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Notes from the news, Oct. 6

By Anonymous on Oct 6, 2009 10:20 AM

Education: The shame of the city Daily News (opinion)
The title of this editorial is pretty shocking, but the content turned out not to be. It's about the college graduation rates in Philly, which stand at the back of the pack for major cities. Mayor Nutter has pledged to improve the college graduation rates, and the writer supports Nutter in this.

Dental Care Project for Philadelphia School Kids Expands KYW
The Oral Impact Health Project is filling the void the recession has helped create with families skipping dentist appointments. Students in 145 schools will get free exams twice a year from the project.

Noted educator Thomas-El set for leaders breakfast Herald Review
Philly principal Salome Thomas-El will be in Decatur, IL for a Community Leaders Breakfast. He'll also appear on the Dr. Oz show and is in development for his own reality TV show, "Principal."

'Something Intangible,' 'Cinderella' win big at Barrymores The Inquirer
Philly school's current reality TV star, Tony Danza got a brief mention in the Barrymores coverage. He handed out the award for educational programming to Lantern Theatre Company.

About the budget stalemate - from our new blogger, Christie Balka

By Christie Balka on Oct 5, 2009 09:01 AM

This blog post begins with a mea culpa: Friday at midday I posted a note on Facebook saying the House had just voted for a revenue plan that nullified the handshake budget agreement announced two weeks ago.

In actuality, it took the House another ten hours to vote for the plan. Almost five of those hours were filled with passionate speeches from House Democrats for the benefit of folks back home: about the harm a tax would inflict on the arts, culture and local fire companies, about the importance of taxing smokeless tobacco and paying to clean up the environment once corporations drill for natural gas. Republicans chimed in with well-worn arguments about the need to reduce government spending.

Notes from the news, Oct. 5

By Anonymous on Oct 5, 2009 08:48 AM

Editorial: Cooked numbers The Inquirer
The Inquirer questions the District's current policy on crimes in the classroom. With principals deciding whether to call the police the number of crimes reported has gone down, but the Inquirer doubts that is due to an actual improvement in school safety.

Head Strong: It's time to get smarter on extended school day The Inquirer (opinion)
More support for a longer school day, but the overwhelming majority on our blog are skeptical.

About the budget stalemate - from our new blogger, Christie Balka The Notebook blog
We cited Balka last week in an update about the state budget situation, and she writes in with her first blog for the Notebook to explain the situation further.

New Web Site Connects the Disabled with Cultural Events KYW
Several organizations have gathered at one hub on the web to centralize information about arts and cultural events of interest to disabled people.

Developing story: Handshake agreement on the PA budget is off

By Anonymous on Oct 2, 2009 01:43 PM

UPDATE: The House approved the budget with tax revenue plans that were not part of the previous budget agreement. The bill now goes to the State Senate. According to the Inquirer article, "a top [Republican] aide promptly condemned the plan but said leaders would work through the weekend in hopes of working out a new agreement."

According to Christie Balka of PCCY, the tentative budget agreement has collapsed. Balka posted on Facebook:

"Handshake Agreement" on the PA budget just fell through. The House passed a revenue plan that's a vast improvement over the last one and the Senate said it violates the spirit of the agreement. All bets are off about when we'll have an actual budget. THIS IS NOT A VICTORY FOR ANYONE: IT PUTS US THAT MUCH FURTHER AWAY FROM HAVING AN ACTUAL BUDGET THAT REAL PEOPLE DEPEND ON. To see how this situation impacts people in our communities click here: http://pccychildwatch.blogspot.com/2009/09/what-does-budget-impasse-mean... . Then call your legislators and tell them to get the job done!

The sticking point appears to be the Arts tax. Democrats in the House removed that from their version of the budget bill, "instead backing taxes on cigars, smokeless tobacco, casino table games and natural gas drilling."

KYW has a report on the "collapse" of the budget deal and says this could mean a delay of at least another week. The spokesman for the state senate Republican leader says that the change in revenue in the House bill essentially "resets" the negotiations.

We'll post more details as they become available.

Creating collaborative working environments

By Eric Braxton on Oct 2, 2009 01:02 PM

Everyone agrees that the best schools are the ones where teachers and administrators are working together. So how do we get past the decades of mistrust that prevent the teachers union and school district from working together to improve our schools? Maybe we should send them all to a ropes course and have them practice trust falls. Maybe we need some new age facilitators to come in and let the healing begin. 

Thursday morning Timothy Kraus gave a very interesting presentation to the Education First Compact about how the teachers' union and school district in Cincinnati have worked together to create a collaborative approach to improving schools. While things are by no means perfect in Cincinnati, there are clearly some interesting lessons to be learned there about how to create democratic, collaborative work places, which is essential to improving our schools. 

Notes from the news, Oct. 2

By Anonymous on Oct 2, 2009 12:50 AM

Schools dangerous, or is reporting to blame? Daily News
Thousands of dangerous incidents have been reported in Philadelphia schools over the past two years, but less than half have involved a call to police.

Confirmado el reemplazo de Heidi: un “lobbyist”  Al Día
David Girard-diCarlo, one of two newly confirmed members of the SRC, will head a lobbying division at his law firm.

To help their kids advance, parents are headed back to school Daily News
October is Parent Appreciation month. Saturday will be a parent appreciation day at the District, and this piece describes other offerings for parents like Parent University and parent roundtables. The first roundtable will be on Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. at University City High School.

Notebook guest blog: From behind the fence The Notebook blog
The first in a new feature on the blog, this piece looks at the Sept. 29 visit from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Rev. Al Sharpton. This blog also has a PSU video of PSU and YUC students speaking with Duncan and Sharpton about setting up a meeting.

Community Love Gathering for Education PSU blog
This post describes an upcoming event on October 6 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Beloved St. John Evangelistic Church, 4500 N. Broad St. Panelists include Seth Williams, Dr. Charles Williams, Lori Shorr, youth leaders from the Philadelphia Student Union, and Dr. Ackerman.

Legal or not - Do BRT payments violate the law?

By Helen Gym on Oct 1, 2009 12:05 PM

It’s a question that Parents United for Public Education, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, and the Education Law Center are considering right now.

At issue is this section of state law, 72 PS 5341.21, which states that responsibility for the expenses of the BRT lies with the county:

§ 5341.21. All salaries provided for in this act and the proper expenses of the board shall be paid out of the treasury of the county.

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association said they aren’t aware of any other county in the state which charged a school district for property tax assessments. Why us?

Notebook guest blog: From behind the fence

By Guest blogger on Oct 1, 2009 05:55 AM

This guest blog is the first in a new feature on the Notebook blog. We intend to regularly post blogs written by people other than our cast of bloggers. Got something you'd like to write about? Email us with a pitch, idea, or a completed post. We're just launching this feature so feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

This first post is from Anissa Weinraub of TAG-Philly and was also posted on her blog, After the Return.


“Nothing About Us Without Us” shouted the students, parents, teachers, and community members outside McDaniel Elementary School yesterday as Arne Duncan’s Listening and Learning Tour launched its press-only conference behind closed doors.

Notes from the news, Oct. 1

By Anonymous on Oct 1, 2009 05:00 AM

Legal or not - Do BRT payments violate the law? The Notebook blog
Helen Gym writes about the question that Parents United for Public Education, the Public Interest Law Center, and Education Law Centere are considering right now. These groups may sue to have BRT workers removed from the District payroll because their presence on District, and not city payroll, conflicts with state law.

See also: Parents' group threatens suit over district BRT workers The Inquirer
Phila Mayor Nutter: BRT change should be significant
WHYY
BRT reform: Still more talking to do Daily News

School Reform Commission gets two new members The Inquirer
David Girard-diCarlo and Joseph Dworetzky joined the SRC Wednesday. Three Philly area lawmakers opposed Girard-diCarlo's nomination. State Sen. Larry Farnese cited Girard-diCarlo's lobbying ties as reason for his opposition vote.

UPDATED: School District e-waste investigation three months later: no reported progress Technically Philly
This post comes from Africa, where at least one item of e-waste, technical items like printers and computers, from the District ended up. Late Wednesday afternoon the post was updated with comments from a District spokesperson.

Mastery charter schools aim to transform education The Inquirer
Mastery was in the spotlight Tuesday when several big name visitors stopped by. This piece profiles Mastery CEO Scott Gordon.

The prep time wars

By Ron Whitehorne on Sep 30, 2009 10:21 AM

Prep time, the daily 45-minute preparation period that is a key feature of the Philadelphia teacher contract, is once again a matter of contention in the current negotiations. The School District wants to be able to control how teachers use their prep time.   Nothing new here, as the District has made this an article of its contract program for decades. What’s different this time is that CEO Arlene Ackerman may use her authority under the state takeover law to impose an agreement that could include control of the prep period.

Notes from the news, Sept. 30

By Anonymous on Sep 30, 2009 09:35 AM

Philadelphia students tell Gingrich, Sharpton, Duncan that caring teachers make a difference AP via Orlando Sentinel
Wednesday this trio kicked off a tour of urban schools in Philadelphia. They did not meet with parent organizers or student activists, the Metro article reports. Also, check the cartoon with the Philly.com piece. The tour is part of a promotional push for major improvements in schools, which $4.3 billion in competitive Race to the Top grants are designed to encourage.

See also: An unlikely trio observes Phila. school reforms The Inquirer
Unusual trio visit Phila. schools Philly.com
Newt, Rev. Al get pointers in Philly Metro
Visit to schools leaves Sharpton 'really inspired' Daily News
Schools Push Hits the Road The Wall Street Journal
US Education Secretary Kicks Off National Tour in Phila. KYW
The Odd Couple NBC Philadelphia
Philly Students Meet With Education Secretary CBS 3

Editorial: District needs to get real The Inquirer
The Inquirer offers its take on the District's $160 million "shortfall" this year (though overstating the amount of money the District will be receiving from the state), and asserts that the public should have the chance to weigh in, including public hearings and dialogue. (Take our budget poll.)

See also: Why we're worried: District's limited budget options The Notebook blog

Who's the Boss? Tony Danza in the Classroom Phillyist
Tony Danza continues to get coverage of his first month in the classroom. This post on Phillyist is trying to keep the conversation about Danza's teaching going.

Why we're worried: District's limited budget options

By Helen Gym on Sep 29, 2009 12:19 PM

At last week’s School Reform Commission hearing, in addition to the grilling of District staff that proved that Commissioner Heidi Ramirez might very well be the smartest person in the room, was – finally – a presentation on the School District budget.

It should be noted that through an entire summer, while the state education budget was clearly unraveling, the SRC did not hold a single budget briefing until Wednesday – after delaying their September meeting for two weeks and after the media reported a $160 million deficit that apparently may still be growing.

The District’s budget document is a snapshot of what the District is thinking now that it’s finally acknowledged a devastating gap of at least $160 million. If there’s any indication of how significant a figure this is, the District’s expendable budget (the money that’s not legally obligated) is only about $1.6 billion. That means that a budget gap of $160 million or more is at least a 10% cut.

Notes from the news, Sept. 29

By Anonymous on Sep 29, 2009 09:48 AM

On eve of Phila. visit, education secretary urges longer school day The Inquirer
Sec. Duncan will be in town today to visit schools, including one of the Mastery Charter campuses. Duncan said that Superintendent Arlene Ackerman is "is one of the best superintendents in the country." The debate about a longer school day continues on our blog.

See also: Gingrich, Sharpton to tour Philly schools with US education secretary to discuss Obama reforms AP via LA Times
U.S. Education Secretary supports longer school days Philly.com
¿Qúe comparten Newt Gingrich y Al Sharpton? Al Día

New view of a troubled school Metro
This second piece in a two article series looks at a first year teacher at West Philadelphia High School.

Phila. School Lunch Workers Claim Years of Underpayment KYW
Philadelphia school lunch workers may have been paid less than the state minimum wage for businesses doing work with the city. The workers called on City Council and Mayor Nutter to investigate why the workers are not paid at the level set by the 2005 law.

Sports is more than sport: A dialogue on sports and media literacy Notebook blog
Teacher and blogger Samuel Reed, III talks with his son Kagiso about sports, media, and a professional development seminar they attended at Temple's Media Literacy Lab.

EduCon 2.2 -- Call For Conversations and Registration Practical Theory blog
In January Science Leadership Academy will host EduCon 2.2. Registration and the call for conversations are now open. Proposals for conversations (EduCon's conference sessions) are due by Nov. 1 and registration for the event will be open, without a late fee, through mid-January.

Civic Apps and Media In Philadelphia Philly Future blog
The title says it all, a great list of links of Philly media include the Notebook, Media Mobilizing Project, Plan Philly, and many many others. Bookmark this page!

Sports is more than sport: A dialogue on sports and media literacy

By Samuel Reed III on Sep 28, 2009 02:40 PM

What follows is a dialogue between my son, Kagiso Reed (KG), senior at Mastery Charter School and me, (SRIII) after we attended a professional development session facilitated by Temple University’s Media Literacy Lab on September 19th at Temple University.

SRIII: Hey KG, what was it like hanging out with your dad at the sports and media literacy seminar conducted by Erik Sakamoto and Patrick Johnson, from Youth Radio, Oakland, CA?

Wanted: Your comments on the District budget

By Anonymous on Sep 28, 2009 01:05 PM

A budget deal has been reached in Harrisburg, and it will mean a revenue shortfall of $160 million or more in the District budget. The District included money from the state in its budget that is now not going to come. This shortfall is not a surprise, but what do we do now?

One step is speaking up about how you think the money that does remain in the budget should be used. You can do that by taking part in our budget poll. We'll keep track of your responses and let you know what readers like you think about the District budget.

Send your comments in now!

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