Yesterday I was listening to "Radio Times" on WHYY discuss property tax abatements, which are coming to the end of their 10-year term. One strand largely absent in the dialogue was the impact of property tax abatements on school district financing.
Eric Braxton’s blog about the lack of public discussion, among SRC members at this week's meeting, of something that's a huge deal for Philadelphia families – the five-year “strategic plan” -- is on target. How could three of four SRC members have had so little to say on something so important?
Yesterday was an important meeting for the School Reform Commission. It was the first meeting for new chairman Robert Archie and new member Johnny Irizarry. It was also the presentation of the final draft of the District’s new strategic plan, Imagine 2014. I don’t want to rush to judgment too soon, but I hope we will see more engagement from SRC members in the future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
The Notebook just posted this map to its multimedia page: