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.
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.
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.
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.
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 PFTFails.com.
[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.
PFT seeking a fair contract. Inquirer
Letters: A plea for R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Daily News
Under Gutmann, Penn increases involvement in Philadelphia schools. Daily Pennsylvanian
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Philadelphia Teachers Hit by Latest Cuts. NY Times
What comes after SRC? Daily News
Charters lack sufficient oversight. Daily News
Boyz II Men takes it back to school. Inquirer
Boyz II Men perform at Philly alma mater. NewsWorks
Letters: Everyone must pitch in for pupils. Daily News
How do we help our schools? Daily Pennsylvanian
Education adviser Tomalis had no employment contract. Post-Gazette