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Stories tagged: Commentary

Success of immigrant communities starts with neighborhood school support

By Dai Lai Htoo for NewsWorks on Apr 17, 2015 03:41 PM

Since I came to South Philadelphia in 2008, the demographics of my neighborhood have changed constantly. I see American neighbors move out because of the increase in property prices. Then I see new immigrant refugees move in with the support of a resettlement agency that pays their rent for a few months. After that time, they move out because they need to stand on their own, and they need to look for cheaper rent.

My newest neighbors are refugees from Burma, like me, and refugees from Nepal who have the same refugee experiences as us. We also have neighbors who are Chinese American, African American, Latino, and White.

The case against closing Kensington Urban Education Academy

By Ron Whitehorne on Apr 15, 2015 05:39 PM

Once again the School District is moving ahead with a school closure plan that excludes the community and fails to look at other options.

This time it’s Kensington Urban Education Academy, which the District wants to close and merge with Kensington International Business, citing low enrollment and poor academic performance.  Both high schools are housed in the old Kensington High School building.

Lecture explores why racial literacy should begin in schools

By Samuel Reed III on Apr 14, 2015 12:39 PM

Earlier this month, Penn held its annual lecture named after Constance Clayton, Philadelphia's first Black superintendent. The title of the lecture was "Do Black and Brown Lives Matter? Reframing Public Media Racial Narratives for Urban Schooling." Addressing that issue was Dr. James Peterson, director of Africana studies and an associate professor of English at Lehigh University.

Peterson, a leading hip-hop scholar who regularly appears as a media contributor on MSNBC and other media networks, spoke about why the Black Lives Matter movement means so much for organizing and transforming classrooms and communities. Educational institutions, he said, should be at the forefront of unpacking the issues of systemic inequities found in schools, police departments, and other areas of civic life.

A strategy of ready, fire, aim for student behavioral health

By Debra Weiner on Mar 23, 2015 01:05 PM

At the risk of being the fool who rushes in where angels fear to tread, I am astonished by the great consternation around the question of how to assess the effectiveness of behavioral health services for students. After all,  these services have been provided for long enough that we ought to know what works and what assessment criteria and protocols have been agreed on.

Or are we just pursuing the strategy of ready, fire, aim?

The many components that determine school quality

By Eileen DiFranco on Mar 13, 2015 01:55 PM

Education pundits often toss the phrase “high-quality schools” around like footballs. Soon everyone and their sister or brother uses it, from universities to the media. They jump on the bandwagon of “high-quality schools," as if such a term can be defined by numbers on a spreadsheet.

From my 25 years of experience, many things other than numbers determine a school's quality. And those things must all be fulfilled before that phrase can even be put on the table.

Only a fair tax system will fully fund Pa. public schools

By Bishop Dwayne Royster on Mar 12, 2015 01:21 PM

A week after Gov. Wolf’s budget address, we’re seeing reactions from all sides to the governor’s proposal -- some celebratory and some critical.

Members of POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild), an interfaith organization that has prioritized the fight for full funding for our schools, have been watching this debate as it unfolds and assessing what it means for our children. As people of faith committed to a prophetic critique of “the world as it is,” we must speak truth about what is being left unsaid. When it comes to the funding of our schools, economic inequality and education inequality in Pennsylvania are intertwined -- and we are not moving fast enough to fix it.  

Sustainable community schools: An alternative to privatization

By Ron Whitehorne on Mar 9, 2015 12:02 PM

Public education is at a crossroads in Philadelphia. An aggressive and well-funded charter school lobby wants to rapidly expand the city’s already sizable charter sector.   

Lavish campaign contributions have secured political support in the Republican-dominated state legislature and from mayoral candidate Anthony Williams here in Philadelphia. A well-oiled public relations and media operation has crafted a narrative about children trapped in failing schools and the thousands of families on waiting lists for charters. 

The reality of understaffed, poorly resourced public schools destabilized by punitive and largely ineffective school transformation policies has driven many families to seek refuge in charters, few of which perform better than the schools they left. The charter lobby ignores the fact that charter school expansion, given the present charter school law and the absence of additional funding in the form of a charter school reimbursement line in the state budget, can only come at the expense of children in traditional public schools. 

A farewell to Philly schools: 'I've loved every day'

By Eileen DiFranco on Feb 27, 2015 11:52 AM

I had never thought about school nursing until a friend told me about an opening at Germantown Academy, the prestigious private school where she worked. I had four children, and working in labor and delivery during the night and on weekends in a hospital had become a nightmare. As a school nurse, I would have the same schedule as my children. An added perk: They could attend the school tuition-free. I was psyched.

I didn’t get the job. At first, I was disappointed. The specter of endless night shifts loomed again. But then another friend told me about public school nursing in Philadelphia. Since I lived in the city, I took the test in the fall of 1989 and began work the following January.

It was the best career choice I ever made. I've loved every day I spent as a school nurse.

To Gov. Wolf: Childhood trauma is the elephant in the classroom

By Daun Kauffman for NewsWorks on Feb 26, 2015 02:35 PM

Dear Gov. Wolf and Education Secretary-designee Pedro Rivera:

I write regarding injured, marginalized children in Pennsylvania schools, to ask that you include them explicitly in a broad, “Healthy PA” paradigm in your new administration.

I am an educator serving children in elementary and middle school classrooms in my own neighborhood in a major urban center for 14 years. I advocate today regarding an aspect of education rarely discussed, but clearly visible to experienced classroom educators.

How to opt your child out of the PSSAs

By Jen Bradley for NewsWorks, Philly Parenting blog on Feb 25, 2015 12:19 PM

You may have heard the buzz around the growing "opt out" movement in Philadelphia and throughout the nation. In just one city school, Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences, parents of over 100 students have opted their children out of the state standardized tests this spring.

This movement is not by accident. It has been carefully orchestrated by activist educators and parents from organizations such as the Caucus for Working Educators and United Opt Out, and it is growing by the day. The opt-out movement is a response to both the standardization of the educational experience and the damage of high-stakes testing. 

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