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Sheppard students raise funds for Haiti

By the Notebook on Jan 25, 2010 04:49 PM

Students at West Kensington’s Isaac Sheppard Elementary School last week raised nearly $500 have raised $600 in donations for the Haitian relief effort. Concerned children in the high-poverty K-4 school emptied piggy banks and gave up tooth fairy and pretzel money in their desire to help victims of the devastating earthquake.

Fourth graders organized the fundraiser, writing and broadcasting reports about the situation in Haiti and spending recess time making posters assuring fellow students that “even a nickel counts” when it came to making a donation.

-submitted by Jamie Roberts, Sheppard ESOL program specialist

Notes from the news, Jan. 25

By Anonymous on Jan 25, 2010 10:03 AM

AFT president: New contract a breakthrough The Notebook blog
Praise is pouring in for the "groundbreaking" contract, but the response is not universally glowing.

See also: Plaudits for Phila. teachers contract The Inquirer
New Teachers Contract Amazes School Reform Advocates KYW
A qualified thumbs up for the contract The Notebook blog
Teachers, school district approve contract Daily News
Why Did our Union Mock Us? Philly Teacher Talks blog

MLK Day, PSU and the Cynicism of Reporting at The Philadelphia Weekly Philly Education Justice blog
Calls for the PW to apologize for a column about PSU's "hollow protest" against school violence.

Overbrook High School Students Rising Philly Education Justice blog
Overbrook students ask to be heard on how to improve their school.

Thornton voted new MPS chief Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Gregory Thornton, former CAO of the Philly schools, is the new Milwaukee superintendent.

Report finds staff errors key in counselor's death The Inquirer
A nurse called Joaquin Rivera's name twice, but did not look for him in the waiting room.

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Notes from the news

A qualified thumbs up for the contract

By Ron Whitehorne on Jan 24, 2010 12:29 PM

Over the next few weeks many education reformers will be giving the new PFT contract a grade. For PFT members the grading system is pass fail, yes or no, and by a two-to-one margin the contract got a thumbs up, in spite of discontent with many provisions and the way the ratification vote was organized.

This is a flawed contract that grew out of a flawed process. Win-win it wasn’t, but I think passing it was the right thing to do.

First the positives: 

AFT president: New contract a breakthrough

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 23, 2010 01:14 AM

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a statement Friday night that the new PFT contract is "groundbreaking" and provides teachers "with the tools, time and trust they need to be better educators."

Were our schools designed to succeed?

By Eric Braxton on Jan 22, 2010 11:24 AM

A lot of people are talking these days about the failure of public schools. They cite astronomical dropout rates, low test scores, and a host of other alarming statistics. I want to suggest another perspective. Our schools are actually quite successful at doing what they were designed to do.

Notes from the news, Jan. 22

By Anonymous on Jan 22, 2010 09:11 AM

Teachers accept new contract The Notebook blog
The contract includes two three percent raises, ties some compensation to student performance, and introduces a new mentoring and evaluation system.

See also: Philadelphia teachers approve new contract The Inquirer
Teachers OK contract: Two 3% hikes over 3 yrs. Daily News
Teachers say yes to new contract Philadelphia Metro
Should the PFT contract be public? It's Our Money
Performance bonuses put Phila. teachers pact on cutting edge Philly.com
Philadelphia teachers approve new 3-year contract AP via PhillyBurbs.com

Former city schools chief disputes criticism The Inquirer
Former CEO Paul Vallas said the federal government encouraged schools to use grant money in "more flexible ways."

See also: Philly Schools Misspent $17M in Aid: Audit NBC Philadelphia
Phila. School District may have mispent $140 million WHYY
And now from the Paul Vallas school of crisis management . . . Young Philly Politics

Editorial: Getting rid of bad apples The Inquirer
Calls for improved evaluation systems for teachers.

Breakdance Boys in South Philly Philadelphia Weekly
Video of a diverse group of students dancing during an after-school program run by SEAMAAC.

Racial Bullying Roils a Philadelphia High School AP via New York Times
Summary of events at South Philly that's receiving wide reach on AP wire.

Were our schools designed to succeed? The Notebook blog
Schools were originally designed for a very different economic system where most good jobs did not require a college education. What now?

Notebook blogger on local news! The Notebook blog
Check for video of Samuel Reed, who won the National Liberty Museum's Teacher as Hero Award.

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Notes from the news

Teachers accept new contract

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 21, 2010 10:39 PM

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers ratified a new three-year contract Thursday night that for the first time ties some compensation to growth in student achievement and establishes an intensive system for mentoring and evaluating novice and struggling teachers.

PFT president Jerry Jordan hailed the agreement as “progressive, a professional contract. Teachers are going to be in the forefront of working to make sure we have effective teachers in every classroom.”

It creates a Peer Assistance and Review program (PAR), based largely on ones in Montgomery County, MD and Toledo, OH in which specially trained consulting teachers will work with new teachers and those who have been rated “unsatisfactory” to help them improve. If they continue to flounder, a joint committee appointed by the District and the union can recommend termination.

Notebook blogger on local news!

By the Notebook on Jan 21, 2010 08:59 PM

Congratulations to Notebook blogger Samuel Reed III for winning the Teacher as Hero Award from the National Liberty Museum.

Check out the segment from tonight's 6 ABC news below:

Contract details posted on PFT site

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 21, 2010 01:36 PM

Here is a link to a document that was posted on a members-only portion of the teachers' union site.

Highlights after a quick read (UPDATED 2:15 p.m.):

 -- 3 percent raises on September 1, 2010 and again on January 1, 2012 - just two across-the-board raises in a three-year agreement.

Notes from the news, Jan. 21

By Anonymous on Jan 21, 2010 10:54 AM

Phila. teacher raises put in 3 percent range The Inquirer
Teachers vote on their contract agreement tonight at Temple's Liacouras Center.

See also: Teachers beg for more info on contract Metro
Philly Teachers Could Get 3 Percent Raises NBC Philadelphia
When will teachers see the contract? The Notebook blog

Phila. misspent $17.7M in school aid, audit finds The Inquirer
The audit says the District should pay pay back the $17.7 million in federal aid and give "adequate documentation" for $120 million, or pay that back too.

See also: Audit: Philly schools misspent $17M in school aid AP via Lebanon Daily News

New turnaround target: 76 schools by 2012 The Notebook blog
As part of the Race to the Top application, Philadelphia must turn around 76 schools over the next few years.

Philadelphia School Students Checkmate Violence in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. UC Review

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Notes from the news

New turnaround target: 76 schools by 2012

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 21, 2010 12:06 AM

Pennsylvania's application for a piece of the $4 billion federal Race to the Top money calls for Philadelphia to "turn around" 76 low-performing schools by 2012-13 -- eight schools in 2010-11, 40 the following year, and 28 in 2012-13.

When will teachers see the contract?

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 20, 2010 02:41 PM

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers will make the contract changes available to its members at 5:30 pm (UPDATE: The contract was made available earlier in the day.) Thursday, 90 minutes before the scheduled ratification meeting and vote at the Liacouras Center Thursday night.

PFT spokeswoman Barbara Goodman said that the changes are still being printed, which is one reason why they will not be released earlier.

Corrective Reading, Math stir teacher debate

By Ron Whitehorne on Jan 20, 2010 12:06 PM

A controversial initiative by the Ackerman administration this school year has been the introduction of Corrective Reading and Math, two scripted remedial programs which are being employed in the so-called Empowerment Schools.  

Many teachers, while recognizing remediation is clearly needed, question both the content of these programs and the manner in which they are being implemented.

A full treatment of this topic is goes well beyond what can be done in a single blog post, but my hope is that this can launch a conversation in which teachers, as well as parents and students, will contribute and offer a more complete picture. 

Notes from the news, Jan. 20

By Anonymous on Jan 20, 2010 11:09 AM

PFT union votes tomorrow on tentative agreement Daily News
The union membership must ratify the "win-win" agreement.

See also: Teachers awaiting details of contract The Inquirer
Phila. Public School Teachers Have a New Contract Agreement KYW
Contract agreement "a win-win" The Notebook blog
Distrito Escolar llegó a acuerdo con el sindicato Al Día

Asian group files federal civil rights complaint over South Philly violence The Notebook blog
The complaint was filed with the Department of Justice and describes harassment and abuse of students that adults allowed to occur.

See also: Rights complaint filed in South Phila. High case The Inquirer
Asian group seeks federal help Daily News

Corrective Reading and Math stir debate among teachers The Notebook blog
Teachers shared their views about the remedial programs.

Pa., N.J. apply for federal schools grants The Inquirer
Could bring in up to $400 million for the state.

See also: Morning Money: School Daze It's Our Money

Philadelphia Teacher Residency program gets $2M U.S. grant Philadelphia Business Journal 
The program trains people with a math and science background to teach.

Difficult Conversations Practical Theory blog
Principal Chris Lehmann is in a reflective mood in his recent blog posts.

City program encourages higher education Temple News

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Notes from the news

Asian group files federal civil rights complaint over South Philly violence

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 19, 2010 03:56 PM

The School District of Philadelphia failed to protect Asian students in South Philadelphia High School from harassment and violence, displaying "intentional disregard" for their welfare, according to a complaint filed today by Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund with the federal Department of Justice.

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