, but he'll report to Superintendent Ackerman and Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

See also: Phila. Public Schools Have New Chief of Security KYW
Veteran Philadelphia cop named school district's new safety boss Daily News

Ackerman's raise was deferred The Inquirer (letters)
Letter from Notebook editor Paul Socolar clarifying that Superintedent Ackerman's raise in May 2010 was retroactive to July 2009.

Low-ranking Pennsylvania schools seek School Improvement Grants The Inquirer
The School District of Philadelphia has applied for grants for 50 of its 98 low-performing schools, including all Renaissance Schools. The grants require tying student performance to teacher evaluations and the money comes from stimulus funding.

Ackerman critics quick to judge Philadelphia Tribune (opinion)
Where's the outrage about illegal bonuses to the head of the library? Several local leaders offer words of support for Ackerman and the work she's done to earn her bonus.

U.S. Dept. of Education Tells Philly Students: You Need College to Succeed PhillyNow
The National Youth Listening Tour visited Arise Academy Charter School last week.

Ronnie Polaneczky: For Vallas, losing to Blagojevich turned out to be dumb luck Daily News
Before Vallas came to Philly to lead the School District, he narrowly lost to Blagojevich in the Democratic primary for governor of Illinois. Since leaving Philly, Vallas has headed the New Orleans Recovery School District and helped with relief efforts in Haiti.

SLA Named One of the Ten Most Amazing Schools in US (and other news!) Practical Theory blog
Great August already for SLA. Principal Chris Lehmann was on Radio Times last week with Bodine principal Anne Gardiner.

See also: Small high schools in Philadelphia Radio Times

Group seeks to clean up Philadelphia's charter-school image Daily News

House right to OK state aid legislation Philadelphia Tribune (opinion)

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Notes from the news, Aug. 13

By Anonymous on Aug 13, 2010 08:56 AM

Clearing the record on Ackerman's raise The Notebook blog
A week ago the Inquirer said Ackerman agreed to forgo a raise last year, but a raise she got in May of this year was retroactive back to July 2009.

Group forms to promote Philadelphia charter schools The Inquirer
Nineteen charter schools have joined the group so far, and schools that join must agree to follow ethical standards such as board members not benefiting financially from the school.

Obama signs state aid bill, PA prepares to adjust budget The Notebook blog
Rendell has agreed to a $50 million decrease in the $250 million increase in state funding for education and is proposing more cuts and revenue raising to make up the rest of what is now a $280 million shortfall.

Schools’ audit to be reviewed Philadelphia Tribune
Former CEO Vallas said the review of federal funds distributed while he was still in Philly is about documentation, but "not about fraud."

Vote for 2 Great South by Southwest (SXSW) Panels Philly Teacher blog
Philly Teacher is a part of two proposed SXSW panels, and Practical Theory blogger and SLA principal Chris Lehmann would join her on one. Voting ends August 27.

Teachers union not wild about Onorato's education proposal Morning Call

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Obama signs state aid bill, PA prepares to adjust budget

By Rajiv Venkataramanan on Aug 12, 2010 12:42 PM

Just hours after the House of Representatives passed the state fiscal aid bill on Tuesday, President Obama signed it into law sending $26.1 billion to recession-battered states. $16.1 billion is allocated to support state Medicaid programs and $10 billion is earmarked to avert layoffs in public schools across the country.  

Clearing the record on Ackerman's raise

By Paul Socolar on Aug 12, 2010 10:24 AM

(Updated 12:15 pm) Despite the recent flurry of coverage of Superintendent Arlene Ackerman's $338,000 salary and her receipt of a $65,000 performance bonus, some of the facts continue to be muddied in all the media spin.

Notes from the news, Aug. 12

By Anonymous on Aug 12, 2010 08:48 AM

It's time for the Philadelphia School Reform Commission to step up on accountability Daily News (opinion)
Phil Goldsmith writes that the responsibility rests with the SRC to take the lead on setting "high standards for transparency to build public trust" for the District.

Access to District payroll records restored for some The Notebook blog
City Controller Alan Butkovitz' office again has access to the records, but District staffers will need to explain why they need global access to salary and other "sensitive" data.

See also: Deal afoot to restore access to school salary files WHYY

Onorato supports school vouchers for low-income families The Inquirer
Onorato's support for vouchers earned him the endorsement of school choice supporter State Sen. Anthony Williams, who ran against Onorato for the Democratic nomination for governor.

See also: Onorato claims Williams’ mantle… will he get the money? PA2010.com
Onorato Backs State Grants For Private Schools AP via KDKA

Editorial: Feeding their brains The Inquirer
The Senate passed a childhood nutrition bill that includes a provision to continue the Universal Feeding Program in Philadelphia.

Charter battles Philly district over its expansion The Inquirer
Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School did not get official SRC approval for additional seats or to permanently expand to serve high school grades, and now it is urging the SRC to act so that hundreds of students won't have to find new schools for the fall.

Diplomas Now Wins $30 Million Education Department Grant PR Canada

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Access to District payroll records restored for some

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 11, 2010 05:33 PM

Access to School District payroll records has been restored to key people in Controller Alan Butkovitz's office, while employees within the District whose access was cut off are being asked to justify why they need the records to do their jobs.

Notes from the news, Aug. 11

By Anonymous on Aug 11, 2010 09:19 AM

Golden resigns as Philadelphia schools' safety chief The Inquirer
Golden abruptly left for another opportunity amid speculation that he was not consulted enough about safety issues, including the safety response at South Philly High.

See also: District's school-security chief quits Daily News

In wake of DN column, Ackerman locks down school salary data Daily News
Even though the salaries should be a matter of public record, Ackerman severely restricted staff access to the school salary data due to a "security breach."

US Department of Education Visits PSU Wednesday PSU blog
This afternoon PSU members will meet with Alberto Retana from the Dept. of Ed. as part of a National Youth Listening Tour to get students' perspectives on school turnaround.

A school choice governor? PA2010.com (opinion)
Corbett has made his feelings on vouchers known, but Onorato supports school choice via the EITC, which helps fund private and parochial schools.

House passes bill that saves thousands of teachers' jobs The Notebook blog
All it needs now is Obama's signature to send out $10 billion for teachers' jobs.

Philadelphia School District terminates longtime contract with CEP WHYY

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Notes from the news, Aug. 10

By Anonymous on Aug 10, 2010 08:57 AM

School District cancels contract with company that ran alternative programs The Inquirer
Community Education Partners, a private firm that ran disciplinary and alternative programs at four schools, had its contract terminated June 30 and is leaving Philly.

See also: CEP tells state it is leaving Philadelphia The Notebook blog

SLA magnet high school praised as one of top 10 The Inquirer
That's top 10 in the nation as picked by a panel of education experts for Ladies' Home Journal.

The Big Lie (Thoughts on Why School Is Not Only About Workforce Development) Practical Theory blog
SLA's principal says the emphasis should be on preparing students to be citizens, not workers, because "aiming for creating workers won't get our society the citizens it needs."

See also: Schools Are Given a Grade on How Graduates Do New York Times

Money aplenty, but where are the real turnaround experts? The Notebook blog
The New York Times found that many people are trying to get some of the billions going to school turnaround, even if they don't have experience in the area.

Sen. Anthony Williams: School Choice Fox 29

Phila., Camden among districts getting history aid The Inquirer

First Book donates 170,000 books to increase youth literacy in Philadelphia Philadelphia Charity Examiner

Help kids make the transition back to school 6ABC

Tony Danza reality show gets air date UPI

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CEP tells state it is leaving Philadelphia

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 9, 2010 04:45 PM

Community Education Partners, the for-profit operator of disciplinary schools that ushered in the privatization of alternative education in Philadelphia, has notified the state Department of Labor and Industry that it is closing its remaining four schools as of the end of this month. Its contract with the District was terminated June 30, according to District spokeswoman Lisa Mastoon.

The Nashville-based firm said it would be laying off 74 employees. A company spokesperson did not immediately return a call for comment.

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