by Benjamin Herold for Education Week
To help families better navigate New York City's often-overwhelming high school choice process, the city education department on Tuesday hosted the unveiling of a half-dozen privately created online and mobile applications, the result of an unprecedented effort by a public school district to make massive amounts of school-level data easily available to software developers and the general public via computer code.
"Our M.O. is to engage nontraditional solution providers to work on some of the most persistent challenges that we face," said Steven Hodas, the executive director of Innovate NYC Schools, an initiative of the department of education's iZone office.
"I think we're the tip of the iceberg," said Hodas, "and I expect in the next year, we'll see a lot of interesting work done by [other] districts with open data."
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
Black and Latino students are being disproportionately suspended from Pennsylvania's schools under the auspices of "zero tolerance" provisions.
This from a new report by the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which analyzed aggregate data from each of the state's 500 school districts.
Key findings of the report include:
by Alyson Klein for Education Week
President Obama's vision -- outlined in his State of the Union address -- to help states expand prekindergarten to a broad swath of low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds would be realized under bipartisan legislation slated to be released today on Capitol Hill.
The measure has bipartisan backing -- it's being put forth by the top Democrats in both chambers on education issues, along with one Republican, Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y. But it would cost more than $30 billion over its first five years and faces some major hurdles in a Congress consumed with trimming spending.
With the $45 million in state aid released by Gov. Corbett, Superintendent William Hite has restored 40 additional positions to schools.
Nearly half of those -- 19 -- are assistant principals. The 40 positions are in addition to 80 counselors that were restored earlier.
The Notebook calculates that with each position costing about $100,000 (the assistant principals cost closer to $150,000 each, including salaries and benefits), the restored professionals in the schools will eat up between $12 million and $15 million of the $45 million. The District has yet to provide a breakdown.
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
Anthony Majewski learned at an early age what it means to lose trust in the powers that be.
As a 6th grader, he says he was "jacked up" by a math teacher who told him he was "never going to be anybody."
"Like, he actually jacked me up, and put me up against the wall, 'cause I don't sit still too well," Majewski, 44, said, chuckling. "I don't think they had ADHD back then."
Although he laughs it off now, that moment forged the educational philosophy of the man who is now principal at the Philadelphia School District's Hill-Freedman World Academy.
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
Wanda Raudenbush does not consider herself a teacher.
Yet for the first two months of school, she woke up every school day, went to Fox Chase Elementary School, and willed herself to teach 4th grade.
For the four years before this, she was a guidance counselor. This year, she was a teacher.
A new website called PhillySchoolApp launched Friday, the first step in what eventually could be an overhaul in how students apply to high schools and to charter schools in the city.
Despite the name, the site is not yet itself an "app." For now it describes itself as "an online resource for applying to Philadelphia K-12 schools."
It includes the District's high school application form, as well as a new common application for charter schools that so far is being accepted by 30 charters, including 11 high schools, and a Catholic school application form, allowing a student to select up to three city or suburban Archdiocesan schools.
The application process is not online, however. Anyone using the site must print out the application forms and send them to the relevant places.
by Andrew Ujifusa for Education Week
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has selected former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas to be his running mate as lieutenant governor in the upcoming 2014 gubernatorial contest.
Vallas was CEO of Chicago schools from 1995 to 2001, and he's also had stints running the public school systems in New Orleans and Philadelphia. He's now serving as superintendent of Bridgeport public schools in Connecticut, after a months-long legal battle this year in which his credentials for the job were challenged; at one point, a judge ordered him to leave his position because of what the judge deemed was his lack of certification.
by Emma Jacobs for NewsWorks
Gov. Corbett stopped Thursday in Northeast Philadelphia as part of a statewide tour to kick off his re-election campaign.
"We don't need to make a change at the end of my term and go back to the policies of let's tax and let's tax and let's spend. We need to have strict discipline in our spending. And to allow you to keep the money in your pockets," he told a room of supporters at the American Legion Post in Fox Chase.
Real estate listings for all the closed school buildings are now posted on the Philadelphia School District's website for interested buyers to peruse.
In a deal struck last week to get Philadelphia's schools a promised $50 million from the city, Mayor Nutter and Council President Darrell Clarke finally came to terms on a plan to have the District sell the vacant properties with the aid of the city's Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp.
The District now needs to raise $61 million from the sale of properties by the end of the fiscal year in order to keep its budget in balance. For fiscal 2014, it was already counting on $11 million from building sales. So, the Nutter-Clarke agreement to have the city's promised $50 million come from selling buildings with the city's help did not improve the District's fiscal outlook. Under the plan, the District doesn't get any new money, just help in getting its own money quicker and, possibly, a better value for the properties.