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With a projected shortfall for 2012-13 of at least $200 million even after the deep cuts this year, District leaders are proposing a major restructuring that would further downsize the central office, close 64 schools, and break up those remaining into "achievement networks."
Balancing expenses with revenues won't happen until 2013-14, said Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen. It will require significant short-term borrowing, deep union concessions by 2013, and the swift passage of a tax reassessment plan by City Council that would net the District $94 million annually.
Mayor Michael Nutter is adamant that he is "not taking one step back" from his goals of doubling the percentage of city residents with college degrees and bringing the city's high school graduation rate to 80 percent.
But a second straight year of deep state cuts to higher education proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett would mean even steeper challenges for students and families, he said.
"We're undermining our own efforts here in the state by driving up tuition costs," Nutter said during an interview with the Notebook/NewsWorks.
Amid the dizzying crush of school improvement efforts -- federal incentive grants, new regulations for teacher evaluations, proposals to raise state curriculum standards -- how often do you hear discussion about student motivation as a factor in academic achievement?
A new report from the Center on Education Policy suggests student motivation is a potential missing ingredient in campus improvement, and that it deserves more attention from educators, parents, community organizations and policymakers.
In examining a wide swath of research, CEP found some common themes among initiatives that were successful as well as those that fell short of expectations, said Alexandra Usher, a senior research assistant at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank and the report’s lead author.
Legislators can extend the school day, force new tests on students and link the scores to a teacher’s job, but a new analysis about disparities in school funding raises the uncomfortable question of just how effective any reforms can really be when issues of equity are ignored.
The second edition of the National Report Card, called “Is School Funding Fair?” is a critique of state school funding systems that shows that many public schools don’t get the resources they need to boost student achievement — even if there are plenty of folks who like to say that money doesn’t really matter in education.
Sixty-three Philadelphia high school teachers were named 2012 winners of the Lindback Award for their talents. The Christian R. and Mary S. Lindback Foundation celebrates excellence in education and has been awarding the teaching prizes since 2008. There is one winner from each school. The winners will be honored Tuesday at ceremonies at the Prince Music Theater. Meet the winners and read excerpts from the nominating information.
Like almost 14 million other Americans, Monica Reyes is looking for work.
"Macy's, Walmart, Kmart, Sears, Friday's, Outback," said Reyes, ticking off her list of recent unsuccessful job applications.
A sluggish economy has made finding work difficult for people from all walks of life. Nationally, the unemployment rate is still above 8 percent. Four people compete for every job.
Few of them will have a tougher time finding work than Reyes.
Philadelphia’s new Great Schools Compact lays out an ambitious goal: replace or transform 50,000 seats in low-performing schools with better options.
But will the Compact include a push to close low-performing charter schools and help successful District-managed schools flourish? Or will it function solely to accelerate existing efforts to close District-run schools and expand the city’s burgeoning charter sector?
Those were the biggest questions on the table during a lively discussion Monday night attended by about 100 people before the School Reform Commission’s “choice, rightsizing, and turnaround” committee.
“The best way I think is to look for things that interest them,” said Anthony Martin, the founder of What it Takes (WIT), a Philadelphia-based e-mentoring program aimed specifically at connecting at-risk Black male students with successful Black men.
Update 2/29, 2:40 p.m. PDE has just confirmed that three charter schools, including the Chester Community Charter School and the Hazleton Area School District, have also been required to follow this protocol. The other two charter schools are both in Philadelphia: Philadelphia Electrical and Technical Charter High School and Imhotep Institute Charter High School.
PDE spokesman Tim Eller said that even though hundreds of schools in Philadelphia have not been flagged for any suspected testing irregularities, "The Department believes it is necessary to apply the policy districtwide."
He also confirmed a statewide change: In the past only the building principal had to sign a certification that the testing protocols had been followed. Now multiple signatures are required. The building principal, the district and school assessment coordinator, and the proctor must all sign documents affirming that they have followed protocol and not tampered with the test booklets.
Last summer Heston Elementary School Principal Icilyn Wilson-Greene received a phone call from the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePac) about an opportunity to restore the school’s library.
It was a welcome call because a large and growing number of Philadelphia public elementary school students don’t have access to a school library or a certified school librarian, and Heston was struggling to keep its own library doors open.
The School District's on-time graduation rate climbed 3 percentage points last year to 61 percent, the first time in memory that more than six of ten Philadelphia students have graduated on time. That figure is the percentage of students who entered 9th grade in fall 2007 and finished high school by 2011.
Earlier this week on Metropolis, Tom Ferrick wrote about comments he read on the Notebook blog. We're republishing his piece as a guest blog post. Teacher unhappiness is a national trend. The newest MetLife teacher survey, released earlier this week, showed that "in the past two years there has been a significant decline in teachers' satisfaction with their profession," decreasing 15 points since the survey two years before.
Charter schools are a fraud. The leadership at school district headquarters is clueless. Powerful interests are combining to ruin public education in this country. Teachers are being made scapegoats for the failure of urban schools.
So say Philadelphia's public school teachers, as they fill the comments section on on the website of the Philadelphia Public [School] Notebook.