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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. 

Notes from the news, Oct. 13

By Erika Owens on Oct 13, 2009 10:01 AM

Core Standards - Sound Bites and Standardization Practical Theory blog
SLA Principal Chris Lehmann writes about the impact of the National Standards movement. A commenter directs readers to a series in GothamSchools.

See also: Standards: Demystifying, Debunking and Discrediting GothamSchools

A chronicler of social activism The Inquirer
This is a profile of Harvey Finkle, who will be honored by Bread & Roses (the longest-term Notebook funder) at an event on Thursday. Finkle takes photographs for the Notebook and many other groups, and this piece talks about his background and some of the issues he's chronicled.

Corner Stores a Threat to City Kids' Waistlines? ABC News
ABC joins the coverage of student health with this piece about corner stores. The article focuses on a study from Philly that found that twice-daily trips to the corner store, which 42 percent of students surveyed make, could add up to an extra 3,500 calories a week.

NxtUp Education: Tonight! Live blogging from the Notebook The Notebook blog
Monday night was the first NxtUp Education event, and the Notebook's first attempt at live blogging. This post has notes from each of the 12 presenters at the event and will be updated to include the PowerPoint slides presented, as they become available.

Breakfast shouldn't be on the principals The Inquirer (opinion)
Chalk and Talk blogger Chris Paslay has this piece that posits breakfast shouldn't be the responsibility of principals, but of parents.

The Other Thirteen Practical Theory blog
Another post from Lehmann, this one reflects on a NY Times article last weekend about the Ted Ginn Academy. It, and other rigorous schools like it such as KIPP and Mastery, get a lot of praise, but Lehmann wonders why we can't be honest about the fact that they don't work for all students--the other thirteen who did not complete Ted Ginn Academy.

NxtUp Education: Tonight! Live blogging from the Notebook

By Erika Owens on Oct 12, 2009 05:15 PM

Looking for something to do this evening? Come down to the University of the Arts for the NxtUp Education event. It's from 5:30-8:30 at Broad and Pine (same place as the Notebook's annual event).

It's part of the Design Philadelphia event and the Notebook has an info table. Teacher and Notebook blogger Samuel Reed, III will be presenting as will Philadelphia Student Union, Weavers Way Farm, MYX : Multicultural Youth eXchange, Youth Empowerment Services, and many others.

Check back for updates throughout the event. (Click read more for earlier updates.)

7:48 Miracle a 16yo lyricist from MYX closed with a song from her album.

Notes from the news, Oct. 12

By Erika Owens on Oct 12, 2009 12:20 PM

Hope some of you are enjoying the day off! The news from over the weekend:

A good news/bad news education budget The Notebook blog
The budget stalemate finally broke last week and many outlets reported on the boost in education funding found in the budget. This boost is misleading for Philadelphia, which will receive over $160 million less than expected. Read Paul Socolar's piece first for the details on how the budget affects Philly, then check the other coverage.

See also: Budget a boost for Pennsylvania schools The Inquirer
State legislators provide mixed reviews of finally finished budget Philadelphia Business Journal
Central office takes a hit The Notebook blog

Stimulating young minds Daily News (opinion)
ASAP/After School Activities Partnership writes that "we believe after-school enrichment activities can engage young people with mentors who offer positive role models and skills that can last a lifetime."

Editorial: Once again, a child is killed The Inquirer
Violence in and around schools in Chicago prompted a "call to action" from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The Inquirer says "more aggressive action is needed to further reduce the violence and create a better academic setting."

See also: Notebook partner Catalyst Chicago has been closely following the incidents in Chicago.

Charter employs founder's relatives The Inquirer
Another charter school in Philadelphia is under investigation for possible misspending of public money. This piece outlines the salaries of family members of Philadelphia Academy Charter CEO Joseph H. Proietta, who are on the school's payroll.

Behind the scenes, Donna Cooper whirs as Rendell's policy dynamo Daily News
This piece profiles Donna Cooper, Gov. Rendell's secretary for policy and planning. She has a background in education and said that Rendell's emphasis on education is why she works for his administration.

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!

A good news/bad news education budget

By Paul Socolar on Oct 10, 2009 02:44 PM

Perhaps you're reading "good news" headlines about education faring well in the state budget agreement and thinking that maybe the talk about a big Philadelphia school funding shortfall was a false alarm. The Rendell administration is touting continued progress toward equitable state funding and preservation of a funding formula.

Central office takes a hit

By Paul Socolar on Oct 9, 2009 06:21 PM

District officials will not comment, but staff from central office departments tell the Notebook that some School District departments have been ordered to make 3 percent budget cuts to address the District's budget gap, estimated to be $160 million or more.

For Latinos, aspirations far exceed attainment

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 9, 2009 04:27 PM

A new study from the Pew Hispanic Center reveals that while most Latino students say a college education is essential for future success, fewer than half of them expect to get a college degree themselves.
 
This "aspirations gap" is more acute among young Latino immigrants than among those who were born here, the study said. Only 29 percent of immigrant Latinos age 18-25 said they planned to get a bachelor's degree, compared to 60 percent of the U.S.-born.
 

The Notebook is looking for freelancers!

By thenotebook on Oct 9, 2009 03:46 PM

Want to work with the Notebook? We're now looking for freelance writers, and we're always looking for interns.

Notes from the news, Oct. 9

By Erika Owens on Oct 9, 2009 10:01 AM

Phila. Council begins to reinvent the defunct BRT The Inquirer
City Council has entered the BRT saga, and as promised, changes began on Thursday. But the 80 BRT workers on the District payroll remain a question mark. Last week, Fox 29  had a piece on the BRT.

See also: BRT Workers On School District Payroll Fox 29
Nutter appoints new BRT director WHYY

Teacher campaign takes platform to the mayor The Notebook blog
The Effective Teaching Campaign presented Mayor Nutter with hundreds of postcards supporting their platform that calls for changes in the ways teachers are evaluated and assigned to schools.

Follow the money: Management changes have net cost The Notebook blog
Several changes to District administration were announced this week. Paul Socolar runs down the salary changes and impact on a budget facing a $160 million gap.

2 Catholic high schools to close in Phila. The Inquirer
The schools used to educate thousands of students each year, but their enrollments have dwindled. The announcement elicited a loud reaction from thousands of alumni and supporters.

See also: 'The tradition, the incredible memories' Daily News

Phila schools to give out H1N1 vaccine WHYY
Seeking to avoid school closures due to the flu, the District will give out H1N1 flu vaccines.

See also: Phila. School Nurses Get Swine Flu Vaccination Training KYW

PA Budget Impasse & the Link to Education PhillyIMC
Thursday many groups noted the 100-day mark of the state not having a budget. Children Just For Now Executive Director Viveca Gresham has some ideas on what to do in the face of slashed budgets an unemployment.

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