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Link to Imagine 2014

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 19, 2009 12:03 PM

Here is the link to the District's Imagine 2014 strategic plan draft. Check it out and post your reactions.

Tiff at the SRC

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 18, 2009 10:37 PM

There was a testy exchange, to put it mildly, at the School Reform Commission meeting today. Superintendent Arlene Ackerman lit into to commissioners Heidi Ramirez and Martin Bednarek for failing to support two resolutions contracting with Teach for America the the New Teacher Project for next year.

Ackerman accused the two of making a deal and snapped, "The SRC should reform itself." She warned that the failure to act now could result in schools opening in September with hundreds of vacancies. 

Despite the tongue-lashing, the two stuck to their guns.

Breaking the silence: Teachers look for help

By Alesha Jackson on Feb 18, 2009 12:42 PM

An email this week came to me by way of a local classroom teacher, whose professional community is threatened by the actions—or inaction—of their recently-appointed school leader. 

Philadelphia's potential windfall from the stimulus package? (corrected)

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 17, 2009 07:34 PM

According to this document on the House Education and Labor Committee website, Philadelphia stands to gain about $265 million in new federal aid from two of the funding streams in the stimulus package that President Obama signed today.

But Doctor, I Have the Strangest Feeling of Having Been Here Before ...

By Len Rieser on Feb 17, 2009 10:43 AM

When the District unveils its new Strategic Plan this week (plan is now available here), I’m hoping to be impressed. But no matter what the plan says, I have a suggestion for something we should do before we take even a single step in carrying it out.

Admittedly, my suggestion doesn’t quite fit the title of my blog (education law). Or maybe it does, because there really should be a law about this. It could say:

Charters are the answer?

By Shani Adia Evans on Feb 16, 2009 12:01 PM

In his 2009 annual letter, Bill Gates lamented that many of the high schools his foundation funded did not improve student outcomes in a meaningful way. Although many of the schools did have higher attendance and graduation rates, they had not graduated more college-ready students. However, Gates wrote that a few successful non-selective schools serving mostly poor students had been effective in raising expectations and student achievement.

I Am Not an Anti-test Nazi

By Debbie Wei on Feb 13, 2009 01:07 PM

I am not an anti- test-Nazi. I think standardized tests can give you some useful information. But at what cost? And what kind of information? And how much should it be weighed in an overall picture of assessment?

When you really look at the tests and ask some questions like a group in California called Teachers for Social Justice asks, it makes you really wonder why these tests are given so much weight.

In case you missed it - stories from the week

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 13, 2009 12:32 PM

Check out these truly shocking stories about two judges in Wilkes-Barre who, in return for kickbacks, sentenced students who committed minor infractions to privately-run juvenile detention centers. Kudos to John Sullivan of the Inky for following this story. It also made the front page of the New York Times.

More on "turnaround"

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 13, 2009 12:14 PM

On Wednesday, after the School Reform Commission meeting, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman confirmed that the District’s eagerly awaited strategic plan will indeed present “turnaround” options for chronically low-performing schools.

Guiding Principles for High School Transformation

By Eric Braxton on Feb 12, 2009 01:40 PM

If we are to get serious about transforming neighborhood high schools, how do we get started? Education Resource Strategies did an excellent study looking at the common elements of highly effective small schools. In specific, they found that these schools all have an instructional vision that drives decision making in all facets of the school and that effective schools require some flexibility from normal school district procedures and union contracts.

What you probably won't hear from the next SRC commissioner ...

By Helen Gym on Feb 10, 2009 06:42 PM

Last month, the terms of four out of the five School Reform Commissioners expired. As the Governor and Mayor mull over their appointments, don’t expect to see anything like this from prospective nominees to the SRC:

Dear fellow School District parents, students, staff and stakeholders:

Strip searches and students' rights

By Len Rieser on Feb 10, 2009 06:23 PM

Searches of students –especially strip searches – aren’t exactly a big topic of conversation in school-reform circles.  But the subject may get more attention in the near future, when the Supreme Court decides whether or not to uphold a recent decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Redding v. Safford Unified School District

"I'm going to Haaaavahd"

By Alesha Jackson on Feb 9, 2009 07:24 PM

It’s Black History Month, and this year marks an exciting time during that history: the remarkable ascent of a Black man to America’s highest office.

Learning to listen

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 6, 2009 02:53 PM

Although I have been writing about the School District of Philadelphia for more than 20 years, this is my first attempt at blogging. By temperament and training, my inclination has been to keep my opinion out of things. Sure, I decided what to write about and sought out particular sources. But never did the words “I think” ever appear in anything I wrote. That didn’t stop some people for criticizing me for what they thought I thought; others, though, actually sought out my opinion.

Gambling Revenue and a Tenuous Future for Education Funding

By Helen Gym on Feb 5, 2009 06:26 PM

As a Philadelphian who is active in a number of different communities, I never really thought that my volunteer efforts as a parent and education activist would have reason to intersect with my work at Asian Americans United fighting a casino in the heart of Philadelphia and next to Chinatown. But recent news about Pennsylvania's efforts to link gambling and education funding now has me wondering about how worlds can collide. Consider these recent connections around gambling and schools:

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