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Parents spar angrily with founder of closing charter high school

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 28, 2014 04:19 PM

Sparks flew at a meeting for parents on Monday night at Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter High School. The school's basement cafeteria became a battleground between the school's founder and a throng of incensed parents.

Many had learned only that morning that the high school program at the school's Tacony campus was permanently closing and that their children would have to find another school two months into the year.

"I'm frustrated with Walter Palmer. I'm frustrated with the District. I'm frustrated with everybody," said parent Courtney Dennis.

The Notebook has a new development director

By Wendy Harris on Oct 28, 2014 02:55 PM

The Notebook has hired a new development director, Lauren Wiley.  

Wiley’s responsibilities will include membership recruitment and management, as well as sponsorship and major donor solicitation. She will also manage special events, including the Notebook’s annual Turning the Page for Change celebration.

Wiley has more than 10 years of experience in fundraising, donor cultivation and management, and event planning. In her previous job, she was the first-ever development director at Clinical & Laboratory Standards Institute, a professional laboratory science organization. While there, she instituted an event sponsorship program, secured new government grants, and began the first-ever recruitment of corporate sponsors for the institute’s conferences and educational seminars.

Legal battle between SRC and PFT heads to Commonwealth Court

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 28, 2014 11:06 AM

Updated | 2:30 p.m.

The legal battle over whether the School Reform Commission can impose benefit changes on teachers has shifted to Commonwealth Court, which could hear arguments in the dispute as early as December.

On Monday, Common Pleas Court Judge Nina Wright Padilla made an injunction permanent that delays any benefit changes until the matter is resolved in court, and the District appealed that ruling to Commonwealth Court. 

Both sides said they are pleased by the outcome of the latest legal maneuvers.

The District says that the legal proceedings will accelerate a final resolution in court of the extent of the SRC's powers. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers says the ruling points the parties back to the bargaining table, a move that the District says it remains open to. 

New data will help draw detailed portrait of city's out-of-school time programs

By Connie Langland on Oct 28, 2014 09:57 AM

A decade after he spent afternoons at a Mount Airy recreation center, Che Williams, 24, can still recall how much he enjoyed himself – and how he benefited from supervised homework and social time.

“I am a product of afterschool programs. They kept me out of trouble,” said Williams, who is a graphic designer and illustrator.

The program he attended included African dance lessons that were great fun and still memorable. “Those are the trouble hours, when school is out and your mom isn’t home yet,” he said.

Germantown residents discuss plan to turn GHS property into a community charter school

By Daniel Pasquarello for NewsWorks on Oct 28, 2014 08:35 AM

More than 20 Germantown residents gathered Saturday at the Daniel E. Rumph II Recreation Center to learn more about the proposal to turn the now-empty Germantown High School site into a community charter school.

Julie Stapleton-Carroll, who would serve as Germantown Community Charter School principal should the idea gain Charter School Office approval, led the meeting.

Hundreds of students displaced as Walter Palmer Charter shuts its high school

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 27, 2014 01:30 PM

Two months into the school year, Walter Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter has shuttered its high school — displacing the 286 students who attended the Tacony campus in what the school's founder called a "human tragedy."

The scene on Harbison Avenue was the latest development in the charter's years-long scuffle with the Philadelphia School District regarding enrollment caps. Students arrived for classes Monday morning only to be told to head home.

Cancellation of Philadelphia teachers' contract ignites firestorm

By Benjamin Herold for Education Week on Oct 27, 2014 10:33 AM

Three weeks after the School Reform Commission that governs this labor-friendly city's public schools activated its "nuclear option," the shock waves are still being felt around the country.

Beset by an epic budget crunch, the SRC unilaterally canceled its expired contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers earlier this month and declared that the union's 11,500 members will begin paying a portion of their health-insurance costs.

Observers across the political spectrum view the action as the latest salvo in an ongoing national battle over the collective bargaining rights of public-sector workers. In recent years, teachers and other public employees from Louisiana to Wisconsin have found themselves on the defensive as management has sought to roll back benefits and job protections.

Should Philly parents worry about fiscal woes of for-profit charter operator?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 27, 2014 08:43 AM

A federal judge has ordered the heavily indebted Mosaica Education Inc., a for-profit charter school management organization, to accept a turnaround receiver.

Mosaica, which contracts with more than 100 schools -- including one in Philadelphia -- to serve 25,000 students in the United States and abroad, carries a $20 million debt load with its lender, Tatonka Capital.

Are health care changes fair to teachers compared to central office workers?

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 24, 2014 03:43 PM

Updated | 10/25

 If and when proposed changes to teachers' health benefits take effect, most non-unionized central office employees will have access to a better health care plan without having to "buy up" to it, while all teachers' union members will have to start paying significantly more for the same coverage.  

Members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have complained about being shifted into a plan that has higher out-of-pocket costs, although they have expressed a willingness to start contributing something toward their benefits.  

As the acrimonious fight between the SRC and the PFT plays out in court and both sides vie for the moral high ground in the realm of public opinion, there are many ways to parse what is fair and reasonable.

District takes risk by disbursing health care savings before court rules

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 24, 2014 01:48 PM

The Philadelphia School District decided Friday to give schools access to $15 million starting Monday, based on expected savings from forcing teachers to contribute toward their health care premiums.

Since the School Reform Commission terminated its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers on Oct. 6, the District has been planning three disbursements totaling $44 million.

Until Friday, it was unclear when principals would have access to those funds. Principals were notified in mid-October what their school allocation would be, but the disbursement date was left up in the air after several legal challenges by the teachers' union, which is protesting the legality of the SRC's unilateral move.

Caravan of delights: Pa. gubernatorial race

By Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week on Oct 24, 2014 01:33 PM

Consistently ranked as one of the most "endangered" governors when it comes to reelection prospects, Keystone State Gov. Tom Corbett has consistently trailed Democrat Tom Wolf this year, and he is the only Republican governor whose race is now considered safely in the Democratic column, according to Real Clear Politics. (I wrote about Wolf's position on education funding earlier this year.) However, Corbett has closed the gap in recent months, and what was once a deficit of approximately 20 percentage points is now getting closer to single digits, as the Real Clear Politics polling average below shows:

 

RCPPennGov.PNG

From the archives: Coalition forms to fight takeover

By the Notebook on Oct 24, 2014 10:05 AM
 

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 2001 print edition:


by Paul Socolar

The award of a $2.7 million contract to the for-profit company Edison Schools Inc. to conduct a study of Philadelphia schools for the governor has galvanized community protests against a possible takeover of schools by Edison Schools or the state.

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