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.
Frankencharters. Daily News
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.
The imbalance of leveling. Notebook
Freire Charter School wants to open a tech-focused high school. Technically Philly
Bodine High loses teachers, cancels physics. Parents United
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.
City For Families? Millennial Parents Say So. Hidden City
U. of Sciences buys Alexander Wilson School building for student housing. West Philly Local
Toward Better Teachers. NY Times
Sparks flew at a meeting for parents on Monday night at Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter High School. The school's basement cafeteria became a battleground between the school's founder and a throng of incensed parents.
Many had learned only that morning that the high school program at the school's Tacony campus was permanently closing and that their children would have to find another school two months into the year.
"I'm frustrated with Walter Palmer. I'm frustrated with the District. I'm frustrated with everybody," said parent Courtney Dennis.
“I am a product of afterschool programs. They kept me out of trouble,” said Williams, who is a graphic designer and illustrator.
The program he attended included African dance lessons that were great fun and still memorable. “Those are the trouble hours, when school is out and your mom isn’t home yet,” he said.
More than 20 Germantown residents gathered Saturday at the Daniel E. Rumph II Recreation Center to learn more about the proposal to turn the now-empty Germantown High School site into a community charter school.
Julie Stapleton-Carroll, who would serve as Germantown Community Charter School principal should the idea gain Charter School Office approval, led the meeting.
Teachers back in school at Penn. Daily Pennsylvanian
Two months into the school year, Walter Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter has shuttered its high school — displacing the 286 students who attended the Tacony campus in what the school's founder called a "human tragedy."
The scene on Harbison Avenue was the latest development in the charter's years-long scuffle with the Philadelphia School District regarding enrollment caps. Students arrived for classes Monday morning only to be told to head home.
Beset by an epic budget crunch, the SRC unilaterally canceled its expired contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers earlier this month and declared that the union's 11,500 members will begin paying a portion of their health-insurance costs.
Observers across the political spectrum view the action as the latest salvo in an ongoing national battle over the collective bargaining rights of public-sector workers. In recent years, teachers and other public employees from Louisiana to Wisconsin have found themselves on the defensive as management has sought to roll back benefits and job protections.
A federal judge has ordered the heavily indebted Mosaica Education Inc., a for-profit charter school management organization, to accept a turnaround receiver.
Mosaica, which contracts with more than 100 schools -- including one in Philadelphia -- to serve 25,000 students in the United States and abroad, carries a $20 million debt load with its lender, Tatonka Capital.
The Philadelphia School District decided Friday to give schools access to $15 million starting Monday, based on expected savings from forcing teachers to contribute toward their health care premiums.
Since the School Reform Commission terminated its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers on Oct. 6, the District has been planning three disbursements totaling $44 million.
Until Friday, it was unclear when principals would have access to those funds. Principals were notified in mid-October what their school allocation would be, but the disbursement date was left up in the air after several legal challenges by the teachers' union, which is protesting the legality of the SRC's unilateral move.