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Charters are the answer?

Submitted by Shani Adia Evans on Mon, 02/16/2009 - 12:01 Posted in High schools | Permalink

In his 2009 annual letter, Bill Gates lamented that many of the high schools his foundation funded did not improve student outcomes in a meaningful way. Although many of the schools did have higher attendance and graduation rates, they had not graduated more college-ready students. However, Gates wrote that a few successful non-selective schools serving mostly poor students had been effective in raising expectations and student achievement.

I Am Not an Anti-test Nazi

Submitted by Debbie Wei on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 13:07 | Permalink

I am not an anti- test-Nazi. I think standardized tests can give you some useful information. But at what cost? And what kind of information? And how much should it be weighed in an overall picture of assessment?

When you really look at the tests and ask some questions like a group in California called Teachers for Social Justice asks, it makes you really wonder why these tests are given so much weight.

In case you missed it - stories from the week

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 12:32 Posted in In case you missed it | Permalink

Check out these truly shocking stories about two judges in Wilkes-Barre who, in return for kickbacks, sentenced students who committed minor infractions to privately-run juvenile detention centers. Kudos to John Sullivan of the Inky for following this story. It also made the front page of the New York Times.

More on "turnaround"

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 12:14 | Permalink

On Wednesday, after the School Reform Commission meeting, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman confirmed that the District’s eagerly awaited strategic plan will indeed present “turnaround” options for chronically low-performing schools.

Guiding Principles for High School Transformation

Submitted by Eric Braxton on Thu, 02/12/2009 - 13:40 Posted in High schools | Permalink

If we are to get serious about transforming neighborhood high schools, how do we get started? Education Resource Strategies did an excellent study looking at the common elements of highly effective small schools. In specific, they found that these schools all have an instructional vision that drives decision making in all facets of the school and that effective schools require some flexibility from normal school district procedures and union contracts.

What you probably won't hear from the next SRC commissioner ...

Submitted by Helen Gym on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 18:42 Posted in Parent perspectives | Permalink

Last month, the terms of four out of the five School Reform Commissioners expired. As the Governor and Mayor mull over their appointments, don’t expect to see anything like this from prospective nominees to the SRC:

Dear fellow School District parents, students, staff and stakeholders:

Strip searches and students' rights

Submitted by Len Rieser on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 18:23 Posted in Education law corner | Permalink

Searches of students –especially strip searches – aren’t exactly a big topic of conversation in school-reform circles.  But the subject may get more attention in the near future, when the Supreme Court decides whether or not to uphold a recent decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Redding v. Safford Unified School District

"I'm going to Haaaavahd"

Submitted by Alesha Jackson on Mon, 02/09/2009 - 19:24 Posted in Class notes | Permalink

It’s Black History Month, and this year marks an exciting time during that history: the remarkable ascent of a Black man to America’s highest office.

Learning to listen

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Fri, 02/06/2009 - 14:53 Posted in High schools | Permalink

Although I have been writing about the School District of Philadelphia for more than 20 years, this is my first attempt at blogging. By temperament and training, my inclination has been to keep my opinion out of things. Sure, I decided what to write about and sought out particular sources. But never did the words “I think” ever appear in anything I wrote. That didn’t stop some people for criticizing me for what they thought I thought; others, though, actually sought out my opinion.

Gambling Revenue and a Tenuous Future for Education Funding

Submitted by Helen Gym on Thu, 02/05/2009 - 18:26 Posted in Parent perspectives | Permalink

As a Philadelphian who is active in a number of different communities, I never really thought that my volunteer efforts as a parent and education activist would have reason to intersect with my work at Asian Americans United fighting a casino in the heart of Philadelphia and next to Chinatown. But recent news about Pennsylvania's efforts to link gambling and education funding now has me wondering about how worlds can collide. Consider these recent connections around gambling and schools:

Why I Hate Standardized Tests

Submitted by Debbie Wei on Wed, 02/04/2009 - 17:27 | Permalink

My sons are now 18 and 20 years old and both have been able to get in to college. But it wasn’t easy. I knew it would be a problem when they were in kindergarten and 2nd grade respectively.

Can we do anything about our neighborhood high schools?

Submitted by Eric Braxton on Mon, 02/02/2009 - 19:38 Posted in High schools | Permalink

Over the last thirteen years I have spent a fair amount of time in Philadelphia’s neighborhood high schools, first as Director of the Philadelphia Student Union and now in my new role as Small Schools Project Coordinator at the Philadelphia Education Fund.

Make Teaching, Not War

Submitted by Alesha Jackson on Mon, 02/02/2009 - 17:13 Posted in Class notes | Permalink

Over our monthly meeting of food and sharing, some teacher friends and I interrupted our regular weekend respite by talking about school. Why is it, we wondered, that language about teaching is peppered with innuendoes of war? News anchors tell us that we are “on the front lines” or “in the trenches.” Inside school, we “cover” each other in our absences and wage wars on reading.

Welcome to the Education Law Corner

Submitted by Len Rieser on Thu, 01/29/2009 - 11:13 Posted in Education law corner | Permalink

Well, the moment has come for my own inauguration – into blogging, that is – and I admit to some nervousness. But I have only myself to blame; as a longtime member of the Notebook, I’ve nodded an enthusiastic “yes” every time someone said that we should start creating more on-line material. So I could hardly refuse when asked to write a few paragraphs each week on something that’s happening in the area of education law.

Welcome to our redesigned site

Submitted by thenotebook on Wed, 01/28/2009 - 21:36 | Permalink

We just launched our new site! Please take a moment to look around, this site has several new features. Most notably, the Notebook has expanded to another medium: blogging.

And we need your help with naming our blog.

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