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Green says PFT 'backslid' in talks; Jordan says it's the other way around

By Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 2, 2015 05:35 PM

The School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, locked in a legal battle and power struggle over the future direction of the District, returned to the bargaining table over the weekend for the first time since last summer.

Superintendent William Hite and School Reform Commissioner Bill Green said Monday that the talks showed that the two sides are further apart than ever.

Sale of former schools nets District $42 million

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Mar 2, 2015 01:25 PM

The George W. Childs Elementary School at 17th and Tasker Streets in South Philadelphia once resonated with the sounds of more than 500 students in its halls and classrooms. 

Pa. Senate majority leader: Pension overhaul before any Wolf tax measures

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Mar 2, 2015 10:47 AM

On Tuesday, Gov. Wolf of Pennsylvania will unveil a state budget proposal that will crystallize his plan for increasing education spending while also dealing with the state's $2.3 billion structural deficit.

For Wolf to pass his agenda, which will likely include a slate of tax increases and expansions, he must first find a way to compromise with the Republican leaders who control the legislature.

Gov. Wolf ousts Green, names Neff chair of SRC

By Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 1, 2015 09:23 PM

Updated | 8:30 a.m.

Gov. Wolf has asked Marjorie Neff to take over as the chair of the School Reform Commission, ousting Bill Green from that role. 

“The School District of Philadelphia is in dire financial straits, and our children are being put at a disadvantage as a result of misguided cuts and poor decisions,” the governor said in a statement. “The district was forced to make major cutbacks in transportation, security, and janitorial services just to open on time last year. We must make new investments in education and provide a fresh path forward for Philadelphia’s schools."

Parents, students slam high-stakes testing at opt-out forum

By Connie Langland on Feb 27, 2015 01:31 PM

Among the lineup of speakers at a forum on high-stakes testing Thursday night, two young people stepped forward to share firsthand knowledge of the toll that the state's annual standardized assessments can take on learning in the classroom and life beyond high school.

“My mom opted me out,” said Guillermo Santos, a 6th grader at Masterman, facing a room of 90 to 100 educators, parents, and students crowded into a conference room at the Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine St.

A farewell to Philly schools: 'I've loved every day'

By Eileen DiFranco on Feb 27, 2015 11:52 AM

I had never thought about school nursing until a friend told me about an opening at Germantown Academy, the prestigious private school where she worked. I had four children, and working in labor and delivery during the night and on weekends in a hospital had become a nightmare. As a school nurse, I would have the same schedule as my children. An added perk: They could attend the school tuition-free. I was psyched.

I didn’t get the job. At first, I was disappointed. The specter of endless night shifts loomed again. But then another friend told me about public school nursing in Philadelphia. Since I lived in the city, I took the test in the fall of 1989 and began work the following January.

It was the best career choice I ever made. I've loved every day I spent as a school nurse.

Letters: Banning signs at an SRC meeting

By on Feb 26, 2015 04:48 PM

To the editor:

The actions of the School Reform Commission members at last week’s special meeting on new charter applications, particularly those of Chairman Bill Green, were shameful. They sanctioned the actions of police officers who harassed community members who came to be heard on a very important issue facing the School District.

To Gov. Wolf: Childhood trauma is the elephant in the classroom

By Daun Kauffman for NewsWorks on Feb 26, 2015 02:35 PM

Dear Gov. Wolf and Education Secretary-designee Pedro Rivera:

I write regarding injured, marginalized children in Pennsylvania schools, to ask that you include them explicitly in a broad, “Healthy PA” paradigm in your new administration.

I am an educator serving children in elementary and middle school classrooms in my own neighborhood in a major urban center for 14 years. I advocate today regarding an aspect of education rarely discussed, but clearly visible to experienced classroom educators.

Mayoral candidates seek teachers' endorsement at union meeting

By Katie Colaneri and Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Feb 26, 2015 10:54 AM

On Wednesday afternoon, six of the Democrats vying to be Philadelphia's next mayor pitched themselves to members of the city's teachers' union, hoping to score an endorsement.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers uses the forum to help decide who gets its support and its maximum allowable campaign contributions. Union president Jerry Jordan says members will vote, starting next week, and announce a formal endorsement by mid-March.

Each candidate was given five minutes to talk and 10 minutes for questions from the audience, ranging from how they would raise money for public schools, to the role of standardized tests, to their thoughts on resolving teacher contract negotiations that have dragged on for more than two years.

Conservative group sues PFT over 'egregious' contract provision

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Feb 25, 2015 09:43 PM

The Fairness Center, a conservative nonprofit with offices in King of Prussia and Harrisburg, has filed a lawsuit against the Philadelphia teachers' union.

The suit alleges that the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers pays "ghost teachers," using Philadelphia School District and state funds, to occupy roles in union leadership.

How to opt your child out of the PSSAs

By Jen Bradley for NewsWorks, Philly Parenting blog on Feb 25, 2015 12:19 PM

You may have heard the buzz around the growing "opt out" movement in Philadelphia and throughout the nation. In just one city school, Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences, parents of over 100 students have opted their children out of the state standardized tests this spring.

This movement is not by accident. It has been carefully orchestrated by activist educators and parents from organizations such as the Caucus for Working Educators and United Opt Out, and it is growing by the day. The opt-out movement is a response to both the standardization of the educational experience and the damage of high-stakes testing. 

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