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Many more teacher vacancies to fill than in previous years, says District

By Shannon Nolan on Feb 2, 2015 05:01 PM

Amid its budget uncertainty, the Philadelphia School District faces yet another challenge: an increase in teacher vacancies compared to previous years.

Last fall, the District had 75 full-time and part-time vacancies, up from 40 at that time in 2013, said Kendra-Lee Rosati, director of recruiting for the District. Rosati attributed this increase, in part, to 50 jobs that were added one month into the school year.

SRC asks for more time to decide on charter applications

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Jan 30, 2015 06:12 PM

In an email that went out today, the Philadelphia School District's Charter Office requested that new charter applicants sign a waiver giving the School Reform Commission until June 1 to vote on their applications. That's more than three months longer than allowed by Pennsylvania's Charter School Law. According to that law, the authorizing body — in this case the SRC — must vote on applications within 75 days of the first hearing. That deadline is in mid-February. The public is allowed to submit written comment until Feb. 1 by emailing

Philly Artrepreneurs wins $5,000 from innovation contest

By Sarah Hoover for NewsWorks on Jan 30, 2015 04:58 PM

A new program, Philly Artrepreneurs, gives students a way to use their art skills to fund their favorite charity. The program won $5,000 in a seed money competition this week.

Philly CORE Leaders, which funds innovative ideas for education in the city, hosted the annual event. The audience — made up of teachers, education leaders and community members — listened to entrepreneurs pitch ideas and then picked the winner out of five presenters.

District posts reports on proposed charter schools

By the Notebook on Jan 29, 2015 05:35 PM



Now that both rounds of hearings for 40 new charter school applicants are over, the School District posted the evaluations for the proposed schools today.

People can look through the reports and submit public comment by Sunday, Feb. 1, three days from now. Comments can be emailed, dropped off at District headquarters, or mailed.

Germantown grassroots group awaits word on charter-school application

By Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks on Jan 29, 2015 04:42 PM

Vera Primus breathed a sigh of relief late Wednesday morning before leaving a first-floor meeting room inside Philadelphia School District headquarters.

For nearly two hours, she and other members of a grassroots coalition had listened to comments and taken questions on the nearly 100-page application they had submitted for a new independent charter school in Germantown.

A daily reboot keeps this teacher 'there for today' with his students

By Susan Richardson for NewsWorks on Jan 29, 2015 01:21 PM

I'm a big believer in rituals. Whether they're for people like us to get through the day, or for households, companies, or communities, rituals are a deep, human way of creating rhythm, focus and touchstones in what otherwise might feel like confusion.

I talked recently to a Philadelphia public school teacher who relies on ritual in his high-performance workplace.

Andrew Phillips is a licensed architect and a full-time design teacher at Philadelphia's Charter High School for Architecture & Design in Center City. The school was created by the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects to increase the role of minorities in design and architecture. Its students mostly come from lower-income backgrounds.

Truebright charter appeals shutdown order to Commonwealth Court

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Jan 29, 2015 09:43 AM

Charter schools are supposed to be nimble and innovative, but the process to close an underperforming charter is anything but.

Six weeks after the Charter Appeal Board voted 7-0 to deny Truebright Academy Science Charter's bid to stay open, the school in the Olney neighborhood of North Philadelphia has taken its case all the way to Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court.

Parents United prevails in getting BCG school-closings list

By Helen Gym on Jan 28, 2015 06:20 PM

What could possibly justify the closing of Northeast High School, the largest school in the city and each year bursting at the seams? Why would anyone suggest closing four elementary schools in Olney, a neighborhood that once housed some of the most overcrowded schools in the District?

We may not find out the answers to these questions, but we know now that these were some of the ludicrous ideas proposed by the Boston Consulting Group in a long-secret 2012 report presented in a private meeting to the School Reform Commission.

BCG called for closing 88 District-managed schools, which would have displaced a conservative estimate of 22,000-31,000 students districtwide – more than triple the number of students displaced by the actual 2013 school closings. A five-year plan sought the removal and reassignment of up to 45,000 students, more than one-third of the District.

Should Pa. require students to pass standardized tests to graduate?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jan 28, 2015 04:22 PM

The clock is ticking.

By 2017, in order to graduate high school in Pennsylvania, students must pass three state standardized tests: algebra, literature, and biology.

Based on most recent student scores — especially in biology — if trends continue, Pennsylvania will soon see far fewer of its students walking down the aisle in cap and gown.

In order to preempt that scenario, State Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Dauphin) has introduced a bill that would repeal the state-mandated graduation requirement, leaving the decision to local school districts.

Ask the mayoral candidates: How would you solve the kindergarten conundrum?

By Brian Hickey for NewsWorks on Jan 28, 2015 10:43 AM

As part of a regular series leading up to Philadelphia's May 19 mayoral primaries, NewsWorks will pose a question of the declared candidates. Do you have a question? Email it to

The inaugural question comes from me ...

Kindergarten concerns

Question: My wife and I are currently in the process of determining where our 4-year-old son will go to kindergarten next school year.

Our catchment-zone school does not meet our expectations. We have entered several public (charter) school lotteries, but whether he will attend any of those is up to luck and chance.

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