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What's wrong with the District budget hearings?

By Helen Gym on Dec 2, 2009 04:22 PM

Normally I would laud next week’s public hearings to weigh in on the District’s plans to close a near $200 million shortfall. After all, the District reversed its earlier opposition to the idea and gave plenty of notice ahead of time.

But here’s the catch: what use are hearings when there’s so little substantive information?

Notes from the news, Dec. 2

By Anonymous on Dec 2, 2009 10:47 AM

Too much of a good education? The Inquirer (opinion)
City Councilman Bill Green wrote about the recent Council hearing on charter schools' rules changes. Green supports the growth of "high-quality, fiscally sound, successful charter schools."

Some thoughts on media and justice for Joaquin Rivera Young Philly Politics
Rivera was a longtime bilingual counselor at Olney HS and musician who died while waiting for care in an ER.

Renaissance Schools plan moves ahead as debate continues The Notebook
The turnaround planning will be different this time and include the community, according to the Mayor's Chief Education Officer Lori Shorr.

Today: Research for Action will present at the American Anthropological Association meeting. Entitled "High School Reform in Philadelphia: School Choice, Transition Supports, and Small High Schools", the presentation will take place from 2-3:45 p.m. at the Marriott at 1201 Market St.

Dec. 2 is the 150th anniversary of John Brown's hanging. The Moonstone Arts Center has a series of events this week, including three today.

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

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Guest blog: Good management v. bad management

By Guest blogger on Dec 1, 2009 04:36 PM

Welcome to the guest blogger section of the Notebook blog.

This week's post is from Alan Kaman, a pseudonym for a teacher and frequent Notebook blog commenter.


What separates good organizations from bad organizations is how problems are dealt with. In a good organization a problem is seen as opportunity to correct and improve an existing situation. Colleagues work together to analyze what happened that negatively affected the system, what can be done to prevent it from happening again, and whether or not proper actions were taken and how these actions could be improved.

Notes from the news, Dec. 1

By Anonymous on Dec 1, 2009 10:46 AM

Phila. schools, teachers extend contract - again The Inquirer
Negotiations continue as PFT President Jerry Jordan says his members are anxious.

See also: Another Phila. Schoolteachers' Contract Extension Approved KYW
PFT and District extend contract to January 15, 2010 The Notebook blog

Scaled-back budget still has a record spending increase The Notebook
The District has a 12 percent spending increase this year, even after its adjustments to close a $196 million gap in the budget.

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

Click here to get Notes from the news in your inbox every day.

In case you missed it: RttT and turnarounds, class disrupters, constructive criticism

By Anonymous on Nov 30, 2009 04:47 PM

Stimulus Rules on 'Turnarounds' Shift Education Week
In the final version of rules for the $4 billion grant competition, school "transformation" became a first option for school turnaround in addition to more aggressive methods. Transformation methods include "providing professional development and coaching for a school’s current staff, and making changes to curriculum and instruction." 

Alternative Class for Disrupters? The Core Knowledge blog
A teacher in Florida wrote about problems caused by students who check out of class. School climate is also the topic of our Winter edition, and an editorial by the NY Times.

Why Every Student Needs Critical Friends Educational Leadership
This piece outlines how to bring constructive criticism between peers into the classroom, and the benefits of that approach.

Poor Schools or Poor Kids? Education Next (via Core Knowledge blog)
Q&A between Joe Williams for the Education Equality Project and Pedro Noguera for A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education.

PFT and District extend contract to January 15, 2010

By Anonymous on Nov 30, 2009 02:36 PM

The teachers' contract (already extended twice this year) was set to expire today, and has now been extended for another 46 days. Negotiations between the District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers are continuing.

Notebook coverage of the teachers' contract is included in the just-released Winter edition, with an article highlighting the contract implications of the 163 emergency-certified new teachers hired this year. There is also a report on the District's scaled-back budget, which may limit the District's flexibility in negotiations. Since the spring, District officials have said publicly that there is no money in the current budget to fund teacher raises.

The joint statement announcing the contract extension is available here.

Notes from the news, Nov. 30

By Anonymous on Nov 30, 2009 11:01 AM

Welcome back! And some stories from the past several days:

Teacher contract extension expected Philly.com

Backdrop to contract talks: 163 new teachers are emergency-certified The Notebook
More than 9 percent of the new teachers hired this year are emergency-certified.

Daniel Rubin: Once lost, now a leader The Inquirer
A former student returns as a co-teacher in a special education class at George Washington High School.

Student performer used foster care as inspiration The Inquirer
Samia Merritt, who attends CAPA, performed a monologue from her play about living in foster care at an SRC meeting held earlier this month.

When Charters Take Liberties WHYY (opinion)
A take on the charters as experiments model.

TeacherPlanIt.com KYW
The online collaboration tool is being used in 15 Philadelphia schools.

Phila. events commemorate John Brown's legacy The Inquirer

Vacant storefronts to bloom with artwork from schools Chestnut Hill Local

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

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Notes from the news, Nov. 25

By Anonymous on Nov 25, 2009 10:41 AM

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. See you back here on Monday.

Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane WHYY
Interview with Laurence Steinberg about risky behavior and the adolescent mind.

Helping Philabundance Daily News
Students at Rhoads Elementary collected more than 300 pounds of food.

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

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Notes from the news, Nov. 24

By Anonymous on Nov 24, 2009 10:56 AM

Things are a little quiet this Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Today is the final Renaissance Schools community feedback session. Tonight from 6-8 p.m. at Boys Latin Charter School,  5501 Cedar Ave.

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

Click here to get Notes from the news in your Inbox every day.

In case you missed it: Choice, evaluation, war, charters and segregation

By Anonymous on Nov 23, 2009 04:22 PM

School choice series: High school search frustrates ambitious student The Times-Picayune
The final installment in a series about school choice in New Orleans, the current home of Philly's former CEO Paul Vallas.

Mr. Goldfarb’s Evaluation The Core Knowledge Blog
This post urges readers to check out Jay Mathews' piece that details Mr. Goldfarb's experience with the new evaluation system in place in D.C.

The War on Kids: What Ails Public Schools? Better Ask, What Doesn’t? The New York Times
The new documentary "suggests a system regulated by fear and motivated by the desire to control." But Alexander Russo is skeptical.

Push for charter schools sparks segregation concerns Montgomery Advertiser via JCCF
Alabama, and nine other states, do not currently have charter school laws, but the Race to the Top application is pushing states to quickly change that.

Notes from the news, Nov. 23

By Anonymous on Nov 23, 2009 11:38 AM

Phila. School Students Create New Anti-Truancy Campaign KYW
Members of Citywide Student Government received $50,000 from the District to plan the campaign.

School district won't shift per-diem officers to save $ Daily News
The District's chief safety officer said that the District would rotate the officers just before they met a benchmark to get health and other benefits. The shift would have saved $550,000.

Cyber school founder gets $3 million to cut ties The Inquirer
June Brown founded the Agora Cyber Charter School, which is now under federal investigation.

See also: Charter founder's pension benefits cut The Inquirer

The Renaissance Schools Process and Community Engagement PSU Blog
Daniel Jones wrote about the necessity of strong community involvement in the process.

Major Grant Awarded to Temple, Phila. School District KYW
The groups received the grant to plan the just-announced early-college high school.

Community Practical Theory blog
Science Leadership Academy held its first "huge" fundraiser. It was a big success.

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

Click here to get Notes from the news in your Inbox every day.

The power of youth voice: Kids and digital media

By Anonymous on Nov 20, 2009 05:03 PM

Teachers from across the country are in Philly this week for the National Writing Project's annual meeting, and Wednesday evening, the focus was on youth voice and digital media.

Kiosks showcased 18 projects involving youth and digital media. Half the projects were from Philly, including Youth Empowerment Services, several projects from the Science Leadership Academy, and the Temple U. Media Education Lab.

The evening's panel discussed how students interact with digital media, and emphasized how that learning takes place both within and outside of school. Just as the physical boundaries of learning have broken down, so have the boundaries on who, or what, fills the role of gatekeeper or teacher.

Notes from the news, Nov. 20

By Anonymous on Nov 20, 2009 11:07 AM

Elmer Smith: Temple's close, can take you far Daily News
Smith praised Temple and its just-announced early-college high school program.

See also: Temple, district plan college-track high school in N. Phila. The Inquirer
Temple Seeking To Open New High School Fox 29

Philadelphia Education Fund Bestows EDDY Awards KYW
Honorees included Acel Moore, Philadelphia Student Union, and Youth United for Change.

See also: Phila. Education Fund bestows Eddy Awards The Inquirer

Learning the hard way South Philly Review
A look at the persistently dangerous schools in South Philly.

Choosing the public they school The Inquirer (opinion)
A former teacher writes that the opt-in nature of charter schools leaves behind some kids.

Free Tutoring Service Begging for Students to Teach KYW

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

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Wondering where they got all this money?

By Paul Socolar on Nov 19, 2009 10:17 AM

You may have been expecting grim news, but this is how Superintendent Ackerman summarized Wednesday’s briefing on the District’s revised 2009-10 budget of $3.084 billion, now $100 million smaller than it was back in May:

“It’s not a reduction in the services or programs that we’ve been able to provide to the schools. It’s not the same level of increase that we had anticipated. But having an 11 percent increase still means good things can happen for children.”

Notes from the news, Nov 19.

By Anonymous on Nov 19, 2009 09:20 AM

Teacher-prep high school to open in Kensington The Inquirer
The fourth small school Kensington HS will open even though Superintendent Ackerman is not a small schools proponent.

See also: Kensington to get a fourth small school with urban education theme The Notebook blog

Temple, district plan college-track high school in N. Phila. The Inquirer
Students would earn college credits while still in high school.

The Charter-School Pop Quiz Daily News (opinion)
Support for state and city lawmakers who "are paying attention and hoping to strengthen oversight of charters."

Katie Zimring, 68, teacher in W. Phila. The Inquirer
Zimring was a teacher for 27 years at Powel and very active in the Teacher's Learning Cooperative.

DREAM Act: Student activist makes it personal The Notebook blog
The first post from new blogger Gustavo Martínez. The DREAM Act would help undocumented students who were raised in the U.S. attend college.

Daniel Rubin: Leading city kids to classical awareness The Inquirer
"One-third of the schools have no music." Volunteers are working to fill in the gap.

Wondering where they got all this money? The Notebook blog
The District unveiled a revised budget that is $100 million less than it was in May, but is still an 11.8 percent increase over last year's budget.

See also: School District's revised budget Daily News

Pa. School Districts Accused of 'Gambling' with Public Funds KYW
Pennsylvania Auditor General tells districts to stop investing in risky interest rate "swaps."

Today: Renaissance schools community feedback session, students only. School District of Philadelphia, 440 N. Broad St., Auditorium, 3-5 p.m.

Also, Historically Black College and University Fair at Benjamin Franklin HS, 550 N. Broad St. from 3:30-7 p.m.

And, tonight is the Philadelphia Education Fund's annual Eddy Awards, which will honor Phila Student Union, Youth United for Change, Acel Moore, and more.

Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.

Click here to get Notes from the news in your inbox every day.

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