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Thanks for Turning the Page for Change

By thenotebook on Jun 12, 2009 01:46 PM

Thanks to everyone who joined us at University of the Arts Thursday, June 11 for our 15th anniversary Turning the Page for Change event!

We had a slideshow of photos from the past 15 years playing at the event. Here it is again. For a quick look through the show, hit the arrow at the bottom to flip through the slides.

Private providers out of Philly too?

By Erika Owens on Jun 11, 2009 06:57 PM

At yesterday's SRC meeting the superintendent's office stated that the private management "model has to be transformed." They recommended that private managers be moved to providing support services rather than managing schools.

Earlier this year Helen Gym blogged about Baltimore's plans to cancel contracts with private manager Edison Learning. Their district decided to cancel two contracts with Edison--and the SRC in Philly will decide about private manager contracts later this month.

Check out the Notebook's ongoing coverage of EMOs and privatization.

A veteran teacher talks about observation and evaluation

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jun 10, 2009 11:39 AM

Following my post on The New Teacher Project's report on teacher evaluation called The Widget Effect, longtime Philadelphia teacher and Notebook board member Ron Whitehorne sent me these thoughts on the subject. This is a hot topic; the New York Times had an editorial today on the TNTP report.

Here is Ron's guest post:

The centerpiece of teacher evaluation in Philadelphia are the twice a year formal classroom observations that are conducted by an administrator.  

Join us at the University of the Arts!

By thenotebook on Jun 10, 2009 10:03 AM

Thursday, June 11 we're celebrating our 15th anniversary as an independent news organization and watchdog supporting quality education in Philadelphia. Come party with us from 4:30-7 p.m. at the University of the Arts - Dorrance  Hamilton Hall at Broad and Pine.

Admission is $60 and discounts are available for student, parent, and teacher groups. Purchase an admission online today or email us to reserve now and pay later.

We're going to be reflecting on 15 years of education activism and reporting (including a photo display from our first 15 years), and looking forward to the future of journalism with our fifth annnual student journalism awards. Students from Northeast, Fels, Masterman, and Central high schools will be honored at the event for their outstanding work on student newspapers.

"Student newspapers are making a comeback," noted Notebook editor Paul Socolar.

And with 15 years of publishing, the Notebook is a strong example of the continued vitality of newspapers--in print and on the web. Come celebrate these achievements with us! For more information please check our event page.

And The Winner Is...

By Samuel Reed III on Jun 8, 2009 05:15 PM

For many students at Beeber Middle School, musical theater-going is not on their top list of things to do.  But on May 28, over 60 students had the opportunity to attend the Prince Music Theater’s production of one-act musicals written by their peers and performed by semi-professional teen singers, dancers, and actors.

In case you missed it, week of May 31

By Erika Owens on Jun 7, 2009 03:13 PM

Saturday's Inquirer reported that the USDA has decided to continue the universal feeding program, after months of speculation and recent pressure from Pennsylvanian elected officials.

This week was Superintendent Ackerman's one year anniversary heading the District. The Inky interviewed Ackerman and the Daily News asked local education folks to grade Ackerman's first year. The Notebook blogged about that report card and its C average. Ackerman appears to be following up her pledge that there would be changes in principal staffing - there was a report of the removal of six principals.

End of Year Celebrations

By Molly Thacker on Jun 5, 2009 03:00 AM

It’s getting to be the end of the school year and that means two things for me: reflection and celebration. 

KIPP gets grant to expand. Is this the solution?

By Eric Braxton on Jun 4, 2009 12:43 PM

Last week it was announced that KIPP Philadelphia was awarded a $4.6 million grant to expand. The grant will help KIPP meet its goal of operating ten schools in Philadelphia. I visited KIPP a few weeks ago and I was impressed with a lot of what I saw. Nonetheless, I am concerned that just adding more KIPPs is not the answer to improving education in our city. 

At what point do we start to take what is working in charter schools and other places and apply it to our public schools? I thought that was the point.

The Widget Effect: Where Every Teacher is Above Average

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jun 3, 2009 01:33 PM

The New Teacher Project has come out with a report on teacher evaluation just in time to inform the debate as School District and PFT tackle that issue among others in the ongoing (and secret) negotiations.

A surprising grade for Arlene Ackerman: C

By Helen Gym on Jun 2, 2009 11:33 AM

It's not a poll, but it is a surprise to hear about lukewarm enthusiasm for Philadelphia Schools Chief Arlene Ackerman's one year anniversary.

The Daily News surveyed a diverse crew of a dozen "education watchers" on Dr. Ackerman's first year at the helm of our schools - whose anniversary is officially today. Participants were asked to grade Dr. Ackerman in each of six areas: school safety, government relations, community relations, vision, finances, and school improvement.

The overall result? Five C's and one B (for finances).

Community journalism in times of economic crisis

By thenotebook on Jun 1, 2009 02:29 PM

The Media Mobilizing Project launched a new initiative last week, Community Journalism in Times of Economic Crisis. The initiative was created to provide coverage of how people are dealing with the economic crisis that the for-profit media may have missed.

You can read the first Communit y Journalism newsletter here, which includes a piece about the Philadelphia Student Union's "Teacher Quality Report Card" action.

The MMP also recently launched a new section of their site,

The economic crisis and stimulus bill it prompted have actually turned out to be a financial boon for education funding. As Secretary Duncan said, this is an "opportunity that won't come again." 

In case you missed it, week of May 24

By thenotebook on May 30, 2009 03:59 PM

The USDA's plans to terminate Philly's universal feeding program were in the news throughout the week. We linked to our past coverage of the issue and updates in the Inky on Sunday and Friday.

Testing, By Any Other Name...

By Molly Thacker on May 29, 2009 01:29 PM

While neighborhood citizens were registering their votes in the basement of my school last week, my colleagues and I were in the library participating in the School District’s professional development, in which new plans for becoming “data wise” in the 2009-1010 school year were unveiled.  I wish I believed those two words – data and wise – were congruous.

Update on school lunches

By thenotebook on May 29, 2009 10:31 AM

Friday update: The Inquirer continues its coverage with an article today about the growing chorus of opposition amongst elected officials from Pennsylvania. Comment below with your thoughts on the program and what we can do to continue it in Philly. Read more of the Notebook's coverage.

Brave New Voices ... or is it all about love?

By Samuel Reed III on May 28, 2009 05:05 AM

I was pleased to see that the White House recently hosted a poetry jam featuring some up-and-coming spoken word poets who have appeared on Russell Simmons' HBO series "Brave New Voices." President and Michelle Obama are one of the hippest couples to occupy the executive mansion in recent years.

But I am even more pleased that Beeber Middle School has been hosting an annual Poetry Cafe jam for over the past 10 years.

What started out as a desperate attempt for me to find a way to engage many of my disengaged students is now a rite of passage for many of the  talented students in the school.

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