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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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Notes from the news

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

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

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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Notes from the news

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

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

Science ed. conference wrap-up and thoughts

By Timothy Boyle on Mar 29, 2010 03:13 PM

I very much appreciated the opportunity to attend this year's National Science Teachers Association Conference. Meeting people from across the country facing the same challenges, while being innovative, was a good kick start in the midst of the long slog to the PSSA. Between the conference and reading Education Week's Technology Counts, I've been doing a  lot of thinking about the state of my teaching, and the state of science teaching around me.

PA not first round RttT winner

By Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 29, 2010 11:17 AM

Education Week and the Associated Pressare reporting that Pennsylvania is not among the winners in the first round of the Race to the Top competition. Only two states will get the funds: Tennessee and Delaware. More to come.

Pennsylvania came in seventh with a score of 420. You can find PA's application, scores, and reviewers' comments and notes on the Department of Education's site. The Ed Week Politics K-12 twitter feed has more updates.

UPDATE: Pennsylvania Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak was upbeat about the state’s prospects in the next round, what is called Phase 2, of the competitive process, describing the state’s initial application as a “great collaboration” involving “partnerships of many of the leaders across the state at every level.”

Notes from the news, Mar. 29

By Anonymous on Mar 29, 2010 10:22 AM

Should schools chief have known? The Inquirer
Superintendent Ackerman said she was unaware of a draft proposal to change admissions criteria for the city's magnet schools that received harsh criticism.

See also: Fixing city's magnet system The Inquirer (opinion)

What's wrong with flash mobs? CNN
Philadelphia Student Union on the national news explaining that kids in Philly are not a flash mob.

City schools will be in session on primary day The Inquirer
Chance to make up a snow day.

See also: Phila. gets a pass on making up two snow days Philly.com

EXCLUSIVE: Charter school doubles as bar 6ABC
Harambee Charter School's cafeteria becomes Club Damani at night.

See also: Meeting set for Monday over club in a Phila. school 6ABC

Bodine chapter's successful internet access campaign featured on Labor Justice Radio PSU blog

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

Renaissance Schools announcement postponed to Tuesday

By the Notebook on Mar 26, 2010 02:33 PM

UPDATE: A press conference is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Check back here then.

UPDATE: Announcement now rescheduled for Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Still working out final details for communicating with the schools and their communities, according to District spokesman Fernando Gallard.

The announcement of Renaissance Schools and Promise Academies scheduled for today will be postponed to Tuesday Monday and it's back to Tuesday!

The District was scheduled to announce which schools of the 14 Renaissance Eligible Schools would become Renaissance Schools and Promise Academies. Principals and others at the affected schools will be informed of the decision on Monday Tuesday.

We'll post any additional updates as they become available.

Notes from the news, Mar. 26

By Anonymous on Mar 26, 2010 09:09 AM

From turmoil, a S. Phila. High honor The Inquirer
Wei Chen, president of the Chinese-American Student Association, won the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for "exceptional and sustained leadership."

See also: Student, not district, wins race-relations prize Daily News (opinion)

Reaction to violence muted by stereotypes The Inquirer (opinion)
A history lesson on anti-Asian racism in the U.S. and conclusion that the incidents at South Philly High didn't gain national attention due to race.

Elmer Smith: On education, this is a president left behind Daily News
Obama is still getting flack for his comments in support of the wholesale firing of a district of teachers in Rhode Island, and its relevance to his proposed changes to NCLB.

Phila. School District ''Webinar'' Looks for Solutions to Flash Mobs KYW
High school students participated in a webinar about safe use of social media.

See also: At various forums, teens discuss flash mobs The Inquirer
Violence prevention focuses on flash mob 6ABC

Junior Great Books: A month of learning & reflection Philly Teacher blog

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, Mar. 25

By Anonymous on Mar 25, 2010 09:54 AM

City schools panel adopts preliminary budget The Inquirer
The $2.4 billion lump-sum budget was adopted as the first step in the budget process. It does not include Race to the Top funds the District hopes to get.

See also: Phila. School District Plans Budget Amid BRT Troubles KYW

On-time graduation rates still look grim The Notebook blog
High school rates range from the high 90s to the 20s and the rate for the District overall is 56 percent.

How Google Might Save My School: An Update Philly Teacher blog
Philly Teacher started a Google Group to help organize teachers at her school, but the results have been frustrating.

Racially Divisive Press Mars Discussion of South Philadelphia High School Racialicious
A look at some reasons for the lack of accurate national press attention on South Philly.

A Germantown Charter School Gets Recognized for Teacher Excellence KYW

Educator says school fired her for reporting abuse The Inquirer

War on teachers escalates The Inquirer (opinion)

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

On-time graduation rates still look grim

By Paul Socolar on Mar 24, 2010 10:46 AM

The Notebook's upcoming April edition on the city's continuing dropout crisis will report a 56 percent on-time graduation rate for the class of 2009 (students who entered 9th grade for the first time in 2005). Disappointingly, that's down one point from the previous year.

But that citywide on-time graduation rate figure does not capture the vast differences in graduation rates among schools, with percentages at Masterman, CAPA, and GAMP in the high 90s, while South Philadelphia and Kensington Culinary have percentages in the 20s.

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