This week's guest commentary about changes in the Philadelphia school landscape is from James M. "Torch" Lytle, a former Philadelphia administrator and Trenton superintendent, now a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. The Notebook invites guest blog posts on current topics in Philadelphia education from its readers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make a submission.
While the official vote results have not been released, the head of a group representing alumni of Martin Luther King High says their school’s advisory council has recommended Mosaica Education over Foundations, Inc. to run King as a charter next year.
“The vote went to Mosaica,” said Darran Whitfield, founder and president of the Martin Luther King Alumni Association, in a phone interview. Whitfield says he heard the news directly from members of King’s School Advisory Council (SAC), who have been instructed by school district officials not to comment publicly on the vote.
A spokesperson for Foundations confirmed Whitfield’s account. “I heard [the vote] was 8-1, in terms of numbers,” in favor of Mosaica, said Executive Director of Communications John Henderson. Other sources close to the King SAC reported the same results.
Monday, Whitfield’s group held a press conference at King to voice their support for Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s Renaissance process, designed to bring new management to chronically underperforming schools. The alumni group is not represented on King’s School Advisory Council (SAC), but has been a frequent presence at King’s Renaissance-related events, and helped organize a series of meetings between students and the charters.
This story continues on the NewsWorks website; it is a product of a reporting collaboration between the Notebook and WHYY.
This is the front page article from our February 2010 edition of the paper. Look for more stories online and the print edition later this week!
It’s nothing new for Janiece Jones to wonder about the future of her child’s school.
“It was supposed to be closed down,” she said as she stood in front of the Paul L. Dunbar Elementary School in North Philadelphia. “[Then] they just said that someone was going to try and change the performance of the school.”
The first rumor didn’t come to pass. But the second just might, in potentially dramatic fashion.
Published test scores are just one of the means that are available to make comparisons of the success of different management approaches. The performance of privately managed schools has lagged behind District schools on some 2006 performance indicators. In more sophisticated analysis by researchers, no evidence has been found that any of the management models are superior to others.
Philadelphia public school leaders seeking solutions to pressing issues such as running disciplinary schools, training student teachers, or providing technology-based learning interventions have increasingly turned to external organizations to do the job.
When the School Reform Commission decides in spring 2007 whether to renew the District's multi-million dollar contracts with six school managers, improvement in test scores will be their primary consideration, according to District officials.
Contracts with the six managers, sometimes called “education management organizations” or EMOs, cover 41 schools. They expire at the end of the school year.