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How can parents help their kids learn to read?

By Shannon Nolan on Nov 4, 2014 04:06 PM

Monday night’s School Reform Commission meeting on strategy, policy, and priorities brought together teachers, partner organizations, and District officials working on a new citywide campaign. They were all looking for answers to the same question: How do we get kids to read?

The common answer that night: Parents need to be involved, preferably from their children's early stages of development. Parents at the meeting, however, represented a small minority of attendees.

The campaign, called READ! by 4th, stands for Ready, Engaged, Able, and Determined, and aims for reading proficiency for all Philadelphia 4th graders by 2020. The program launched in August.

One month in, Philly cigarette tax boosting business in the 'burbs

By Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks on Nov 3, 2014 04:05 PM

The $2-per-pack cigarette tax in Philadelphia has been in effect for more than a month, and some people are hitting the road to avoid paying the additional cost.

If you pull into the Wawa parking lot in Trevose on Route 1 just over the city line, it's hard to find a parking space because the store is selling cigarettes at the state minimum, without the $2 tax that must be collected just down the road.

District, community work to restore heat to volunteer-run library

By Neema Roshania for NewsWorks on Nov 3, 2014 10:12 AM

Houston Elementary's volunteer-run library reopened last year after being non-operational for two years. Since then, it has grown by at least 500 books, says Elayne Blender, a community member who leads the library effort.

Now adult volunteers — who include grandparents, parents, neighbors and community members — are working with administration and the School District of Philadelphia to make sure that students have access to the library no matter the temperature outside.

More on the Notebook/NewsWorks PSSA investigation

By Paul Socolar on Oct 31, 2014 04:05 PM

Notebook contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa will be on WHYY's NewsWorks Tonight, Friday at 6 p.m., discussing the Notebook/NewsWorks investigative report about the Pennsylvania Department of Education's delayed release of the 2014 PSSA results. (Listen to the show live at WHYY.org or by tuning into 90.9 FM. A recorded version will also be available at WHYY.org.)

The article, published Thursday evening, also discussed an across-the-board decline in statewide PSSA scores in reading and math in 2013 that had not previously been reported in the press.

From the archives: 'Show me the money'

By the Notebook on Oct 31, 2014 10:20 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 News Analysis piece is from the Winter 2001-02 print edition:


by Barbara Miner

In September 1990, "Good Morning America" was broadcast from South Pointe Elementary School in Dade County, Fla. The news peg? It was the first day of school at what was to be a new and glorious era in public schools: for-profit management.

Election near, but still no 2014 Pa. test scores; 2013 results showed a downward trend

By Dale Mezzacappa, Kevin McCorry, and Paul Socolar for the Notebook and NewsWorks on Oct 30, 2014 09:18 PM

Have standardized test scores declined for a third year in a row in Pennsylvania?

We’re not likely to find out before the gubernatorial election next week.

This year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has waited longer than usual to publicly release any data on test scores or school performance.

Charter and District schools should not be at odds; my family relies on both

By Aja Beech for NewsWorks on Oct 30, 2014 03:52 PM

My education is, in part, a product of the best intentions of the School District of Philadelphia. In the early '90s, the elementary school I attended in my neighborhood, James Russell Lowell in Olney, could no longer accommodate students up to 8th grade, so at the age of 11, I began evaluations to attend a school outside of my neighborhood, something most Philadelphia public school students know about.

Of the hundreds of children having to transfer from Lowell that year, I think there were three or four of us chosen — all white — to attend Masterman magnet school in the Spring Garden neighborhood. Some of them I had never seen in Olney before. Some were from families who had come to live there to practice their religious convictions, my first experience with a kind of urban missionary. Others came from families who could afford to send their children to private schools.

A discussion on making Philly family friendly

By Shannon Nolan on Oct 29, 2014 11:48 AM

Millennials have been responsible for much of Philadelphia’s recent population growth. Tonight, Next City will hold a discussion on how the city can be improved for those already living here, while encouraging others to take up residence in the city.

The panel discussion is called “Making Philadelphia Family Friendly” and it is the first in a three-part series on topics chosen to help enhance Philadelphia’s future. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Moore College of Art & Design auditorium, 1916 Race St. An RSVP is required to attend.

The imbalance of leveling

By Eileen DiFranco on Oct 29, 2014 10:56 AM

By the middle of October in any given school year, students are situated into their routines, snug in their desks. They have finally committed their class schedules to memory. They know what their teachers expect of them. They have begun to know their classmates. Their notebooks are filled with notes.

This year, two weeks beyond the contracted deadline, the School District has used its leveling sledgehammer to collapse classes and smash to smithereens much of what students and teachers have worked so hard to accomplish. The schools become unhinged just as they were settling in. The cost is incalculable.

When leveling occurs, the District must reshuffle schools' staff to match their actual enrollments, and class rosters have to be remade. Children are often assigned to different teachers with different teaching styles or ones who are in a different place in the curriculum. Some subjects are eliminated, and the work done since September is lost.

Expelled for inappropriate cell phone use?

By Payne Schroeder on Oct 29, 2014 08:54 AM

In August, Youth United for Change members stood in protest when the School Reform Commission voted to approve changes to the student code of conduct. They were ultimately escorted from District headquarters for disrupting the meeting.

The group says that the new policy's changes to the severity of punishment for students who engage in the "inappropriate use of electronic devices" could lead to overdisciplining students for minor infractions and could push students out of school.

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