Superintendent William Hite and other District officials faced another crowded and emotion-laden meeting Wednesday night over proposed school closings.
A day after some 1,000 people attended a raucous meeting at Dobbins Career and Technical Education High School, at least 500 teachers, parents, and students filled the auditorium at Edison High School in Kensington. Most pleaded to keep open or not relocate their schools, some tearfully. Many expressed anger that they had not been consulted before the recommendations were made. A line of speakers stretched to the door, and many in the audience held signs, shouting and cheering while speakers made their points.
Tuesday night, Frontline is airing a documentary, by my friend John Merrow, on Michelle Rhee. Merrow, who has been following Rhee's career since her days with the New Teacher Project and was granted unprecedented access to her, includes allegations from a former principal that the Washington, D.C., school district failed to pursue allegations of adult cheating on tests.
I know -- many Notebook readers are growing weary of our coverage of cheating allegations in Philadelphia schools. But this is important stuff, folks. Whatever you think of the value of these tests or of misguided incentives attached to giving them such high stakes, we should not ignore evidence that educators may be behaving dishonestly, undermining the integrity of the whole educational enterprise.
Four months after William Hite took the helm of one of the most troubled big-city school districts in the nation, the new Philadelphia superintendent is set to release his blueprint for turning the system around on Monday.
Hite is facing a grim reality. He is already committed to closing 37 schools -- nearly one in six -- and needs to stave off what will turn into a $1 billion annual shortfall by 2018 if austerity measures aren’t taken now.
I've been writing about the Children's Literacy Initiative since it started nearly 25 years ago, training home day-care providers in low-income neighborhoods to read with their young charges.
I wrote about it again in 1999, describing its model classroom in a Camden kindergarten.
Since then, the homegrown initiative has expanded greatly, and it is now a national force. In 2010, it was one of 49 projects chosen from nearly 1,700 applicants for a U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) grant. And among those, it was one of only 19 awarded a "validation" grant, meaning that it has already shown evidence of success.
Here are highlights of an hour-long press briefing Wednesday with Superintendent William Hite, Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn, and Danielle Floyd, who headed up the School District's facilities planning process, on the rationale and the process for closing 37 school buildings and relocating or reconfiguring dozens of other schools in the District.
UPDATED: 7:08 p.m.
The William Penn Foundation, citing "differences in approach," has announced that it is searching for a new president and that Jeremy Nowak is leaving.
Bache-Martin is a K-8 District-run public school in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia with about 400 students. People for People is a K-8 charter school with just over 500 students not too far away in lower North Philadephia.
If state Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis had had his way, these two schools would have been judged by different standards in determining whether they met federal achievement goals.
Superintendent William Hite has hired Matthew E. Stanski as chief financial officer for the School District. Stanski worked in that position in the Prince George's County school district when Hite was head of the schools there.
Tension is increasing between the School District and the charter school community.
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools is calling the SRC's move to suspend part of the charter school law dealing with enrollment caps "seriously misguided and ... a stealthy and blatant abuse of both power and trust." The SRC made the move so it could control charter growth and plan in the face of its dire budget situation.
The charter coalition called the action illegal and is threatening litigation. Following are the statement from PCPCS and the District's response.
Independence Charter School, one of the most sought-after charters in the city, is looking for a new CEO after the departure of founding principal Jurate Krokys.
The school's board of trustees says it is seeking a CEO "who will bring expertise and leadership experience in primary education, a clear vision for our school's future, and an abiding commitment to developing young global citizens."
Donna Cooper, who was Gov. Rendell's policy chief for eight years and who has experience in both city government and the advocacy world, has been named the new executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth.
Cooper will succeed Shelly Yanoff, who is stepping down after leading the group for 26 years.
With Philadelphia firmly committed to creating a "portfolio" of schools as a way to improve outcomes for all students, it seems worthwhile to take note of a study just released by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis "acted prematurely" in changing how to calculate adequate yearly progress for charter schools, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The rule change made it easier for some charters to make AYP.
But a federal spokesperson also said in an email that the change may ultimately be approved.
PSSA adviser says Education Secretary Ron Tomalis 'overstated' impact of cheating on test scores The Morning Call
The secretary attributed his conclusion to a panel of statistical experts. The head of that panel says that is not correct. From former Gov. Rendell to newspaper editorial boards, critics say that Tomalis should not discount the potential impact of severe state-imposed education funding cuts on declining scores.
Pa. special-ed funding linked to charter law changes Inquirer
Controversial charter law changes are being tacked on to a popular, long-awaited revision of the special education funding formula. Some legislators are crying foul.
See also: Pennsylvania Legislature Considering Charter School Regulation Bill CBS News
Parents from two charters urge SRC to keep schools open Inquirer
Some parents tell the School Reform Commission that two charters founded by June Brown, who is now under federal indictment, provide strong academics and should be allowed to say open.
See also: SRC meeting takes up charter renewals, code of conduct Notebook
School rejection leaves Camden neighborhood at a loss Inquirer
Parents had hoped for a new Renaissance school, run by KIPP and backed by George Norcross, a Democratic power broker and a managing partner of the company that owns the Inquirer.
Annette John-Hall: Romney would undercut lifeline to college students Inquirer column
Annette John-Hall criticizes Romney's plan to cut the Pell Grant program by $200 billion.
Maggie Gyllenhaal talks unions, education and motherhood Daily News
The star of "Won't Back Down," the new movie about parent trigger laws, tells columnist Howard Gensler that it is "oversimplified" to look at the film as anti-teachers' union.
If you're serious about education reform, see the musical "Awesome Alliteration" Notebook
This satire, which is starting its last weekend, could be called No Reform Left Unscathed.
Notebook edition on 'A portfolio of schools' now available Notebook
The PDF is now online, the full edition will be posted next week.
Charter boom continues, with 35 high school options Notebook
Just in time for this weekend's High School Expo, content from our annual Fall Guide is now online.
Dear Philly: Please read The Workshop Blog
Matt Riggan of the Sustainability Workshop urges everyone to read the latest from education commentator Rick Hess on education reform. The post, largely written by two bloggers who usually disagree, focuses on the common ground they have found.
Please email us if we missed anything today or if you have any suggestions of publications, email lists, or other places for us to check for news.
On Sunday I saw "Awesome Alliteration, the Magical Musical" written by two young teachers, which finishes up its run this coming weekend at the Adrienne Theater at 20th and Sansom Streets as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.
It is a madcap piece. The musical skewers schools and education reform -- all of it, on all sides. Teaching to the test, bumbling principals, arrogantly clueless politicians, Teach for America, pacing schedules, word walls, faculty meetings, textbooks, charter schools, teachers' unions -- nothing escapes the barbs. Journalists, too -- the teacher informs the indignant mother of the valedictorian that her daughter in fact learned so little that "she couldn't even get a job doing copy editing for USA Today."