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The Notebook's latest news posts.

SRC asks for more time to decide on charter applications

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Jan 30, 2015 06:12 PM

In an email that went out today, the Philadelphia School District's Charter Office requested that new charter applicants sign a waiver giving the School Reform Commission until June 1 to vote on their applications. That's more than three months longer than allowed by Pennsylvania's Charter School Law. According to that law, the authorizing body — in this case the SRC — must vote on applications within 75 days of the first hearing. That deadline is in mid-February. The public is allowed to submit written comment until Feb. 1 by emailing

Philly Artrepreneurs wins $5,000 from innovation contest

By Sarah Hoover for NewsWorks on Jan 30, 2015 04:58 PM

A new program, Philly Artrepreneurs, gives students a way to use their art skills to fund their favorite charity. The program won $5,000 in a seed money competition this week.

Philly CORE Leaders, which funds innovative ideas for education in the city, hosted the annual event. The audience — made up of teachers, education leaders and community members — listened to entrepreneurs pitch ideas and then picked the winner out of five presenters.

District posts reports on proposed charter schools

By the Notebook on Jan 29, 2015 05:35 PM



Now that both rounds of hearings for 40 new charter school applicants are over, the School District posted the evaluations for the proposed schools today.

People can look through the reports and submit public comment by Sunday, Feb. 1, three days from now. Comments can be emailed, dropped off at District headquarters, or mailed.

Germantown grassroots group awaits word on charter-school application

By Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks on Jan 29, 2015 04:42 PM

Vera Primus breathed a sigh of relief late Wednesday morning before leaving a first-floor meeting room inside Philadelphia School District headquarters.

For nearly two hours, she and other members of a grassroots coalition had listened to comments and taken questions on the nearly 100-page application they had submitted for a new independent charter school in Germantown.

Truebright charter appeals shutdown order to Commonwealth Court

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Jan 29, 2015 09:43 AM

Charter schools are supposed to be nimble and innovative, but the process to close an underperforming charter is anything but.

Six weeks after the Charter Appeal Board voted 7-0 to deny Truebright Academy Science Charter's bid to stay open, the school in the Olney neighborhood of North Philadelphia has taken its case all the way to Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court.

Should Pa. require students to pass standardized tests to graduate?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jan 28, 2015 04:22 PM

The clock is ticking.

By 2017, in order to graduate high school in Pennsylvania, students must pass three state standardized tests: algebra, literature, and biology.

Based on most recent student scores — especially in biology — if trends continue, Pennsylvania will soon see far fewer of its students walking down the aisle in cap and gown.

In order to preempt that scenario, State Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Dauphin) has introduced a bill that would repeal the state-mandated graduation requirement, leaving the decision to local school districts.

Ask the mayoral candidates: How would you solve the kindergarten conundrum?

By Brian Hickey for NewsWorks on Jan 28, 2015 10:43 AM

As part of a regular series leading up to Philadelphia's May 19 mayoral primaries, NewsWorks will pose a question of the declared candidates. Do you have a question? Email it to

The inaugural question comes from me ...

Kindergarten concerns

Question: My wife and I are currently in the process of determining where our 4-year-old son will go to kindergarten next school year.

Our catchment-zone school does not meet our expectations. We have entered several public (charter) school lotteries, but whether he will attend any of those is up to luck and chance.

District investigating school with 20% opt-out rate

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Jan 26, 2015 09:00 PM

Parents of about 100 students at North Philadelphia's Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences have signed letters withdrawing their children from standardized tests.

Now the Philadelphia School District is investigating whether those parents "have been fully informed," according to District spokesman Fernando Gallard.

Pa. House speaker blasts City Council on PGW, warns of repercussions to schools

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jan 26, 2015 04:55 PM

One of Pennsylvania's most powerful state lawmakers says the actions of Philadelphia's City Council may put additional funding in jeopardy for the cash-strapped city School District.

Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) criticized City Council's decision not to hold a hearing on Mayor Nutter's plan to sell the city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works.

Nutter's proposed deal with UIL Holdings Corp. of Connecticut would have privatized the utility for $1.86 billion. A portion of those proceeds would have been used to reduce the city's unfunded pension liability.

Is 'grit' racist?

By Benjamin Herold for Education Week on Jan 26, 2015 01:25 PM

"Grit" has in recent years captivated the imagination of educators and policymakers, leading many to embrace the idea that schools should seek to cultivate in their students a set of personality traits demonstrated by researchers to be closely tied to academic and personal success.

Increasingly, though, critics are offering a different take, arguing that grit is a racist construct and has harmed low-income students by crowding out a focus on providing children with the supports they deserve and the more-flexible educational approach enjoyed by many of their more affluent counterparts.

That view was on full display Saturday at EduCon 2.7, a progressive education-technology conference being held in Philadelphia.

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