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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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Notes from the news

Health care concessions a tough pill to swallow for city teachers

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 14, 2014 05:48 PM

Speech and language pathologist Sonya Brintnall has been dreaming lately of the Pacific Northwest.

"I used to live in Oregon," she said. "I could go back there, and I could be poor and have nothing, but it would be beautiful."

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

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 14, 2014 05:02 PM

With resources stripped to bare-bones levels, parents in the Philadelphia School District filed more than 800 complaints last year with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The office has not investigated the claims, and last month the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court on behalf of seven parents and the advocacy group Parents United for Public Education in an attempt to compel action.

On Friday, acting Pennsylvania Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq petitioned the court to dismiss the case.

Mifflin School in East Falls hosts its third annual community festival

By the Notebook on Oct 14, 2014 04:29 PM

Organizers of the third annual Mifflin School Community Festival persevered Saturday morning in the face of inhospitable weather and low community turnout, moving the day's programming inside to the auditorium and setting up the arts-and-crafts marketplace in a nearby hallway.

Alex Keating, a member of the Friends of Mifflin School Committee, said the elements presented a particularly formidable challenge for community organizations holding neighborhood events.

An elected school board for Philly? No thanks

By Dave Davies for NewsWorks on Oct 14, 2014 04:15 PM

The sad state of Philadelphia's public schools inspires fury, frustration, and now, from the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf, a really bad idea for fundamental change.

Wolf recently proposed replacing the current five-member School Reform Commission that runs the schools with a locally elected school board.

I know Wolf means well. But establishing an elected school board in Philadelphia will not empower parents and their communities. It will put the selection of our school board members in the hands of the same people who pick judges, state legislators, sheriffs and city commissioners in this town: Democratic ward leaders.

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