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February 2013 Vol. 20. No. 4 Focus on A Downsizing District

From our readers

Tests should encourage

By the Notebook on Jan 31, 2013 02:46 PM

Tests should encourage

Response to the December 2012 edition article “Going beyond the multiple-choice test.”

We have found “late learners” can be just as proficient in what they know as “early learners,” provided teachers make clear the dozen or so big learning outcomes that students are eventually expected to master, and then provide students multiple means and opportunities to provide evidence of their knowledge.

The greatest potential for impacting students by using standards-based or continuous proficiency assessments is in neighborhood schools, K-12, as well as in community colleges – not just specialty schools.

Failure is a necessary part of learning. But giving up is not. Persistence to achievement should be encouraged by the assessment system. 

Joseph Merlino

The writer is an education researcher and president of the 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education.


A trusted leader is key

A comment on the Jan. 4 post “District chief to present turnaround plan for schools.”

The most important task of Dr. Hite is to build trust as our leader. “Trust formation” has been identified in study after study as the most important element of effective leadership. Because of the negative leadership of the past 10 years, trust has completely broken down within our school community and has to be rebuilt if we are ever to have a system of great schools.

I have high hopes that Dr. Hite will provide us with the moral leadership we have been so desperately lacking in the past few years. 

It is one thing for leadership to be interested in listening to the voices of the teachers, parents, students, and the community. It is yet another thing to give the community and teachers a “true voice” in what happens in our schools and school district.

We all know that Dr. Hite’s greatest challenge is to rebuild the community of our schools and earn our trust. I wish him success.

Rich Migliore

The writer is a retired School District administrator, an attorney, and author of “Whose School Is It? The Democratic Imperative for Our Schools.”


Consider the alternatives

A comment on the Jan. 9 post “School closings plan gets raucous reception in North Philadelphia.”

In Chicago and Washington, the savings from school closings turned out to be grossly exaggerated. It is likely to be the case here as well. By the time all the costs are figured out, the savings will be modest indeed. Even by the District’s numbers, this is less than 1 percent of the budget and is hardly going to provide a foundation for improving neighborhood schools.

That’s why the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) is calling for a one-year moratorium. Stop this destructive, divisive process. Take a step back to look at alternatives like community schools. More importantly, address what is really needed to stop falling enrollment. The District needs to shift the conversation from living on a subsistence budget to getting what our children need and deserve. And policy changes and legislation are needed to make charter schools transparent and equitable.

Ron Whitehorne

The writer is a retired Philadelphia teacher and a member of PCAPS (www.wearePCAPS.org).

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