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King High seeks new principal

By the Notebook on May 19, 2011 03:41 PM

by Bill Hangley, Jr.


District officials expect to have a new principal in place for Martin Luther King High School in Germantown by next week, hoping to begin the journey past the turmoil that has marked its recent history.

“Whoever the principal may be, [the] job is going to be very hard,” said Khym Lawson, a member of a recently formed King alumni group. The person’s “major job will be getting everybody focused and getting the trust back.”

This year district officials had hoped to convert King into a charter as part of its Renaissance turnaround initiative for struggling schools. But King’s charter selection process went badly awry following the last-minute intervention of a powerful local politician, State Rep. Dwight Evans, and School Reform Commission chairman Robert Archie. Both of King’s prospective charter operators eventually bowed out.

King, a comprehensive neighborhood high school, will now become a Promise Academy, a category of Renaissance Schools run by the district under special rules allowing a staff shakeup, longer school days and Saturday classes.

But before that decision was made, King, its staff, and its 1,000 students endured weeks of uncertainty that took a toll, Lawson said.  “Distrust grew between everybody,” she said. “It was so disjointed, and totally messed up. You didn’t have a unification of anything.”

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

Facilities policies vote postponed till June

By Benjamin Herold on May 19, 2011 02:00 PM

A parent spoke, and the School Reform Commission listened.

In an unusual, instantaneous response to public testimony, the SRC voted Wednesday to table until June decisions about the District’s new proposed Adaptive Reuse and Rightsizing policies regarding the closing of schools and the disposal of vacated properties. 

Notes from the news, May 19

By Anonymous on May 19, 2011 09:49 AM

notes from the news imageDistrict wants Promise Academies layoff exemption The Notebook blog
The PFT says the contract doesn't allow the District to exempt Promise Academies teachers, but the District wants to make them part of a "protected class."

See also: When layoffs come, who's exempted? Philly School Files blog
Fair means fair - just not according to the SDP Making the Grade blog

Results mixed in Philadelphia effort to overhaul schools The Inquirer
The Accountability Review Council formally presented a report prepared by Research for Action on the first year of Renaissance Schools.

See also: Philadelphia Renaissance schools feature youth, inexperience and some progress The Notebook blog
SRC hears plea to continue reforms Daily News
Today at the SRC: Renaissance schools and more Philly School Files blog

Bishop introduces bill to abolish school reform commission The Philadelphia Sun
State Rep. Louise Williams Bishop introduced legislation to abolish the SRC and return the Philly schools to a local school board.

SRC delays building vote Daily News
The SRC delayed voting on two policies relating to the facilities master planning process.

See also: At the SRC: Commission delays vote on district's policies The Hall Monitor blog

Taking a bite out of schools … and our future Chestnut Hill Local (opinion)
Public education must be a "priority" and not a "budget issue."

See also: Mt. Airy Well Represented at Public Education Rally at City Hall Mt. Airy Patch

DN Editorial: Michael Nutter 2.0 Daily News
Mayor Nutter should "trust his instincts" and react, rather than stay quiet, about things like the controversy with SRC Chair Archie and King High.

Inquirer Editorial: Taking a ride The Inquirer
Questioning the District's plan to cut school bus and TransPass funding due to the budget deficit.

White teachers sue East Falls school for racial bias WHYY/NewsWorks
The four teachers suing the District say a former principal suggested they were unfit to teacher Black students.

See also: Lawsuits: White Philadelphia teachers allege civil rights violations CNN
Is There Racial Animosity in Philly Schools Amongst Teachers? Tell Us. PhillyNow blog

Notes from the Field- Cyber Charter Schools Receive Lion’s Share Of School Funds City School Stories
A look at how much money is going to cyber charters in Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia School Open House Week Philly School Search

Local educator appears on 'Jeopardy!' South Philly Review

Q&A with James H. Lytle Penn Current

Hundreds Of Philadelphia Schoolkids Tackle Chess Challenge CBS Philly

Saving Our School Boards UC Review (opinion)

Ramsey, Williams Head Back To School Fox 29

Keep Pa.’s full-day kindergarten funding in full force COMMENTARY Joan L. Benso The Times Leader

Should We Still Be Teaching Keyboarding Skills? Philly Teacher blog

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Notes from the news

Renaissance Schools feature youth, inexperience, some progress

By Benjamin Herold on May 19, 2011 09:27 AM

The teaching staffs at Philadelphia’s first group of Renaissance Schools are younger, less experienced, and significantly less likely to be fully certified than they were prior to the schools being “turned around.”

At the same time, according to a new report, the seven externally managed Renaissance charter schools and six District-run Promise Academies have better student attendance and clearer expectations for student behavior than they did previously. The schools have also used an injection of new resources to improve their physical appearance and provide an influx of non-teaching adults who contribute to improved school climates.

District wants Promise Academies layoff exemption

By Benjamin Herold on May 18, 2011 11:41 AM

The District plans to inform the School Reform Commission that it wants teachers in Promise Academies to be exempt from layoffs.

"The District’s recommendation is to make Promise Academy teachers part of the protected class. This recommendation will be shared with the SRC," said a statement from spokesperson Elizabeth Childs. It is unclear whether this means that the SRC will need to approve the recommendation.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan immediately responded that the union will fight this. He said that there is no language in the contract to justify singling out one group of teachers to make them members of a protected class.

Notes from the news, May 18

By Anonymous on May 18, 2011 09:44 AM

notes from the news imageAfter revisions, proposed facilities policy will result in less transparency The Notebook blog
The SRC will vote on revised policies that will govern how the District sells excess facilities.

4 white Philadelphia teachers file racial-bias lawsuits The Inquirer
The teachers say that an African American principal said they were "unfit to teach African American students at Mifflin" because they were white.

See also: Suit fuels racial tensions at East Falls school Daily News
White teachers sue Philly school, charge race bias
Philadelphia Tribune

You Can Take a Bus From Mt. Airy to a Public Education Rally Wednesday Mt. Airy Patch
There is a rally against budget cuts at City Hall today at 5 p.m.

Creating reciprocal teaching and learning at Parkway Northwest The Notebook blog
In a continuing guest blog series, teachers Christina Puntel and Geoffery Winikur describe how and why Parkway Northwest created the SHARE program.

Conference aims to shut down cyber bullying Philadelphia Tribune
This week's Learning Key includes writing from a CAPA student, a look at two events, and more.

See also: “My Father and His Smoking Habits,”  Philadelphia Tribune
Forum shows students the wonders of STEM
  Philadelphia Tribune
Parkway-Northwest keeps learning dynamic
  Philadelphia Tribune
Learning Key accepting student writings
  Philadelphia Tribune

The Falsehood of School Choice Philly Teacher blog
The choice should be between instructional models, not types of schools.

Michael Vick Tabbed As Commencement Speaker For Philadelphia Alternative Schools CBS Philly
Vick will talk to students from Camelot schools.

See also: Local Students Respond To Sophie’s Choice Of Commencement Speakers: OK, We’ll Take Michael Vick Philebrity

Can PD be meaningful? Making the Grade blog

May 18th: SRC Meeting A Broad View blog

Ignore Test Scores Philly School Search

Letters: Teacher imagines being laid off Daily News

Youth Appreciation Award: A well-rounded networker South Philly Review

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Notes from the news

Creating reciprocal teaching and learning at Parkway Northwest

By Guest blogger on May 17, 2011 04:38 PM

This guest blog post is the latest in a series from Christina Puntel and Geoffrey Winikur.

As a way to talk back to the Inquirer's “Assault on Learning” series many teachers wanted to describe teaching and learning through a different lens. As teachers, we are often conditioned to view our students though misleading quantifiable measures, and thus often become complicit in deficit-based thinking about students and our profession.

What does it take to re-imagine school as a site for reciprocal teaching and learning? At Parkway Northwest, Geoff, Christina, and a group of colleagues participated in the act of re-thinking what a college preparatory curriculum looks like.

After revisions, proposed facilities policy will result in less transparency

By Benjamin Herold on May 17, 2011 02:08 PM

The School District has revised its proposed policy governing the sale of shuttered District buildings so that it can offer discounts to some prospective buyers, but not disclose the amount of any such discounts to the public.

The School Reform Commission is scheduled to vote on the “Adaptive Reuse Policy” on Wednesday. The policy will govern the sale of up to 50 District buildings expected to be closed in the next three years.

Notes from the news, May 17

By Anonymous on May 17, 2011 10:02 AM

notes from the news image[Today]'s election closes schools for students, not staff  The Hall Monitor blog
Happy Election Day!

Vick's next role: Commencement speaker The Inquirer
Michael Vick will speak to Philadelphia-area Camelot Schools graduates next month.

Last call for student journalism contest!! The Notebook blog
Entries are due today for the Notebook's annual student journalism competition.

Parents’ forum tonight on school budget cuts West Philly Local
Parents United for Public Education is holding the forum tonight at 6 p.m.

Proposal for Green Woods' relocation to Greylock denied NewsWorks and PlanPhilly
A Chestnut Hill committee denied Green Woods Charter's attempt to move to a bigger location.

Vote On Tuition Vouchers Delayed After Corbett’s Comments On WPHT CBS Philly
Gov. Corbett strongly supports voucher legislation, but a lack of unity around the issue in the state legislature will likely delay a vote till fall.

See also: Vouchers vs. Tax Credits in Pennsylvania Cato @ Liberty blog

Ed. Sec. Duncan's open letter to teachers The Notebook blog
Duncan wrote an open letter to teachers earlier this month that included a lot of praise, but has received criticism for seeming contradictions to administration policy.

What's going on around the school district The Hall Monitor blog
Roundup of a few recent District press releases.

White Teachers Say They Face Discrimination at Urban School Courthouse News Service

Mt. Airy Students, Parents And Teachers Protest School Budget Cuts CBS Philly

Richard Dreyfuss creates initiative to teach civics to U.S. students Daily News

How to Walk to School video West Philly Local

You Graduate, Then What? A Broad View 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

Last call for student journalism contest!!

By Celeste Lavin on May 16, 2011 03:48 PM

We would like to cordially invite your student publications (print or online) to participate in the Notebook’s 2011 student journalism award competition. Each June we recognize the best work of Philadelphia’s high school newspaper writers and editors.

The postmark and electronic submission deadline is tomorrow, Tuesday May 17, 2011

Ed. Sec. Duncan's open letter to teachers

By Anonymous on May 16, 2011 02:29 PM

For Teacher Appreciation Week, May 2-6, Education Secretary Arne Duncan penned an open letter to teachers that has received some biting criticism. He addressed the lack of respect for teachers that many people have commented on nationally and on our blog. But the letter has elicited skepticism at its mismatch with the administration's education policy.

What do you think of the letter? Beyond a letter, what could the administration be doing to better support teachers?

Notes from the news, May 16

By Anonymous on May 16, 2011 10:01 AM

notes from the news image Mt. Airy residents speak out against Gov. Corbett's plan to lower school spending WHYY/NewsWorks
Nearly 200 people rallied at the Trolley Car Diner Sunday to protest budget cuts.

See also: Nearly 200 rally against Phila. school budget cuts The Inquirer
Rally aims to change Philly school budget cuts 6 ABC
Rallying Against School Budget Cuts at the Trolley Car Mt. Airy Patch
The Fight to Save Public Education Roxborough-Manayunk Patch (opinion)

A promise of no layoffs at Promise Academies? The Inquirer
The District first said that Promise Academies teachers would be safe from layoffs, but then said that it is still weighing options to balance the budget.

Area schools bracing for austere new era The Inquirer
A look at the impact of the state budget cuts region-wide.

See also: Inquirer Editorial: Bad budget for education The Inquirer
Monica Yant Kinney: Philadelphia mothers battling to save funding for neighborhood school The Inquirer

Report on Renaissance Schools is out The Notebook blog
The Accountability Review Council released a report on the first year of the Renaissance Schools initiative.

School selects Michael Vick as commencement speaker USA TODAY
Vick will talk to graduates of Philadelphia-area Camelot schools.

See also: Students pick Michael Vick to speak at graduation -- and he's a great choice The Oregonian (opinion)

Chicago study links academics, school climate Education Week via The Notebook blog
A new study shows that school climate depends less on what's happening in the neighborhood than inside of the school itself.

Tax credits better for schools than vouchers The Inquirer (opinion)
Cato Institute staffer discusses the Education Improvement Tax Credit.

City school faces loss of dedicated music teacher WHYY/NewsWorks

Prom Safety Tips A Broad View blog

Road gets rougher for school vouchers 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

Report on Renaissance Schools is out

By Anonymous on May 13, 2011 04:50 PM

The District just announced the release of an Accountability Review Council report on year one of the Renaissance Schools initiative. Research for Action was commissioned to conduct a study of the District's school turnaround initiative, and their findings are summarized in the ARC's 50-page report, which will be presented to the SRC on Wednesday. The study looks at the launch of the initiative and indicators like leadership, staffing, and climate, but it was completed too early in the school year to include any analysis of achievement.

The District is soliciting questions and comments on the report online. Anything jump out to you about the report?

Chicago study links academics, school climate

By the Notebook on May 13, 2011 02:35 PM

The Notebook recently began sharing content with Education Week, where this piece originally appeared.

Education Week logo

by Sarah D. Sparks


School safety depends far less on the poverty and crime surrounding the campus than on the academic achievement of its students and their relationships with adults in the building, according to a new study of Chicago public schools.

Notes from the news, May 13

By Anonymous on May 13, 2011 09:45 AM

notes from the news imagePhiladelphia schools lost federal and state aid The Inquirer
A look at what led to the budget deficit this year, with a chart of changes in state funding to the Philly schools.

See also: School Chief Ackerman Defends District’s Budget Cuts, Convinces Few PhillyNow blog
Philadelphia School District Holds Meeting To Discuss Budget Shortfalls CBS Philly
About summer school...
Philly School Files blog
School District and Teachers’ Union in budget clash
Philadelphia Tribune
Is Cutting Full-Day Kindergarten Smart? Fox 29

Should the city give more money to the School District? It's Our Money blog
City Council's budget hearing will take place after the primary election. It's Our Money is polling readers on how you suggest the city respond to the District's budget deficit.

At-large-scale debate for Council hopefuls Daily News
All the candidates present favor taking back local control of the Philly schools.

Growth in: Partnerships The Notebook blog
This year the Notebook has entered into several content partnerships with organizations including WHYY/NewsWorks, Al Día, Education Week, and PlanPhilly. Please join us to celebrate this growth June 7!

“We had to fight" Lessons from Chicago Communities’ Struggle Against School Closings Philly Education Justice blog
Philadelphia Student Union member Shania Morris interviews a student organizer from Chicago about the Renaissance 2010 process there.

Commentary: City's condom campaign needs to include gay youth The Notebook blog
The city recently launched a sex education campaign for teenagers, but it is conspicuously silent on the needs of gay youth.

Bill Would Change 'Last In, First Out' Fox 29

It All Adds Up For Frankford High School Math Teacher! The Frankford Gazette

Southern student wins Princeton Prize South Philly Review

Ex-charter school executive pleads not guilty The Inquirer

Notes from the Field- Educating Children Is an Essential Public Enterprise City School Stories

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