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Nutrition 101

By Molly Thacker on Aug 13, 2009 09:00 AM

Milton Friedman said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” 

Well, in Philadelphia schools, many students are able to get a lunch that is free, but not necessarily one that is healthy. The poor state of nutrition in school cafeterias should not only be alarming for advocates of health, but for advocates of quality, equitable education as well. 

Without wholesome, nutritious food, our students are not able to perform to their academic potential. The lack of quality food in our schools has a direct impact on how well (or poorly) our youth can focus, study, learn, socialize, grow, and develop.

New direction for teacher unionism

By Ron Whitehorne on Aug 12, 2009 12:31 PM

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold
Greater than the might of armies magnified a thousand fold
We can build a new world on the ashes of the old
For the Union makes us Strong

At a time when the labor movement has bled membership and unions are hard pressed to defend the gains made in earlier years, the radical optimism of this old labor hymn seems badly out of place. But, as I will argue in this and future posts, the vision of unionism as an instrument of social transformation retains its relevance. 

It has found expression in the ranks of teacher unionism, as activists grapple with how to respond to the crisis in public education and the simultaneous attacks on teacher unions.

The boss in Philly?

By Erika Owens on Aug 11, 2009 12:13 PM

No, not that one (he'll be here in October anyway). Tony Danza.

Next week the SRC will decide if Tony Danza can film a reality TV show in a Philly public high school.

Should A&E be allowed to develop another reality show in Philadelphia? Would it be a distraction, something lampooning the Philly schools, or an opportunity to shine a light on an actual urban classroom and not just its movie equivalent?

The Notebook and the shifting media landscape

By thenotebook on Aug 7, 2009 01:15 PM

The media landscape of Philadelphia is the subject of an August 9 New York Times Magazine article. Notebook editor Paul Socolar is described as "something like the journalist of the future." The Philadelphia Public School Notebook has been on the cutting edge throughout its history.

Fifteen years ago, a group of concerned parents, teachers, and community members founded the Notebook to be a resource and voice for people working for equality and quality in Philadelphia's troubled public school system. These pioneers saw a void in the local media landscape and filled it with a free quarterly newspaper, raising money from individuals and foundations and maintaining high journalistic standards while pursuing a mission of educational change.

Notebook in the NY Times Magazine

By Erika Owens on Aug 7, 2009 01:01 PM

In the August 9 New York Times Magazine, an article about the newspaper industry in Philadelphia highlights the Notebook as one of the emerging new media in the city and compliments the quality of its coverage. Times reporter Michael Sokolove writes that the Notebook  "breaks stories and is notably well written."

Two fellow Knight-funded projects and partners in the local alternative media universe - the Media Mobilizing Project and Plan Philly - also get shout outs.

Here is an excerpt:

Media literacy education elevator pitch

By Samuel Reed III on Aug 7, 2009 06:44 AM

The first thing I get when I register at the National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) conference, held in downtown Detroit, is my conference bag. 

If you have attended professional conferences before you know that your bag serves multiple purposes. You have somewhere to place all your conference materials and goodies sponsors provide, and it serves as tool to promote the association.

With my bag over my shoulder I collect the key for my room and enter the elevator. I greet another guest thinking maybe he was also attending the same conference. He returns my friendly greeting, and asks “what is NAMLE ... are you attending a conference here at the hotel?” I proudly say, “it's a media literacy education organization, and I'm attending their conference." He gives me a blank look, “media literacy... what is that?”

Engaging students in school reform

By Eric Braxton on Aug 6, 2009 01:18 PM

Often when we talk about engaging stakeholders in school reform we include teachers, parents, and even community and business leaders. Unfortunately, students, who are the most direct stakeholders of all, are often left out of the mix. 

I believe that if we are really going to turn around our high schools, we can no longer view students as passive beneficiaries of education. We must start to see them as active participants in creating change.   

Does Army junket violate guidance counselor ethics?

By Helen Gym on Aug 6, 2009 10:43 AM

Imagine if Walmart paid for your high school’s guidance counselor to take a four-day paid trip to “Walmart Land” where your guidance counselor got to engage in fun team-building exercises, toured the Walmart History Museum, and then to top it all off, took a bungee jump–the first of their life off--the Walmart Tower.

There would be day-long presentations and lectures on Walmart’s contributions, conveniently omitting key issues like say, oh, pay scale, perhaps, or the fact that bungee jumping has nothing to do with the typical Wal-mart’s worker’s actual responsibilities.

Afterward, the Walmart Recruiter says, “We hope you’ll take back to your school what you learned. We planned this trip because Walmart hasn’t seen enough prospective employees from your schools. We hope this visit will change that.”

What the Notebook has for you

By thenotebook on Aug 5, 2009 01:13 AM

With a print edition, daily updated blog, and e-newsletter, the Notebook publishes a lot of information. Here's a rundown of ways to use all that we offer.

Ways to learn:

Starting with the 2009-20 school year you can pick up a copy of the print edition six times a year, instead of four. In every edition you'll find the following:

Research bears out 'wishful thinking' on turnarounds

By Erika Owens on Aug 4, 2009 10:33 PM

Ed Week has a (free!) piece about the (lack of) research around turnaround programs for underperforming schools. Part of it echoes the editorial from our Spring edition:

"Turnaround is meant to quick-start a culture change, and there are those specially trained to do this. Using their expertise makes sense; but assuming that there are managers for hire who will resolve the deep-seated problems of struggling schools is wishful thinking."

Summer school: last chance or great advance?

By Alesha Jackson on Aug 3, 2009 06:15 AM

When I was a kid, summer school was a four-letter word.  Rumored to contain the toughest criminals or the hardcore slackers, public school in the summertime was the last stop on the loser train. 

Fast- forward to my years as a teacher in Harlem.  Adamantly refusing to teach during summer months, I had stopped in for some planning for the following year.

And boy, was I shocked!

Summer school was a serene, peaceful version of the regular school year.

In other words, it was like a different school.

In case you missed it, week of Jul. 26

By Erika Owens on Jul 31, 2009 05:56 PM

The August NEWSFLASH from the Notebook came out this week. Read the transcript of the Notebook interview with superintendent Ackerman. It's sparked quite a conversation amongst commenters; for example: "An individual is not anti-child when they ask about proposals. I think it dangerous to claim any person or group is against you when they ask a question. These are children's lives and they deserve careful, rigorously debated courses of action." from Mr.Boyle.

This week Daily News reporter Mensah M. Dean, leaves the education beat. Congrats on your service covering the Philly schools since 1997, Mensah!

Mensah's final education article was about the budget standoff and its impact on schools that are waiting for state funding. Earlier in the week he also reported on the record PSSA scores. The PSSA results were also covered by the Inquirer and the Notebook.

Al Día had an interview with new SRC member Johnny Irizarry, en español. 

Public Citizens for Children and Youth's (PCCY) new blog, Childwatch!, had a post with tips on how you can help make sure our state budget is good for kids.

WHYY's It's Our City blog had a post about Philly as a center for "eds and meds" jobs.

Motown here I come

By Samuel Reed III on Jul 30, 2009 05:23 AM

Forget for a minute the shadow over the city of Detroit. I don’t want to focus on the auto industry crisis or the city’s political drama – Detroit’s former mayor, Kwame M. Kilpatrick,served prison time. I just want to go back to the time, when the Motown sound provided a soulful message and gave you a reason to clap your hands and dance to the beat.   

Can you believe Motown is celebrating its 50th anniversary?

So what better place to have this year’s annual National Association Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) conference, but Detroit, MI (August 1- 4)?

Another free pass on the Parking Authority

By Helen Gym on Jul 29, 2009 03:44 PM

It’s hard to imagine the City of Philadelphia and our schools in more dire financial straits than now.

On the line are thousands of jobs, potential increases in taxes for residents, closure and reduction of city services, the threat of an austere senate bill that will strip away millions of dollars from public schools, and the elimination of a historic school funding formula. You get the picture.

And then there’s one agency that’s just rolling in money – the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which has seen revenues double over the past few years and anticipates even more of a windfall with the obnoxious new parking meter rates throughout the city.

Can we help out Jay Mathews?

By Erika Owens on Jul 28, 2009 12:10 AM

In a column over on the Washington Post's site, Jay Mathews asks if anyone knows of any high achieving students who were kept away from college because of money. Can we help him out? Do you know of anyone?

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