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Only a fair tax system will fully fund Pa. public schools

By Bishop Dwayne Royster on Mar 12, 2015 01:21 PM

A week after Gov. Wolf’s budget address, we’re seeing reactions from all sides to the governor’s proposal -- some celebratory and some critical.

Members of POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild), an interfaith organization that has prioritized the fight for full funding for our schools, have been watching this debate as it unfolds and assessing what it means for our children. As people of faith committed to a prophetic critique of “the world as it is,” we must speak truth about what is being left unsaid. When it comes to the funding of our schools, economic inequality and education inequality in Pennsylvania are intertwined -- and we are not moving fast enough to fix it.  

City Council candidates' views on education: Isaiah Thomas

By the Notebook on Mar 11, 2015 02:25 PM

On May 19, Philadelphians will hit the polls to winnow the field of City Council at-large candidates. Out of 28 declared candidates, only seven will be elected in November (including at least two from a minority party). Each party can run five candidates in the general election. The Notebook reached out to the candidates, asking their opinions on the election's most gripping issue: education.

Where do candidates stand on the School Reform Commission's decision to approve five new charter school applications? Whose job is it to find more money for public schools, the city's or the District's? Absent an agreement with the teachers' union, do they think the SRC is right to pursue concessions through the courts? And finally, what ideas do they have for how the District can fix its financial problems?

Sustainable community schools: An alternative to privatization

By Ron Whitehorne on Mar 9, 2015 12:02 PM

Public education is at a crossroads in Philadelphia. An aggressive and well-funded charter school lobby wants to rapidly expand the city’s already sizable charter sector.   

Lavish campaign contributions have secured political support in the Republican-dominated state legislature and from mayoral candidate Anthony Williams here in Philadelphia. A well-oiled public relations and media operation has crafted a narrative about children trapped in failing schools and the thousands of families on waiting lists for charters. 

The reality of understaffed, poorly resourced public schools destabilized by punitive and largely ineffective school transformation policies has driven many families to seek refuge in charters, few of which perform better than the schools they left. The charter lobby ignores the fact that charter school expansion, given the present charter school law and the absence of additional funding in the form of a charter school reimbursement line in the state budget, can only come at the expense of children in traditional public schools. 

Rendell Center for civic education moving to Annenberg at Penn

By Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 6, 2015 03:02 PM

In a move designed to beef up civics education in schools, the Rendell Center for Civics & Civic Engagement will relocate to the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Rendell Center, led by Judge Marjorie O. Rendell of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, focuses on civics education for the younger grades, while Annenberg has concentrated on middle and upper grades.

Study investigates high discipline rates among Black girls

By Camden Copeland on Mar 6, 2015 12:34 PM

Black girls are disciplined at higher rates and with harsher consequences than their White counterparts, according to a new report from Columbia Law School's Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies.

The study, called Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underpotected, compares 2011-12 data on out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, and school-related arrests for White and Black girls in New York City and Boston, and explains the adverse consequences of the disparities.

The data showed that in Boston, Black girls are 11 times more likely to be disciplined than White girls and 12 times more likely to be suspended. In New York City, Black girls were 10 times more likely to be disciplined and 10 times more likely to be suspended than White girls.

Williams wants to devote greater portion of Philly taxes to schools

By Katie Colaneri for NewsWorks on Mar 5, 2015 02:08 PM

As Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter plans to announce a 9 percent hike in property taxes to help raise $100 million for city schools, mayoral candidate and State Sen. Anthony Williams has come out with his own school-funding plan.

At a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Center City, his mother and first-grade teacher by his side, Williams outlined a plan that he says will bring $200 million to the District next year.

Nine nonprofits awarded $40K for building healthier communities

By Shannon Nolan on Dec 2, 2014 05:36 PM

Nine Philadelphia nonprofits have each been awarded $40,000 by GlaxoSmithKline for their contributions to building healthy communities.

The recipients were: After School Activities Partnership (ASAP); the Center for Grieving Children; Community Design Collaborative of Philadelphia; Gearing Up; Graduate! Philadelphia; Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Philadelphia Youth Network Inc.; University City District; and YouthBuild Philly.

UPenn report finds Pa. schools need an additional $3.5 billion

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 26, 2014 05:52 PM

A new report from the University of Pennsylvania finds that the state's school districts need an additional $3.5 billion to educate all students to meet academic proficiency standards.

Education issues to consider in the mayoral race

By James Lytle on Nov 26, 2014 03:00 PM

Although the mayoral primary isn’t until May, prospective candidates for mayor are already testing their prospects. 

Four have already announced their intentions to run: former head of the city's Redevelopment Authority Terry Gillen, former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo, former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, and State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams. In the view of many Philadelphians, there is no more important issue than the future of public education in the city. And advocacy groups like the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools are already determining what issues to focus on and which candidates they might support.

In some respects the issues seem obvious: increased funding, local control, and restored services like libraries, counselors, and nurses. But the devil is in the details. What specifically would the candidates do? What is the candidate’s record on support for city schools? What experience does the candidate have in dealing with City Council and Harrisburg? 

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