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SRC listens to anger for hours, after thousands protest contract cancellaton

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 16, 2014 10:37 PM

For nearly three hours Thursday night, the School Reform Commission listened to harsh and bitter criticism of its move last week to cancel its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and unliaterally change health benefits for the union's 11,500 members. 

Eagles player promises ice-cream party if West Oak Lane students read regularly

By Brian Hickey for NewsWorks on Oct 16, 2014 09:04 PM

Holding a brand-new book and poster freshly autographed by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin, young Kazir got to talking Wednesday morning about why he loves reading.

Among two dozen students in the Prince Hall Elementary School library for the "READ! By 4th Campaign" literacy event, the youngster said that good books often offer quality life lessons.

"Dictionaries. Other large books," he mentioned of things he's read. "One book taught me how to drive a car."

That's when Kazir's second-grade friend Jeremiah had heard enough.

After Palmer loses court case, 600 students will have to leave charter

By Bill Hangley Jr. for WHYY on Oct 16, 2014 07:15 PM

Usually, charter schools hold lotteries to decide who will attend. But one school is scheduled to hold a lottery Thursday night to find out who will have to leave.

A forced enrollment cut is just one of many problems faced by the Walter D. Palmer Charter School in Philadelphia's Northern Liberties neighborhood.

A pioneer of the local school choice movement, Walter Palmer has for years overenrolled his charter school, hoping to force the Philadelphia School District to eventually pay for the extra students.

School Reform Commissioner Simms defends her action at film screening

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 16, 2014 03:49 PM

Thursday night will be the first Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting since it terminated the teachers' contract in a surprise meeting last week.

The meeting was already expected to attract a firestorm of protest, but conflict may have been further fanned by School Reform Commissioner Sylvia Simms scolding students at a film screening Wednesday night.

Watch tonight's SRC meeting

By the Notebook on Oct 16, 2014 03:00 PM


The forecast for tonight's School Reform Commission meeting shows every sign of being a tempest.

Before the meeting convenes, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and its supporters will be out en masse protesting the SRC's decision to cancel its contract with the teachers' union. At the same time, it's been reported that a small coterie of "counter-protesters" paid by a guerrilla marketing firm to circulate anti-PFT information, is expected to turn up at the demonstration. The firm was hired by the Commonwealth Foundation, a right-leaning think tank, which today unveiled a new website called

Councilwoman proposes e-cigarette tax to help fund Philly schools

By Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks on Oct 16, 2014 02:54 PM

A Philadelphia city councilwoman wants a tax on e-cigarettes that would be dedicated to the public schools.

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown said she'd like the city to tax the nicotine-based fluid used in electronic cigarettes and other accessories to help the struggling School District.

Students disrupt film screening at District headquarters

By Waleed Shahid on Oct 16, 2014 12:17 PM

[Notebook editor's note: This commentary appeared on NewsWorks Thursday morning. Shortly after, Sylvia Simms said on Twitter that she would like to meet with the student protesters.]


Yesterday evening, students from the Philadelphia Student Union disrupted a screening at the School District headquarters of Won’t Back Down, a film largely critical of teachers' unions and supportive of charter school development.

The students sat silently in the first few rows of the auditorium, only to break out of their seats about 20 minutes into the film to sit in front of the screen and clap and chant in support of a fair funding formula and against the recent decision by the School Reform Commission to cancel the teachers’ union contract.

District's hearings to shut down Palmer Charter School begin

By Bill Hangley Jr. on Oct 15, 2014 05:02 PM

Hearings began today on the School District’s effort to deauthorize and shut down Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School, even as the founder’s plan to steer the school through its immediate financial crisis has apparently fallen through.

Speaking after this morning’s testimony, Palmer said he does not know how much cash the 1,200-student school has on hand or how much longer it can stay open without some kind of fresh financial support.

Conservative think tank is behind paid protesters at Philly teachers' union event

By Anna Orso for Billy Penn on Oct 15, 2014 03:26 PM

A conservative, free-market think tank in Harrisburg is behind efforts to pay people to distribute opposing information at a teachers' union rally and protest planned for Thursday, Billy Penn has confirmed.

Cindy Hamill-Dahlgren, spokeswoman for the Commonwealth Foundation, confirmed Wednesday that the group hired New York guerrilla marketing firm GoGorilla, which will pay about 12 people to hand out fliers and hold banners in opposition to the teachers’ union — however, she said she wouldn’t characterize this effort as a “counter-protest.”

7 minutes with Gov. Corbett on school spending, competing priorities

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 15, 2014 02:54 PM

Gov. Corbett of Pennsylvania came to WHYY's studios Friday to answer a wide array of questions from various reporters during an hourlong visit.

Aside from NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller's interview, the conversations weren't intended to be broadcast in their entirety.

But upon reviewing the tape – considering the importance of education as an issue in this election – I decided to post my full, unedited seven-minute conversation with Corbett, who is seeking election to a second term.

Parents and advocates say Philadelphia's teachers deserve better

By Shannon Nolan on Oct 15, 2014 02:47 PM

Parents and public school advocates announced their solidarity with Philadelphia teachers Wednesday and denounced the School Reform Commission’s decision last week to cancel the teachers’ contract.

As they stood on the steps of the District’s headquarters in the rain, their message was clear: Philadelphia teachers deserve better, and their students’ parents are willing to fight for them.

Boyz II Men return to high school for private concert

By Sameer Rao on Oct 15, 2014 10:54 AM

Four-time Grammy award-winning group Boyz II Men returned to their old stomping grounds Tuesday, performing a private concert at their alma mater, the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.

But before they took the stage, in a pre-show press conference, member Shawn Stockman had encouraging words for CAPA students, who just a week earlier had protested the School Reform Commission’s decision to cancel the teachers' contract.

"Keep protesting,” Stockman said.

“The more people that are bringing this to a head, where the public can’t ignore it, the better. These teachers need it, the kids need it, and the city needs it, whether they believe it or not.”

Journalists back Neshaminy student paper's refusal to print mascot name

By Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks on Oct 15, 2014 09:51 AM

The national spotlight is once again shining on the student editors of Neshaminy High School and, specifically, the word Redskins.

Some of the country's top journalism groups are rounding up support for the Bucks County teens who vowed last fall not to print the name of Neshaminy's decades-old mascot because they found it outdated and offensive.

Notes from the news, Oct. 15

By the Notebook on Oct 15, 2014 08:43 AM

Health care concessions a tough pill to swallow for city teachers. NewsWorks

Philly parents' complaints not about curriculum, argues Pa. education chief. NewsWorks

Philadelphia Teachers Hit by Latest Cuts. NY Times

Philadelphia's schools have been singled out by Pa. for unfair treatment. Notebook

Democrats' last-ditch effort to kill SRC fails. Inquirer

Labor leaders weighed general strike over SRC action. Inquirer

What comes after SRC? Daily News

Hite comments as School District woes continue6ABC

Charters lack sufficient oversight. Daily News

“Guerilla” Marketing Firm Tapped to Counter-Protest Thursday’s SRC Demonstration in Forthcoming Anti-Union Campaign. The Declaration

Boyz II Men takes it back to school. Inquirer

Boyz II Men return to Philly high school for showAP

Boyz II Men perform at Philly alma materNewsWorks

An elected school board for Philly? No thanksNewsWorks

Letters: Everyone must pitch in for pupils. Daily News

How do we help our schools? Daily Pennsylvanian

Mifflin School in East Falls hosts its third annual community festival. NewsWorks

Education adviser Tomalis had no employment contract. Post-Gazette

Journalists back Neshaminy students' refusal to print mascot name in school paper. NewsWorks

News summary from Keystone State Education Coalition

Who's hiring teachers in Philly? For education job postings, visit

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