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The Notebook's latest news posts.

Election near, but still no Pa. test scores; 2013 results showed a downward trend

By Dale Mezzacappa, Kevin McCorry, and Paul Socolar for the Notebook and NewsWorks on Oct 30, 2014 10:18 PM

Have standardized test scores declined for a third year in a row in Pennsylvania?

We’re not likely to find out before the gubernatorial election next week.

This year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has waited longer than usual to publicly release any data on test scores or school performance.

Expelled for inappropriate cell phone use?

By Payne Schroeder on Oct 29, 2014 09:54 AM

In August, Youth United for Change members stood in protest when the School Reform Commission voted to approve changes to the student code of conduct. They were ultimately escorted from District headquarters for disrupting the meeting.

The group says that the new policy's changes to the severity of punishment for students who engage in the "inappropriate use of electronic devices" could lead to overdisciplining students for minor infractions and could push students out of school.

Parents spar angrily with founder of closing charter high school

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 28, 2014 05:19 PM

Sparks flew at a meeting for parents on Monday night at Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter High School. The school's basement cafeteria became a battleground between the school's founder and a throng of incensed parents.

Many had learned only that morning that the high school program at the school's Tacony campus was permanently closing and that their children would have to find another school two months into the year.

"I'm frustrated with Walter Palmer. I'm frustrated with the District. I'm frustrated with everybody," said parent Courtney Dennis.

Legal battle between SRC and PFT heads to Commonwealth Court

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 28, 2014 12:06 PM

Updated | 2:30 p.m.

The legal battle over whether the School Reform Commission can impose benefit changes on teachers has shifted to Commonwealth Court, which could hear arguments in the dispute as early as December.

On Monday, Common Pleas Court Judge Nina Wright Padilla made an injunction permanent that delays any benefit changes until the matter is resolved in court, and the District appealed that ruling to Commonwealth Court. 

Both sides said they are pleased by the outcome of the latest legal maneuvers.

The District says that the legal proceedings will accelerate a final resolution in court of the extent of the SRC's powers. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers says the ruling points the parties back to the bargaining table, a move that the District says it remains open to. 

New data will help draw detailed portrait of city's out-of-school time programs

By Connie Langland on Oct 28, 2014 10:57 AM

A decade after he spent afternoons at a Mount Airy recreation center, Che Williams, 24, can still recall how much he enjoyed himself – and how he benefited from supervised homework and social time.

“I am a product of afterschool programs. They kept me out of trouble,” said Williams, who is a graphic designer and illustrator.

The program he attended included African dance lessons that were great fun and still memorable. “Those are the trouble hours, when school is out and your mom isn’t home yet,” he said.

Germantown residents discuss plan to turn GHS property into a community charter school

By Daniel Pasquarello for NewsWorks on Oct 28, 2014 09:35 AM

More than 20 Germantown residents gathered Saturday at the Daniel E. Rumph II Recreation Center to learn more about the proposal to turn the now-empty Germantown High School site into a community charter school.

Julie Stapleton-Carroll, who would serve as Germantown Community Charter School principal should the idea gain Charter School Office approval, led the meeting.

Hundreds of students displaced as Walter Palmer Charter shuts its high school

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 27, 2014 02:30 PM

Two months into the school year, Walter Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter has shuttered its high school — displacing the 286 students who attended the Tacony campus in what the school's founder called a "human tragedy."

The scene on Harbison Avenue was the latest development in the charter's years-long scuffle with the Philadelphia School District regarding enrollment caps. Students arrived for classes Monday morning only to be told to head home.

Cancellation of Philadelphia teachers' contract ignites firestorm

By Benjamin Herold for Education Week on Oct 27, 2014 11:33 AM

Three weeks after the School Reform Commission that governs this labor-friendly city's public schools activated its "nuclear option," the shock waves are still being felt around the country.

Beset by an epic budget crunch, the SRC unilaterally canceled its expired contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers earlier this month and declared that the union's 11,500 members will begin paying a portion of their health-insurance costs.

Observers across the political spectrum view the action as the latest salvo in an ongoing national battle over the collective bargaining rights of public-sector workers. In recent years, teachers and other public employees from Louisiana to Wisconsin have found themselves on the defensive as management has sought to roll back benefits and job protections.

Should Philly parents worry about fiscal woes of for-profit charter operator?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 27, 2014 09:43 AM

A federal judge has ordered the heavily indebted Mosaica Education Inc., a for-profit charter school management organization, to accept a turnaround receiver.

Mosaica, which contracts with more than 100 schools -- including one in Philadelphia -- to serve 25,000 students in the United States and abroad, carries a $20 million debt load with its lender, Tatonka Capital.

Caravan of delights: Pa. gubernatorial race

By Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week on Oct 24, 2014 02:33 PM

Consistently ranked as one of the most "endangered" governors when it comes to reelection prospects, Keystone State Gov. Tom Corbett has consistently trailed Democrat Tom Wolf this year, and he is the only Republican governor whose race is now considered safely in the Democratic column, according to Real Clear Politics. (I wrote about Wolf's position on education funding earlier this year.) However, Corbett has closed the gap in recent months, and what was once a deficit of approximately 20 percentage points is now getting closer to single digits, as the Real Clear Politics polling average below shows:

 

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