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Is the Renaissance Schools Plan Designed to Exclude Local Educators and Community Members?

By Eric Braxton on Mar 19, 2009 02:08 PM

I went to the meeting at School of the Future last week to learn more about the District’s strategic plan, Imagine 2014. The most controversial part of the plan is the part about Renaissance Schools. The Renaissance Schools plan calls for the transformation of some of the city’s lowest performing schools.

Considering the Alternatives

By Alesha Jackson on Mar 18, 2009 09:53 PM

The School Reform Commission has just voted to renew contracts for The New Teacher Project and Teach for America, a month after tabling similar resolutions. The two programs, aimed at placing new teachers in challenging schools, are part of an ongoing attempt to recruit and certify teachers in non-traditional ways.

What would Ruth Wright Hayre say?

By Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 16, 2009 06:49 PM

The one thing that kept going through my head Wednesday as I sat at the hearing on the proposed closing next year of William Penn High School was that Ruth Wright Hayre was certainly spinning in her grave.

Supporting LGBTQ students

By Len Rieser on Mar 16, 2009 08:49 AM

As long as we’re Imagining, let’s think about schools in which it’s safe to be lesbian or gay. A federal court did just that last week in Gay-Straight Alliance of Yulee High School v. School Board of Nassau County, holding that two high school students must be allowed to set up a Gay-Straight Alliance at their north Florida high school.

Imagine 2014 draws 300 to West Philly

By Helen Gym on Mar 13, 2009 12:25 PM

Last night, I joined hundreds of parents and community members at the School of the Future for the District’s latest “Imagine 2014: Strategic Plan” meeting. District officials said more than 300 people came, overflowing spaces and workshops and filling up the auditorium at the School of the Future.

Students, teachers, parents, community organizations, and at least one City Council member – Curtis Jones Jr. (setting a bar for other Council members) – came out to the two-hour session. The amazing turnout and level of engagement were a rebuff to the dismissive tone the media took when labeling an earlier meeting as “surprisingly low” turnout and reporting most of the comments on the lack of parent involvement.

For those considering going to future meetings, and to any district officials who might be looking for suggestions, here’s how things went down with some suggestions for improvement:

On the verge of a windfall?

By Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 12, 2009 11:08 PM

It looks like Philadelphia is in for a massive sum of new dollars from the state through the federal stimulus plan – some $361 million – if the legislature approves the recommendations of the Rendell administration. That amount would dwarf the amount of new money received in any previous year, representing a 13 percent increase in total District revenues.

Why Small Schools Matter and How They Can Be Equitable

By Eric Braxton on Mar 12, 2009 11:33 AM

In the latest edition of The Notebook, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman is quoted as saying, “small high schools have not been the answer for a majority of young people and they are not the answer here.” She argues that large high schools can be personalized and that many small schools have increased inequity.

What's happening with science?

By Len Rieser on Mar 11, 2009 12:57 PM

The Daily News reports that the District’s first public meeting on its new strategic plan was lightly attended. And the conversation seemed to focus mainly on whether to bring in outside partners to manage schools.

Obama: parents are bottom line

By Erika Owens on Mar 10, 2009 02:35 PM

President Obama gave a speech about education that outlined a five point plan today to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. (Full text of his speech is available here).

Obama's five pillars for improving education:

Chance encounter raises questions about school violence

By Debbie Wei on Mar 9, 2009 12:25 PM

At a weekend class with my daughter, I glanced at another mother. She reminded me of a student I had taught before, so I asked her if she is Ethiopian or Eritrean. She responded “Well, I’m both. How did you know?”

A quick review of names led to the discovery that her uncle was married to one of my former students. This led to a discussion of what school was like “back in the day” when I taught ESL and she was a student in the Philadelphia public high schools.

In case you missed it, March 2-6

By Erika Owens on Mar 6, 2009 07:16 PM

This week people continued to talk about Imagine 2014, but Mensah Dean reported in the Daily News that there was a relatively low turnout to the first community meeting. Kristen Graham reported in the Inquirer that an energetic group has rallied against the closure of William Penn High School.

BRT patronage at the School District must end

By Helen Gym on Mar 5, 2009 09:13 PM

It’s budget season at the School District, and that means time to roll out our top contender for a “School District Expense That Makes No Sense.” This year’s winner, who has been on the District’s hit list for years, is  . . .

Blogging and the cloak of anonymity

By Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 4, 2009 09:49 PM

I’ve been closely following the blog posts here and here by my colleague Alesha Jackson regarding problems at an unnamed middle school and the dozens of comments that they have inspired.

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