by Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks
Vocational-training facility. Retirement community. Cultural center.
Those were just some of the new uses for Germantown High School's building that were discussed Friday during "What's Next? A Forum on the Future of Germantown High," a panel event co-sponsored by NewsWorks content partner NBC 10 and hosted by Solomon Jones.
by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
The Philadelphia School District is vowing to take a hard line on two issues that have caused confusion when charter operators take over traditional public schools: special education and facilities costs.
Even as the District tries to convert three more of its schools into charters, officials and parents alike are wading through confusion over “exceptions” that past administrations granted to outside managers in previous years of the District’s Renaissance school turnaround initiative.
The community meeting to discuss the planned closure of Beeber Middle School will be held at 6 p.m. tomorrow, March 19, at the school. The meeting was postponed from March 6 due to a forecast of inclement weather.
The District's revised Feb. 18 closure plan announced the proposed closing of Beeber, a school serving grades 6-8. The plan says: "Students will be offered reassignment at Overbrook High School. Overbrook will expand its grade organization to become a 7-12 middle secondary school."
A day of impassioned protest came to a harrowing end for many who fought the District's closure plan when the School Reform Commission decided to close 23 schools, sparing four, last Thursday. With all the commotion that night, it might have been easy to miss a few things. Luckily, Benjamin Herold was keeping track.
10 things you might have missed on the day #phillyeducation closed 23 schools...
— Benjamin Herold (@BenjaminBHerold) March 9, 2013
by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
After an excruciating day of protests and pleas for mercy, Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission voted Thursday night to close 23 city schools and merge or relocate five others. (See NewsWorks footage of reaction to one closing.)
by Bill Hangley Jr.
A day that began with big crowds, high spirits, and defiant speeches ended with disappointment for most opponents of Philadelphia’s school-closings plan.
“I’m totally numb,” said veteran activist “Mama” Gail Clouden as the crowd filed out of the auditorium at School District headquarters after a series of votes that closed 23 schools and spared just four. “This is unbelievable to me.”
“There’s a way to do this, and do it right, and they chose to do it wrong,” said the Rev. Dr. Alyn Waller of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. “This was not just emotional talk. We’ve given them facts, we’ve given them other proposals, and it is clear – they just did not consider them.”
Thursday's School Reform Commission vote on the recommended closure of nearly 30 schools will undoubtedly have a major impact on the future of the city's public school system. In advance of the vote, the Notebook asked prominent Philadelphians to offer their thoughts, using new data and maps on school attendance patterns in the city as a starting point.
by Sandra Dungee Glenn
At the heart of school closings and school choice in Philadelphia is the question of equity -- or lack of it. For the last three decades, parents have been migrating to what they perceive as better options for their children, largely as a result of the neglect of schools in neighborhoods of color.
[Updated 7:55 p.m.]
A group of about 20 opponents of the School District's closings plan staged a four-hour sit-in outside the mayor's office on the second floor of City Hall this afternoon, after a meeting with Mayor Nutter. The protesters were escorted out of the building at about 7:40 p.m. after police ordered the hallway cleared. There were no arrests.
The protest included members of Action United, the NAACP, Parents United for Public Education, and PCAPS (Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools). A larger crowd protesting in opposition to the closings gathered outside City Hall.
The groups are criticizing the mayor's support for the District's plan to close 29 schools. Action United set up a livestream of the sit-in.
by Benjamin Herold, for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
Graphics by Michelle Schmitt and Todd Vachon
For almost an hour, Frank Thorne stood in line, waiting to denounce Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite.
It was early January. Nearly a thousand angry people were packed into a school auditorium. Along one wall, looking unhappy, stood a handful of North Philadelphia politicians, including Darrell Clarke, the president of City Council.
A 1st grader, then a teacher, then a parade of parents and activists blasted Hite's unprecedented plan to close 37 city schools, including Strawberry Mansion, their neighborhood high school.
By the time Thorne got to the microphone, he could barely contain his anger.
by Elaine Simon
Recent analyses show that most students from schools recommended for closing in Philadelphia would not end up in better-performing schools. They are likely to wind up in schools much like the ones they were in before, as a recent study by Research for Action shows.
Most of the displaced students will not benefit academically from the closings as planned. In addition, they would have to travel a distance outside their neighborhoods, because the closings would create education deserts in areas of the city with the highest concentration of minority and low-income residents.
Disturbingly, this scenario echoes the urban renewal of the mid-20th century. Just as urban renewal decimated neighborhoods and dispersed the mostly poor and minority residents without benefiting them, the school-closings agenda of the current wave of school reform probably will lead to the same outcomes.