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Universal-Bluford dedicates library to beloved educator

By Cathy Quero on Jun 24, 2014 04:39 PM

Universal-Bluford Charter School on Tuesday dedicated its library to Bettye Brown, a veteran teacher and beloved staffer who passed away earlier this year.

The ceremony, attended by members of the school's community, Brown's family, and Universal Companies founder Kenny Gamble, took place at the West Philadelphia school, where Brown worked as a coordinator for the charter network's school advisory councils from 2011 until her passing in January.

Superintendent: Pa. is not providing Philly kids a 'thorough and efficient' education

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jun 24, 2014 09:39 AM

Has Pennsylvania been coming through on its constitutional requirement to provide all children with a "thorough and efficient" education? In a recent interview at WHYY studios, Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite said, flatly, "No."

"Unfortunately, we're left with a situation where we're trying to only spend what we have," said Hite, "and that provides resources that are inadequate and insufficient in order to educate children."

Teachers write about their love of the profession

By Cathy Quero on Jun 23, 2014 03:46 PM

Several teachers from a handful of District and charter schools were asked what they love about teaching and what they would change if given the chance to improve conditions for students.

About a dozen educators from Teachers Lead Philly, a professional network devoted to teacher leadership, recently came together to write down responses describing their love of teaching in Philadelphia and their students, their motivations, frustrations, concerns, and hopes for the District. Here we feature six of those teachers' short essays.

Melanie Berlin
Mastery Charter School Mann Elementary

Teaching in Philly is challenging. But the challenge keeps me going. My students relentlessly challenge what I thought I knew about kids and teaching. My colleagues challenge me to expand my perspective and step out of my classroom bubble. The families I work with challenge me to have high expectations and broaden my definition of family. My supervisors constantly challenge me to reflect on my own teaching, take the next steps, continuously improve, and push myself out of my comfort zone.

Still short of funds, School District turns its eyes to Harrisburg

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jun 23, 2014 09:37 AM

Despite securing additional funding from City Council last week, the Philadelphia School District still faces a budget gap that threatens to strip its already bare-bones schools even further.

All eyes have now turned to the State Capitol.

Council panel votes for referendum to abolish SRC

By Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks on Jun 21, 2014 03:25 PM

A Philadelphia City Council committee has approved without a recommendation a petition request for a change in governance of the Philadelphia Public Schools.

The nonbinding referendum would ask the state to abolish the School Reform Commission and return the District to local control.

Hillary Linardopoulos of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers union said a referendum is the way to send a message to state officials.

Series on innovative schools leaves out messy details

By Lisa Haver on Jun 20, 2014 01:21 PM

In his recent Education Week article on the School District of Philadelphia’s plans to create more innovative schools, Benjamin Herold wrote: "The positive momentum, however, has not persuaded state lawmakers or the city teachers' union to heed [Superintendent William] Hite's pleas for hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue."

Now union members are to blame for not allowing Hite to spread innovation across the District, because of their refusal to give up 13 percent of their salary and benefits? I am no longer surprised to see this kind of blame-the-union narrative in the editorials of the local papers, but I was dismayed to read it in the Notebook, where Herold’s article was reprinted. 

From the archives: Too many can't read

By thenotebook on Jun 20, 2014 12:03 PM

The Notebook was launched in 1994 as a newspaper committed to ensuring quality and equity in Philadelphia public schools. We are celebrating 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.

From the Spring 1998 print edition:


by Lynette Hazelton and Helen Gym

Every school year, thousands of kindergartners enter the Philadelphia School District. The event, faithfully captured by the news media, stands as a symbol of hope for the family of every student.

Beeber teacher among 10 Black men in Philly to receive $10K award

By Cathy Quero on Jun 20, 2014 10:38 AM

Samuel Reed, a Beeber Middle School teacher and Notebook blogger, is one of 10 Philadelphia men to receive leadership awards from the BMe Community, an organization that helps build positive communities inspired by African American men. Each will receive $10,000 to help fund a local project. 

BMe, which stands for Black male engagement, but is pronounced "be me," will honor Reed and the other winners at its invitation-only awards ceremony on June 24 at The Impact Hub. 

SRC votes to revoke New Media charter, renew three others, sell William Penn

By Bill Hangley Jr. on Jun 20, 2014 01:18 AM

In one of the quieter School Reform Commission meetings in recent months, commissioners voted Thursday to revoke the charter of Mount Airy’s New Media Charter School, while renewing five-year charters for three other schools.

In its last regular meeting of the school year, it also took a series of other actions, including a vote to permanently close the former William Penn High School and sold it to Temple University for $15 million.

Academy at Palumbo students aid cancer research through study of fruit flies

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jun 19, 2014 03:11 PM

South Philly's Ibrahim Bakri is a matchmaking pro. 

During his senior year at the Academy at Palumbo, he learned that mating is simple: Get a bunch of girls together with a few guys in a small space, and the results are libidinously wild.

"So we just put them in vials, a whole bunch of females, a couple males, and just left them overnight," he said, "and by the time we came back there were eggs all over the place."

We're talking, of course, not of hormonal teenagers, but of fruit flies.

District, Council reach deal on more borrowing for schools

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jun 19, 2014 01:48 PM

City Council will apparently borrow $57 million to ease the School District's fiscal crisis -- $27 million immediately and $30 million more in the fall.

The agreement, which will help prevent up to 800 layoffs and other program cuts for next year, was secured after marathon lobbying to break the logjam between District leaders and Council President Darrell Clarke over funding for the schools.

Clarke had consistently opposed borrowing for the District, even though that was an option given to the city by state legislation last summer. He wanted the District to fill part of its shortfall for this year through proceeds from building sales. 

Council on Thursday passed the bill to borrow $27 million

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