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State reps. want safe schools advocate again

By Celeste Lavin on Mar 28, 2011 04:52 PM

The Office of the Safe Schools Advocate, which has been unfilled since 2009, may get another start.

Representatives John Taylor (R- Phila.) and Bill Keller (D-Phila.) announced at a press conference at District headquarters that they will propose legislation to fully fund the office. The legislation will re-establish the office, this time under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, rather than the Department of Education.

The Inquirer's major series on school violence

By Anonymous on Mar 28, 2011 03:01 PM

On Sunday, the Inquirer published the first of a seven-part series about violence in the Philadelphia public schools. The series is a result of a year-long investigative effort by five Inquirer reporters.

Installments of the series will be published throughout the week, and additional pieces on the web include:

Notes from the news, Mar. 28

By Anonymous on Mar 28, 2011 09:58 AM

notes from the news imageClimate of Violence Stifles City Schools The Inquirer
The Inquirer did a year-long investigation into violence in the Philly schools and is publishing its findings in an "Assault on Learning" series. Reporters will discuss the series today at noon and tomorrow at 4 p.m.

See also: Taking a closer look at the numbers behind school violence The Inquirer
Audenried faces uncertain future as a controversial charter school The Inquirer
Inquirer investigation shows widespread underreporting of violence The Inquirer
Inquirer Reporter Talks School Violence Fox 29
Paper: Violence hampers learning in Philly schools AP via WMFJ
Former safe-schools advocates see a need for the post, which is still unstaffed The Inquirer
A serious beating amid Gratz’s day-to-day violence The Inquirer

Hope, we hardly knew ye The Notebook blog
Another look at the Hope Moffett story and the role of the PFT and District.

See also: Ackerman proves unions still relevant Daily News (opinion)
Philly School District Caves The Philly Post

How I learned not to call Ackerman at home The Inquirer (opinion)
Reporter Dwight Ott recounts his attempts to interview Ackerman, and how a call at home led to him being accused of making threats on her life.

Corbett's vision for Pa. schools The Inquirer
The governor wants to change education by using the state budget and legislation.

See also: Corbett plan riles advocates of full-day kindergarten The Inquirer
John Baer: 'Waiting' is a tough assignment Daily News
La nueva visión educativa del gobernador Corbett Al Día

Teachers: Wager that shoulder chip The Notebook blog
Teachers are getting criticized by the right and the left, but Sam Reed describes three constructive ways teachers can use their shoulder chips.

School On A Saturday? Fox 29

Philadelphia School Battles Students’ Bad Eating Habits, on Campus and Off New York Times

Pa. students running to Capitol to protest education cuts Philadelphia Tribune

Educators Debate Teacher Furloughs Fox 29

Letters: Teachers can be out of this world Daily News

Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency weighs change in eligibility for grants The Patriot-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

Hope, we hardly knew ye

By the Notebook on Mar 25, 2011 10:10 PM

By Benjamin Herold and Dale Mezzacappa

"All we ever wanted was an apology."

That was the head-scratching reason given by School District officials when asked why they suddenly changed their hard-line stance that a young gadfly teacher deserved to be fired. The surprise reversal came during a mediation session with a federal magistrate last Friday, when the District and teachers union agreed to return Hope Moffett to her classroom after nearly a month in “teacher jail.”

Up to that point, the “Hope Held Hostage” drama had been steadily escalating for weeks.

Ackerman talks budget at 'chat and chew'

By the Notebook on Mar 25, 2011 04:36 PM

by Aaron Moselle

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s recent proposal to cut more than $1 billion in funding for public schools loomed over a Wednesday night community meeting in Germantown featuring Philadelphia School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.

A number of the 60-plus residents that gathered for the District’s first Faith-Based Community Outreach “Chat and Chew” event expressed concerns on two fronts. The first focused on the district’s ability to deliver on its academic goals; the second, on the future of school-related programs and services.

In response, Ackerman painted an uncertain and fairly grim picture for the crowd assembled inside The First Presbyterian Church in Germantown and acknowledged the threat of teacher layoffs.   

Ackerman said the District is facing an uphill budget battle in advance of the 2011-2012 school year. The district has said it’s expecting a $309 million loss in federal stimulus funds, which would anchor an overall budget shortfall that could easily eclipse $400 million.  If Corbett’s education budget is approved, said Ackerman, the district would be left treading in even deeper water and visible cuts would be made across the district.

This story continues on the NewsWorks website; it is a product of a reporting collaboration between the Notebook and WHYY.

Teachers: Wager that shoulder chip

By Samuel Reed III on Mar 25, 2011 01:27 PM

In this current climate of educational reform many teachers are carrying big chips on our shoulders.

Follow the local and national news, and you will see attacks against teachers from both the liberal and conservative establishment. In addition to politicians weighing in on how we are doing our jobs, parents, students, wealthy donors, and ordinary taxpayers are spewing a narrative that most teachers in “low-performing schools” are ineffective. The concept of teacher “accountability” could easily be translated to “it's the teachers' fault for failing schools.”

Notes from the news, Mar. 25

By Anonymous on Mar 25, 2011 09:54 AM

notes from the news imageThemes from TAG community budget forum The Notebook blog
The District and community groups have held budget meetings over the past week. Two of our bloggers reflected on the meetings.

See also: Another budget meeting charade The Notebook blog

Ackerman: King decision up to SRC WHYY/NewsWorks
The SRC will have the final word on who will manage King, or if it will remain a District school for another year. The vote will likely take place on April 27.

Likely budget crunch forces a look at retirement incentives for the school district WHYY/NewsWorks
Superintendent Ackerman discussed the budget at a "chat and chew" and how teachers can stem staff cuts. She noted the possibility that 10 percent of teachers, who've worked long enough and are financially able, could lesson layoffs if given the right incentives to retire.  

Pushing school reforms that have failed us before The Inquirer (opinion)
Christopher Paslay again expresses skepticism at a YUC report, and says the lesson from the report on pushouts should not be to emphasize "entertainment over instruction."

School-voucher pros & cons debated by panel in N. Phila. The Inquirer
Several lawmakers and activists discussed the voucher bill in the state legislature. State Rep. Tony Payton and State Sen. Anthony Williams both support the bill.

Changing Skyline: Salvation Army Kroc Center: A gem for North Philadelphia The Inquirer
The center will offer an afterschool program, in addition to several other sports and activities.

Colleges that profit, students who don't The Inquirer

Former safe schools advocate may run for Congress

Call for School Prayer Draws Rebuke Jewish Exponent

Budget Cuts: Take Action Keystone State Education Coalition

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

Ackerman discusses King management

By the Notebook on Mar 24, 2011 06:06 PM

by Bill Hangley, Jr.

With controversy swirling around the role played by State Rep. Dwight Evans in the selection of a new charter operator for Martin Luther King High, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman says the school’s fate is now in the hands of the School Reform Commission.

“It will be up to the SRC,” said Ackerman in an interview Wednesday night. The board will have to decide when it meets next month whether to hand King over to the New Jersey-based nonprofit on whose behalf Evans intervened last week, Foundations Inc.

District spokesperson Jamilah Fraser said the vote is tentatively scheduled for April 27. She said that while procedural restrictions mean the SRC can’t vote to replace Foundations with another charter provider, it can choose not to vote at all, leaving King as a district-run school for at least another year.

Last week, acting on Ackerman’s recommendation, the SRC voted to grant Mosaica Education the right to run King as a charter next year. Based on the District’s standard per-pupil reimbursement to charter schools, the King contract would be worth an estimated $12 million annually. Evans, however, wanted to see the job go to his longtime partner in education projects, the nonprofit Foundations Inc., which has managed King on behalf of the district since 2003, and whose executives have given Evans thousands in campaign donations over the years.

This story continues on the NewsWorks website; it is a product of a reporting collaboration between the Notebook and WHYY.

Another budget meeting charade

By Helen Gym on Mar 24, 2011 05:27 PM

Last week’s two scheduled budget meetings reinforced a troubling theme in the District’s approach to community engagement – creating a forum where community concerns are rendered irrelevant. Consider the baffling process dozens of parents endured last Saturday morning.

Themes from TAG community budget forum

By Ron Whitehorne on Mar 24, 2011 02:07 PM

Last night, along with 150 other people, I attended the budget forum organized by the Teacher Action Group and cosponsored by Education Not Incarceration-Delaware Valley and ACTION United.

A few themes emerged from the give and take between the audience and a panel consisting of City Controller Alan Butkovitz; longtime District administrator James "Torch" Lytle; Sarah Morris and Victor Saez from Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project; Jaileah Gibson, Philadelphia Student Union member and a senior at Sayre; Arlene Kempin from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Brett Schaeffer from Education Law Center; and State Rep. James Roebuck, minority chair of the House Education Committee.

Here, in no particular order, are some key points:

Notes from the news, Mar. 24

By Anonymous on Mar 24, 2011 09:14 AM

notes from the news imageClearing the record on Evans' comments The Notebook blog
State Rep. Dwight Evans told the Daily News that the Notebook misquoted him about his role in the selection of a turnaround manager for King High. This post has the written transcript of the interview, and the Daily News has audio excerpts.

See also: Evans 'did not use power wisely': He lied about role in school-operator selection Daily News
DN Editorial: Evans, 1; Democracy, 0 Daily News
State Rep. Dwight Evans: Bullies out a competitor like a "bulldog on a bone" Young Philly Politics

Philadelphia eyes a boost in real estate tax revenue The Inquirer
Property reassessments in 2012 could bring in 20 percent more tax revenue, which would raise $120 million more for the District in 2012-13.

GAMP teacher to head to Uganda South Philly Review
Teacher Amanda Bankert will participate in a six-week summer program teaching kids in northern Uganda.

Notes from the Field-Governance Without Representation? City School Stories
Rachel Maddow has a response to the way some governors are dealing with budget deficits.

New E3 Education Center Opens In Olney CBS Philly

Hope springs eternal South Philly Review

I Support Green Woods Move to Chestnut Hill Philly School Search

Voucher news roundup Keystone State Education Coalition

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

Clearing the record on Evans' comments

By the Notebook on Mar 23, 2011 03:19 PM

On Tuesday, Rep. Dwight Evans told the Philadelphia Daily News that the Notebook misquoted him in reporting that he had “taken credit” for convincing Mosaica to turn down an opportunity to run Martin Luther King High as a charter. He also denied ever confirming that he had continued to lobby on behalf of King’s current nonprofit manager, Foundations Inc., even after the School Reform Commission voted on March 16 to replace Foundations with Mosaica.

Notes from the news, Mar. 23

By Anonymous on Mar 23, 2011 10:03 AM

notes from the news imageWas Evans bully in MLK charter-operator choice? Daily News
State Rep. Dwight Evans now says he "had nothing to do with Mosaica backing out" after the SRC awarded it King High and denies telling the Notebook that he was "like a bulldog with a bone" in continuing to make the case for Foundations.

Phila. students draft rules for safety and a voice on policy The Inquirer
The Campaign for Nonviolent Schools released its platform yesterday, which includes recommendations on how to improve climate in Philly schools.

See also: Campaña para Escuelas sin Violencia lanza su plataforma Al Día

Pa. bills would ease district mandates Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via
State Senator Piccola says the budget deficit is "an opportunity to unshackle public schools" from some state mandates.

Kearny students strive for excellence Philadelphia Tribune
This week's Learning Key includes a look at Kearny Elementary, the regional spelling bee, and the CORA afterschool program.

See also: Local kids are champs in Spelling Bee Philadelphia Tribune
Program offers ‘real world’ experience
Philadelphia Tribune
School district announces inclement weather make-up days
Philadelphia Tribune

Top five myths about Senate Bill 1 Daily News (opinion)
State Senator Anthony Williams responds to some of the common reactions to the voucher bill.

See also: Learn all about Pennsylvania school vouchers at informational event March 24 Daily News

TAG community budget forum Wednesday The Notebook blog
The event is tonight at 48th and Baltimore and will include a panel discussion with people from several organizations.

See also: Teacher group to host community budget mtg The Hall Monitor blog

2011 Philly Spring Cleanup A Broad View blog

Standardized Tests Challenged by PA Mom A Very Public Education blog

Mandate Relief Keystone State Education Coalition

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.

Click here to get Notes from the news in your inbox every day.

Notes from the news

Charter School Invade and Retreat; Another Helps a Turkish Personality While A Teacher Talks Trash

By Deborah Russell... on Mar 22, 2011 10:42 PM

Parents have a lot to think about this week as it relates to charters.

Georgia Charter-School Operator Nixes Martin Luther King; Sticks w/Birney

The company - Mosiac Turnaround Partners - were awareded two schools to turn charter by the SRC, MLK high school and Birney Elementary. On the day of the announcement the company abruptly dropped its plans to work with MLK and instead said it would only work on the elementary level.

TAG community budget forum Wednesday

By Guest blogger on Mar 22, 2011 12:37 PM

This guest blog post comes from Philadelphia public school teacher Joe Ciesielski of the Teacher Action Group.

With the recent announcement of Governor Corbett's budget plan, the School District of Philadelphia is anticipating a deficit of $456 million next year. Drastic changes are on the way. Many observers anticipate school closings, massive layoffs, significant cuts to school budgets, and an increase in class sizes. On March 23 several groups are coming together for a community budget forum to discuss how to deal with the deficit.

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