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Cuts could put graduation gains at risk, Nutter and others warn

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 20, 2015 05:17 PM

A key author of a new report showing rising graduation rates in Philadelphia, especially among vulnerable student groups, warned that the impact of recent District budget cuts has not yet shown up in the data and could affect future classes.

Group asks state Supreme Court to hear school funding case

By David Limm on May 20, 2015 04:15 PM

Several school districts, parents, and groups have taken a lawsuit alleging Pennsylvania's school funding system to be unconstitutional to the state Supreme Court.

An appeal filed Wednesday by the plaintiffs seeks to force the state's highest court to hear a case dismissed last month by Commonwealth Court. In that decision, the court ruled, as it has in prior lawsuits, that the question of school funding and what level of it is constitutional is a matter for the state legislature to decide.

How, and how much, are teachers paid in Pennsylvania?

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on May 20, 2015 01:59 PM

In the Multiple Choices podcast, Keystone Crossroads senior education writer Kevin McCorry joins with Paul Socolar, publisher and editor of the Public School Notebook, and Notebook contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa to explain and explore the history, complexities and controversies of public education funding in Pennsylvania.

A lot, relatively speaking. The average starting salary for a teacher in Pennsylvania as of the 2012-13 school year was $41,901. Nationally, that number puts the state ninth for highest starting teacher pay, behind Alaska, California, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Wyoming.

The average starting teacher salary for the country that year was $36,141.

SRC to vote on turning over Young Scholars-Douglass to Mastery

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 19, 2015 10:01 PM

The School Reform Commission plans to vote on a resolution Thursday that keeps open the academically struggling Young Scholars Frederick Douglass charter school in North Philadelphia on the condition that its management be taken over by Mastery Charter.

Douglass is one of the initial seven low-performing District schools given to a charter operator for academic turnaround in 2010 under the Renaissance schools initiative, and it is the first to be recommended for transfer from one charter operator to another. 

State pension crisis: How did we get here?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on May 19, 2015 09:45 AM

Pick your favorite issue or cause in Pennsylvania: public education, services for the poor, tax breaks for businesses.

Chances are, there's going to be less money for any of these moving forward because the state's public employee pension bill is growing exponentially, with a current unfunded liability of $53 billion.

District reaches deal with aides and cafeteria workers

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 18, 2015 05:43 PM

The School District has reached a deal with the union that represents more than 1,600 noontime aides and cafeteria workers, who have traded some seniority prerogatives and District payments into a benefit fund for higher wages.

The members of UNITE HERE! Local 634 on Saturday ratified a contract that runs through September 2017 and will gradually bring all members up to the 21st Century Living Wage set by the city, estimated to be $12.67 an hour by 2017. Most employees, who are part-time, now earn $10.88 an hour and have average annual salaries of $8,000. 

Philadelphia's graduation and college-going rates, school by school

By the Notebook on May 18, 2015 01:36 PM

The on-time school-level graduation rates shown in the chart below are from the 2013-14 School Progress Reports (SPR) published by the School District of Philadelphia. Rates shown are the percentage of students in the first-time 9th-grade cohort of 2010 who graduate within four years (excluding those who transfer out of the District).

These rates are based on the District’s new methodology, which attributes students to the last school they attended. This year’s School Progress Reports include three-quarters of all eligible charter schools; 62 of the 84 eligible Philadelphia charter schools that were in operation in the 2013-2014 school year participated.

'Fully fund my education because ...'

By NewsWorks Staff on May 15, 2015 01:19 PM
Winning high school video, by Xue Yao Zou, 10th grade, Central High School.


The Philadelphians most affected by the city's school funding crisis are without a doubt the nearly 200,000 District and charter school students. We talk about the students all the time, but how often do we talk to the students?

Former District CEO continues to champion education

By Camden Copeland on May 15, 2015 11:56 AM
Phil Goldsmith (Photo: Camden Copeland)

Phil Goldsmith has worn many hats in Philadelphia. He has worked in law, journalism, banking, and government. But it was Goldsmith’s position as interim CEO of the School District from 2000 to 2001 that started his relationship with the Notebook.

“I remember [Notebook editor] Paul Socolar coming to interview me. They did some short pieces on me, and that’s how I really got to see the Notebook,” Goldsmith said.

His leadership of the District took place during challenging times. He tried to counter privatization of the District, fighting Harrisburg on the plan to have Edison Schools Inc. take over schools. The District was in financial crisis, and he and others negotiated with state legislators to receive more school funding in exchange for giving the state more control and creating the School Reform Commission. Tragedy also struck under his watch when a kindergartner died as the result of a collapsed lunch table.

A who's who in the race for Philly City Council

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on May 15, 2015 10:38 AM

As disagreements in recent years between Philadelphia's mayor and City Council have shown, Council's 17 members can collectively wield a lot of power.

(Exhibit 1 from this year: The foiled sale of Philadelphia Gas Works, a situation in which Council refused to even hold a hearing on Mayor Nutter's plan to sell the utility to a private company.)

Smaller high schools give graduation rates a boost

By Connie Langland on May 14, 2015 01:38 PM

At Kensington Creative & Performing Arts High School, junior Gina Rodriguez said, she has found a place where she can be creative, express herself, and confide in teachers when she feels overwhelmed.

The principal, Lisette Agosto-Cintron, said the school is so small that everybody knows everybody.

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