Today is election day.
Some studies show that almost 85% of Philadelphia voters will stay home and give up their right to vote. But if you care about where the money goes in the Philadelphia public schools, here's hoping you won't be one of those people staying at home.
That's because today is the election for the City Controller, one of the most important offices for school parents. The City Controller is an independent auditing agency which is responsible for auditing a host of institutions and that includes the School District of Philadelphia.
Last month the School Reform Commission approved Arlene Ackerman’s strategic plan, Imagine 2014. The most controversial part of the plan is the proposal to turn some of the lowest performing schools into Renaissance Schools.
It’s one thing to write as a teacher from a teacher’s perspective. It’s another altogether to write from the sidelines about teachers’ daily lives.
Busy, busy week.
Philly schools were front page news on Wednesday's Inquirer and Thursday's Daily News and again on Thursday's Inky. The Daily News story detailed the charter renewal discussion from Wednesday's SRC meeting. Other Daily News stories looked at the apparent suicide of Philly charter school founder Brien Gardner, who was under federal investigation for misuse of charter funds, and at Councilman Kenney's questioning of the renewal of an alternative schools manager with ties to centers where five students died.
A post over on Young Philly Politics congratulates Notebook blogger and board member Helen Gym on the work she and Parents United for Public Education have done in pressing for the removal of the BRT patronage jobs from the School District payroll.
The SRC Chair, Robert Archie, today issued the statement below, representing a new stance on the 80 patronage employees from the Board of Revision of Taxes who sit on the School District payroll, at a projected cost of $4.56 million for the coming school year. He now very politely says "it would be preferable and much more efficient" to put these employees on the city's payroll with the rest of the BRT and have the District pay the city a "service fee."
So there's no promise of saving the District any money through this proposed action, but Archie's statement also politely suggests that it would be great if the city or state would relieve the District of some or all of the financial burden for these clerk positions.
So it's possible that the District will finally be able to shed at least some portion of this financial obligation, though Archie is at pains not to pass the problem off to the mayor.
STATEMENT BY SCHOOL REFORM COMMISSION CHAIRMAN ROBERT L. ARCHIE:
At City Council budget hearings today, the School District provided a handout on the potential impact of PA Senate Bill 850, if it were to be enacted into law. It breaks down how, in fact, the adoption of the Senate plan for state education would gut more than $300 million from Philadelphia schools, almost entirely wiping out all the anticipated increases, counteracting the fact that the District would still be getting a large infusion of stimulus money.
I made the decision to become a high school teacher while sitting in Mr. Mendelson’s Honors U.S.
When I told friends, and few parents of my students I would be blogging for the Notebook, some wondered if it was too risky to make myself and my teaching practice so public. The act of sharing my words on the page or in this case in the blogosphere has it inherent risk. Some folks may reject my views or misinterpret intentions. But I am not afraid of going public. After all as a 6th grade teacher at the Beeber Middle School, who lives in the same community where I teach, I consider myself a “public” figure.
"Until the lion tells its tale, the story of the hunt will always glorify the hunter." This African proverb hung at the front of a colleague's classroom my second year of teaching. His room was a calm, orderly oasis in a considerably more chaotic environment.
I'm just back from one of the District's community budget meetings Saturday morning at Northeast HS, which included a lively Q & A about funding and spending issues with more than 25 people participating. It was great to see at least two simultaneous translators at work during the meeting with immigrant parents in the audience.
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.)