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National survey shows increase in summer program participation

By Hina Fathima on Aug 8, 2014 03:03 PM

Summer learning programs are showing growing popularity among families, according to a national survey conducted by the Afterschool Alliance, an organization that advocates for afterschool programs.

The survey, which collected data from nearly 14,000 U.S. households, indicates that 33 percent of parents nationwide sent at least one child to a summer learning program in 2013, compared to 25 percent in 2009. About 51 percent of parents surveyed said that they wanted their child to participate in such programs if a high-quality option was made available.

From the archives: Fed up with gay-bashing: How one student responds

By thenotebook on Aug 8, 2014 01:06 PM

The Notebook was launched in 1994 as a newspaper committed to ensuring quality and equity in Philadelphia public schools. We celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first publication this spring. We are featuring an article from our archives each week, shedding light on both the dramatic changes that have taken place in public education and the persistent issues facing Philadelphia's school system.

This piece by an 11-year-old student is from the Winter 2000 print edition:

Editors' note: The Notebook's normal policy is not to accept anonymous submissions, but the student who submitted this piece was only comfortable with our publishing it on the condition of anonymity. We publish it in hopes that more young people will some day soon feel comfortable expressing these viewpoints openly and without fear.

"You're gay." That is what I have been hearing for six years - ever since I started school. Kids say those words as a way to insult each other.

But it always bothered me because I know people who are gay. When people use the words "You're gay," it makes it seem like there's something wrong with being gay. I never thought that was right.

District launches annual registration service for immigrant families

By Cathy Quero on Aug 8, 2014 10:12 AM

Students new to the city who speak a language other than English need not worry about figuring out how to register for school. Once again, the District has launched its annual Special Registration and Assessment service for these students and their parents, giving them an opportunity to receive help with the enrollment process.

The path forward: Q&A with Lisa Haver

By Bill Hangley Jr. on Aug 7, 2014 05:06 PM

Lisa Haver, a retired teacher and a founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS), is a fixture at School Reform Commission meetings and a consistent advocate for transparency, adequate funding, and a strong union role in public education.

“Public schools must continue to be a civic enterprise where district policies and decisions are formulated in public forums,” says the APPS mission statement, “not a financial enterprise controlled by corporate interests."

Key questions and answers on the budget crisis

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 7, 2014 04:29 PM

Notebook editors Paul Socolar and Dale Mezzacappa prepared a question-and-answer sheet, updating the budget crisis for distribution at E! Day, the District's annual back-to-school event to be held Friday at School of the Future. This is the event at which the District holds workshops and gives out information to families, as well as free book bags. 

Following is the Q&A, and here is a link to the actual flyer. Feel free to copy and distribute. 


What’s this about the schools not opening on time this fall?

The School District relies primarily on revenue from the city and the state to operate. Right now it does not have enough money to meet its expenses. This is because over the last several years, it has lost a lot of state aid while some of its costs continue to rise – and city and state leaders disagree over who is responsible to provide the necessary funds.

Corbett advances cash to Philly schools, but budget gap is unchanged

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Aug 6, 2014 02:04 PM

Gov. Corbett is authorizing a $265 million advance to the Philadelphia School District.

This is an early disbursement of money that the district was already scheduled to receive, and thus does not erase the district's $81 million budget gap.

The path forward: A statement from PSP's Mark Gleason

By Bill Hangley Jr. on Aug 6, 2014 12:18 PM

As the head of the Philadelphia School Partnership, Mark Gleason sits at the heart of the school reform movement in Philadelphia.

PSP is the conduit for tens of millions in philanthropic dollars, which it deploys to support what it calls “the transformation, expansion and startup of high-performing schools.”  It measures success by “the number of students in Philadelphia who move out of failing schools to better-quality school options.”

In cigarette tax haze, an overlooked point about Philly’s tax circumstances

By Mary Wilson for New​sWorks on Aug 5, 2014 06:58 PM

As Pennsylvania lawmakers appear to be at a stalemate over a cigarette tax proposal for Philadelphia schools, advocates worry that tax-averse legislators have a fundamental misunderstanding of their city's situation.

An "us-vs.-them" mentality pervades any debate involving education funding for the Philadelphia School District. Many Republican lawmakers have balked at the notion of approving a tax authorization for Philadelphia when it doesn't benefit their own districts.

Corbett aide says District should count on cigarette tax; Gov coming to Philly

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 5, 2014 06:09 PM

State Budget Secretary Charles Zogby says that Superintendent William Hite and the School Reform Commission should count on the eventual legislative authorization of a city cigarette tax to raise money for the city's schools -- meaning that they should not pull the trigger on layoffs and other school cuts on Aug. 15 that could delay the scheduled opening of school.

Sources also said that Gov. Corbett is planning to make an appearance in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning to discuss the schools' crisis.

The path forward: Q&A with Helen Gym of Parents United

By Bill Hangley Jr. on Aug 5, 2014 01:11 PM

Helen Gym ranks among Philadelphia’s best-known education advocates, and she's one of the most vocal critics of education reform as practiced in the city.

A co-founder of Parents United for Public Education, she has said she feels that the city is now going through “some kind of sick social experiment,” pointing to the failure of reform efforts to address systemwide inequities even as they are exacerbated by budget cuts.

Recognized this year by the White House as a Cesar Chavez Champion of Change, she is convinced that the conversation about education needs to be fundamentally shifted away from the goal of expanding “choice” and back toward the goal of ensuring “equity.”

“This is a state obligation, plain and clear,” she says. “Our essential responsibility as parents is to reframe and refocus the discussion on the constitutional mandate and the moral obligation.”

In the wake of this year’s budget process, we asked Gym to reflect on the message from Harrisburg, the role of charters and the teachers’ union, and Parents United’s strategy for shaping the debate in the months to come. 

In Baltimore, students go high-tech at low cost

By Dorian Geiger on Aug 5, 2014 11:52 AM

Walking through the hallways of the Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore, you can hear the clicking of computer mice, the clacking of fingers on keyboards, and the staccato hum of 3D printers.

Founded in 2013 by Andrew Coy, a young teacher and educational entrepreneur from Alaska, the Digital Harbor Foundation is at the forefront of infusing technology into youth programming on the East Coast.

“We love seeing young people be creative designers and engineers, think through real-world problems, and create solutions,” Coy said. “Technology is a really important tool in that and is something that is used every day here.”

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