The School District of Philadelphia needs all the help it can get, so I’m happy to see a number of local nonprofits band together to offer their advice.
The member groups of the recently launched Coalition for Effective Teaching are calling for reforms to the teachers' contract. As I looked over their list of recommendations, I saw a mix of ideas, some already happening and some that would be helpful. But many of them are misguided. The coalition would have greatly benefited had the members bothered to talk to rank-and-file educators during the planning process.
by Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks
Roosevelt Middle School in central Germantown will become a K-8 school at the end of this academic year, according to officials with the School District of Philadelphia.
The East Washington Lane school now serves students in the 6th through 8th grades.
Community schools -- Are they a solution the District's problems? Our City Our Schools
Billionaires vs. Unions: Who is David? Who is Goliath? Diane Ravitch's Blog
by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
Twenty-one city charter schools are seeking to add more than 15,000 new students during the next five years. If granted by the School Reform Commission, the charters' requests would eventually mean a new $110 million annual hit to the District's already fragile bottom line.
District officials say a vote on the expansion requests, originally scheduled for April 18, is now expected to take place on May 16. The District's charter schools office has not yet made its formal recommendations to the SRC.
Some of the charters' seat requests are staggering.
by Bill Hangley Jr.
At a rousing interfaith rally of thousands, Superintendent William Hite vowed to support the community organizing group POWER’s newly launched campaign to organize public school parents into an effective citywide force.
At the rally, held Sunday in the massive Deliverance Evangelistic Church in North Philadelphia, Hite agreed to meet regularly with POWER and encourage principals to let it organize in their schools. In return, Hite asked POWER’s members to help lobby for education funding in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
by Zack Seward for NewsWorks
A Frisbee-launching robot. Things that fly. Gizmos made from motorized Legos.
Those were a few of the many robotic delights on display at the Philly Robotics Expo on Monday. The Philly Tech Week event brought some 750 Philadelphia-area students, ranging from second graders to high schoolers, to Drexel University's Bossone Research Center.
And, oh yeah: The event itself was organized by high schoolers.
by Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks
Vocational-training facility. Retirement community. Cultural center.
Those were just some of the new uses for Germantown High School's building that were discussed Friday during "What's Next? A Forum on the Future of Germantown High," a panel event co-sponsored by NewsWorks content partner NBC 10 and hosted by Solomon Jones.
How my job went from great to infuriating. Answer Sheet
by Bill Hangley Jr.
On the heels of presenting a “doomsday” budget that would reduce schools to the bare essentials, the School Reform Commission voted Thursday night to close North Philadelphia’s M.H. Stanton Elementary School, triggering an explosion of tears and rage from its supporters.
The SRC also voted to establish its own cyber charter school and renew contracts with providers of accelerated and discipline schools. It also added a new provider.
After the 3-1 closure vote, Stanton’s defenders were devastated.
“I’m hurt. I’m hurt really bad,” said Tracey Lester, a Stanton grandparent and vocal supporter.
See also: Philly schools unveil 'catastrophic' budget. Inquirer
How to enrich public education. Inquirer
To our Philadelphia sports teams, we need your help. Practical Theory
Governors like talking about education. A lot. Washington Post
Criminalizing children at school. NY Times
As the 24 closing schools shut down this summer, the School District of Philadelphia must decide what to do with the vacant buildings. AxisPhilly has partnered with NBC10, PlanPhilly and the Notebook to launch Schoolhouse Watch, a website dedicated to keeping the community informed about the empty school buildings and providing a forum for people to highlight problems and identify solutions.
AxisPhilly and NBC10 organized a forum on Friday at 4 p.m., to talk about Germantown High School. The forum, at First United Methodist Church of Germantown, includes panelists from the state legislature and community leaders. It is open to the public and livestreamed above.
Facing a $300 million structural deficit and still uncertain whether it will get the increased revenue and labor concessions it is seeking, the School District is asking schools to prepare to operate next year with a principal and a bare-bones allotment of teachers – and just about nothing else.
That means the contractual maximum class size in every classroom – 33 students in grades 4-12 and 30 in K-3. It means no dedicated money for guidance counselors, interscholastic sports, extracurricular activities, librarians, art or music.
No money, even, for secretaries.
[Updated, 6:30 p.m. with District response]
by Bill Hangley Jr.
If the School Reform Commission votes today to close M.H. Stanton Elementary, its supporters will leave believing it was politics, not academics, that sank the once-celebrated North Philadelphia school.
Tracey Lester, a Stanton grandparent and head of a group called Parents Involved, said that before the SRC votes on Stanton’s closure, she plans to deliver testimony questioning the integrity of the Stanton closure decision. Lester said she believes the decision was influenced by the work of a politically supported coalition called the North Philadelphia Collaboration that included supporters of many schools, but not Stanton.
“I want an investigation,” Lester said. “This affects my grandchildren and my community.”
by Charlotte Pope
Now that the School Reform Commission has voted to close 23 schools, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools -- a major voice in the school-closings debate -- is regrouping and laying out its next steps.
About 200 people came together Wednesday evening during the group’s general assembly to hear about a new three-part campaign focusing on school funding, community schools, and charter school accountability.
This is a reprint of an article that originally appeared at Education Week.
by Kate Shaw and Adam Schott
Philadelphia's state-appointed School Reform Commission last month approved the closure of 23 schools -- an unprecedented action for our region that is expected to affect roughly 14,000 students and hundreds of staff members. In New York City, which has already closed nearly 140 schools over the past decade, 22 more closures are on the horizon. The District of Columbia is bracing for as many as 15 closures after shuttering two dozen sites in 2008. The Chicago public school system -- the nation's third-largest district -- recently announced plans to close 54 schools and consolidate 11 more before the 2013-14 school year begins.