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Thank you, readers - we rely on you

By Anonymous on Feb 15, 2011 07:06 PM

With your support, we've had some of the highest traffic ever on our site over the past month. In the past week, we've had two days where we received 50+ comments - wow! Thank you for sharing your views. And thanks to all of you who are helping us spread the word about the Notebook, by telling your friends, emailing articles, or posting links on Facebook.

Our consistent coverage of Renaissance Schools, the budget crunch, and more is thanks to the hard work of many people and the support of a variety of funders. But you remain the most important piece to our financial and organizational sustainability.

Would you join us today as a member?

Big promises, big questions in S. Philly

By Benjamin Herold on Feb 15, 2011 04:17 PM

As part of its highly touted Promise Neighborhood planning initiative, Universal Companies has big plans for Audenried High School and Edwin Vare Middle School.

They’re just not saying very much about those plans yet.

Notes from the news, Feb. 15

By Anonymous on Feb 15, 2011 11:03 AM

notes from the news imageThis time, it's Audenried students who walk The Notebook blog
Breaking news this morning out of Audenried. About 40 students have gathered at 440 to protest plans for Audenried's turnaround.

See also: In defense of the new Audenried The Notebook blog

School district officials have created a very hot fiscal potato It's Our Money
Phil Goldsmith says the District was spending stimulus money in exactly the way that "federal officials warned against."

See also: Notes from the field-Create a Budget That Truly Puts All Children First City School Stories

Mastery to compete for Gratz, Clymer The Notebook blog
Mastery plans to focus its attention for the second year of Renaissance Schools development and not take on more new schools than it can handle - if the SACs choose Mastery as a provider.

School leaders tell lawmaker what they need to be effective Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Superintendent Ackerman was one of the leaders who testified about narrowing the racial achievement gap. The leaders said they need to be able to more easily remove ineffective teachers.

See also: With layoffs coming, it's time to stand up for seniority The Notebook blog

Process and promise at West Philly High The Notebook blog
A guest blog from a member of the West Philadelphia community explains how and why the process for turnaround has received so much resistance.

See also: Unrest at West Philadelphia High School The Daily Pennsylvanian

Fatimah Ali: Why Fatimah Ali changed her mind on Philadelphia school vouchers Daily News
Fatimah Ali describes how, even without the voucher bill, some students like her son are able to attend non-District schools, and that this opportunity should be opened up to more students.

Share Your Voice: SRC Start Time Adjusted A Broad View
This week's SRC meeting starts at 5 p.m.

Questions about the 144 failing schools list Keystone State Education Coalition

Assessment Equity: Pennsylvania's Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) A Broad View

J.B. Kelly Elementary School closed Tuesday Philly.com

Ackerman's memo about budget gap The Notebook blog

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.

Notes from the news

In defense of the new Audenried

By Guest blogger on Feb 15, 2011 10:54 AM

We have another guest blog today, this one from a group of teachers at Audenried High School, in response to planned changes at their school.


On January 25, the new Audenried High School was identified as a “Renaissance School” and slated to become a charter under outside control. Before the 11th graders take the new school's first-ever PSSAs, before the inaugural graduating class of 2012 accepts their diplomas, and before we send our students off to pursue colleges and careers, our present renaissance is being cut short.

This time, it's Audenried students who walk

By Benjamin Herold on Feb 15, 2011 10:32 AM

UPDATE: District comment.

Students from Audenried High School left school Tuesday morning, with more than 40 gathering at to 440 N. Broad St. to protest plans to convert the school to a charter managed by Universal Companies.

Their message: "We like Audenried just the way it is."

The student protesters chanted,"This is our house!" and "Where is the data?"

Process and promise at West Philly High

By Guest blogger on Feb 14, 2011 06:39 PM

This week we will have several guest blog posts. The first is from Drick Boyd, an associate professor of Urban and Interdisciplinary Studies at Eastern University.


We tend to think dictatorships only exist in places like Tunisia and Egypt, and when the masses rise up and force the dictators out we consider that to be a good thing. Well, there is a dictatorship in Philadelphia that is facing an uprising of its own, and as far as I am concerned, it's about time. I am referring to the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) and the series of community responses to the superintendent’s newest round of proposed reforms.

Ackerman's memo about budget gap

By Anonymous on Feb 14, 2011 05:12 PM

Last week District officials publicly put a figure on the budget gap, which could be "$400 to $500 million or more," according to Superintendent Ackerman. A Notebook commenter said the District told staff to expect a detailed memo following the announcement.

A reader forwarded the memo to the Notebook.

With layoffs coming, it's time to stand up for seniority

By Ron Whitehorne on Feb 14, 2011 03:57 PM

With many school districts facing budget shortfalls, teachers, including those in Philadelphia, will likely face layoffs.

The budget crunch coincides with a growing attack on teacher tenure and seniority as the governing principle for teacher assignment and layoffs. Even Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, and long time teacher union organizer and staffer, has joined the chorus calling for “peformance” as the “driver” in decisions around these issues. And former Washington, D.C. Superintendent Michelle Rhee has made ending tenure and eliminating seniority central agenda points of her “Students First” campaign.

Mastery to compete for Gratz, Clymer

By Benjamin Herold on Feb 14, 2011 01:32 PM

Mastery Charter will be competing for just two of the six recently named "Renaissance match" charter schools - Simon Gratz High School and George Clymer Elementary School.

Mastery CEO Scott Gordon described his organization's strategy as "high-risk."

Notes from the news, Feb. 14

By Anonymous on Feb 14, 2011 10:58 AM

notes from the news imageWest students walk out The Notebook blog
Students at West Philly High walked out of school Friday afternoon to protest the upheaval facing their school.

See also: 30 West Philadelphia High students walk out in protest The Inquirer

School districts bracing for end of stimulus funds Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
This piece compiles coverage about the budget situation in Pennsylvania and is supported by the Education Writers Association and Hechinger Institute.

Corbett Promises Drastic Budget Cuts Fox 29
Gov. Corbett will announce the cuts on March 8, and big cuts are expected for education.

PhillyDeals: Bill would grow tuition tax breaks for the middle class, too The Inquirer
The state senate bill that would bring vouchers to Pennsylvania would also double the Educational Improvement Tax credit, which allows businesses to pay part of their taxes into a scholarship fund.

See also: School-voucher research less emphatic than debate The Inquirer
The Nation: It Takes a Village, Not a Tiger Keystone State Education Coalition
The Parent's Role in the School Choice Debate Mt. Airy Patch

Learning vs. (Make-up) Work Making the Grade blog

What Can We Learn from Gaming? Philly Teacher blog

YouTube/You Learn?: The Role of Media Literacy for Students Today Research for Action blog

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.

Notes from the news

West students walk out

By the Notebook on Feb 11, 2011 03:33 PM

by Celeste Lavin and Raquel Ronzone


[Updated, 8:30 p.m.] As many as 100 students at West Philadelphia High School walked out of their classrooms at about 1 p.m. Friday. Borrowing a tactic from the long history of student activism, students say they organized a walkout as a statement to the District about their disappointment and concern with the ongoing reforms at the school.

Notes from the news, Feb. 11

By Anonymous on Feb 11, 2011 11:13 AM

notes from the news imageAckerman foresees $400 million 2011-12 school district shortfall The Inquirer
District officials announced the budget forecast yesterday. Some adjustments will be made immediately to make up a gap this  year, but the gap could be "$400 to $500 million or more" next year.

See also: District finally reveals size of budget gapThe Notebook blog
Schools plan for funding cuts Daily News
More School District cuts coming with less funding
Philadelphia Tribune
Phila. school budget proposal looks to cut $400-million 6 ABC

Charter school conversion plan rankles S. Philly parents WHYY/NewsWorks
You can hear reporter Benjamin Herold discuss Audenried High on the radio today, or listen to the piece online.

Ravitch: Turnaround is a national failure The Notebook blog
Diane Ravitch spoke at an event in New York City on Monday and had strong words about turnaround and the test-taking culture driving schools and policymaking.

NW Philly schools under-enrolled but district won’t say which ones WHYY/NewsWorks
The Facilities Master Plan meeting at Saul High brought out about 60 parents.

SRC member Girard-DiCarlo abruptly quits Philadelphia Tribune
Girard-diCarlo said in a phone interview that he had been thinking about quitting the SRC for a while.

See also: Renuncia miembro de la SRC Al Día
SRC: Who's who? The Notebook blog

The Children Must Play Practical Theory blog

Choice Cuts Week Ending 2011-02-11 [Video]  Philly School Search

SB 1 - What's Next? Keystone State Education Coalition

Study finds schools are not well prepared to deal with cyberbullies WHYY/NewsWorks

First grader found wandering blocks away from school 6 ABC

Michael Vick Shares Lessons Learned With Roberto Clemente Students  A Broad View blog

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.

Notes from the news

District finally reveals size of budget gap

By Paul Socolar on Feb 10, 2011 07:47 PM

[Updated, 10:10 pm] Superintendent Arlene Ackerman today acknowledged the size of the District's budget gap for next year to be "$400 to $500 million or more" - an amount that likely represents about 15 percent of total District spending.

And officials describe their challenge as three-pronged:

Ravitch: Turnaround is a national failure

By Helen Gym on Feb 10, 2011 02:26 PM

Turnaround is a failed measure that’s led to instability in schools and “massive demoralization” among teachers and school officials, said New York University professor and author Diane Ravitch Monday night in New York City.

Ravitch was the featured speaker along with a dynamic panel of parent activists from across the country in an event sponsored by Parents Across America to launch a new national network of parent leaders.

Ravitch, who has risen to significant prominence in the last year in the wake of her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System, remained a sharp critic of current education reform fads, including turnaround, which is a major focus of the Ackerman administration.

SRC: Who's who?

By Paul Socolar on Feb 10, 2011 02:08 PM

Commissioner David Girard-diCarlo, who resigned from the School Reform Commission this week, held a seat on the SRC that was due to expire in January 2014, according to a recent memo from Erin O. Davis, SRC chief of staff. His seat is to be filled by Gov. Tom Corbett. In the meantime, the SRC will have only four members.

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