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Notes from the news, Sept. 9

By the Notebook on Sep 9, 2014 09:28 AM

Students return to Philly schools amid funding concerns. Daily News

First day of school inspires fears and hopes. NewsWorks

Phila. schools open amid a mixture of hope and looming layoffs. Inquirer

Classes start for 135,000 public-school students. Tribune

Philly schools open with celebration masking concern. Al Día

Court to hear arguments Phila. district violated Pa. constitution. Inquirer

A second chance at reinventing the high school experienceNotebook

Students' voices are heard at a rally for more Pa. school funding. NewsWorks

Phila. Public School Advocates Keep Pressure on Corbett For School Funding. CBS Philly

Kids, protestors are back to school. Metro

Casey, nurses stress need for health professionals in schools. NewsWorks

Casey sponsors bill to increase number of school nurses. Inquirer

Call Widens For More School Nurses. CBS Philly

Philly School District, Department of Justice Reach Settlement in Beard-Length Lawsuit. NBC10

GOOD SCHOOL NEWS. REALLY: Violence is down, innovation up. And there is such a thing as a free lunch. Daily News

New principal of Houston Elementary: 'If we build it, they will come' NewsWorks

Whose Somebody are you? An exercise for the first day of class. Notebook

Is Corbett doing an about-face on state's Common Core? Morning Call

News summary from Keystone State Education Coalition


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Notes from the news

First day of school inspires fears and hopes

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Sep 8, 2014 06:20 PM

Ben Franklin High School student Brian Burney arrived at school early on the first day of classes.

Before the first bell, he joined a crowd of education activists gathered on North Broad Street to raise awareness of the plight of Philadelphia public schools.

Students' voices are heard at a rally for more Pa. school funding

By Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks on Sep 8, 2014 04:49 PM

As Philadelphia students returned to school Monday, children's advocates rallied outside Gov. Corbett's Center City office to rebuke him for not spending more on education.

The city's public schools are opening with a scarcity of guidance counselors, nurses, and funding for supplies.

Whose Somebody are you? An exercise for the first day of class

By Timothy Boyle on Sep 8, 2014 01:05 PM

Back in the summer of 2012, I was between schools, having left after five years the first school that I worked in. I wrote every day, along with the 19 other teachers who took part in the Philadelphia Writing Project's summer institute. The experience changed my life. 

I spent a lot of time with my colleagues, examining my practice and planning the kind of classroom that I wanted to teach in. After talking about what it means to have a student-centered class, I wrote a letter to my future students.

This year, I plan on using the letter again. This year, it seems much more important. When classes resume, kids will undoubtedly know that their school almost didn’t open on time because adults can’t figure out how to give them what they need and deserve. They will also be wondering about who in America does and doesn't value their lives.

A second chance at reinventing the high school experience

By Dale Mezzacappa on Sep 8, 2014 11:26 AM

When students showed up in school Monday, Saliyah Cruz and Neil Geyette embarked on the most important phase of an ambitious effort to reinvent the high school experience for many students in Philadelphia.

The two educators have designed and are running two brand new, non-selective high schools in North Philadelphia. Geyette is principal of the U School and Cruz is leading the LINC, which stands for Learning in New Contexts.

First day of school ... and, again, Philly educators prepared to do their best

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Sep 8, 2014 09:32 AM

Here we go again.

The Philadelphia School District opens its doors today, and, for the second year in a row, district leaders admit that resource levels are nowhere near sufficient. Children, they say, will not get the thorough and efficient education they're promised by the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Schools this year will, in fact, have less.

Nutter to attend a charter school board meeting during back-to-school week

By Paul Socolar on Sep 5, 2014 01:27 PM

Mayor Nutter’s annual Education Week, marking the opening days of school in Philadelphia, will have a couple of new twists this year.

The mayor’s activities will continue into a second week, city officials said, as Nutter plans to be in Harrisburg starting on Sept. 15 in an effort to ensure that the state legislature promptly approves the proposed Philadelphia-only cigarette tax increase upon its return from summer recess. The District is counting on $49 million from the tax this school year in order to avert further layoffs.

In another addition to the usual back-to-school activities, the mayor will go to a charter school board meeting on Sept. 10 to encourage other members of the public to do the same.

From the archives: Moffet School and community: A mutual respect

By the Notebook on Sep 5, 2014 12:13 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 is from the Fall 2000 print edition:


by Jeanette Kaplan

Joe Pomales, proud parent of two Moffet graduates and one student in the 5th grade, does it all. With his desk by the front door, his is usually the first face that greets incoming visitors. 

How do we tackle the broken promise of equal opportunity in education?

By James H. Lytle on Sep 5, 2014 10:43 AM

A few weeks ago, I wrote a commentary piece in which I argued that the School District and its supporters should focus attention on how to provide quality schooling with available resources and not concentrate solely on additional funding. The article generated many critical responses. Readers contended that I had given up on the fight for adequate funding for District students and was willing to settle for less than what students need – in terms of nurses, counselors and libraries, for example.

I regret that I was unclear. I absolutely do not think that District schools should passively accept less. My intent had been to suggest a strategy for providing quality education given the current circumstances and political climate. But that message clearly got overwhelmed by some of the recommendations I made.

This experience prompted me to think further about what parents, advocates, students, their teachers, and the community want and how politicians could respond.

So, here, I attempt to provide background for the long-running efforts to improve Philadelphia public schools and suggest options for action.

All Philly students now eligible for free school meals

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Sep 4, 2014 12:18 PM

For students in the Philadelphia School District, there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Starting this fall, the School District of Philadelphia will serve free breakfasts and lunches to all students, waiving the need for parents to submit a paper application proving their income is low enough to qualify.

The District's division of food services has transitioned to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Provision — which allows districts that serve predominantly low-income students to discard the paper application.

A Philly first: No schools on Pa.'s 'persistently dangerous' list

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Sep 3, 2014 06:07 PM

For the first time since the designation has been in place, zero Philadelphia School District schools have been deemed "persistently dangerous" by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The label has been used since the creation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

In each of the last four years, reported violent incidents in the District have been on the decline.

One of the best schools in Philly to parents: We need more students

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Sep 3, 2014 02:08 PM

Imagine a public high school in Philadelphia where class sizes are small, test scores are high, and violent incidents are almost non-existent.

Now imagine that the school – the week before school starts – is still begging for more students to enroll.

That's the scenario at Hill-Freedman World Academy in Northwest Philadelphia, known to a few parents as one of the Philadelphia School District's best-kept secrets.

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