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The real story at West Philly High

By Eric Braxton on Oct 30, 2009 04:57 PM

West Philadelphia High School has been in the news a lot in the last few weeks. The Inquirer did a story on the turnaround at West  and Tuesday was the groundbreaking ceremony for the new building

While West still has a long way to go, there have been some great strides made in the last two years. 

The media reports, however, often miss the intricacies of what it takes to make this kind of change. 

Philly high school application deadline Oct. 30

By Erika Owens on Oct 30, 2009 12:00 PM

Less than two weeks till the applications are due. Applications are due TODAY. Any last minute questions? Check our Guide!

Please share your thoughts on the process and ask your friends to comment, too.

How did you find the application process? What was most difficult, or unexpectedly easy? 

High school teachers and administrators, what are the most important last minute things students should do?

Students, do you already have your application in? What helped you figure out which five schools to list?

Middle school counselors, a limited number of copies of the Notebook Fall Guide remain. Please email us if you'd like to pick up some copies for students you work with or have the copies mailed to you for a small fee.

Notes from the news, Oct. 30

By Erika Owens on Oct 30, 2009 09:54 AM

School district issues LGBT resource guide Philadelphia Gay News
The guide went out to all District principals. It was developed with the help of the District's LGBT advisory committee.

Editorial: Teaching the teachers The Inquirer
Sec. Duncan highlighted the need for improvements in the quality of teacher training programs, and the Inquirer echoes that. 

High School graduation exams: money, politics, lobbying and the usual stuff that makes PA education so "meaningful" Young Philly Politics
The approved high school graduation exams are a costly new project. Helen Gym opens her post with an inexpensive way to support the Phila. Student Union.

Riders prepare for long commute Metro Philadelphia
SEPTA workers may strike, and for students who rely on SEPTA, that could induce major headaches.

School says goodbye to beloved teacher The Inquirer
Students at Dobbins honored a young teacher killed in August. 

Notes from the news, Oct. 29

By Erika Owens on Oct 29, 2009 11:11 AM

Schools again facing shortage of black teachers Daily News
The SRC hired a firm to recruit 50 Black teachers. So far, the District has hired four of the recruits.

Education Secretary Not Mad, Just Disappointed ProPublica
Gov. Rendell got a warning letter from Sec. Duncan about the state's misuse of education stimulus funds. Using the stimulus funds improperly can make Pennsylvania ineligible for  competitive grants, which total more than $5 billion.

We Interrupt this Education Blog... Practical Theory

Notes from the news, Oct. 28

By Erika Owens on Oct 28, 2009 09:49 AM

Philadelphia schools' food workers select a union The Inquirer
Cafeteria workers and noontime aides from Local 634 voted by a 2-1 margin to remain with UNITE HERE, rather than switch to SEIU, opening the door to contract negotiations.

See also: UNITE HERE Delivers Crushing Blow to SEIU in Philadelphia BeyondChron
UNITE HERE Local 634 Wins Philadelphia Election Press release via Reuters
The Battle for Local 634 - What's at Stake? The Notebook blog

Ackerman announces more changes in key schools staff Philly.com
Chief Academic Officer Maria Pitre-Martin is leaving, setting off a chain reaction of changes.

Philadelphia tax revamp is still a mess The Inquirer
City Council held a hearing on the BRT, and much of the conversation centered on those 80 patronage positions on District payroll.

District breaks ground for new West Phila. High School Philly.com

See also: Construction Set to Begin on a Brand-New West Philly High KYW

Notes from the news, Oct. 27

By Erika Owens on Oct 27, 2009 10:15 AM

New building, new hopes for West Philly High Daily News
Groundbreaking is today. Philadelphia Student Union members and Notebook blogger Eric Braxton describe what it means to bring together the school and community for this project.

The battle for Local 634 – What's at stake? The Notebook blog
Cafeteria workers and noon-time aides are deciding which union will represent them. Ron Whitehorne outlines the background of the dispute.

Career Academies KYW
The National Career Academy Coalition is holding its annual conference in Philadelphia Nov. 1-3 to celebrate the first Career Academy, which opened at Edison High School in Philly 40 years ago.

Phila. Council Holds 1st Hearing on Abolishing Tax Board KYW
The hearing concerns the BRT and the plan to put it under the mayor's control.

As schools offer vaccines, city urges against flu panic Daily News

Fumes sicken students; school evacuated in Philly 6 ABC

The battle for Local 634 – What's at stake?

By Ron Whitehorne on Oct 26, 2009 11:45 AM

(UPDATE: Ballots have been counted, and UNITE will represent Local 634.)

Ballots went out last week in an election that will determine who will represent the School District of Philadelphia’s 2,300 food service workers and noon-time aides. The control of Local 634, historically represented by the Hotel and Restaurant workers union, is being challenged by a Workers United, an amalgam of the Philadelphia Joint Board of UNITE, which traditionally represents garment workers, the powerful SEIU, the nation’s largest union.

While on the surface this might seem to be a food fight in the cafeteria with a welter of claims and counter claims by both sides, it is an important struggle with implications for the whole labor movement.  

It also is of vital importance to an important and largely neglected part of the School District labor force. These workers staff the cafeterias and lunchrooms of our schools, making sure students are fed and cared for. Their pay ranges from $9.52 an hour for a noon-time aide to $13.15 for the highest category of food service work.

Notes from the news, Oct. 26

By Erika Owens on Oct 26, 2009 09:49 AM

Editorial: Charter warning The Inquirer
The sentencing of former charter CEO Kevin M. O'Shea is applauded for "sending the right message" to operators.

Phila. School District to hold in-school flu clinic AP via 6 ABC
Vaccinations, scheduled by region, start today. See the article for the schedule.

Phila. School District Works to Get Dads and Kids Together KYW
The District is working with community organizations to find out why some men do not get involved, and to get them engaged.

Imagine A Successful Philadelphia School System The Bulletin (opinion)
Penn State's student body president reflects on Imagine 2014 and doubts the city's ability to provide proposed wraparound services.

In case you missed it: National news

By Erika Owens on Oct 23, 2009 01:39 PM

Now that we bring you a roundup of Philly education news every day, we're thinking about how to share national news as well. One idea is to bring "In case you missed it" back as a weekly national news roundup.

What do you think? What kind of national news do you want the Notebook to highlight each week?

Here are a few major stories from this week:

Teacher Contract Called Potential Model for Nation Education Week
The New Haven teachers' contract grapples with many of the issues facing the negotiators in Philadelphia.

RIP: Ted Sizer (June 23, 1932 - October 21, 2009) This Week In Education
Sizer was a singular education thinker who founded the Coalition of Essential Schools and helped drive the high school reform movement, especially small schools.

Teacher Preparation: Reforming the Uncertain Profession—Remarks of Secretary Arne Duncan at Teachers College, Columbia University Ed.gov
Duncan calls out "
many if not most" ed schools as "doing a mediocre job" preparing teachers for 21st century classrooms.

Notes from the news, Oct. 23

By Erika Owens on Oct 23, 2009 10:17 AM

Ex-charter school chief sentenced to 3 years The Inquirer
Former Philadelphia Academy Charter School CEO Kevin M. Shea received the maximum sentence for his theft and fraud. The judge called for more oversight of charters.

See also: Convicted charter school CEO: ‘I was blinded by greed’ Philly.com
3 Years in Jail for Ex-CEO of Phila. Academy Charter School KYW
Ex-cop gets 3 years for stealing from charter school he ran Daily News
Former CEO of Charter School Sentenced to 37 Months on Fraud, Theft, and Tax Charges FBI Philadelphia press release
Former Pa. charter school CEO gets 3 years in jail AP via Lebanon Daily News

Pa. votes final-exam Keystone tests to get a diploma The Inquirer
The new state tests will start next school year. In 2015 students will be required to pass six to graduate. Critics worry about students in dysfunctional schools being held accountable.

See also: Pennsylvania Education Secretary Joins Other Educators, Business Leaders in Lauding Final Approval of Stronger Graduation Requirements Press release via Reuters

City peers deep into life at BRT The Inquirer
As the city looks into the BRT positions on the District payroll, they find some snags in moving the workers from the District to regular civil service jobs.

Proving preschool's value The Inquirer (opinion)
Teresa Heinz wrote about a study of 10,000 children enrolled in Pre-K Counts that the Heinz Endowments just released. It found that learning improved and children were well-prepared for Kindergarten.

Push for breakfast will help Philly kids The Inquirer (opinion)
Kathy Fisher and Jonathan M. Stein explain benefits of the school breakfast program, which has faced criticism

Parent Academies Help Mom and Dad Face School TIME
Philly is cited for its emphasis on assisting parents and its new Parent University.

Ackerman has learned lessons from 2002 The Notebook blog
The Rennaissance Schools plan outlined this week embodies different approaches from the 2002 privatization experiment.

High Schools - New Speedboy has made adjustment from Scotland School Philly.com
This piece profiles a new West Philadelphia HS football player who was forced to move to Parkway West when the Scotland School was closed due to the state budget deficit.

Middle Schoolers Take Part in City Health ''Summit'' KYW

Audit: 2 Grand Pianos are Missing from University City HS KYW

Ackerman has learned lessons from 2002

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 22, 2009 07:16 PM

Even though she wasn't in Philadelphia then, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and her team have apparently learned something from the myriad mistakes made during the city's ill-starred foray into school privatization in 2002.

Notes from the news, Oct. 22

By Erika Owens on Oct 22, 2009 10:05 AM

Philadelphia Teachers Union Agrees to Contract Extension KYW
This extension is for another month, till November 30. With no money in the budget for raises, negotiations are a challenge.

See also: Phila. schools, union extend contract The Inquirer
SRC votes to extend teachers' contract again The Notebook blog

Panel outlines plan to assist failing schools Daily News
The Renaissance Advisory Board detailed how "Renaissance schools" would be chosen for turnaround. Sessions to solicit public feedback include one on Nov. 2 at Philippian Baptist Church, 5801 N. Broad St.

See also: SRC hears report on 'Renaissance Schools' The Inquirer

Charter school CEO to be sentenced today Philly.com
After pleading guilty to stealing more than $500,000, former Philadelphia Academy Charter School CEO Kevin M. O'Shea will be sentenced today.

Audit questions schools' food-service contract Daily News
The City Controller's office audited the District's spending and found it could not account for over 25,000 meals that were to be served. It also noted a lack of oversight of computer equipment and musical instruments.

Citi Foundation giving $600K in Phila. through Postsecondary Success Program Philadelphia Business Journal

SRC votes to extend teachers' contract again

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 21, 2009 03:06 PM

The School Reform Commission is voting at its regular meeting today to extend the contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers until November 30. A similar extension is to be voted on for District 1201 of the SEIU, which covers maintenance workers.

The contract has already been extended once, from August 31 to October 31.

The other unions, covering principals and school police, have already extended their contracts until Nov. 30.

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

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