How do I get started?
Talk to the adults in your life, including teachers, counselors, and parents or guardians. Review the articles and school profiles in this guide. Get a copy of the District’s high school directory published every fall and meet with your counselor. Seventh and 8th graders should attend the High School Expo, scheduled this year on September 28 and 29, where all District and charter schools are represented and you can ask questions. In October, the Philadelphia School Partnership will launch its website, greatphillyschools.org, from which you can get information on academics, extracurricular activities, graduation rates, college enrollment, safety and other factors.
by Willie Colon
The School District announced plans in the spring to consolidate its Newcomer Learning Academies (NLAs) at one site at Benjamin Franklin High School. But there was still community skepticism about the basic premise of the program: Some wondered whether it was wise to segregate and potentially isolate newly arrived immigrant students.
Although the School District has signaled its intent to hold the line on further cuts to English language learner instruction and services, this school year’s budgetary upheavals have taken a toll on the system’s programs for ELL students and families.
The year started with significant cuts to ELL instruction and supports – cuts that were mitigated by varying degrees as the year progressed, according to information provided by Lucy Feria, deputy chief for multilingual programs, and a Notebook analysis of District budget documents.
At a School Reform Commission meeting Monday night, officials said they would do their best to avoid further cuts in programs for the District's 13,000 English language learners.
By devoting an entire two-hour meeting to the topic, the SRC signaled its commitment to prioritize this large but often-neglected segment of the District's population.
But officials also acknowledged that teacher layoffs and other budget-related decisions have taken a toll on these programs over the years.
Sentado en una mesa de la cafetería en el Community College of Philadelphia, Cheick Kante no hace ningún esfuerzo por ocultar su frustración.
"A veces quisiera no haberme mudado acá nunca", dice Kante, un alto joven de 22 años que está estudiando una carrera en sistemas de información en el CCP. "Nunca pensé que sería así".
For thousands of undocumented high school students in Pennsylvania, the DREAM Act is their dream.
There are actually two versions – federal and state – and each would make the path through college easier and more rewarding.
For immigrant students interested in higher education, here are some resources:
Philadelphia Education Fund
College Access Program
Kimberly Stephens, director
215-665-1400, ext. 3316
College Access Centers
4548 Market St., 215-476-2227
Gallery, 9th & Market, 215-574-1341
Sitting at a table in the cafeteria at the Community College of Philadelphia, Cheick Kante makes no effort to hide his frustration.
"Sometimes I wish I'd never come here," says Kante, 22, a towering man who is studying computer information systems at CCP. "I never knew it would be like this."
A few hours later and a brisk walk away, Mohamed Kakay is a study in confidence as he chats in Starbucks at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a graduate student in global studies. "I've had to work twice as hard," says Kakay, also 22. "But the resources are there for immigrant students."
Anh Phan, 17
Junior, Furness High School
The friendly environment that the teachers bring to the school, especially with the English [language] learners. They inspire us to study English. It’s really difficult to study another language, but they give us a lot of inspiration. Whenever you need help, the teachers are there, in the library or after school.”
With the School District facing a projected budget shortfall of $38.8 million, it’s clear that more deep cuts are on the way. One of the District’s many challenges will be how to continue providing needed programs and services to English Language Learners (ELLs). Part of the answer seems to be through forming key partnerships.
A presentation by School Reform Commissioner Feather Houstoun on January 19 mentioned eliminating all Bilingual Counseling Assistants (BCAs) as one possible extreme measure to help alleviate the budget gap. But services to ELL students and families were spared in the latest round of cuts announced on February 3.