In a day marked by posturing and political one-upmanship, Chairman Robert Archie of the School Reform Commission yesterday issued yet another bland press release about . . . well, I'm not sure what about:
This may be the only country in the world where knowing more than one language is considered as a bad thing.
I just read an ASCD blog about how ELLs are doing in Boston ever since the public passed a referendum to make sheltered immersion (throw them in and give them English only for support) as the default program for ELL’s in Boston.
To quote the blog:
UPDATE: The Notebook contacted BRT spokesperson Kevin Feeley this afternoon, who confirmed that the School District has "funding authority" over the 80 BRT clerks scheduled into the SRC payroll. When asked what would happen if the District chose to eliminate funding for the BRT positions, Feeley responded: "If there is no funding then there is no funding." - Public School Notebook (5:36 p.m.)
The School District budget book has been up for less than one day and the details of District spending are already creating quite a discussion. There's been a lot of activity around the BRT positions, but what about other parts of the budget?
Paul Socolar posted about the School District budget book last night. It included details about the BRT patronage positions that Helen Gym blogged about earlier this week. Read Len Rieser's post for an education law take on this discussion--is the School District even allowed to spend money on these positions?
Do you have any thoughts, tips about these budget issues? What are we missing when sifting through that gigantic document?
So now we know, from the Inquirer and the Notebook, that the School District– involuntarily, to be sure – spends $4.56 million per year on salaries and benefits for 80 employees of the Bureau of Revision of Taxes. Which made me wonder: where's the law that gives the District the authority to spend all that money on these folks?
The 349-page budget book with details of spending, department-by-department, is now up on the School District's Web site, just in time for the first community meetings, which are today and tomorrow at Girls' High and Sayre.
Yes, it's big and hard to understand, but I encourage you all to take a few minutes and see whether you can make some sense out of some or all of this document, and post comments about what you discover.
If you haven’t read the Inquirer’s unfolding saga of corruption at the Bureau of Revision of Taxes (BRT), check it out here.
Why should parents care about patronage and corruption at this city agency? For starters, almost 40% of the BRT employees sit on the School District’s payroll. To clarify: that’s between 78-85 employees, neither hired nor supervised by the District, working off-site, many of whom hold political positions that would not be permissible by city ethics laws, and complicit in an agency that seems to be rife with political favoritism – all the while, costing the District around $4 million a year.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed the annual convention of the Education Writers Association in Washington, DC Thursday night, and he said that the name "No Child Left Behind" has to go.
"The name 'No Child Left Behind' is toxic," he said.
The Notebook has a couple of new features this week--a new section of our blog, Eye on the Budget, and the May Newsflash about increasing graduation rates in Philadelphia.
Of the questions raised by the District's plans for allocating their massive $314 million increase in spending next school year, one seems paramount.
Now that the District has a strategic plan guiding its next five years, why is such a small fraction of the new spending being driven by or devoted to the priorities of the plan?
The city is about to start issuing fines to parents whose students skip school. I know a lot of people like this plan. They say it will help catch the attention of parents. They say we need to hold parents accountable. While I think those ideas are fine, and I’m not that worried that $25 fines are going to ruin anyone, my reaction is, is this really the best we can come up with to solve a major crisis in our city?
[Updated May 7 based on revised budget documents]
Last week, the School District provided the first details on how it plans to spend the additional $314 million it anticipates having next year.
Yes, that number is $314 million.
As a parent, I’ve never been a fan of the policy to close school on election days – a ridiculous practice that has been going on since the Vallas administration. But the latest news that the city is forcing schools to add two extra days to the school calendar because they want to close schools for the May 19th election has me particularly irritated.
Approval of Superintedent Ackerman's Imagine 2014 strategic plan is the news of the week. You can check our Breaking news section for ongoing updates about the plan, or check here for a list of all of our coverage related to Imagine 2014.
Anytime the District has to rally a line-up of politicians to testify on its behalf, you know something’s up.
On Wednesday night, a group of political heavy-hitters opened the School Reform Commission meeting to urge the SRC to vote in favor of the District’s controversial strategic plan – Imagine 2014. Meanwhile CEO Arlene Ackerman issued dramatic statements that emphasized just how much pressure the District was exerting on the SRC for its vote:
"Tonight is the night that we demonstrate to [children] that we care . . . Tonight is the night the School Reform Commission acts on behalf of all of our children," Ackerman said during the meeting, which drew a capacity audience to the District's headquarters on Broad Street near Spring Garden.