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In State of the Union, Obama pitches college access, child-care aid

By Alyson Klein for Education Week on Jan 21, 2015 11:40 AM

President Obama used his penultimate State of the Union address to call for a dramatic expansion in college access and increased investments in early childhood, including help for parents in covering child-care costs. But both proposals are part of a broad overhaul of the tax system that is already getting the thumbs-down from a Republican-controlled Congress.

Meanwhile, K-12 policy largely took a back seat, despite an escalating debate in Congress over federally mandated student testing.

Fiscal data added to online profiles of Pa. school districts

By Mary Wilson for NewsWorks on Jan 20, 2015 10:21 AM

Pennsylvanians can now check out the broad strokes of their school districts' finances using a state website.

The Department of Education's PA School Performance site now displays school districts' general fund balances, tuition rates paid to charter schools, and average teacher salaries.

Pedro Rivera named state education secretary

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 19, 2015 02:57 PM

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf named Lancaster superindentent and Philadelphia native Pedro Rivera to be the state secretary of education on Monday.

In a statement, Wolf said that Rivera had improved student achievement and graduation rates in Lancaster, as well as stabilizing the district's finances. He also cited Rivera's implementation of a "community schools" model, in which students and their families can get medical, dental, vision and other services on site.

Formula is not a silver bullet -- overall state funding matters too, report says

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Jan 16, 2015 09:37 AM

The size of the pie matters, not just how you slice it.

This is one finding of a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts' Philadelphia Research Initiative, which looked at 10 big-city school districts across the country and compared how the state funding formulas of each affected funding at the district level.

SRC votes to revoke Palmer charter

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 15, 2015 09:47 PM

The School Reform Commission tonight voted unanimously to revoke the charter of the Walter D. Palmer Leadership and Learning Charter School, which is already closed.

In financial disarray after losing a court battle with the District over enrolling students above its alloted amount, the K-8 school abruptly shut down last month during winter break. Palmer's high school had closed in October.

The two closings left 1,250 students stranded without a school to attend.

Mayoral candidates mull adding charter schools

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jan 15, 2015 05:35 PM

Should there be more charter schools in Philadelphia?

That's the question being weighed by the School Reform Commission as it reviews 40 applications from operators hoping to open new schools.

With the race to become Philadelphia's next mayor heating up, the candidates were asked to contemplate the issue.

Study looks at question of local governance for Philly schools

By David Limm on Jan 15, 2015 02:39 PM

Is it time to abolish the School Reform Commission?

Lately, the topic has made its way from the parlor chatter of policy wonks to the eyes and ears of an education-minded public.

And state and city officials, too, have taken recent actions toward stripping control from the appointed five-member board that has presided over the School District of Philadelphia since the state took over more than a decade ago.

District study: Students in career and technical education programs do well

By Paul Socolar on Jan 15, 2015 10:00 AM

Philadelphia students who take part in career and technical education programs in District high schools are much more likely to graduate than their academically similar peers who do not participate in these programs, according to a new School District research study.

District researchers presented the findings at a public meeting at District headquarters on Wednesday. The results are a boost to proponents of career and technical education (CTE), once referred to as vo-tech and sometimes in the past derided as less rigorous than academic classes.

Proposed vocational school in Germantown makes final pitch to SRC

By Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks on Jan 14, 2015 04:48 PM

Now it's in the hands of the School Reform Commission.

On Wednesday, the team behind the proposed Philadelphia Career & Technical Academy bunched around a table inside a near-empty auditorium for the second and final public hearing on the group's charter school application. It's one of 40 such applications submitted to the Philadelphia School District.

Budget chief Zogby reflects on his quest for school reforms

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jan 13, 2015 05:59 PM

It's a cold December day in Harrisburg, where both the streets and the echoing halls of the state Capitol lie dormant between legislative sessions.

In a handsome executive-wing office of mahogany and leather, a copy of the Wall Street Journal sprawled across his desk, state Budget Secretary Charles Zogby has already begun boxing up his belongings.

"Don't make me out to be the villain," he says, half joking, referring to his supposed image among traditional public school advocates.

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