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Text messaging: A proven strategy for parental engagement

By Fabiola Cineas on Jul 30, 2015 12:24 PM

It was near the end of the school year, and parent Heather McFadyen thought her honor-roll son Jonathon was doing fine as he cruised toward finishing 8th grade at LaBrum Middle School in the Northeast. 

But then her phone lit up with a text message from his teacher, Sandra Knight.

It was a reminder to check her child’s grade book, where she saw Jonathon had missed some assignments. She got on his case.

Pa. early-childhood programs stretched to financial limit, study finds

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 29, 2015 11:35 AM

Common sense might suggest that the best early-childhood programs would do better financially.

But a new study finds that providers in Southeastern Pennsylvania have little fiscal incentive to reach for high quality.

A Nonprofit Finance Fund study of nearly 150 early-care and education programs in the Philadelphia area found that all of them – no matter their quality rating – operated on razor-thin margins.

So for operators, it's more of a moral choice than a fiscal one to offer robust programming run by college-educated, certified teachers.

As budget standoff continues, House speaker urges override of Wolf veto

By Mary Wilson for WHYY/NewsWorks on Jul 27, 2015 04:26 PM

The top House Republican says he'll try to override the governor's budget veto if negotiations don't starting yielding consensus.

"We have to look at overriding if we're not going to have a substantive discussion," said House Speaker Mike Turzai during his appearance Monday at the Harrisburg Press Club luncheon.

Turzai said an override should be the "goal" of the GOP-controlled legislature, though he's not sure whether such a move would have the votes to pass.

Watch White House event on school discipline

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 22, 2015 11:56 AM

The White House is holding an all-day event on rethinking school discipline, which has been a major focus of the Obama administration's civil rights efforts. Data have repeatedly shown that Black and Latino students are disciplined at far higher rates than Whites and Asians, starting the slippery slope to the school-to-prison pipeline. 

Notebook board chair Harold Jordan, senior policy advocate at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, is participating in the event.

Thorny issues explored at summer institute for teachers

By Fabiola Cineas and Michaela Ward on Jul 21, 2015 04:56 PM

Fellows at the Teacher Leadership Summer Institute are spending three days doing what they rarely get to do during the school year: They're developing teacher voice, tackling thorny issues, and thinking deeply about what they can do to change the system in which they work.

Pa. educators brace for fallout from plunge in PSSA scores

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 20, 2015 01:50 PM

As districts across Pennsylvania brace for an anticipated plunge in scores on the state’s standardized test, educators are worrying about the repercussions while questioning the value of using the volatile test results to make high-stakes decisions about teachers and schools.

Districts and schools will not receive their preliminary results until the end of the month. But statewide data show that the proficiency rates of students on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test have dropped precipitously, especially in math – in some grades by as much as 40 percentage points compared to last year.

Two key local foundations get new leaders

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 14, 2015 06:08 PM

Sarah Martinez-Helfman, who has led the Eagles Youth Partnership for 20 years, was named Tuesday to be the new president of the Samuel S. Fels Fund, an 80-year-old city philanthropy that awards grants and seeks to promote positive social change.

Dickey also leaving the District?

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 13, 2015 10:20 PM

It looks like another member of Superintendent William Hite's leadership team is leaving the Philadelphia School District.

A newspaper in the Atlanta area is reporting that Donyall Dickey, who has been the District's chief academic support officer for barely a year, is headed for a job as chief schools officer in the Atlanta district.

A shake-up at 440

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 8, 2015 04:29 PM

After three years of an administration defined by austerity, personnel cuts and school closings, Superintendent William Hite is ready to move forward with his vision of improving education in the District.

PFT wins arbitration on counselors; District vows appeal

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 7, 2015 05:58 PM

An arbitrator has sided with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in a dispute over the School District's layoffs of counselors and the way they were rehired and placed.

The School District said it would appeal the decision to the Court of Common Pleas.

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