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The Notebook's latest news posts.

Chester Upland can't pay its teachers -- but they're working anyway

By Laura Benshoff for Newsworks on Aug 28, 2015 10:55 PM

Teachers' union president Michele Paulick said she received some unwelcome news at the Chester Upland School District teacher convocation this week.

"Our superintendent, Gregory Shannon, read a letter from our receiver, Francis Barnes, that informed the teachers that there are no funds," said Paulick, who described feeling "shock, frustration and anger" at the news.

Making career and technical education into a first-class option

By Bill Hangley Jr. on Aug 28, 2015 11:35 AM


David Kipphut has a mission: to transform what used to be called vocational education from a second-class backwater to a first-class pathway to prosperity in Philadelphia.

It’s an uphill climb in a cash-strapped district that prioritizes college attainment. Even so, Kipphut has seen significant progress since taking over the Office of Career and Technical Education (CTE) three years ago. Among his favorite examples: the welding program at Randolph High, which just graduated its first cohort.

CTE Success Stories: 'Like we were actually managing a business'

By Michaela Ward on Aug 27, 2015 10:35 AM

It was Andrea Seitchik, a George Washington High School Career and Technical Education teacher, who first approached Dylan Henry about taking CTE classes.

As a 10th grader, Henry decided to give Seitchik’s Sports Marketing and Management program a try. He said he liked the first class, an introduction to the program.

“It made it seem like we were actually managing a business,” he said.

Mastery charter grows its network with 'turnaround of a turnaround'

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Aug 26, 2015 08:37 PM

Scholar Academies operates one the highest-performing charter schools in Philadelphia, Young Scholars Charter School.

So when the Philadelphia School District gave the organization the keys to one of its own chronically struggling schools in 2010 through the Renaissance initiative, it expected to see significant improvement.

But five years after the transfer, the school has changed hands once again.

Judge rejects state plan to rescue Chester Upland district and cut charter payments

By Laura Benshoff for Newsworks on Aug 26, 2015 09:25 AM

Updated | 11:30 a.m.

Delaware County Judge Chad Kenney rejected the key piece of Gov. Wolf's plan to rescue the troubled Chester Upland School District on Tuesday: slashing payments to charter schools for their special education students.

In a 13-page opinion, Kenney wrote that the two days of hearings showed that the state-mandated funding formula sends to Chester charters far more money than they need or use to educate these students.

Principals fired in test cheating win back jobs through arbitration

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Aug 25, 2015 07:16 PM

Two principals fired by the Philadelphia School District in the wake of the statewide standardized-test cheating scandal have won favorable rulings through arbitration that could return them to school leadership.

CTE success stories: Graduate helps youth make healthy decisions

By Samantha Weiss on Aug 25, 2015 12:48 PM

The Philadelphia School District’s career and technical education (CTE) programs give students an opportunity to choose a career path that best matches their interests and talents, while gaining hands-on training in high school. Many students who have participated in one of the District’s 41 CTE programs have transitioned to post-secondary institutions – college, university, or technical school -- and some have also gotten jobs in their chosen fields right out of high school.

The Notebook asked several graduates from a District CTE program how their participation shaped their interests and lives. We interviewed students from a variety of programs, from culinary arts to computer systems networking to autobody collision repair.

Several profiles will appear in our upcoming Fall Guide to High Schools, due out Sept. 4, and over the next few weeks, we will preview some of these students’ stories online. Our fourth profile is of Sandy Matczak, a 2009 graduate of Mastbaum's Health-Related Technologies program.

Special ed funding at heart of Chester Upland fight

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Aug 25, 2015 09:24 AM

Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge Chad Kenney is hearing arguments on a state-led plan to fix the Chester Upland School District's long-standing budget woes.

Without the plan, according to Gov. Wolf and other proponents, the district will not have enough money to operate for full school year and may not open on Sept. 2.

District sued over translation services for families of students with disabilities

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 24, 2015 05:12 PM

The School District of Philadelphia is facing a lawsuit alleging that thousands of children are denied special education services due to a lack of translation and interpretation services for families that don’t speak English.

10 years after Katrina, New Orleans offers lessons about childhood trauma

By Laine Kaplan-Levenson for NewsWorks on Aug 21, 2015 11:45 AM

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, much of the physical damage the storm caused in the city of New Orleans has been repaired. Neighborhoods and communities have been rebuilt. Schools, hospitals, businesses, and restaurants have re-opened.

But a deeper, invisible wound brought by the storm remains. Thousands of residents, and especially children, were traumatized by the storm and the displacement and struggle that followed.

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