Students from nine high schools walked out of school at noon Wednesday, converging on the School District, City Hall and Gov. Corbett's Philadelphia office to protest inadequate funding of their schools.
As many as 200 students and supporters marched down Broad Street chanting and waving signs, escorted by police officers from Civil Affairs.
A long, lively day of voting at Muñoz-Marín School in North Philadelphia ended with a decisive victory for the school’s current administration, with parents rejecting a proposed match with a charter provider, ASPIRA, and electing to remain under District management.
“It’s 223 for traditional public school and 70 for ASPIRA,” spokesperson Fernando Gallard announced at 7:45 Thursday night to a roar of delight from the school’s jubilant supporters and staff.
Ten advocacy groups across the state are making a push for more pre-K funding in Pennsylvania. This new coalition is seeking to use this year’s gubernatorial race as an opportunity to campaign for high-quality pre-K care for every family.
The coalition includes Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia (ELGP), Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children, and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
When the School Reform Commission meets Monday for its monthly public strategy session, its goal will be to discuss the pros and cons of an unprecedented proposal: unifying the enrollment process for Philadelphia’s public, charter, and parochial schools.
But behind the scenes, a lengthy process involving a working group that included multiple stakeholders appears to have created little consensus over how this “universal enrollment” system might work, who should be in it, and even whether one should exist at all.
“There’s consensus that there’s a problem,” said David Lapp of the Education Law Center, a working group member. “We should improve on having over 80 different systems for how kids enroll in school.”
However, Lapp said, there has been no consensus on “the big [questions], who would run it and who would participate in it.”
by Isaac Riddle
Five of the eight Democrats vying to challenge Gov. Corbett next year gathered in front of education and community groups at a candidate forum held at Temple University last Saturday.
The forum opened to chants of “whose children, our children” and “whose jobs, our jobs” by members of the audience.
Since the District’s draconian budget cuts, there has been no shortage of protests in response to the funding crisis. Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, a labor-community alliance, has called a series of actions know as Full Funding Fridays – weekly rallies every Friday morning at several schools currently suffering from the cuts.
Participants hand out leaflets and circulate petitions calling on legislators to increase education spending.
PCAPS has held Full Funding Friday rallies at over 50 District schools since starting the effort in September. At one protest in November, PCAPS members convened at the High School for Creative and Performing Arts, Grover Washington Jr. Middle School, and Decatur, Gideon, Gompers, Rowen, and Sheridan elementary schools.
The goal of the initiative, said PCAPS member Ron Whitehorne, is to build stronger partnerships with parents, students, and community members while forging public discussion around the issue of funding.
by Naveed Ahsan
The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools will launch a new campaign to end 10-year property tax abatements at a press conference today at 4:30 p.m. held at the luxury high-rise condos 10 Rittenhouse Square.
The city of Philadelphia now offers a 10-year tax abatement for building developers and owners, making them exempt from paying property taxes on new construction or renovations. PCAPS says these tax abatements will deprive the School District of Philadelphia of nearly $50 million in 2014. With that money, the group says, the District could have avoided the closure of 24 schools this past June and the layoffs of thousands of employees.
by Isaac Riddle
About 50 parents, teachers, students, and community members joined Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan in a protest about budget cuts outside of Vare-Washington Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon.
The group gathered to voice concerns over the latest loss of programs and services at the South Philadelphia school and to talk about the impact the District’s leveling efforts will have on a school already hurting from staffing shortages brought on by districtwide budget cuts.
The sudden resignation of School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro Ramos has many asking who his replacement will be. For others, his departure raises the question of how the five-member panel should be selected, especially because the term of another commissioner is set to expire in about three months.
Joseph Dworetzky, who was named to the SRC by former Gov. Ed Rendell, will reach the end of his term in January 2014. Dworetzky has been an outspoken commissioner, unafraid to challenge his fellow SRC members and the District. Back in May, he voted against a stripped-down budget that eliminated nearly everything from schools except a principal and small number of classroom teachers. He also objected to a number of Superintendent William Hite’s proposals to close schools.
Parents United for Public Education and Philly School Counselors United filed a complaint with the Department of Education Thursday saying that Philadelphia chidlren are being denied an adequate education due to the counselor shortage in city schools.
"The lack of counselors impedes the ability of teachers to deliver as effectively instructional services," according to the complaint, filed with the help of the Public Interest Law Center of Pennsylvania (PILCOP).