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A longer plan, still without priorities

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 14, 2009 07:42 PM

The long awaited revision of the Imagine 2014 strategic plan is out, described on the District Web site as “the final version of the plan.” This is the document that Superintendent Ackerman and the School Reform Commission intend to bring to a vote on April 22.

Hot off the press

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 14, 2009 03:34 PM

Here is the link to the school district's final strategic plan, Imagine 2014, just posted today on its Web site. More to come.

Criminalizing teenage behavior: one Pennsylvania District Attorney goes too far

By Len Rieser on Apr 13, 2009 10:24 AM

Two unusual decisions emerged from the federal courts in the last couple of weeks. Both dealt (at least in part) with students’ constitutional rights, though their subject matter couldn’t have been more different.  The first, from northeastern Pennsylvania, was about “sexting,” while the other involved the decision of the Miami-Dade School Board to ban a book entitled “Vamos a Cuba” from school libraries. 

In case you missed it, Apr. 5-10

By Erika Owens on Apr 10, 2009 08:33 PM

This week a study of private management in the Philadelphia schools was released. It found that from 1997-2006, 45 privately-managed schools did not "keep pace" with District-run schools.

Casinos are an education issue -- and not because of funding

By Debbie Wei on Apr 10, 2009 09:03 AM

I am ashamed to admit I did not join the fight against casinos until a location on the front steps of Chinatown was proposed. Either location for Foxwoods at this point threatens the community – the Gallery site is 50 feet from the nearest resident, the Strawbridge’s site is less than 200 feet from one of our daycare centers. But now that I’ve learned more, my passion against the casino plan is fueled by much more than the threat to my community.

Relationships matter

By Alesha Jackson on Apr 9, 2009 08:16 AM

I recently worked with a group of new teachers at a large Philadelphia high school. We were discussing risk taking as part of lesson planning, but our talk wasn’t going very well. I’d hoped to get a dialogue going that might encourage them to think about the differences between merely “getting through the lesson” and really structuring time where students could connect personally with the work.

Budget update: Ouch, there went $35 million

By Paul Socolar on Apr 8, 2009 05:44 PM

The state updated its projections last week of how much money each school district will receive from the federal economic stimulus. Philadelphia stands to receive $35 million less than previously projected - due to a reallocation of the one-time pot of money described as "state fiscal stabilization grants."

Poverty = stress = brain impairment

By Erika Owens on Apr 8, 2009 01:50 PM

A new study finds that students who grew up in poverty have less working memory than their middle class peers. The researchers say that the cause is the stress that living in poverty puts on the brain, as measured by physiological indicators like blood pressure.

Working memory is crucial for everyday activities as well as for forming long-term memories.

"It's critical for learning," [the lead researcher] said. "If you don't have good working memory, you can't do things like hold a phone number in your head or develop a vocabulary."

When the researchers analyzed the relationships among how long the children lived in poverty, their allostatic load [stress level] and their later working memory, they found a clear relationship: The longer they lived in poverty, the higher their allostatic load and the lower they tended to score on working-memory tests. Those who spent their entire childhood in poverty scored about 20 percent lower on working memory than those who were never poor, [the lead researcher] said.

Real school reform cannot be done to communities; it must be done with them

By Eric Braxton on Apr 7, 2009 02:00 PM

Recently I wrote about the need for greater community involvement in the Renaissance Schools plan. School reform advocates have argued for community involvement for a long time.  School districts, on the other hand, often pay lip service to community involvement by doing the bare minimum so that they can say people were involved while continuing to have real decision-making done by the same small group of insiders. 

Hundreds of schools, and one map to see them

By Erika Owens on Apr 6, 2009 01:54 PM

The Notebook just posted this map to its multimedia page:


View Larger Map

Seeking Solutions

By Alesha Jackson on Apr 3, 2009 08:55 AM

In a lively online discussion, you responded to teachers at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, where a shift in student behavior has teachers concerned about the future of the school. Last week, Feltonville’s recently-appointed principal talked back to the school community in a public meeting with parents. Teachers also widely attended, as well as Lucy Feria, the Regional Superintendent for the North Region here in Philly. 

In case you missed it, Mar. 30-Apr. 3

By Erika Owens on Apr 3, 2009 04:25 AM

This week the Education First Compact and Cross City Campaign started a campaign for effective teaching.

Wide variation in breakfast participation

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 2, 2009 10:26 AM

At Thurgood Marshall elementary school in Olney, a K-8 school with an enrollment of about 600, more than nine out of ten students eat breakfast in school every day. Compare that to Andrew Morrison elementary just a few blocks away, a school with similar demographics -- a mostly African American and Latino population, 85 percent of which are poor enough to qualify for free and reduced price lunch -- where only about 30 percent of the students eat breakfast at school.

Go, Johnny, go, Johnny, go, go, go!

By Debbie Wei on Apr 1, 2009 01:28 PM

Helen’s and Len’s blogs on lack of transparency in the SRC process are on point. Philadelphia has always had a Jurassic Age system of an appointed board, unlike most other places in the country where the school board is democratically elected.

Are we still a District in distress?

By Len Rieser on Mar 31, 2009 09:59 PM

The three people whose appointments to the SRC were unveiled last week are, by all accounts, excellent choices. But why was there absolutely zero public input into the selection process?

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