by Sonia Giebel
Days after the School Reform Commission approved its “doomsday” budget, about 150 people conducted a noisy protest Wednesday outside District headquarters against two of the budget's consequences: the removal of noontime aides from lunchrooms and less fresh food for students.
The UNITE HERE rally brought together the aides -- also called student safety staff -- who monitor trouble-prone hallways and lunchrooms, with students, teachers, cafeteria workers, and others. They chanted slogans like “break bread, not schools” and banged pots and pans.
“What parent wants their kid eating on a dirty table ... or coming home with a busted nose?” said Migdalia Lopez, a noontime aide at Bodine High School. The cafeteria will not be a safe environment, she said.
Superintendent William Hite, along with retired teacher and activist Ron Whitehorne and education analyst Andrew Rotherham, will discuss the pending teachers' contract on WHYY-FM's Radio Times on Tuesday morning.
The current contract is due to expire in August. The District's opening proposals -- leaked last week to the press -- include a steep salary cut, restructuring of the compensation system, an end to seniority and elimination of many provisions regarding working conditions, such as access to water fountains.
by Bill Hangley Jr.
Members of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), a group that includes the city’s teachers’ union, say that despite the many promising proposals in Superintendent William Hite’s newly released plan for the Philadelphia School District, the numbers don’t add up.
by Bill Hangley, Jr.
The report released Tuesday by the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) is ambitious, to say the least: It represents an attempt to push back vigorously against almost all of the current trends in city and state education policy.
The immediate villain, as PCAPS sees it, is the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), whose privately funded collection of reform recommendations was unveiled with great fanfare by District officials in the spring.
For the School District of Philadelphia, 2012-13 is shaping up as one of its most challenging school years ever.
The School Reform Commission must close dozens of schools, borrow $300 million to stay afloat, and begin a challenging negotiation with the teachers’ union on a new contract. The District will seek big financial concessions from teachers but also changes in seniority practices and how teachers are evaluated and compensated.
Through the Great Schools Compact, the SRC is setting a goal for creating more “high-performing seats” and more choice for parents through “portfolio management” of schools, a strategy that assumes the continued expansion of charters. But its careful planning to manage that expansion without running out of money for District-managed schools is threatened by charter legislation pending in Harrisburg.
Asked what “portfolio management” means to him, Jerry Jordan’s answer was swift and certain:
“Big business. Outsourcing. It’s literally getting rid of public service,” said the president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
But when asked about the PFT’s strategy for slowing a trend that has seen thousands of teaching jobs shifted to non-union charter schools, Jordan’s answer was more general: “We have to work more closely with the parents and the people in the community in order to make sure our schools are funded adequately. We can’t survive another billion-dollar cut.”
Last week I attended a local screening of Won’t Back Down, the latest flick from the producers behind the controversial documentary Waiting for Superman.
The film stars Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal as two moms of special-needs children, one also a teacher, trapped inside their failing public schools while battling an evil union leadership. They decide to take advantage of a state law called the FailSafe (known as the “parent trigger” in most states) in order to take over their public school, close it down, and re-open it under their personal and private management.
Twenty-five thousand Chicago teachers, members of the Chicago Teachers Union, are on strike.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel portrays the action as “a strike of choice” that victimizes parents and children. Union president Karen Lewis responds that they hoped to avoid a strike but the actions of Emanuel and the Board of Education left them little choice.
The Notebook has a content sharing arrangement with Education Week, where this originally appeared. Stephen Sawchuk, who writes the Teacher Beat blog for EdWeek, is covering the strike.
The appointment of William Hite as our new superintendent has won praise from many in education circles. His performance in meetings with stakeholders, his credentials as an educator, high marks from the teachers' union in Prince George’s County, and his apparent effectiveness as an administrator of a large, poor and financially troubled school district all worked to his favor, especially given the weakness of his competition.