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District releases Renaissance SAC monitoring reports

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 15, 2011 04:13 PM

The District has released the second quarterly monitoring reports from School Advisory Councils (SACs) at seven existing Renaissance charter schools.

Three of the providers - ASPIRA, Inc, Mastery Charter, and Universal Companies - are vying for additional schools in the second year of the Renaissance Schools initiative.

Some school-by-school highlights:

Olney West fights to stay under District control

By the Notebook on Mar 15, 2011 10:48 AM

by Bill Hangley, Jr.

They say you can’t beat City Hall, but can you change the Philadelphia School District’s Renaissance plans? That’s what supporters of one Philadelphia high school want to find out.

On Tuesday, members of Olney West High School’s School Advisory Council (SAC) will rally at District headquarters to ask Superintendent Arlene Ackerman to reconsider her plan to turn the school over to a charter school manager.  They say they’ll share a detailed alternate proposal with Ackerman and members of the School Reform Commission on the same day.  It’s a last-ditch effort for a school that’s scheduled to learn the name of its new charter manager later this week.

As part of the District’s Renaissance program for underperforming schools, Olney West is one of six schools slated to be turned into charters next year in which school teams get to help choose their  providers. Ackerman plans to announce her choice of managers for all six schools at the SRC’s meeting on Wednesday. The SRC plans to vote to approve her selections that same day, followed by a final, authorizing vote in April.

Supporters of the Olney West effort say the long-struggling school is on track to hit or exceed the academic targets set for it this year. Larry Arata, an English teacher and assistant football coach,said it was “premature” for the District to turn the school over to a charter manager.

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

Sources: King SAC prefers Mosaica over Foundations

By the Notebook on Mar 15, 2011 10:34 AM

by Bill Hangley, Jr.

While the official vote results have not been released, the head of a group representing alumni of Martin Luther King High says their school’s advisory council has recommended Mosaica Education over Foundations, Inc. to run King as a charter next year.

“The vote went to Mosaica,” said Darran Whitfield, founder and president of the Martin Luther King Alumni Association, in a phone interview. Whitfield says he heard the news directly from members of King’s School Advisory Council (SAC), who have been instructed by school district officials not to comment publicly on the vote.

A  spokesperson for Foundations confirmed Whitfield’s account. “I heard [the vote] was 8-1, in terms of numbers,” in favor of Mosaica, said Executive Director of Communications John Henderson.  Other sources close to the King SAC reported the same results.

Monday, Whitfield’s group held a press conference at King to voice their support for Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s Renaissance process, designed to bring new management to chronically underperforming schools. The alumni group is not represented on King’s School Advisory Council (SAC), but has been a frequent presence at King’s Renaissance-related events, and helped organize a series of meetings between students and the charters.

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

Notes from the news, Mar. 15

By Anonymous on Mar 15, 2011 09:37 AM

notes from the news imageHundreds protest Renaissance Schools plan Daily News
The PFT organized the rally, its first in 10 years, to speak out about teacher intimidation, Renaissance Schools, and the budget.

See also: 1,000 rally outside District headquarters The Notebook blog
Teachers, students rally against school cuts, for disciplined teacher The Inquirer
The Phlog: Civil War In Philly Education PhillyNow blog
Union alleges District intimidation tactics
Philadelphia Tribune

School-specific data related to closing decisions obtained The Notebook blog
The Notebook obtained a document listing the school-by-school numbers for facilities' utilization and condition, information that may give a hint as to which schools will be closed.

See also: School District Of Philadelphia To Come Up With Plan For Excess Capacity CBS Philly

Parents and residents still skeptical about turning Audenried High into a charter WHYY/NewsWorks
This piece includes a radio segment recapping the recent community meeting at Audenried High.

Sources: Foundations out at King WHYY/NewsWorks
Sources say that the School Advisory Council voted to recommend that Mosaica Education manage the school next year rather than Foundations, Inc., which has been involved with the school since 2003.

Olney West fights to stay under district control WHYY/NewsWorks
The School Advisory Council at Olney West plans to rally at District headquarters today to ask Superintendent Ackerman to reconsider the plan to turn Olney West over to an outside manager.

Mastery's big gamble set to pay off The Notebook blog
The School Advisory Councils at Clymer and Gratz recommended that Mastery manage their schools next year.

Once again, the District proves it is its own worst enemy The Notebook blog
The District's poor responses to high profile issues may make it harder for it to negotiate state funding for schools with skeptical state legislators.

Why We Should Be Teaching Social Media Philly Teacher blog
The comments on a recent story about blogging teachers spark a lesson in civility online.

Phila.'s Randolph Skill Ctr. H.S. closed today 6 ABC

Fatimah Ali: New proposal would return prayer to Philadelphia's public schools Daily News

You've Got to Be Kidding: Don’t Think About Thinking. It's Time For The PSSA! City School Stories

PTRIB: Corbett wants to grade schools, pay teachers on merit basis Keystone State Education Coalition

Are You the "Next Big Thing"? A Broad View blog

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Notes from the news

1,000 rally outside District headquarters

By Celeste Lavin on Mar 14, 2011 09:10 PM

More than 1,000 teachers, students, parents, and community members rallied outside District headquarters Monday, calling for an end to the conversion of public schools to charters, a reversal of education budget cuts, and no more teacher intimidation.

Mastery's big gamble set to pay off

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 14, 2011 06:42 PM

The School Advisory Councils (SACs) at Simon Gratz High and George Clymer Elementary schools have both recommended that Mastery Charter be selected as their “turnaround team” for next year, according to multiple sources.

School-specific data related to closing decisions obtained

By Celeste Lavin on Mar 14, 2011 01:49 PM

[Updated with statement from the District and more data highlights]

A document obtained by the Notebook gives the first hint as to which schools might be candidates for closing under the District’s Facilities Master Plan

With a study showing that it is carrying 70,000 empty seats in its nearly 300 buildings, the District has been working on a comprehensive plan to “rightsize” its physical plant by closing, consolidating, and co-locating schools. But it has yet to share any school-specific data about closings, even though it has held two series of public meetings.

After the posting of this story, the District issued a strongly-worded statement objecting to the decision to publish the document.  

Once again, the District proves it is its own worst enemy

By Helen Gym on Mar 14, 2011 12:49 PM

The School District’s jaw-dropping decision to terminate Audenried teacher Hope Moffett is just another example of the polarizing style that defines this administration. Whether it’s handling an outspoken young teacher, racial violence at South Philadelphia High School, or parents who disagreed with turnaround policies at West Philadelphia High School, the District has shown the lengths it will go to make a point and its willingness to sacrifice its moral authority to do so. 

But with a political and economic climate that's just waiting for excuses to underfund schools, has this administration's leadership failures become a liability to itself and the city? 

Notes from the news, Mar. 14

By Anonymous on Mar 14, 2011 09:56 AM

notes from the news imageRally targets Corbett's education cuts Daily News
Nearly a hundred people attended a rally at District headquarters Friday afternoon.

See also: Activists rally against school cuts Philadelphia Tribune

Philadelphia school's students and parents urge new managers to keep faculty The Inquirer
At a community meeting at Audenried on Saturday, Universal reiterated its plans for the school, and parents and students responded with their concerns.

See also: Universal makes its case on Audenried The Notebook blog
District: Audenried plan doesn't need SRC approval 'because it's different' The Notebook blog
Moffett, student take on district's data The Hall Monitor blog

Free speech suit over Philly teacher's firing spotlights emotions surrounding failing schools AP via The Republic
Hope Moffett's story brings up issues surrounding the national effort to turn around failing schools.

See also: School Plans to Fire Teacher for Talking Courthouse News Service
Free speech suit fights Philly teacher's firing 6 ABC

Support schools to boost recovery The Inquirer (opinion)
Philadelphia Education Fund Executive Director Carol Fixman describes the positive results of investments in education.

See also: Inquirer Editorial: Some cuts aren't smart The Inquirer
Letters: State-related schools are economic engines The Inquirer
Karen Heller: Corbett's budget cuts almost everything but prisons The Inquirer
Budgeting away our children’s future Education Voters PA

How far can schools go in regulating teachers' social-media use? The Inquirer
Local educators who blog discuss how writing affects their work.

Philly Councilwoman Blackwell to hold hearing on school prayer The Inquirer
Council passed a resolution Blackwell had introduced to hold the hearings.

See also: Philadelphia Councilwoman Wants Prayer Allowed In Schools CBS Philly

Structured recess is paying off in the classroom The Inquirer

Anti-Bullying Seminar Held At School In South Philadelphia CBS Philly

Mighty Writers hopes to fund documentary on radio influences South Philly Review

Voucher and budget news roundup Keystone State Education Coalition

A Winning Formula: Science Fair Awards! 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

Universal makes its case on Audenried

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 13, 2011 08:34 AM

Almost two months after the School District first announced its plans to convert Audenried High School into a charter, Universal Companies President and CEO Abdur-Rahim Islam finally got to share his vision Saturday for how Universal intends to overhaul the school.

District: Audenried plan doesn't need SRC approval 'because it's different'

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 11, 2011 10:59 AM

Although the District intends to convert eight public schools to charters managed by outside “turnaround teams,” it will ask the School Reform Commission to publicly approve the suitability of the provider matches for only six of the schools.

District officials confirmed Wednesday that plans to hand over two so-called "Promise Neighborhood Partnership schools," Audenried High and Edwin Vare Middle School, to Universal Companies will not be voted on at the March 16 SRC meeting.

Notes from the news, Mar. 11

By Anonymous on Mar 11, 2011 10:51 AM

notes from the news imagePFT: District action against Hope Moffett is all about intimidation The Notebook blog
The PFT is taking the District to federal court over the fast-tracked firing of Moffett.

See also: Union: District's actions against Hope violate all teachers' rights Daily News
Hope Moffett firing on hold for now The Inquirer
Proceedings against Moffett delayed after PFT goes to federal court The Notebook blog
Inquirer Editorial: Teacher told to hush The Inquirer
Philadelphia Teachers’ Union Asks Court To Block Firing Of ‘Rubber Room’ Teacher CBS 3
Annette John-Hall: Another public-relations problem for Ackerman The Inquirer

House bill would allow non-seniority teacher layoffs The Inquirer
The bill would allow districts to decide which teachers to let go. The changes would take effect when current union contracts expire.

Hardy Williams Academy joins Mastery Charter Schools network The Inquirer
The school, which was begun by State Sen. Anthony Williams, has struggled and will now be managed by Mastery.

See also: Mastery to take over Hardy Williams Charter The Notebook blog

Addressing the District deficit The Notebook blog
Former District administrator James "Torch" Lytle gives more details on what the budget deficit will mean for the District.

See also: Elmer Smith: Dear Guv: Consider the cost of education cuts Daily News
DN Editorial: Is Corbett declaring war on education? Daily News
Tell Us: Budget Saving Ideas A Broad View blog
Community Budget Meetings A Broad View blog
PENNSYLVANIA EDUCATION POLICY FORUM in Philadelphia Thursday, March 24, 2011 Keystone State Education Coalition

Thursday's intriguing people CNN
One of those people is Duong Nghe Ly, the South Philly High student who was at the White House yesterday.

Kings's choice WHYY/NewsWorks
The King High School Advisory Council must decide on a provider recommendation this week.

Phila. schools' snow days to be made up in June The Inquirer
The last day for students is now June 21, and it is June 22 for teachers.

See also: Make-up days for schools Daily News

Letters: 'Outrage' flees public schools Daily News

Could School District Cut Its Central Office Staff By 30 Percent? Mt. Airy Patch

Teens admit stealing school computers The Inquirer

Two Moms Get Charter Lottery Results Fox 29

West Philly polo players ride high WHYY/NewsWorks

A Tool of Observation Making the Grade 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

Mastery to take over Hardy Williams Charter

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 11, 2011 01:38 AM

Starting next school year, the Hardy Williams Academy Charter School (HWACS) in West Philadelphia will become part of the Mastery Charter School network.

PFT: District action against Hope Moffett is all about intimidation

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 11, 2011 12:18 AM

The fast-tracked firing of Philadelphia high school teacher Hope Moffett has been put on hold after the teachers’ union went to federal court Thursday claiming that she is being targeted for speaking out against a plan to convert her school to a charter.

King SAC deliberating on management

By the Notebook on Mar 10, 2011 09:29 PM

By Bill Hangley, Jr.

This week, all six schools in the Philadelphia School District’s so-called “Renaissance Match” program must make tough decisions about their future. But the choice faced by Martin Luther King High is unique: The known, or the unknown?

The known in this case is Foundations Inc, a nonprofit based in New Jersey that’s helped manage programs at King since 2003. The unknown is Mosaica Education, an international for-profit company based in Atlanta that has run schools from the Midwest to the Middle East, but never in Philadelphia.

By the end of the week, King’s School Advisory Council (SAC) must vote to recommend one of the two to run King next year. The recommendation won’t be binding, but Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has promised to factor all SACs’ preferences into her own deliberations before she delivers her recommendations to the School Reform Commission on March 16.

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

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