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Accountable for the impossible

By Eileen DiFranco on Sep 22, 2014 01:45 PM

School has been in session for less than three weeks, and already school staff members are up to their eyeballs in problems, old and new.

Good will, dedication, and hard work can’t compensate for the huge holes left by the cutbacks. There isn’t enough time or enough adults in schools to do a satisfactory job of solving most of the problems. Can anyone say with confidence that this year will be better than last year’s mess?

Interactive timeline: A summer of false starts, bluffs, and political theatre in Philly school funding

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Sep 22, 2014 09:40 AM

 

Since last spring, District leaders have been sounding the alarm about this year's fiscal plight, but even after months of handwringing and headlines, schools have opened with less resources than last year.

Here, we take a look back on a summer of false starts, bluffs, and political theatre. 

Below, you can view a timeline of the summer's milestones – with links to archived articles – and also listen to a piece that allows the major players in the funding debate to tell the story in their own voices.

A look back at the first two weeks of classes

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Sep 20, 2014 10:29 AM

The resource-starved Philadelphia School District has now finished its second full week of classes.

Pending deal on former Germantown High catches neighbors off guard

By Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks on Sep 19, 2014 05:07 PM

A grassroots group in Northwest Philadelphia says it will fight to bring education back to Germantown High School. But it may have to win over members of a Maryland-based development firm to do that.

In West Philly, a playground built for school and community

By Bill Hangley Jr. on Sep 19, 2014 01:18 PM

There’s at least one new bright spot in a district unsettled by budget cuts, lawsuits, layoffs, and surprise resignations: Lea Elementary has a new playground.

“We’re excited for the work that’s been done, and the work to come,” said Amara Rockar of the West Philly Coalition for Public Schools, just before cutting the ribbon that officially opened Lea’s colorful new play structure to the public.

As happy students clambered about on its monkey bars and sliding poles, Rockar said the installation of the structure was an “important first step” toward transforming Lea’s one-acre asphalt lot into a tree-lined green space that can serve as a park for residents of all ages.

From the archives: Focusing on reading, math, and science

By the Notebook on Sep 19, 2014 10:49 AM

The Notebook was launched in 1994 as a newspaper committed to ensuring quality and equity in Philadelphia public schools. We celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first publication this spring. We are featuring an article from our archives each week, shedding light on both the dramatic changes that have taken place in public education and the persistent issues facing Philadelphia's school system.

This piece is from the Spring 2001 print edition:


by Ros Purnell and  Paul Socolar

In this issue, the Notebook speaks with current and former District leaders, principals, teachers, and parents about what lessons they would draw from the experience of "Children Achieving," the school reform plan that guided the District for six years.

SRC approves Germantown High School sale to Md. developers

By Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks on Sep 19, 2014 09:38 AM

The Concordia Group, a Maryland-based development firm, now has the opportunity to buy several Philadelphia School District properties, including the former homes of Germantown High School and nearby Robert Fulton Elementary.

On Thursday night, the School Reform Commission voted to allow Concordia and the District to begin the negotiation process for the sale of five shuttered school buildings.

An abrupt departure in a district plagued by instability

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Sep 18, 2014 06:29 PM

On the first day of classes, principal Saliyah Cruz addressed the inaugural freshman class at one of the Philadelphia School District's three new innovative high schools, the LINC, or Learning in New Contexts.

Cruz was hired in January to start the school from scratch and build a model to re-imagine the high school experience and create more options for kids in North Philly lacking the grades for magnet schools.

City Council approves ballot question on returning schools to local control

By Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks on Sep 18, 2014 03:50 PM

Philadelphia voters could have a question on the fall ballot asking whether they want to dissolve the School Reform Commission and return oversight of the District to local control.

If approved, however, the referendum would not be binding.

SRC will vote on sale of 11 closed schools

By the Notebook on Sep 18, 2014 02:49 PM

The School Reform Commission is scheduled to vote tonight at its monthly action meeting on the District's proposed sale of 11 former school buildings for a sum of $14 million, according to a preliminary list of meeting resolutions. 

Philly schools won't benefit from new principal rating system

By James H. Lytle on Sep 18, 2014 11:32 AM

Beginning this month, all School District principals will be subject to a new evaluation system, mandated by the state’s Department of Education.

In this system, called the "Framework for Leadership," principals will be rated by their supervisors on 20 different criteria as “failing,” “needs improvement,” “proficient,” or “distinguished.” According to PDE, the intent is to create schools that are on track in preparing students for college and career.

But the new rating system raises major issues for the School District and principals. Foremost is the fact that more than half the principals are in their first or second year in their positions. This brings up two serious questions: whether it is fair to judge them by the same standards as more experienced principals and whether they are getting the resources, support, and mentoring necessary to ensure their success.

Principal Saliyah Cruz leaving the LINC for job in Baltimore

By Dale Mezzacappa on Sep 17, 2014 11:29 PM

After spending the better part of six months designing a brand new high school – meant to be a model for transforming the educational experience for ordinary students – Saliyah Cruz disclosed abruptly this week that she will be leaving to take a new job.

To put it mildly, everyone from Superintendent William Hite to students and staff who had made leaps of faith to join the new school were surprised and disappointed. The school, called the LINC (for Learning in New Contexts), shares a building with Roberto Clemente Middle School in Hunting Park.

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