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Three Renaissance charter renewals in question

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 5, 2015 04:57 PM

The School Reform Commission will consider more than a dozen charter renewals on Monday and is expected to hear at least two recommendations for nonrenewal -- including one at a District school that was turned over to a private operator for turnaround.

The District's Charter Schools Office is opposing renewal for Bluford Elementary, which is a Renaissance turnaround charter operated by Universal Companies. It is also recommending non-renewal for Delaware Valley Charter High School, citing academic inconsistencies and fiscal issues.

Relieve testing frenzy and abuse with new policy

By Debra Weiner on May 5, 2015 11:49 AM

When an increasing number of parents in school districts as different as Philadelphia and Lower Merion opt their children out of standardized testing, it's clearly time for state and federal education agencies to rethink whether testing, as it has been practiced, drives better instruction or undermines fundamental educational values.

Unlike many who are philosophically opposed to standardized testing, I believe that we need objective measures beyond grades from teachers to assess student growth. I also believe that the punitive use of standardized testing results has led to the crippling of creativity in the classroom, the elimination of art and music and sports and recess, the departure of good teachers from the profession, the discouragement of talented young people from entering the profession, and the temptation to cheat. 

Candidates talk schools, police brutality at youth mayoral forum

By Brian Hickey for NewsWorks on May 4, 2015 04:45 PM

By asking five mayoral candidates a question about police brutality, three Julia De Burgos Elementary School students sparked one of the campaign's most eye-opening moments to date.

Real estate tax revenues lagging in Philadelphia

By Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks on May 4, 2015 02:58 PM

Real estate tax collections are down in Philadelphia, and the city controller is asking why. 

Part of the answer may involve unresolved questions related to the actual value initiative, or AVI,  the citywide reappraisal of property values.

A student’s turnaround gets him to Penn, despite painful new challenges

By Paul Jablow and Dorian Geiger | Video by Dorian Geiger on May 4, 2015 10:04 AM

The two of them strode down the hall in University City High School, Glen Casey’s strides long and loping, the smaller Rich Neal, Glen’s caseworker at NorthEast Treatment Centers, struggling to keep up.

“Glen got a B on his report card and he was livid,” Neal recalls.

“He said, ‘There’s no way. I didn’t get a B in this class. This is a mistake. I wanna go talk to the teacher right now.’”

Waiting for fair-funding formula, Pa. school leaders assess disparities

By Sara Hoover for NewsWorks on May 1, 2015 02:07 PM

When it comes to disparities in school funding, Pennsylvania is leading the country.

Community members gathered Wednesday in the Springfield High School auditorium in Delaware County to hear about the imbalance that has wealthier districts getting more state funds than poorer ones.

What does a state education formula do?

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 1, 2015 10:00 AM

Nationally, most education funding comes from local sources, but all state governments contribute to school costs in some way. Most of the time, the state programs compensate in some way for differences in property wealth, income levels, and taxing capacity among school districts.

Most states also have a formula that guides how the aid is distributed among districts in a consistent way from year to year, based on factors such as enrollment, local wealth, and student characteristics.

After three years, ASPIRA's Olney Charter High says yes to union

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on May 1, 2015 09:52 AM

Decked out in blue for the school's colors, teachers and staff at ASPIRA Olney Charter High School linked arms in the school's empty cafeteria Thursday evening as a government agent tallied votes.

School Progress Reports released for Philly District

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 30, 2015 02:33 PM

The School District has released its School Progress Reports for 2013-14, which quantify a number of indicators to evaluate achievement, climate, and equity. The reports, which replaced the troubled School Performance Index, are in their second year.

Glen's Village: A mother reached out, and a son got needed services

By Paul Jablow and Dorian Geiger | Video by Dorian Geiger on Apr 30, 2015 01:14 PM

Glen Casey’s early school years were marked by all the academic warning signs:  low grades, truancy, and suspensions.

“He was verbally aggressive,” recalls Rich Neal, a behavioral specialist with NorthEast Treatment Centers (NET). Neal would be at Glen’s side until the tide turned for him years later. 

How is special education paid for in Pennsylvania public schools?

By Chris Satullo for NewsWorks on Apr 29, 2015 03:02 PM

What is special education?

Special education consists of supplemental services designed for students who have special needs due to cognitive or physical disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law enacted in 1990, guarantees a "free appropriate public education" to children, regardless of their disability. IDEA reauthorized and built upon a 1975 law that first created a federal mandate for public schools to educate children with disabilities at no cost to the family, in the least restrictive setting possible.

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