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.
OK, so who is it that actually does the PSSA testing in Pennsylvania – by that I mean, who designs the tests, does those reports we get back, and thinks up ever more ways to spend our money administering more tests – some of which don’t even “count” for anything?
Columnist Paul Carpenter followed the money in the testing biz and boy, it didn’t smell very good.
Today, May 27, is the day the District has its scheduled vote to approve its $3.2 billion unified budget.
Usually, by the time of the SRC's budget vote at the end of May, I feel that I've had a chance to ask finance officials about items that jump out at me as requiring explanation and that I get clarifications of these changes to the budget.
Not this year.
Thursday the Effective Teaching for All Children campaign had an action at 440. The Daily News and KYW covered the event. We previewed the event and you can find data detailing the staffing inequities in our Summer edition--released this week!
On Wednesday the SRC delayed the vote on renewing New Media's charter, tabled renewing the contracts of private companies that manage eight schools, and rejected a contract with former Edison executive Leroy Nunery to outline the plan for outside "Renaissance Schools" managers, though Superintendent Ackerman plans to reintroduce it next month.
This afternoon the Effective Teaching for All Children campaign will deliver the Teacher Quality Report Card to the District and PFT. Check back for additional articles from the Summer edition.
Tomorrow, a coalition of activists that includes students, parents, and teachers will deliver a “Teacher Quality Report Card” to leaders of both the School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, demanding changes in the contract that is currently in negotiations.
It is a somewhat precarious position I have found myself in, being acknowledged primarily as a Teach For America alumna and secondarily as a District teacher.
Today is election day.
Some studies show that almost 85% of Philadelphia voters will stay home and give up their right to vote. But if you care about where the money goes in the Philadelphia public schools, here's hoping you won't be one of those people staying at home.
That's because today is the election for the City Controller, one of the most important offices for school parents. The City Controller is an independent auditing agency which is responsible for auditing a host of institutions and that includes the School District of Philadelphia.
Last month the School Reform Commission approved Arlene Ackerman’s strategic plan, Imagine 2014. The most controversial part of the plan is the proposal to turn some of the lowest performing schools into Renaissance Schools.
It’s one thing to write as a teacher from a teacher’s perspective. It’s another altogether to write from the sidelines about teachers’ daily lives.
Busy, busy week.
Philly schools were front page news on Wednesday's Inquirer and Thursday's Daily News and again on Thursday's Inky. The Daily News story detailed the charter renewal discussion from Wednesday's SRC meeting. Other Daily News stories looked at the apparent suicide of Philly charter school founder Brien Gardner, who was under federal investigation for misuse of charter funds, and at Councilman Kenney's questioning of the renewal of an alternative schools manager with ties to centers where five students died.
A post over on Young Philly Politics congratulates Notebook blogger and board member Helen Gym on the work she and Parents United for Public Education have done in pressing for the removal of the BRT patronage jobs from the School District payroll.
The SRC Chair, Robert Archie, today issued the statement below, representing a new stance on the 80 patronage employees from the Board of Revision of Taxes who sit on the School District payroll, at a projected cost of $4.56 million for the coming school year. He now very politely says "it would be preferable and much more efficient" to put these employees on the city's payroll with the rest of the BRT and have the District pay the city a "service fee."
So there's no promise of saving the District any money through this proposed action, but Archie's statement also politely suggests that it would be great if the city or state would relieve the District of some or all of the financial burden for these clerk positions.
So it's possible that the District will finally be able to shed at least some portion of this financial obligation, though Archie is at pains not to pass the problem off to the mayor.
STATEMENT BY SCHOOL REFORM COMMISSION CHAIRMAN ROBERT L. ARCHIE:
At City Council budget hearings today, the School District provided a handout on the potential impact of PA Senate Bill 850, if it were to be enacted into law. It breaks down how, in fact, the adoption of the Senate plan for state education would gut more than $300 million from Philadelphia schools, almost entirely wiping out all the anticipated increases, counteracting the fact that the District would still be getting a large infusion of stimulus money.