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Notes from the news, Jan. 27

By Erika Owens on Jan 27, 2010 11:20 AM

Activist group sees flaws in teachers' contract The Inquirer
The Effective Teaching for Every Child campaign gave the contract grades averaging a B-, with an A- for standards and evaluations and a D for teacher incentives.

See also: Effective Teaching Campaign grades contract The Notebook blog
Dueling protests fault teacher pact: For different reasons, they have doubts Daily News

Plan for schools coming to a head Metro Philadelphia
Today the District will outline the plans for turning around low-performing schools as Renaissance Schools.

See also: Potential Ren. Schools announced Wed. The Notebook blog

School Days II: Fiasco at South Philly High Metropolis
The second and final installments of School Days from Dale Mezzacappa. The final piece is about educating immigrant students.

Successful March!!! Philly Teacher Talks
A group of teachers were also at the School District building yesterday afternoon to march against the contract.

Phila. Teachers Ratify New 3-Year Contract Ed Week
National coverage for the contract and for the complaint about harassment of Asian students at South Philly high.

Drexel to create 250 scholarships for low-income city graduates The Inquirer

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

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Notes from the news

Effective Teaching Campaign grades contract

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 26, 2010 06:36 PM

The Effective Teaching for Every Child campaign gave the new teachers' contract mostly high marks in a report card, but said that it does not provide enough incentives to recruit and keep teachers in hard-to-staff schools.

Potential Ren. Schools announced Wed.

By Erika Owens on Jan 26, 2010 04:32 PM

The District has announced that it will release a list tomorrow of schools being considered for the first cohort of Renaissance Schools. The schools are likely to be drawn from a larger pool of 76 low-performing schools, which were mentioned in the state's application for Race to the Top funding.

Here's a PDF that lists the 76 schools.

Guest blog: Site selection victory in contract

By Guest blogger on Jan 26, 2010 01:54 PM

Welcome to the guest blogger section of the Notebook blog.

This week's post comes from Jonathan Cetel, who is a regional organizer with Good Schools Pennsylvania and serves as a consultant to the Teacher Action Group. He previously taught middle years reading and social studies in the Olney section of Philadelphia. 


In the midst of our collective efforts to digest all of the reforms proposed in the new teacher contract, let’s take a moment to celebrate two clear and decisive victories: the expansion of site selection in the lowest-performing schools and the modification of the site selection process. 

Notes from the news, Jan. 26

By Erika Owens on Jan 26, 2010 09:28 AM

Elmer Smith: Reason to hope for real school reform Daily News
Hope comes in the form of a new teachers' contract.

A life of promise cut short by gunfire: Tyree Parks 'was on that right path' Daily News
Profile of a student killed as he walked home from coaching a youth basketball game at Audenried HS.

Schools Days: Superintendent Arlene Ackerman Metropolis
Two posts from Metropolis about schools. Dale Mezzacappa wrote more about Ackerman and Lori Mehler wrote about substitute teaching.

Reactions to the New Philadelphia Teachers Contract Philly School Search
Recent posts summarized the reaction to the contract, highlighted posts on Philadelphiaspeaks.com, and solicited input on the school search process.

How Renaissance Schools Will Hurt Our Children Philly Teacher Talks
This concerned Philly teacher wrote about how Renaissance Schools don't get at the root problems, and that teachers should join for a march today at 3:30 p.m. at Broad and Spring Garden.

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

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Notes from the news

Sheppard students raise funds for Haiti

By thenotebook on Jan 25, 2010 04:49 PM

Students at West Kensington’s Isaac Sheppard Elementary School last week raised nearly $500 have raised $600 in donations for the Haitian relief effort. Concerned children in the high-poverty K-4 school emptied piggy banks and gave up tooth fairy and pretzel money in their desire to help victims of the devastating earthquake.

Fourth graders organized the fundraiser, writing and broadcasting reports about the situation in Haiti and spending recess time making posters assuring fellow students that “even a nickel counts” when it came to making a donation.

-submitted by Jamie Roberts, Sheppard ESOL program specialist

Notes from the news, Jan. 25

By Erika Owens on Jan 25, 2010 10:03 AM

AFT president: New contract a breakthrough The Notebook blog
Praise is pouring in for the "groundbreaking" contract, but the response is not universally glowing.

See also: Plaudits for Phila. teachers contract The Inquirer
New Teachers Contract Amazes School Reform Advocates KYW
A qualified thumbs up for the contract The Notebook blog
Teachers, school district approve contract Daily News
Why Did our Union Mock Us? Philly Teacher Talks blog

MLK Day, PSU and the Cynicism of Reporting at The Philadelphia Weekly Philly Education Justice blog
Calls for the PW to apologize for a column about PSU's "hollow protest" against school violence.

Overbrook High School Students Rising Philly Education Justice blog
Overbrook students ask to be heard on how to improve their school.

Thornton voted new MPS chief Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Gregory Thornton, former CAO of the Philly schools, is the new Milwaukee superintendent.

Report finds staff errors key in counselor's death The Inquirer
A nurse called Joaquin Rivera's name twice, but did not look for him in the waiting room.

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

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A qualified thumbs up for the contract

By Ron Whitehorne on Jan 24, 2010 12:29 PM

Over the next few weeks many education reformers will be giving the new PFT contract a grade. For PFT members the grading system is pass fail, yes or no, and by a two-to-one margin the contract got a thumbs up, in spite of discontent with many provisions and the way the ratification vote was organized.

This is a flawed contract that grew out of a flawed process. Win-win it wasn’t, but I think passing it was the right thing to do.

First the positives: 

AFT president: New contract a breakthrough

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 23, 2010 01:14 AM

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a statement Friday night that the new PFT contract is "groundbreaking" and provides teachers "with the tools, time and trust they need to be better educators."

Were our schools designed to succeed?

By Eric Braxton on Jan 22, 2010 11:24 AM

A lot of people are talking these days about the failure of public schools. They cite astronomical dropout rates, low test scores, and a host of other alarming statistics. I want to suggest another perspective. Our schools are actually quite successful at doing what they were designed to do.

Notes from the news, Jan. 22

By Erika Owens on Jan 22, 2010 09:11 AM

Teachers accept new contract The Notebook blog
The contract includes two three percent raises, ties some compensation to student performance, and introduces a new mentoring and evaluation system.

See also: Philadelphia teachers approve new contract The Inquirer
Teachers OK contract: Two 3% hikes over 3 yrs. Daily News
Teachers say yes to new contract Philadelphia Metro
Should the PFT contract be public? It's Our Money
Performance bonuses put Phila. teachers pact on cutting edge Philly.com
Philadelphia teachers approve new 3-year contract AP via PhillyBurbs.com

Former city schools chief disputes criticism The Inquirer
Former CEO Paul Vallas said the federal government encouraged schools to use grant money in "more flexible ways."

See also: Philly Schools Misspent $17M in Aid: Audit NBC Philadelphia
Phila. School District may have mispent $140 million WHYY
And now from the Paul Vallas school of crisis management . . . Young Philly Politics

Editorial: Getting rid of bad apples The Inquirer
Calls for improved evaluation systems for teachers.

Breakdance Boys in South Philly Philadelphia Weekly
Video of a diverse group of students dancing during an after-school program run by SEAMAAC.

Racial Bullying Roils a Philadelphia High School AP via New York Times
Summary of events at South Philly that's receiving wide reach on AP wire.

Were our schools designed to succeed? The Notebook blog
Schools were originally designed for a very different economic system where most good jobs did not require a college education. What now?

Notebook blogger on local news! The Notebook blog
Check for video of Samuel Reed, who won the National Liberty Museum's Teacher as Hero Award.

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

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Notes from the news

Teachers accept new contract

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 21, 2010 10:39 PM

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers ratified a new three-year contract Thursday night that for the first time ties some compensation to growth in student achievement and establishes an intensive system for mentoring and evaluating novice and struggling teachers.

PFT president Jerry Jordan hailed the agreement as “progressive, a professional contract. Teachers are going to be in the forefront of working to make sure we have effective teachers in every classroom.”

It creates a Peer Assistance and Review program (PAR), based largely on ones in Montgomery County, MD and Toledo, OH in which specially trained consulting teachers will work with new teachers and those who have been rated “unsatisfactory” to help them improve. If they continue to flounder, a joint committee appointed by the District and the union can recommend termination.

Notebook blogger on local news!

By thenotebook on Jan 21, 2010 08:59 PM

Congratulations to Notebook blogger Samuel Reed III for winning the Teacher as Hero Award from the National Liberty Museum.

Check out the segment from tonight's 6 ABC news below:

Contract details posted on PFT site

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 21, 2010 01:36 PM

Here is a link to a document that was posted on a members-only portion of the teachers' union site.

Highlights after a quick read (UPDATED 2:15 p.m.):

 -- 3 percent raises on September 1, 2010 and again on January 1, 2012 - just two across-the-board raises in a three-year agreement.

Notes from the news, Jan. 21

By Erika Owens on Jan 21, 2010 10:54 AM

Phila. teacher raises put in 3 percent range The Inquirer
Teachers vote on their contract agreement tonight at Temple's Liacouras Center.

See also: Teachers beg for more info on contract Metro
Philly Teachers Could Get 3 Percent Raises NBC Philadelphia
When will teachers see the contract? The Notebook blog

Phila. misspent $17.7M in school aid, audit finds The Inquirer
The audit says the District should pay pay back the $17.7 million in federal aid and give "adequate documentation" for $120 million, or pay that back too.

See also: Audit: Philly schools misspent $17M in school aid AP via Lebanon Daily News

New turnaround target: 76 schools by 2012 The Notebook blog
As part of the Race to the Top application, Philadelphia must turn around 76 schools over the next few years.

Philadelphia School Students Checkmate Violence in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. UC Review

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