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Introducing f, our new blogger

By Frank Murphy on May 17, 2010 10:45 AM

Please welcome f to the Notebook blog. If you've read our comments, you've probably read a lot of f's thoughts already. Now, you'll see full blog posts from f.

The Notebook is making a temporary exception to its normal practice of publishing only signed blog posts. We do so in order to highlight an articulate voice representing an important constituency in the local education dialogue.

F, a Philadelphia school administrator whose identity is known to the Notebook, explains blogging anonymously at the end of this introduction.


I've been in education well over 30 years, roughly half that time as a classroom teacher and half as a principal. My career as an educator has been rooted in the belief that the work of a teacher is a vital public service. I am an unabashed supporter of public education. I see our public schools as the means through which we support our children in developing the skills that will assist them to be successful and productive adults. Further, I see our schools as community centers that unify us as a people and prepare our children to be active and responsible citizens of our democratic society.

Notes from the news, May 17

By Anonymous on May 17, 2010 08:50 AM

Next leader at S. Phila. High sees a long haul The Inquirer
Otis Hackney III is returning to the Philly School District after leading a suburban school and says he is "looking forward to traveling" the tough road ahead to improve S. Philly High.

See also: Director de Montco acepta el reto de 'South Philly High' Al Día
Editorial: Another failing grade The Inquirer
LaGreta Brown Steps Down; Calls for Ackerman To Be Next A Very Public Education blog

S. Phila. principal's lack of credential was known The Inquirer
The District knew LaGreta Brown's principal certification was expired when she was hired. Brown never got the emergency certification the District required, and the District dropped the ball on following up.

See also: Ackerman: District Dropped Ball On Principal's Certification Fox 29

9 Phila. charters under U.S. probe seek Race to the Top money The Inquirer
The acting state Secretary of Education said it would be unfair to not allow the schools to participate in the state's application for additional federal dollars when no wrongdoing had been found.

School District of Philadelphia pushes healthier snacking WHYY
The push gives Philly the "most restrictive snack policy in the country."

Happy 100th Birthday Frankford High School The Frankford Gazette

Encouraging Dialogue Philly Teacher blog

Enrollment Down, Hiring Up The Bulletin

This Economy: Education and health care dominant jobs in Phila. region 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.

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

Notes from the news

"Waiting for Superman"

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 14, 2010 10:05 AM

I am out here in San Francisco where the Education Writers Association, of which I am the current board president, is holding our annual meeting. EWA is a national organization committed to improving the quality of education journalism, and this is our 63rd annual meeting.

Last night, we heard from Davis Guggenheim, director of "An Inconvenient Truth," and saw clips from his movie "Waiting for Superman." In "Waiting" he gives  public education the same treatment he gave global warming, in hopes of raising public awareness about the issue. 

Notes from the news, May 14

By Anonymous on May 14, 2010 08:59 AM

South Phila. principal, lacking credential, resigns The Inquirer
LaGreta Brown resigned effective immediately on Thursday, in advance of a scheduled no confidence vote by teachers. Her principal certification is inactive. Springfield Township principal Otis D. Hackney, III will be South Philly's new principal.

See also: S. Philly High principal resigns over missing certification Daily News
South Philadelphia principal steps down WHYY
Reaction to Brown's departure from S. Philly The Notebook blog
Springfield Township High School principal to step down Springfield Sun
Ackerman needs to resign, too Attytood
Principal of South Philadelphia High School Resigns KYW
LaGreta Brown steps down from S. Philly The Notebook blog
South Phila. High principal steps down 6 ABC
S. Philly High Principal quits Young Philly Politics

Editorial: Justify bonuses The Inquirer
Calls for the SRC and Ackerman to explain the reasoning for Superintendent Ackerman's $65,000 bonus.

Williams' charter school has had rocky times The Inquirer
State Sen. Williams is running for governor with the support of school choice advocates, but his charter school has missed AYP for the past three years and went five years without filing its federal tax return.

See also: Williams campaign driven by school choice, hefty donors WHYY

Hybrid built by West Philadelphia students wins another round WHYY

We want to know what you're thinking The Notebook blog

Improve a School, Improve a Neighborhood Philly School Search

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

Reaction to Brown's departure from S. Philly

By Gustavo Martínez on May 13, 2010 04:18 PM

Superintedent Arlene Ackerman said that there is a racial divide among the staff at South Philadelphia High School. She commented after leaving a meeting with teachers to discuss the resignation and immediate departure of South Philly principal LaGreta Brown.

South Philly High students did not know about Brown's resignation until told by a reporter.

"I'm surprised with the news, but it's a good thing she finally left," said Duc Le, a 17-year-old junior at South Philly High. "She tried to make everything look normal after we were attacked."

LaGreta Brown steps down from S. Philly

By Paul Socolar on May 13, 2010 02:24 PM

The School District has confirmed that LaGreta Brown, the embattled principal of South Philadelphia High School, has resigned, effective immediately. A release from the District names Otis D. Hackney, III, principal at Springfield Township High School as the new principal. He will begin his tenure as principal in the summer; retired District principal Ozzie Wright will serve as interim principal immediately.

According to a teacher at the school, a faculty vote of "no confidence" in Brown was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The Inquirer reports that Brown's principal's certification is currently inactive. She had agreed to leave at the end of the school year, but due to the certification issue she left today.

We want to know what you're thinking

By Anonymous on May 13, 2010 02:23 PM

We're collecting feedback from readers about the Notebook and our new Membership program. Could you take a moment to fill out our survey now?

Notes from the news, May 13

By Anonymous on May 13, 2010 08:56 AM

Phaseout of EMOs accelerates The Notebook blog
Superintendent Ackerman said the EMO model is "flawed" and that "we're phasing it out," shifting 16 EMO-operated schools back to the District.

Providers picked for seven schools set for makeovers Daily News
The SRC approved charter operators to run seven Renaissance Schools. Potter-Thomas will be a Promise Academy and West is as yet unassigned.

See also: Seven Phila. schools to become charters The Inquirer
8 'Renaissance' provider matches are made The Notebook blog
Smedley School The Frankford Gazette

Teens from two cultures share their views through photography The Inquirer
Notebook Student Journalism Award winner Ian McShea of Constitution High is one of the students involved in a cross-cultural photography program that will open at the National Constitution Center and National Museum of Afghanistan.

School Reform in South Philadelphia: My Personal Ground Zero UC Review
More about the moms working to improve Jackson Elementary.

Phila. schools to open two hours late on primary day The Inquirer
Schools will be open to make up a snow day.

See also: City School and Election Officials Remain At Odds Over Election Day Access to Schools KYW

Fitting Creativity into Assessment Philly Teacher blog

Eight state-related units banding together The Inquirer

Check out The Hechinger Report The Notebook blog

Student treated after a fight at University City High The Inquirer

Philadelphia Academy unveils technology upgrades The Inquirer

Williams proposes plan to increase arts education funding WHYY

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

Phaseout of EMOs accelerates

By Paul Socolar on May 12, 2010 07:36 PM

Shortly after the School Reform Commission approved the turnover of seven low-performing schools to charter operators, District officials told reporters without fanfare that 16 Philadelphia schools operated by outside education management organizations (EMOs) would revert to District management in the fall.

Check out The Hechinger Report

By Anonymous on May 12, 2010 02:45 PM

The Hechinger Institute just launched The Hechinger Report, a new venture to improve the quality of education reporting across the nation. It's modeled as a ProPublica for education reporting.

The reporting has already reached Philly. Last month the Inquirer published a Hechinger Report story comparing South Philly High to Lafayette High in New York City.

8 'Renaissance' provider matches are made

By Paul Socolar on May 12, 2010 01:11 PM

The School Reform Commission has voted to authorize seven matches between Renaissance Schools and turnaround teams to convert these schools to charters:

In addition, the District plans to convert Potter-Thomas into a Promise Academy (managed by the superintendent's office).

The resolution on the seven schools to become charters was introduced today, enthusiastically endorsed by several speakers from the affected schools and ultimately approved by a 3-0 vote.

Notes from the news, May 12

By Anonymous on May 12, 2010 09:02 AM

Phila. schools chief defends security cameras The Inquirer
South Philly High now has 149 security cameras. Superintendent Ackerman responded to criticisms about the cameras after testifying to City Council about the District budget.

See also: Ackerman defends school-camera costs Daily News
Ackerman Talks Budget, Cameras at Philly Schools Philly Weekly

Daroff council picks Universal The Notebook blog
The deadline for School Advisory Councils to recommend providers was yesterday. In a surprise pick, Universal was Daroff's first choice.

Beleaguered principal gets a community-service award Daily News
Councilwoman Blackwell said "I had no doubt that [South Philly principal LaGreta Brown] should get" the award.

See also: The Onion Comes to Philadelphia Young Philly Politics

Pennsylvania Kids Deserve School Choice Wall Street Journal (opinion)
Op-ed by gubernatorial candidate and school choice supporter State Sen. Anthony Williams.

See also: A late entry, Williams has a pool of backers Daily News
School choice group gives Williams another half-a-million PA2010.com

"Our Young People Deserve an Education Where They Can Learn to be Critical Thinkers." PSU Blog
Text of a speech from Leticie Almiron, the first teacher to get a violence prevention award from Drexel's Center for the Prevention of School-Aged Violence.

Truancy Calls A Very Public Education blog
Why is no one talking about the uptick in truancy calls?

Three generations of family to get degrees together The Inquirer

SRC defiende bono de Ackerman Al Día

Frankford High School – 100th Birthday Party! The Frankford Gazette

Prom Gown Give-A-Way A Very Public Education blog

Tweet and Blog for Ed Tech 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.

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

Notes from the news

Daroff council picks Universal

By Benjamin Herold on May 11, 2010 12:00 PM

In a surprise move, the Daroff School Advisory Council (SAC) Tuesday recommended to Superintendent Arlene Ackerman that Universal Companies assume management of the troubled elementary school at 57th and Race.

Notes from the news, May 11

By Anonymous on May 11, 2010 08:33 AM

Philly superintendent: More charter oversight The Inquirer
At a City Council hearing Ackerman discussed the District budget and increased charter oversight via unannounced visits.

See also: School officials defend $3.2B budget Daily News
Ackerman quizzed about revenue worries The Notebook blog
Ackerman Announces Random Audits of Charter Schools KYW
Philadelphia schools Superintendent says progress is far too slow WHYY
Arlene Ackerman sounds optimistic It's Our Money

Schools Chief Ackerman Discloses New, Million-Dollar Security System at South Phila. H.S. KYW
Cameras will cover every part of the school except for the bathrooms.

See also: Ackerman: Security cameras added at S. Phila. High The Inquirer
Violent Philadelphia school gets 126 new cameras AP via Lebanon Daily News

Empowerment schools to switch literacy texts The Notebook blog
The District plans to purchase the Imagine It! series for K-6 and literacy materials from Glencoe for grades 7-8.

Fight to the finish South Philly Review
Parents at Childs elementary are organizing the District's proposed relocation to Barratt Middle School.

Letters: Sorry state of schools shouldn't merit a bonus The Inquirer
Teacher at University City High says "It is incomprehensible to the point of insulting" for the superintendent to get a performance bonus at this time.

School Lunches: From Mystery Meat to Healthier Fare Radio Times

Ackerman congela contratación de maestros en Filadelfia 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.

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

Notes from the news

Empowerment schools to switch literacy texts

By Paul Socolar on May 10, 2010 09:12 PM

Six years after standardizing the textbooks and instructional programs for all of its schools, the District is now planning a switch in its literacy texts for grades K-8, but only in its Empowerment Schools - the schools that have repeatedly failed to meet performance targets.

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