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QuickTakes April 2010

By May Truong on Apr 7, 2010 01:42 PM

quicktakes
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After five years of public attention & millions of dollars directed at the dropout crisis, what have been the biggest changes for students & families?

 
 

After schools are chosen, District discloses some Promise Academy details

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 7, 2010 12:46 PM

It has taken a while, but finally, the School District has elaborated somewhat on what a Promise Academy will look like. 

As schools were submitting applications last month indicating whether or not they wanted to be Promise Academies, there was little in writing about the model. When the District announced on March 30 which schools would be turned over to outside providers as Renaissance Schools and which were selected as Promise Academies, the draft press release said a fuller description of the Promise Academy would be attached, but it was not. 

Notes from the news, Apr. 7

By Anonymous on Apr 7, 2010 09:52 AM

Dropped out? No, pushed out The Notebook
There's a national push to reframe the discussion of dropping out to one of students being pushed out of school by a variety of factors. Youth United for Change started a new chapter for pushed out students.

See also: Dropouts, Disconnected Youths, & Diplomas The Notebook

Williams' jaw-dropping coffers for Pa. top post The Inquirer
Governor candidate State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams has received $1 million from two school choice PACs.

Letters: Don't overlook the good that Harambee does The Inquirer
Harambee's CEO responds to the recent night club news.

FCC loses key ruling on Internet 'neutrality' AP via the Bulletin
This ruling could have far reaching consequences. The Notebook and several other organizations in Philly are part of the Digital Justice Coalition, which is working to expand Internet access in Philly.

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

Notes from the news, Apr. 6

By Anonymous on Apr 6, 2010 09:23 AM

Correcting the Corrective Math problem The Notebook blog
This is the first in a three-part series about Corrective Math by guest blogger Caroline Ebby. Part one explains how Corrective Math fits with the District's other math curricula.

Ronnie Polaneczky: A fed probe and a suddenly shy Veronica Joyner Daily News
Joyner founded the Mathematics, Civics, and Sciences Charter School and her school is now facing questions about its finances.

Editorial: Fighting failure The Inquirer
Cautions Superintendent Ackerman not to rely too heavily on charters for her Renaissance Schools turnaround program.

Penn neighborhood blooms around a top school The Inquirer
Penn Alexander Elementary School is luring Center City families west.

Letters: Flash-mob students need something to lose The Inquirer

The Times Are A-Changing Philly Teacher blog

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Correcting the Corrective Math problem

By Guest blogger on Apr 5, 2010 12:54 PM

This week's guest blog is from Caroline Ebby, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. This is the first in a series of three guest blog posts by Dr. Ebby about Corrective Math. This post will give you a little background on the District's current math curriculum and how Corrective Math fits in with that. The second will analyze Corrective Math specifically, and the final post will describe alternatives to the Corrective Math program.


As a mathematics educator and consultant for two Empowerment schools in Philadelphia, I am acutely aware of and concerned about the effects of the Corrective Math program on the achievement gap and students' access to higher-level mathematics. While the need for intervention in mathematics is paramount, the fact remains that Corrective Math reflects an instructional model that is outdated, overly simplistic, and counterproductive.

Notes from the news, Apr. 5

By Anonymous on Apr 5, 2010 09:48 AM

Report cites questionable charter-school practices The Inquirer
The draft report from City Controller Alan Butkovitz states "taxpayer money is at risk."

Marci Resnick Teacher Fund: Paying it forward The Notebook blog
The deadline for the fund's scholarships, in memory of longtime teacher and Philadelphia Writing Project administrator, is this Friday.

As Rachael Ray delivers a new kitchen, school culinary program shifts direction Daily News
Frankford High will see its new kitchen today, but school culinary programs are shifting focus from cooking to prep for better paying front-of-the-house jobs.

See also: Food Star Rachael Ray Outfits Philly HS Culinary Class KYW

Personalized Learning Plans – The next big thing The Notebook blog
Some 9th grade classrooms are piloting plans meant to encourage and document individualized instruction for students, but how can that be captured in the tiny boxes on the form?

Don't shortchange the students by cutting back on 180 school days The Inquirer (opinion)
State senators write in opposition of the state department of education's decision to waive makeup days for some of the snow days in February.

Germantown Settlement files for bankruptcy The Inquirer

Families Find Ways to Pay for College Philadelphia Neighborhoods

Philly kids get dental exams WHYY

"Beat China!" Schools and the Global Economy Philly Education Justice blog

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Marci Resnick Teacher Fund: Paying it forward

By Samuel Reed III on Apr 2, 2010 01:37 PM

In life Marci Resnick was a dedicated educator who continuously gave of herself without expecting big fanfare.

Marci taught at Mitchell in Southwest Philadelphia and at Emlen in Northwest Philadelphia. She joined the Philadelphia Writing Project in 1990 and became the director in 1995. In 2001 she went to work as associate director of the National Writing Project.

Notes from the news, Apr. 2

By Anonymous on Apr 2, 2010 09:52 AM

Is Renaissance plan the right medicine for all 14 schools? Notebook NEWSFLASH
Experts interviewed question the efficacy of disruptive turnaround, which will take place at all Renaissance Eligible Schools, including ones with school reviews that showed strong leadership.

Connecting the disconnected The Notebook April edition
A variety of programs are up and running this year to help out-of-school youth get a diploma. Check for the print edition out next week.

Philadelphia student leaders Dan Jones & Zakia Royster Radio Times
PSU members will talk about student activism and recent portrayals of Philly youth in the news.

Philly Teachers Miffed Over Leave Jewish Exponent
The snow makeup days meant Jewish teachers had to work on Passover.

Can Charter Schools Compete On A Level Playing Field? A Good Day Teaching blog
A teacher blogger's response to the Renaissance Schools announcement.

Creative and Performing Arts: ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ The Inquirer
Review of a "breathtaking" CAPA production.

Night club in school was supposed to be reviewed in 2003 WHYY

Boy, 12, accused of knife threat against schoolmate 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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Personalized Learning Plans – The next big thing

By Ron Whitehorne on Apr 1, 2010 12:23 PM

Teachers in the Alternative School Region (what we used to call disciplinary schools) are struggling with a new District initiative, Personalized Learning Plans.

The idea is that some goals are identified for each student along with an action plan, an indication of the resources required, and a way of measuring progress. The student, parent, and teacher all sign off on the plan. The goals are expected to reference assessment data like benchmarks and PSSA results. The Personalized Learning Plan would be reviewed every 30 days. This initiative is a pilot project for now with the expectation that it will be used with all 9th graders next year.

Notes from the news, Apr. 1

By Anonymous on Apr 1, 2010 10:10 AM

Nightclub gone, Harambee students to return Monday The Inquirer
The school responded to the District's request to close the nightclub so it will be allowed to remain open.

See also: NEW CHARTER SCHOOL SCANDAL: NOT SURPRISING? Daily News (opinion)
School District Expels Nightclub from Phila. Charter School KYW
Lessons Learned From Club Damani/Harambee School, 1 Through 5 Philebrity

Renaissance School reviews now online The Notebook blog
The school reviews were meant to add a qualitative measure to the selection process. But some schools got positive reviews and are still undergoing turnaround.

See also: Some teachers fear coming school "Renaissance" WHYY

A dispute over keeping schools open on election day The Inquirer
City commissioners say it may be unsafe for students to make up a snow day on election day.

More violence and failure at S. Philly High: What hasn't changed at all The Notebook blog
In the four months since the violence on Dec. 3 we find that not much has changed.

Charter school manager is jury target Daily News

Germantown Settlement subsidiary going bankrupt The Inquirer

CalendarFly to offer free community calendar integration for Philadelphia Charter Schools Technically Philly

School choice PAC gave Williams $250K PA2010.com

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Renaissance School reviews now online

By Paul Socolar on Mar 31, 2010 03:05 PM

The 14 schools that were just named to be either Renaissance Schools or Promise Academies all underwent a school review process in February or March, conducted by Schoolworks, and the summary findings of those reviews are now accessible via the District website.

They make for interesting reading.

More violence and failure at S. Philly High: What hasn't changed at all

By Helen Gym on Mar 31, 2010 01:51 PM

It's been almost four months since the Dec. 3 violence at South Philadelphia High School. How are things going?

Two weeks ago, a recent immigrant Chinese student testified at the School Reform Commission about ongoing violence at the school.

He and his brother had arrived at Southern post-Dec. 3, and heard about the anti-Asian violence on their very first day. Earlier this month, two students at the school kicked a bathroom door into his brother's face as he was coming out of the bathroom resulting in the boy cracking his head against the side wall.. The boy’s parents received an urgent call from their son inside the school, but were turned away by school security while they struggled to explain why they were there.

Following the testimony at the SRC the parents got a call from the school to return. Although they were at the school for more than two hours, the parents never once saw South Philly High Principal LaGreta Brown, who was in the building, nor did they get a follow-up checking-in on their son from anyone at the school.

Notes from the news, Mar. 31

By Anonymous on Mar 31, 2010 09:29 AM

14 Phila. schools to get radical makeovers The Inquirer
All Renaissance Eligible Schools will undergo turnaround. Nine will be managed by outside providers and five will be managed from Superintedent Ackerman's office.

See also: 9 Renaissance Schools, 5 Promise Academies announced The Notebook blog
Ackerman slates 14 schools for big changes
WHYY
In surprise move, 14 schools to get makeovers Daily News
Private Firms To Run 9 Philly Schools Fox 29
Public No More Metropolis

School said to double as nightclub to be investigated Daily News
The District is investigating and City Controller Alan Butkovitz found financial irregularities concerning Rhonda Sharif, Harambee CFO.

See also: City Controller questions payments to charter-school accountant The Inquirer
Controller: 'Questionable spending' at Harambee school 6 ABC
Uproar Over School Cafeteria That Doubled as a Nightclub New York Times
Philly charter school moonlights as a nightclub AP via Guardian UK
Philadelphia School District Strikes Again Philadelphia Weekly (opinion)

Dropouts take toll on city's economy Frost Illustrated via Philadelphia Tribune
A study by the Alliance for Excellent Education found that decreasing the dropout rate will help improve the economy.

Beloved Frankford High teacher gets Rachael Ray kitchen The Inquirer
Frankford High teacher Wilma Stephenson will get a floor-to-ceiling renovation of the culinary arts classroom.

See also: Rachael Ray Shines on Frankford Frankford Gazette

2 women arrested in fight at school Daily News

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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9 Renaissance Schools, 5 Promise Academies announced

By Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 30, 2010 02:30 PM

Moving on a lightning-fast timeline, the School District plans to turn over nine low-performing schools to outside managers by September – the majority probably as charter schools – while trying to jump-start educational improvement at another five under a model overseen by Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.

The District announced that all 14 schools designated as Renaissance Eligible will go through some kind of turnaround process this year. Officials had said that some might be able to avoid it if a February school review process found progress.

Notes from the news, Mar. 30

By Anonymous on Mar 30, 2010 10:02 AM

PA not first round RttT winner The Notebook blog
PA can try again in round two. Delaware and Tennessee are only states to win grants in round one.

See also: Pa. loses out in ‘Race to Top’ federal funding Philly.com

Renaissance Schools announcement postponed to Tuesday The Notebook blog
The announcement will be made at 2 p.m. today. Check the blog then for details.

Asians find Phila. schools an unexpected experience The Inquirer
Students described their shock at the violence they faced at South Philly.

Phila. charter school doubles as after-school-hours club The Inquirer
The cochair of the State Senate Education Committee called for the District to immediately close down Harambee Charter School.

See also: Meeting concerning club in a Phila. school 6 ABC

Feds are checking books from Math, Civics charter school Daily News
The school received a federal subpeona for five years of financial records.

Science ed. conference wrap-up and thoughts The Notebook blog
The National Science Teachers Association conference was held in Philly and teacher blogger Timothy Boyle shared his closing thoughts.

Teaching girls better year-round The Inquirer (opinion)
Writer is optimistic that national standards will help bridge gaps in achievement for women and girls in math and science.

Youth violence is an educational problem The Inquirer (opinion)
The writer connected flash mobs with the violence at South Philly, and said that to deal with these issues kids need and want discipline.

See also: Sestak hosts forum on youth violence in Phila. The Inquirer

Two new programs to help cut Philadelphia truancy The Inquirer
Programs will have the District, city courts, and DHS working together.

Civic Opportunity Fair in Phila. Helps Teens Get Involved KYW 

Plan to Make Up School Snow Days Upsets Elections Officials KYW

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