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Just 25 District teachers rated unsatisfactory

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 11, 2011 06:43 PM

Despite steps to improve the District’s teacher evaluation system, only a tiny fraction of one percent of the School District’s nearly 11,000 teachers were rated unsatisfactory during the last two years, and fewer still were dismissed as a result, according to District data.

Turnaround charters: Positive data so far

By Benjamin Herold on Jan 11, 2011 02:37 PM

At the District’s seven new Renaissance charter schools, big changes have been met with a mostly warm reception, according to District documents recently obtained by the Notebook through the right-to-know law.

Progress reports compiled for the School Reform Commission (SRC) by the Office of Charter, Partnership and New Schools show that enrollment and average daily attendance are up at all seven schools, while the number of reported serious incidents at each school is down. 

Notes from the news, Jan. 11

By Anonymous on Jan 11, 2011 10:47 AM

notes from the news imageSchool-choice proposal will be on Senate fast track The Patriot-News
State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola plans to introduce school choice legislation this week and would like to see it in effect for next school year.

Judge tells school embezzler: Get a job, or go to jail Daily News
Former Home and School Council president Greg Wade must start paying back more of his restitution for embezzling over $100,000 from the group.

See also: Phila. embezzler gets a choice: Get a job or go to jail The Inquirer

Pitching you the news The Notebook blog is a service that helps readers support journalism. Would you spend a few minutes to complete two surveys and apply the credits (which then turn into cash!) to support Ben Herold's coverage of West Philly High?

Notes from the field-The School Performance Index: It Doesn’t Add Up City School Stories
The SPI rankings of District schools were posted online, but the final rankings don't make sense to Meade Elementary's former principal.

Advanced Placement courses new norm for college Philadelphia Tribune
The number of students taking AP tests has grown by 50 percent in the past five years.

Uncertain future for W. Phila. school after fire 6 ABC
Classes are suspended till next Tuesday. The District offered a school building in Graduate Hospital, but most Global Leadership Academy students live in West Philly.

See also: After fire, West Philly charter school looking for new home NewsWorks

Students Sold on Roxborough Web Design Class Roxborough-Manayunk Patch

Reach Back, Push Forward At Phila. High School Fox 29

Philadelphia School District Urges Employees to Keep Mum New America Media

No excusing teacher-pupil affairs The Inquirer (opinion)

Fordham Institute:What's the Place of Accountability in School Voucher Programs?/Research for Action: Vouchers - Facts, Figures, and a Summary of the Research/Univ.of Arkansas:New Report Finds Little Difference Between Charters, Regular School Achievement Keystone State Education Coalition

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Pitching you the news

By Gustavo Martínez on Jan 10, 2011 03:15 PM

Recently, Notebook reporter Benjamin Herold reached out to the Spot.Us community to help fund the coverage of the West Philadelphia High School turnaround saga.

You, mis amigos, are very familiar with the fine work Ben produces here in this space. His stories dig deep and help the public understand what is happening at West and with the Renaissance Schools process. And that is the kind of work the Spot.Us community helps fund.

Yet, you might not be familiar with our friends at Spot.Us.

Notes from the news, Jan. 10

By Anonymous on Jan 10, 2011 11:21 AM

notes from the news imageAckerman is seeking to intensify lobbying The Inquirer
Ackerman wants to hire a lobbying firm to "help educate" state legislators about the Districts programs and successes.

Fire destroys West Philadelphia charter school Daily News
Global Leadership Academy Charter School caught fire Sunday morning. Later that day the District issued a statement that they are readying a vacant District school building for the academy to use temporarily.

See also: Charter School Burns In Parkside Fox 29
Fire rips through West Philadelphia charter school The Inquirer
School 'Can't Be Salvaged' After Fire Fox 29
En llamas escuela charter del oeste de Filadelfia Al Día
5-alarm fire at West Philly charter school AP via Centre Daily Times

How did the School District get into this budget mess? NewsWorks
Phil Goldsmith discusses the budget in the weekly It's Our Money podcast.

See also: Phila. School District face budget shortfall 6 ABC
Philly Schools Face Up To $430M Deficit Fox 29

Do you have any tips for us? The Notebook blog
Last week an anonymous commenter posted the staff memo reiterating the District's ethics policy. We welcome tips and information from our readers.

Youths need a Civics 101 in Pa. schools The Inquirer (opinion)
A yearlong, required civics class for all Pennsylvania students would help students learn how government works and follow current events.

Summary of Key Features of Proposed Senate Bill 1 - "Opportunity Scholarship Act"; Public Hearing scheduled for Feb. 9th Keystone State Education Coalition blog
This group covers issues of interest to state legislative politics.

See also: Two new reports from the 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education Keystone State Education Coalition blog
Pennsylvania leaders push plan for school vouchers/Pittsburgh mentors, money fuel education/Rethinking Advanced Placement/Voucher Studies/Zero Tolerance Keystone State Education Coalition blog

Fattah busca que estudiantes de Filadelfia sean exitosos Al Día

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Do you have any tips for us?

By Anonymous on Jan 7, 2011 01:26 PM

Last night a Notebook reader anonymously posted as a comment on our website an image of the memo to 440 staff reiterating the District's ethics policy. Thanks to that reader for sharing a copy of the memo. We welcome the exchange of materials and tips in the comments on our blog,  so if you have other materials or tips to share, please do.

Notes from the news, Jan. 7

By Anonymous on Jan 7, 2011 11:16 AM

notes from the news imageMemo warns Philly School District staff of penalties for leaks The Inquirer
The memo reminded staff of the District's ethics policy and the consequences of violating it. An anonymous commenter posted an image of the memo to the Notebook blog.

See also: It’s Up To Your Knees Out There The Philly Post blog

When will cuts start to hit? Still unclear The Notebook blog
The District faces a budget deficit next year. It could immediately begin to make cuts to mitigate the shortfall.

A New Year, a new blogger The Notebook blog
The Notebook welcomes Deborah Russell-Brown to our blog to write about parents and parent organizing.

Program aims to bring books to classrooms Daily News
The 1,000 Books in Every Classroom program will bring the "experience of a library" to classrooms in seven schools that received Department of Labor grants to help curb violence.

Caught on Tape: Teen Girls Fight at Philadelphia High School ABC News
The fight from Edison High School makes the national news.

See also: District reacts to YouTube school fight video 6 ABC

Roxborough 'Sober' High School Wins Zoning Approval, Closer to Opening Roxborough-Manayunk Patch
The high school would be a transition place for teens recovering from substance abuse addiction and would be housed at Mishkan Shalom Synagogue.

Department Focus: The Re-engagement Center A Broad View blog

City schools face $430M shortfall Philadelphia Tribune

Charter school students’ gift honors war veterans Philadelphia Business Journal

Voice your opinion with PlanPhilly's reader survey! PlanPhilly

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When will cuts start to hit? Still unclear

By Paul Socolar on Jan 7, 2011 09:34 AM

With some projecting an unprecedented budget deficit approaching $500 million for next year (2011-12), immediate cuts effective this school year would be one obvious strategy for mitigating this crisis. The longer the District waits to make cuts, the deeper those cuts have to go.

A New Year, a new blogger

By Deborah Russell... on Jan 6, 2011 04:55 PM

For the last year few years I’ve had the pleasure of working with parents from ACTION United (the organization formerly known as ACORN) on issues pertaining to our neighborhood schools. In 2011 I am joining the Notebook blog to share parent voices and the success and challenges of citywide parent activist groups.  As we start the spring semester, here are two interesting stories.

Notes from the news, Jan. 6

By Anonymous on Jan 6, 2011 09:04 AM

notes from the news image Reports: Phila. schools bracing for big cuts NewsWorks
The District responded to news of planning for big cuts saying, "we will have to make strategic fiscal decisions, but, in doing so, we will remain focused on funding" the recent programs that led to gains in student achievement.

Committee of 70's resolutions for a better Philadelphia The Inquirer (opinion)
The resolution for the SRC and Ackerman is to "focus on getting better results and shoring up public confidence."

What are your New Year's resolutions? The Notebook blog
A Daily News editorial suggested ways to become a better citizen in 2011, including to become a Notebook member.

Parent University Presents: Les Brown A Broad View blog
This Saturday motivational speaker Les Brown will offer a talk on keeping parents engaged and children motivated.

You've Got to be Kidding: School Reform Satire City School Stories blog
A new feature on the blog is this section about the school reform efforts of billionaires.

In case you missed it: Top headlines, strikes, iPads The Notebook blog
Gotham Schools rounds up the top education stories of 2010 and more national news.

Building on hope, not only for city's children, but also for all orchestras The Inquirer

Learning and nonlinearity The Workshop blog

Two Students Punched in Roxborough High School Incident Roxborough-Manayunk Patch

Violence at Philly high school caught on tape 6 ABC

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In case you missed it: Top headlines, strikes, iPads

By Lauren Goldman on Jan 5, 2011 05:48 PM

The year that was: Looking back at 2010's educational headlines Gotham Schools
An overview of the past year's educational headlines and what this means for the future.

What are your New Year's resolutions?

By Anonymous on Jan 5, 2011 02:17 PM

The Daily News editorial board shared their suggestions on how to become a better citizen in 2011. Suggestion #3? Become a Notebook member.

Their list details 12 ways to participate including giving to a food bank, recycling, and using the Daily News' City Howl feature to report issues with city services.

Notes from the news, Jan. 5

By Anonymous on Jan 5, 2011 11:13 AM

notes from the news imageAckerman asks for budget-cutting contingencies - of 20%, 25%, and 30% The Inquirer
The District could face a $430 million shortfall and District leadership are set to meet to discuss the situation Friday.

See also: School District's financial woes are self-inflicted Daily News (opinion)
News chase NewsWorks

S. Philly High agreement could have districtwide impact Notebook NEWSFLASH
The agreement only requires action at South Philly High, but harrassed students across the District could benefit from the improvements.

Moffet Elementary: ‘A House of Learning’ Philadelphia Tribune
This week's Learning Key includes a profile of Moffet, a food program that has celebrity help at Drew, and news of another award for Ackerman.

See also: Drew students try their hands at healthy cooking Philadelphia Tribune
Superintendent Ackerman to receive humanitarian award
Philadelphia Tribune

A front runner for Philadelphia City Council bails NewsWorks
State Rep. Michael McGeehan has dropped out, which may put former SRC commissioner Martin Bednarek in a better position to run.

Are kids getting really stupid? A plan of action. The Notebook blog
In response to a Philadelphia Magazine cover story, this describes the value of media literacy.

Notes from the field: Reform Public Education Through The Power Of Your Ideas City School Stories
Many rich people have the clout to get their ideas out there, but teachers and others can organize to ensure that their views are heard too.

The Broad View Book Club A Broad View blog

Types of Philadelphia Elementary Schools Philly School Search

Inquirer Editorial: 16 & pregnant The Inquirer

Fox 29 Investigates: Double Dip Payback Fox 29

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Are kids getting really stupid? A plan of action

By Samuel Reed III on Jan 4, 2011 03:24 PM

The Philadelphia Magazine cover story, “Is It Just Us, Or Are Kids Getting Really Stupid?” by Sandy Hingston piqued my interest at the supermarket check-out aisle.

Many educators, parents, and students are polarized about the impact digital and media technologies have on society. Some say technology and social media tools are making kids stupid, e.g. "ask a kid to tell you the time from an analog clock."

Others say, “information is power,” and promote spreading technology and media products throughout all socioeconomic levels. Dr. Renee Hobbs, a respected media literacy scholar and the founder of the Temple Media Education Lab, may just have a plan to make media and digital technologies essential for teaching and learning in the classroom and beyond.

Notes from the news, Jan. 4

By Anonymous on Jan 4, 2011 10:59 AM

notes from the news imageTrial set for suit on African American achievement in Lower Merion The Inquirer
The suit contends that African American students were improperly assigned to special education classes and placed into "low expectations" courses.

Campaign rhetoric is about to meet Pennsylvania budget reality Patriot-News (opinion)
Op-ed from State Sen. Vincent Hughes detailing how the state budget hole could affect different areas, including education.

Improving on their practice The Notebook
Teachers describe how good professional development programs can be a huge help.

Are you wearing red Tuesday? The Notebook blog
Today is Wear Red for Public Ed Day, which is an idea that started in Florida and spread nationwide.

Blog posts during break:

Why Scale It? Philly Teacher blog
Philly Teacher weighs in on the "parent trigger" and reflects on 2010.

See also: Looking Back on 2010 Philly Teacher blog

SDP Blog Launches A Very Public Education blog
Thanks for the heads up about the new District blog.

Welcome! A Broad View blog
The District blog launched in late December and already has ten posts. Here are a few highlights.

See also: How to Stay Sharp over Winter Break A Broad View blog
Student Focus: Anthony Wright A Broad View blog
Homeless Children's Initiative A Broad View blog

Story Matters Practical Theory blog
Chris Lehmann caught up on some blogging during break with a post responding to a piece to "ban fiction from the curriculum," how parents weighed the decision to send their kids to private schools, and a web video.

See also: Opting Out Practical Theory blog
Satire - The Arena and Dialogue of Ed Reform Practical Theory blog

Jenks Featured On New Local Blog Philly School Search blog
Philly School Search found Jenks on new Chestnut Hill Patch, reposted the Fox 29 video that included an interview with the Notebook's contributing editor, and posted TEDxPhilly video.

See also:  Fire Bad Teachers [Video] Philly School Search blog
Music at School as a Vehicle for Social Change [Video] Philly School Search blog

Reflections of an Author: Good Will And Peace To All City School Stories blog
Frank Murphy kept up consistent posting throughout break witha reflection on crime and NCLB.

See also: Reflections of an Author: Reality Isn’t An Excuse City School Stories blog

Simon at TEDx Philly The Workshop Blog
The videos from TEDxPhilly are up, plus comments on a series of essays on criticism in the New York Times.

Teachers: Curriculum Competition, Digitized African American Oral Histories Office of Teaching and Unlearning
Using The Historymakers archive, develop a curriculum about African American History and you could win an iPad, projector, or giftcard.

See also: Function of Criticism/What it means to be a student The Workshop blog

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