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Guest blog: High-fructose columnists and school breakfast expansion

By Guest blogger on Oct 21, 2009 09:33 AM

Welcome to the guest blogger section of the Notebook blog.

This week's post is from Jonathan Stein of Community Legal Services.


With only 1 of 3 eligible Philadelphia school children getting a free school breakfast, the District's new expansion initiative will address the inequity of school breakfast participation. Some schools with high numbers of low-income students achieve over 80% breakfast participation, while other schools with the same demographic profile have 20% or less in breakfast take-up. Each school will now have reasonable and achievable performance targets over two years that should increase overall breakfast participation by 35% across the District.

Notes from the news, Oct. 21

By Erika Owens on Oct 21, 2009 09:17 AM

Working to end SRC Philadelphia Tribune
New SRC Commissioner David F. Girard-diCarlo discussed his plans for improving education in Philly.

Want to read an SRC resolution? Wait till it's adopted. The Notebook blog
The Notebook requested to see the full language of six resolutions before the SRC takes a final vote, but the request was denied. This denial may violate PA's Right to Know Law.

Students at 4 Philadelphia schools to get college boost The Inquirer
The Citi Postsecondary Success Program will target 9th and 10th grade students at four high schools to create a "college-going culture."

Notebook guest blog: High fructose columnists and the school breakfast expansion initiative The Notebook blog
In its second installment, the guest blog features a post from Jonathan Stein that responds to Karen Heller's recent column about the school breakfast program.

Teenage girl hailed for helping fallen runner Daily News
Randolph Academy student Helena Page will be honored at today's SRC meeting for helping a fellow runner who passed out on a cross country course.

Crash involving school bus in Port Richmond 6 ABC

Want to read an SRC resolution? Wait till it's adopted

By Paul Socolar on Oct 20, 2009 11:27 PM

The Notebook has made a rude discovery: that the public can't review School Reform Commission resolutions until it's too late to do anything about them.

If you want to see the full version of one of the resolutions that the commissioners get before they vote, you have to wait till it's been voted on.

Notes from the news, Oct. 20

By Erika Owens on Oct 20, 2009 10:13 AM

Pa. expediting education and welfare payments following budget deal Philadelphia Business Journal
Gov. Rendell said, “We were able to make all priority payments within four business days after the budget passed." Among them, funds for education, child care, and pre-K Counts.

Report says stimulus preserved education jobs The Washington Post
Nationwide 250,000 jobs have been created or saved. Locally, the AFT released a statement yesterday indicating that stimulus dollars helped Philly stave off lay-offs and pay for 200 counselors. 

African American woman first to head school WHYY
Girard College, a private boarding school for low-income children being raised in single-parent households, just welcomed a new president.

Notes from the news, Oct. 19

By Erika Owens on Oct 19, 2009 09:58 AM

A turnaround at West Phila. High School The Inquirer
This piece profiles West principal Saliyah Cruz and her work over the past two years to improve the neighborhood high school. Last week the Daily News ran an opinion piece that gave a student's perspective on the improvement.

Public forum on new Phila. charter policy Tuesday The Inquirer
At 440 N. Broad from 6-8 p.m. the SRC and Superintendent Arlene Ackerman will hold a public forum to discuss changes to the District's charter policy that would allow schools to apply to add grades or increase enrollment only when the school's charter is up for renewal.

Educadoras conversan sobre North Philly Al Día
Last week Latino leaders held a panel at Temple. The education of students in North Philly was the topic of the panel, which was convened by Heidi Ramirez, director of Temple's Urban Education Collaborative.

Karen Heller: Bad taste of Phila. school breakfast plan The Inquirer (opinion)
More commentary about breakfasts, and this piece focuses on the quality of the food available for breakfast. The quality is epitomized by the mayor declaring Wednesday Aunt Jemima Frozen Breakfast Education Day.

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.

Inquirer posts Report Card on the Schools

By Erika Owens on Oct 16, 2009 12:54 PM

The Sunday, October 11 edition of the Inquirer included their annual Report Card on the Schools. This year's slim 12-page section focuses on math. The Inquirer has not yet incorporated this year's info onto the page with their past Report Cards, but has posted a separate 2009 page that has articles from it and a test score lookup tool.

The articles focus more on New Jersey and suburban Philadelphia schools than on  Philadelphia, but the web page includes a list of math resources for students.

Notes from the news, Oct. 16

By Erika Owens on Oct 16, 2009 10:15 AM

Visions of School -- The Student Perspective Practical Theory blog
Another great post from Chris Lehmann. It points to the work of his students, who read what other people think about school reform, from Deborah Meier to President Obama, and blogged about what school should be.

Consent forms required for city schools flu vaccine The Inquirer
Tuesday, October 20 is the deadline for parents to consent to their children receiving a free H1N1 vaccine. Parents can opt out by not returning the form.

Is Philly's small schools experiment coming to an end? The Notebook blog
Eric Braxton blogged about the breakup of Kensington High School into small schools, and the concern that the District might reconstitute some small schools into a large school again.

Anti-Bullying, Youth Leadership Conference Held at Penn KYW
The Anti-Defamation League conference was part of "No Place for Hate" week. Students from urban, suburban, and rural schools attended, with the goal of taking what they learned back to their classmates.

See also: Conferencia Anti-Bully en UPenn Al Día

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. Thanks!

Is Philly's small schools experiment coming to an end?

By Eric Braxton on Oct 15, 2009 02:12 PM

Anyone who steps inside one of the Kensington small high schools, who was familiar with the old Kensington High School, will tell you that there is a world or difference.  The hallways are clean and clear, students seem engaged, and there is a sense of collaboration and commitment among the staff. 

Nonetheless, the District may be getting ready to convert some of these schools back into large schools.

In 2005 Philadelphia’s version of “small school” high school reform began.

Notes from the news, Oct. 15

By Erika Owens on Oct 15, 2009 10:09 AM

Masch presents plan to close budget gap The Notebook blog
The Notebook live blogged from Wednesday's SRC meeting that included the swearing in of two new members.The budget shortfall grew to $196.5 million - the District outlined its plans to fill it. Teachers' contract talks continue, but the budget hole makes raises unlikely, according to CBO Masch.

See also: SRC swears in new members, confronts shortfall The Inquirer
Phila. School District Outlines Plan to Slash Budget KYW
As SRC gets new members, hard look at budget shortfall Daily News
From the SRC: Dworetzky, Girard-diCarlo sworn in
The Notebook blog

Students May Opt Out On Recruiting Information University City Review
High school juniors and seniors can opt out of military recruitment if they fill out and return a form by October 23. The form is available here.

Call Me MISTER Director to Appear on Tavis Smiley’s Radio Talk Show PRlog
The Call Me MISTER program prepares African American men to be teachers. (The Notebook has reported on this program.) The director, on Smiley's show Friday, will be a panelist at the “Just For Men: Increasing Male Involvement in Education” event at the District October 24. 

Congressman Chaka Fattah Talks Education  Huffington Post
Kathleen Wells interviewed Rep. Fattah, who discussed teacher equity, the GEAR UP program, and the recent visit of Sec. Duncan, Rev. Sharpton, and Newt Gingrich.

Harvey Finkle, Bread & Roses' Tribute honoree The Notebook blog
The party is today, hope to see you there! Ron Whitehorne reflected on Harvey Finkle's work and activism.

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. Thanks!

Masch: Still no money in the budget for raises

By Paul Socolar on Oct 14, 2009 09:19 PM

Chief Business Officer Michael Masch on Wednesday downplayed the impact of the $180 million  shortfall in state funding - and the resulting cuts - on the pending contract negotiations with the teachers' union and other bargaining units.

He also downplayed the possibility of raises this school year for Philadelphia teachers, who are generally paid less than those in surrounding districts.

Masch presents plan to close budget gap

By Paul Socolar on Oct 14, 2009 04:57 PM

In a presentation to the SRC today, Chief Business Officer Michael Masch has laid out a comprehensive plan for rebalancing the District's budget, which was thrown off by the final state budget. The District is now estimating that it will receive nearly $180 million less than the increase it had expected from the state this school year.

The District's revenue gap is compounded by a $17 million increase over budget in medical insurance expenses. Coupled with the revenue gap, this presented the District with a total gap-closing project of $196.5 million.

About a quarter of that gap, $48 million, is addressed by improved revenue projections and unanticipated carryovers of funds, including a $25 million increase in the projected surplus from 2008-09, Masch said.

In addition, Masch presented a long list of 20 planned cuts and savings to complete the closing of the $196.5 million gap. Big items were:

From the SRC: Dworetzky, Girard-diCarlo sworn in

By Paul Socolar on Oct 14, 2009 03:26 PM

At this afternoon's School Reform Commission meeting, attorneys Joseph Dworetzky and David Girard-diCarlo were sworn in by Mayor Michael Nutter as the newest members of the SRC.

They fill seats vacated by Heidi Ramirez, who resigned this summer amidst controversy, and James Gallagher, whose term expired in January.

In brief public remarks, Dworetzky promised to "listen carefully to all the inputs that come in," and to "try to make good decisions - centered on the interests of the children."

Harvey Finkle, Bread & Roses' Tribute honoree

By Ron Whitehorne on Oct 14, 2009 12:27 PM

Thursday Bread & Roses Community Fund will honor photographer Harvey Finkle for his decades documenting Philadelphia's activist community.

Notebook board member Ron Whitehorne shares his thoughts about Harvey:

I’ve known Harvey Finkle since the late 1960s. We were members of People for Human Rights and soldiered together trying to stop Frank Rizzo’s war on Black people and the war on Vietnam. In recent years we’ve worked together with the Notebook.

Notes from the news, Oct. 14

By Erika Owens on Oct 14, 2009 10:16 AM

Dash for the right high school: As Oct. 30 nears, 8th-graders weigh choices for next year Daily News
Less than a month remains to apply to District high schools and reporter Dafney Tales interviewed a few families considering their options. The Notebook's Fall Guide has a lot of great information about this process, including an article that gives you an insiders' look at applying.

See also: The Notebook Fall Guide

Building better schools Daily News (opinion)
Khalif Dobson is a senior at West Philadelphia High School and member of Philadelphia Student Union. He writes about his experiences at West and how he has "recently seen real improvement in the way teachers teach and students learn."

American schools were always violent The Inquirer (opinion)
NYU Professor Jonathan Zimmerman writes about other violent incidents at schools in the U.S. that have taken place for over a hundred years. The presence of violence in schools is not new, but "the new factor is gun possession, plain and simple."

See also: Teen violence: Chicago incident prompts moving from conversation to action The Notebook blog

Phila. School Reform Commission Gets 2 New Members KYW
The two new commissioners will be sworn in at the SRC meeting this afternoon.

Board, founder of Agora Cyber Charter resign The Inquirer
With a complete change in leadership, the school meets conditions set by the state Department of Education to maintain its charter and remain open.

Soda Bottle Devices Found Outside a School in Mayfair KYW
Those devices were found outside
Edwin Forrest Elementary School on Tuesday morning. The plastic bottles contained a solution meant to build up pressure and make the bottle explode. The principal called police, the area with the bottles was cordoned off, and students went to school.

See also: Soda Bottle Bombs Detonated Near School Fox 29

Philadelphia Principals to Be Held Accountable for Number of Students Eating Breakfast Fox News
This summary frames the issue as principals needing to add "monitoring students' eating habits" to their long list of duties. For more on the topic, read about the wide variation between schools in breakfast participation, which prompted the change in policy.

Where to be on Thursday: Bread & Roses Tribute to Change Event Young Philly Politics
Join the Notebook and hundreds of other allies in celebrating Bread & Roses and Notebook photographer Harvey Finkle!

Teen violence: Chicago incident prompts moving from conversation to action

By Molly Thacker on Oct 13, 2009 11:37 PM

I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the tragic incident of the high school student in Chicago who was killed a few weeks ago. 

And I’m sure by now everyone has probably stopped talking about him. It seems to be the way it goes. 

Jon and Kate’s latest scandal? You’ll be able to find instant updates daily. The brutal beating of a sixteen year old honor student? The story dissipates after the first few headlines. 

I first heard about the murder from a student of mine, who brought the issue into the classroom as her chosen topic for weekly discussions we conduct.  The student did a great job finding an article for students to read and respond to on our class blog. She also facilitated an engaging, critical conversation around teen violence and bullying, intersecting with issues of race. 

Although we did end the discussion on a note of action, thinking about ways we can address violence here in Philadelphia and at our school, our class discussion seemed almost futile in the sense that we were trying to explain an inexplicable occurrence. 

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