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Turnstiles: Delayed approval not unusual

By Helen Gym on Sep 8, 2010 08:21 AM

Last week, I wrote about how the District had spent a million dollars on turnstiles and miscellaneous security equipment. The authorizing resolution, which the SRC passed at its August meeting, came months after installation. Despite the delayed approval and exorbitant price tag, the resolution passed with no questions or debate.

The resolution was not unusual.  At that very same meeting, the SRC approved at least another eight resolutions in which the projects appeared to be underway or had already been completed.  

Since last week’s posting, I did a review of the past school year. The review revealed more than two dozen examples of this very un-public ratification “process.”

At long last, a new Willard School opens

By Paul Socolar on Sep 7, 2010 10:40 AM

The School District held its ceremonial bell-ringing for the new year at the brand new Frances E. Willard Elementary School on Elkhart St. in Kensington, celebrating the opening of arguably the District's longest-overdue and most desperately needed building replacement.

Notes from the news, Sept. 7

By Anonymous on Sep 7, 2010 09:59 AM

notes from the news imagePhila. public schools, others open today The Inquirer
Welcome back! Philly public school students head to school today. Students at Willard Elementary and Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts will enter brand new buildings.

See also: Back to School for Area Students KYW
With new school year comes the opening of two new Phila. schools
The Inquirer

Toward a better year at South Phila. High The Inquirer (opinion)
South Philly student Duong-Nghe Ly writes how the climate at South Philly can be improved with better communication. Ly was profiled in an AP report that ran nationally.

See also: Racial violence changes student and school AP via Washington Post
South Philadelphia High Asian students get safety instruction
The Inquirer

As new year starts, high hopes for Phila.'s Promise Academies The Inquirer
Six low-performing schools will be run from Superintendent Ackerman's office. Those students will receive a "private-school education in a public-school setting," Ackerman said.

What we talk about when we talk about Arlene Ackerman Daily News
Editorial page editor Sandy Shea imagines what would happen if Arlene Ackerman really did leave due to recent controversies.

Who'll be watching district officials? Daily News
Education advocates are calling for more transparency of the District and School Reform Commission.

See also: Ackerman focusing on the future in Philadelphia schools Daily News

Wait lists for neighborhood students at 3 Mastery Renaissance charters The Notebook blog
The charters are supposed to serve the same students as the previous neighborhood school, but charters have enrollment caps.

The SRC and the million-dollar turnstiles The Notebook blog
It appeared that the District had paid $1 million for new turnstiles at 440. The District later said the cost was $390,000, but the turnstiles were installed before the SRC approved the expenditure.

Finding the Right Cyber Charter Metropolis
Students from all over PA can attend one of several cyber charter schools.

School Voucher Breakout Wall Street Journal
The full text is behind a pay wall, but the "bipartisan endorsement" of vouchers by PA's gubernatorial candidates is making national news.

We Need Headphones! Philly Teacher blog
Want to help a local teacher? Philly Teacher has a project on

A call to action on city’s dropout crisis Philadelphia Tribune (opinion)

In Philadelphia, back to school or pay $25 fine WHYY

District block party celebrates new school year Philadelphia Tribune

Testing and Money and Computers, Oh My! A Year in the Life of a Teacher blog

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Notes from the news

Wait lists for neighborhood students at 3 Mastery Renaissance charters

By Benjamin Herold on Sep 3, 2010 04:52 PM

Mastery Charter’s three new Renaissance charter schools seem to have been successful at bringing families back to their neighborhood schools – perhaps too successful.

At Mastery’s Harrity, Mann, and Smedley Elementary Schools, all of which opened on September 1, there are currently waiting lists for neighborhood children.

The SRC and the million-dollar turnstiles

By Helen Gym on Sep 3, 2010 10:59 AM

Update: Read Helen's op-ed in the Daily News and her follow-up here at the Notebook.

What would you buy for a million dollars worth of school money? Some modernized classrooms, you say? Noontime aides and community liaisons to replace the ones the District laid off at the beginning of the summer, perhaps?

How about a handful of turnstiles at District headquarters?

Last week, the School Reform Commission ratified Resolution A-28, a contract amendment with Elliott-Lewis Corporation for $1,006,959.43 for installation of security turnstiles. You can see those million dollar beauties above.

Notes from the news, Sept. 3

By Anonymous on Sep 3, 2010 09:54 AM

notes from the news imageBlack and Latino boys disrespected, task force finds Notebook NEWSFLASH
SRC Chair Archie and Commissioner Irizarry presented recommendations from a task force study including ideas about how to better engage Black and Latino boys in the classroom.

See also: Task force cites high dropout rates for African American, Latino students The Inquirer
Local Black drop-out rate alarming
Philadelphia Tribune
Report Released On Philly's Minority Dropout Rate CBS 3
Nearly 4 In 10 Philly Students Drop Out
Fox 29
Drop-outs get more closed doors than options
Philadelphia Tribune
School Reform Commission Task Force: Things Aren’t Good PhillyNow
Early Intervention Needed to Raise Graduation Rates PFT blog

Asian named as South Philadelphia High's assistant principal The Inquirer
Kimlime Chek-Taylor was dean of students at John Taggart. She is of Cambodian descent.

See also: ‘Fresh start’ for South Phila. High School Philadelphia Tribune

Civil Rights 2010: Struggle for quality education Philadelphia Tribune (opinion)
The advisor to Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) says we need a "national movement for education."

Fewer Philly schools deemed dangerous, report says The Inquirer
Five fewer schools were deemed "persistently dangerous" this year. Nine schools were removed from the list, but four schools joined the list.

Clout: Two of Guv Ed's faves headed for big-time jobs? Daily News
Joe Torsella may be heading to the UN and Donna Cooper may be off to the Center for American Progress.

Decision may come today on new chief of schools

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Notes from the news

Notes from the news, Sept. 2

By Anonymous on Sep 2, 2010 09:37 AM

notes from the news imageAsian leaders express doubt on South Phila. High plan The Inquirer
Asian adult and student leaders held a press conference to respond to the announced changes at South Philly and call for more dialogue with the community.

See also: Asian students at South Philly High prepare for a new year WHYY
U.S.: S. Philly High didn't protect Asian students from harassment Daily News
Asian students, advocates getting ready for another year at S. Philly High The Clog
District to work on fixing inaction
Philadelphia Tribune
The School District Needs the Feds to Tell Them What to Do?! PhillyNow

Working to keep black, Latino males in school Daily News
SRC Chair Robert Archie and Commissioner Johnny Irizarry collaborated on a report from The African-American and Latino Male Dropout Taskforce. They will present recommendations based on the report today.

See also: High Drop Out Rates Among Phila. Black, Hispanic Males KYW
New plan to cut Philadelphia's dropout rate WHYY

'A brand new day' The Notebook blog
Mastery Charter and Young Scholars Charter School opened their Renaissance Schools a week early to give students at the four schools a leg up on the year.

See also: Mastery Charter Schools' big test in Philadelphia The Inquirer

Making Bache-Martin a neighborhood school MyCommunity
The Notebook gets another citation - for a July blog post that referenced the District's desegregation busing program. Bache-Martin was one of the schools that had kids from outside the neighborhood bussed to it.

School Open House Season Begins Philly School Search blog

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Notes from the news

'A brand new day'

By Benjamin Herold on Sep 1, 2010 05:54 PM

Seeking to get a jump on their ambitious change agendas, two of the District’s new Renaissance charter operators opened their doors early this week.

By 8:30 in the morning on September 1, all of the fourth and fifth graders at the new Mastery Charter Smedley Elementary School in Frankford were assembled in the sweltering cafeteria for a combination PowerPoint presentation and pep rally.

Notes from the news, Sept. 1

By Anonymous on Sep 1, 2010 09:54 AM

notes from the news imageNew resources, people lead efforts to end ethnic strife at South Phila. High The Inquirer
Superintendent Ackerman spoke at the new student orientation where students learned about new programs and a zero-tolerance policy for violence.

See also: Ackerman promises a new day at S. Philly HS The Notebook blog
Editorial: Setting the right tone The Inquirer
South Phila. HS Officials Hope for Violence-Free Year KYW

BAEO plan aims to help African-American boys Philadelphia Tribune
The Black Alliance for Educational Options has launched the P3 program--parents, power, purpose. In Philadelphia 28 percent of Black males graduate high school.

Backing the black males The Inquirer
CCP is also working to reach out to Black males, with a federal grant that funded the Center for Male Engagement.

El verde regreso a clases en Kensington CAPA Al Día
Kensington CAPA students will return to school in a brand new building.

Beeber students debut at Arts Zone Poetry Slam UC Review
The students held their event last Friday at the Village Coffee House.

Shire and Philabundance Announce First Region-Wide High School Food Drive UC Review

Roebuck Congratulates Student Poster Contest Winner UC Review

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Notes from the news

Ackerman promises a new day at S. Philly HS

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 31, 2010 07:34 PM

Things will be different this year.

That's the promise that Superintendent Arlene Ackerman made to a group of South Philadelphia High School freshmen and their parents at orientation Tuesday morning.

Notes from the news, Aug. 31

By Anonymous on Aug 31, 2010 09:59 AM

notes from the news imageFewer teacher vacancies as school is about to start Daily News
Thirty-eight vacancies remain and the hiring freeze was lifted, in certain subject areas, last Friday.

Expert: Feds will pressure settlement for South Philly High WHYY
A law professor says the feds have gotten involved in similar situations before, which can even grow to include civil litigation against the District.

Another look at the AYP news The Notebook blog
Three bloggers reflect on the recent news of continued increases in PSSA scores and AYP attainment.

See also: Have we reached a tipping point? A skeptic weighs in The Notebook blog
Sharing credit for AYP gains The Notebook blog
Attendance and AYP The Notebook blog
Meade School: Good job! Good job! The Notebook blog

Finishing the Pa budget: additional money should not just go to schools Patriot-News (opinion)
Spending on public schools has come at the expense of other things like higher ed and libraries.

Phila. Kids Get Backpacks in Back-to-School Giveaway KYW

Crew try-outs for Philadelphia public schools WHYY

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Notes from the news

Have we reached a tipping point? A skeptic weighs in

By Ron Whitehorne on Aug 30, 2010 03:50 PM

AYP imageSuperintendent Arlene Ackerman, flanked by the governor and the mayor, has been on a public relations offensive this summer. Citing eight years of improved test scores and a dramatic rise in the number of schools that made AYP this year, the message is that the School District has reached, in the mayor’s words, a "critical tipping point.” Ackerman added, “To all the naysayers who say an urban school system can’t be successful: Watch Philadelphia!”

I’d like to be a believer. Students, teachers, and principals have all worked hard to achieve these gains. Urban public schools do get a bum rap from the media and the political establishment. But I can’t jump onto this bandwagon.

Sharing credit for AYP gains

By Frank Murphy on Aug 30, 2010 03:46 PM

AYP imageA hearty congratulation is due to everyone who is responsible for the continuing increase in the Philadelphia School Districts PSSA test scores. The continuing improvements that our students have demonstrated during the last eight years are a result of several different converging factors.

Attendance and AYP

By Guest blogger on Aug 30, 2010 03:26 PM

AYP imageThis guest blog comes from Kristin Luebbert, a current teacher who blogs at A Good Day Teaching.

Most of us involved in education in Philadelphia were quite happy about the positive AYP news for Philly. But the convoluted rules for meeting AYP targets remain quite mysterious to most educators, let alone parents. Attendance is listed as a goal for AYP, but it is not the kind of attendance that would really show why a child did or did not perform at a proficient or advanced level.

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