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Chance encounter raises questions about school violence

Submitted by Debbie Wei on Mon, 03/09/2009 - 12:25 Posted in Social justice in education | Permalink

At a weekend class with my daughter, I glanced at another mother. She reminded me of a student I had taught before, so I asked her if she is Ethiopian or Eritrean. She responded “Well, I’m both. How did you know?”

A quick review of names led to the discovery that her uncle was married to one of my former students. This led to a discussion of what school was like “back in the day” when I taught ESL and she was a student in the Philadelphia public high schools.

In case you missed it, March 2-6

Submitted by Erika Owens on Fri, 03/06/2009 - 19:16 Posted in In case you missed it | Permalink

This week people continued to talk about Imagine 2014, but Mensah Dean reported in the Daily News that there was a relatively low turnout to the first community meeting. Kristen Graham reported in the Inquirer that an energetic group has rallied against the closure of William Penn High School.

BRT patronage at the School District must end

Submitted by Helen Gym on Thu, 03/05/2009 - 21:13 Posted in Parent perspectives | Permalink

It’s budget season at the School District, and that means time to roll out our top contender for a “School District Expense That Makes No Sense.” This year’s winner, who has been on the District’s hit list for years, is  . . .

Blogging and the cloak of anonymity

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Wed, 03/04/2009 - 21:49 | Permalink

I’ve been closely following the blog posts here and here by my colleague Alesha Jackson regarding problems at an unnamed middle school and the dozens of comments that they have inspired.

Of scarecrows and oversight

Submitted by Len Rieser on Tue, 03/03/2009 - 12:00 Posted in Education law corner | Permalink

I don’t know – because the District still really hasn’t explained it – whether there is a good reason to contract out more of our schools to charters and private providers. But I think I can tell you what will happen if we do it the way we’ve done it the past.

Before I explain that, though, let me mention that I'm very impressed by some charter schools. This piece isn’t anti-charter. It’s pro-oversight.

School's out for snow

Submitted by Erika Owens on Mon, 03/02/2009 - 19:01 | Permalink

I can't forget the excitement of an unexpected day off from school every time I hear about a big snowstorm coming to town. Well, in Philly it doesn't even take a particularly big snow storm to shut down school. The same can be said for DC. President Obama poked a little fun at his family's new town last month when his daughters' school closed for a "storm" that would have only lead to a snow covered recess at their school in Chicago.

Musings on SP – not the stimulus package, not the strategic plan, but South Pacific

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Sun, 03/01/2009 - 16:53 | Permalink

Once in my life, I aspired to be a drama critic, and last month I went to see the revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center in New York. Like many who grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, I memorized most of the songs as a child.

In case you missed it

Submitted by Erika Owens on Fri, 02/27/2009 - 02:06 Posted in In case you missed it | Permalink

Imagine 2014 dominated the local news and blogs this week. Todd Wolfson of the Media Mobilizing Project blogged about the Philadelphia Student Union's action against the plan on the Philly IMC. The MMP posted pictures of the action.

A Respose to the Strategic Plan: Learn from What Works in Charters - Don't Just Hand Schools Over to Them

Submitted by Eric Braxton on Thu, 02/26/2009 - 12:38 Posted in High schools | Permalink

On Monday the School District of Philadelphia announced the details of its five-year strategic plan called Imagine 2014.  The most ambitious part of Imagine 2014 is a plan to close up to 35 low performing schools.  Early indications are that these schools will be reopened as charter schools or that they will be contracted out to outside organizations.

How Much Money Does this Stuff Cost?

Submitted by Debbie Wei on Thu, 02/26/2009 - 11:07 | Permalink

OK – this is the last blog on testing for now and I thought I'd poke around to see if anyone actually has tried to figure out what all this testing actually costs in dollars. I haven't been too lucky with figuring that out for Pennsylvania, or Philadelphia. I did get a copy of a summary of State Appropriations for Pennsylvania's Department of Education. Under a budget line entitled "PA Assessment" there is a number of $54,400,000. I don't know about you, but to me, that's an awful lot of money, But it's not out of line to what all the other states are spending.

Below is District fact sheet on turnaround school plan

Submitted by thenotebook on Wed, 02/25/2009 - 17:00 | Permalink

February 25, 2009, Fernando A. Gallard, #024-09
School District of Philadelphia Releases
Strategic Plan Fact Sheet


Imagine 2014: Quality Choices
Just the Facts

Since the presentation of Imagine 2014 to the SRC and public, there have been positive comments, editorials and support for the full implementation of the goals and strategies of this strategic plan.  People are excited about this plan and what it could mean for Philadelphia’s children.  However, particular attention has been focused on the concept of Renaissance Schools, and the strategy to “close failing schools and embrace bold new educational approaches with proven track records for success that include in-district restructuring and external partnerships.”  This fact sheet is developed to clarify elements of the proposed strategy so that the staff and the entire community can focus its attention and efforts to ensure that all of our children have access to a high quality education.

From visions to promises

Submitted by Len Rieser on Wed, 02/25/2009 - 08:05 Posted in Education law corner | Permalink

At a time when lots of attention is focused on Imagine 2014, described by the Inquirer as a "new vision" for the District, I'd like to suggest that we also talk about promises.   

Everyone's Problem-- Whose Responsibility?

Submitted by Alesha Jackson on Tue, 02/24/2009 - 12:39 Posted in Class notes | Permalink

Last week’s post about teachers struggling with recent discipline issues generated a slew of comments from teachers and administrators alike.  Some 42 teachers at the school drafted a letter to their newly-appointed principal with hopes that they could address growing concerns amid deteriorating order in the building.  On Sunday night, a teacher in the school, Kelley Collings, outlined for us some of the measures members are taking together to correct the harmful behavior

To Reform or Transform High Schools

Submitted by Eric Braxton on Mon, 02/23/2009 - 15:16 Posted in High schools | Permalink

Everyone seems to agree that a major change is needed in our neighborhood high schools.  One important question is whether these schools can be incrementally reformed by adding one program at a time or whether they need to be transformed by fundamentally redesigning these schools from the ground up.

In case you missed it -- Feb. 20

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Fri, 02/20/2009 - 18:19 | Permalink

Lots of big news this week, between the Obama stimulus and the Ackerman strategic plan.

The New York Times explains the power that the stimulus package gives Arne Duncan here. The Times also has a story about the changing role of the school librarian. Those that remain, at any rate.

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