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Is your teacher a hero? Nominate a dedicated educator

By Shannon Nolan on Feb 24, 2015 06:15 PM

Has a teacher made a positive impact in your life? Do you know an educator dedicated to standing up for students’ rights? If so, then you may want to nominate that person for the National Liberty Museum’s Teacher as Hero Award. The deadline to make nominations is Feb. 28.

An overlooked reason why charters serve fewer poor families

By Matthew Brooke on Feb 24, 2015 01:12 PM

For the last several years, I've held a job at a homeless services agency with a somewhat unusual responsibility: I've helped parents navigate the charter system. 

After a few years, I can't help but feel conflicted about it.

On the one hand, the charter system is an enormous drain on the traditional District system. On the other hand, having the choice to send children to high-quality charter schools is an incredible opportunity for individual families.

But even putting aside the larger question of whether it's fair for the charter system to prosper at the District's expense, there's the question of equity. Do very low-income students have the same access to charters as better-off students? In my experience, the answer is no, and for a variety of reasons -- but one in particular has rarely been discussed.

District posts reasons for denying and approving charters

By the Notebook on Feb 23, 2015 06:46 PM

The School District has posted the "adjudications," or reasons behind the School Reform Commission's votes last Thursday on charter school applications, when it denied 34 of the 39 proposals.

The adjudications go into more detail regarding the denials compared to reasons that charters were approved. Charter applicants have 60 days to appeal the decisions to the state Charter Appeal Board. 

District appeals to state Supreme Court on teachers' contract decision

By Dale Mezzappa, audio by Laura Benshoff on Feb 23, 2015 03:31 PM

Updated | 4:30 p.m.

The School Reform Commission is asking the state Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision that the SRC lacks the authority to cancel its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and spend the savings on programs in the schools. 

The District and SRC waited until the last possible day to file the appeal of the Commonwealth Court's Jan. 22 decision.

In a tough spot, the SRC got it right

By Christine Carlson on Feb 23, 2015 01:44 PM

A child asks for a puppy. Presented with a hole-punched gift box, he opens it with excitement, only to find a venomous snake.

So it was with the cigarette tax. As public school advocates, we pleaded for the revenue that the cigarette tax would provide. Although we got the funding we asked for, it was delivered with a life-threatening twist. The bill’s last-minute addition, which reopened the District to new charter school applications and allowed an appeal process for those rejected, threatens the existence of the District schools we sought to help. Each new charter seat added drains even further the resources needed to keep District schools afloat.

Hill-Freedman student hopes proceeds from her book will help buy art supplies

By Neema Roshania for NewsWorks on Feb 23, 2015 12:52 PM

Hill-Freedman 8th grader Maya Anderson has created a world full of crustaceans, supernatural humans and other creatures.

She's deft at explaining the scenes and intertwining plots that take place in "Philadae" — the post-apocalyptic world where her stories unfold. Maya's recently published book outlines 45 characters that she's created and illustrated herself.

What's the real cost of the new charters?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Feb 20, 2015 04:35 PM

We went down the rabbit hole on this one.

And in the end, the Philadelphia School District revised its own math.

After the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted Wednesday night to approve five new charter schools, SRC Chair Bill Green said the decision would have a "very minimal" impact on the School District's budget.

Turned-down charter providers can make case before state appeals board

By Bill Hangley Jr. for NewsWorks on Feb 20, 2015 09:40 AM

Marc Mannella is a veteran of the Philadelphia education reform movement, but his education in the finer points of charter law may have only just begun.

"One way to look at tonight was that it was a night only lawyers could love," said Mannella on Wednesday, after the School Reform Commission shot down two of his three proposed new charter schools.

As the head of KIPP Philadelphia, Mannella must now decide whether to turn those lawyers loose.

At first forum of mayoral candidates, education is hot topic

By Katie Colaneri on Feb 19, 2015 05:56 PM

The six Democrats vying to be the next mayor of Philadelphia met Thursday morning for their first forum.

They were brought together by the Business Association of West Parkside to talk, well, business, but the conversation rarely strayed from education.

Four arrested at SRC meeting while protesting charter expansion

By Allison Welton on Feb 19, 2015 03:05 PM

Police arrested four school activists Wednesday night for disrupting a contentious meeting at School District headquarters. The School Reform Commission had convened to decide the fate of 39 new charter school applications. Five were approved.

Chanting against charter expansion, the protesters, all members of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, said that approving any new charter schools would spell financial disaster for the cash-strapped School District.

It's time for broad-based pressure to support city schools

By James H. Lytle on Feb 19, 2015 01:07 PM

Come May, I hope the primary elections for mayor and City Council will be the event that catalyzes the city to act in support of public education in Philadelphia.

Last November, I wrote about what public education issues mayoral candidates should address. Much has happened in the last few months, most notably the ascension of a new governor committed to increased funding for public schools and the emergence of the likely candidates for mayor.

SRC denies Germantown charter school bids

By Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks on Feb 19, 2015 10:17 AM

Down, but not out.

That's the sentiment that the teams behind two proposed charter schools in Germantown are embracing after watching the School Reform Commission deny their applications Wednesday night.

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