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The Notebook's latest news posts.

Brave new voices ring out for poetry competition in Philly

By Peter Crimmins for NewsWorks on Jul 21, 2014 03:20 PM

About 450 young poets from around the country are in Philadelphia as part of the 17th annual Brave New Voices competition and conference. Fifty teams from as many cities around the country will face off in a tournament of performances in 10 venues around the city.

The Philadelphia team was assembled by Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, a year-round poetry workshop and mentoring program that has won the Brave New Voices Grand Slam twice – in 2007 and 2011.

Teacher designs app to help educators meet Pa. evaluation requirements

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 21, 2014 10:39 AM

Katy Morris, an 8th-grade algebra and geometry teacher at Welsh Valley Middle School in Narberth, is out to revolutionize how teachers experience the evaluation process.

This past school year, Pennsylvania adopted a new statewide teacher evaluation system – due in part to an incentive in the federal Race to the Top school accountability competition.

Partnerships director Stacy Holland leaving District

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 17, 2014 05:14 PM

Several additional top personnel moves at the School District were made public Thursday.

Chief of Strategic Partnerships Stacy Holland is leaving; her last day will be Aug. 31. She will be the new executive director of the Lenfest Foundation.

Before joining the District, Holland had been president and CEO of the Philadelphia Youth Network and, in that capacity, started working with the District on strengthening outside partnerships. She was hired by the District last October.

Her charge had been to use the District's work with outside organizations and government agencies to maximize services to children.

At Independence Mall, students draw from history

By Cathy Quero on Jul 17, 2014 04:15 PM

Tourists passing through Independence Mall today may have caught a glimpse of Thomas Jefferson, as a man dressed in period uniform delivered a speech for a summer initiative called Project Write-Inspire Me!, a writing enrichment program for high school students.  

The organization, which is a part of the Independence National Historical Park and the Philadelphia Writing Project, tries to empower youth to write by drawing inspiration from American history, according to Project Write counselor Bethany Silba.

The path forward: A Q&A with Susan Gobreski

By Bill Hangley Jr. on Jul 17, 2014 11:55 AM

With all the questions swirling around this year’s education budget, virtually everyone agrees on one thing: It won’t solve the Philadelphia School District’s big problems. Union officials, charter advocates, School Reform Commission officials, parent groups, Mayor Nutter, even President Obama’s top education official, agree that under the current status quo, Philadelphia students are not getting the education they deserve.

With that in mind, the Notebook has asked education advocates to weigh in on the bigger question: What’s the long-term path to a truly stable, well-funded, reliable school system? Over the next few weeks, we’ll run a series of Q&As with local leaders and ask for their thoughts on the route to a better place.

Our first interviewee is Susan Gobreski, executive director of Education Voters Pennsylvania, an advocacy group. A 20-year veteran of political activism in Pennsylvania, Gobreski’s goal is to fight for a “thorough and efficient public education” for all students, District and charter alike. 

Top-level departures and changes in District's central office

By David Limm on Jul 16, 2014 03:25 PM

Turnover continues to strike the ranks of Superintendent William Hite's senior staff at a time when the District could use some consistency. 

Two senior-level staffers in the academic office recently left their posts at 440 N. Broad St. The cadre of assistant superintendents has also been hit by departures; five of the eight positions supervising principals and directing the District's regional school networks are in transition. 

On Tuesday, the District released data showing all its 18,561 employees and their salaries, reflecting its recent personnel moves.

Special ed cuts won't hurt students, Philly school officials say

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 15, 2014 09:31 PM

The Philadelphia School District laid off 157 special education classroom assistants and one-to-one aides last week in a move that officials say won't negatively affect children.

School advocates in the legal community, though, remain highly dubious.

Chief Financial Officer Matt Stanski explained the District's rationale to the School Reform Commission at a June 30 meeting.

"We believe we can maintain existing services for our special education students and, in fact, enhance them through management efficiencies and still see this expenditure reduction," Stanski said.

Philly youth of color discuss struggles and successes with Arne Duncan

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 12, 2014 12:15 PM

Drug abuse. Violence. Incarceration.

Those are the pitfalls that plague far too many young men of color in America, according to the White House.

In order to steer young men away from that fate, President Obama has started the initiative called My Brother's Keeper, a federal effort to call special attention to the plight of young Black and Latino men and develop best practices to help them fulfill their potential.

Philly delegation seeks meeting with Big Tobacco

By thenotebook on Jul 11, 2014 01:16 PM

The Pennsylvania Senate's Philadelphia delegation has asked to meet with representatives from Big Tobacco after hearing that its lobbyists had a hand in altering, and thus stalling, legislation for a Philadelphia-only cigarette tax to fund the city's schools.

Teachers' union head rejects Corbett's call for concessions

By Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks on Jul 10, 2014 03:47 PM

As Gov. Corbett asked for contract concessions from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers on Thursday morning, 300 layoff notices were on their way to School District employees.

The head of the city teachers' union says, "No way."

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