by Benjamin Herold and Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
On Wednesday, Mayor Nutter announced his plan to raise $95 million for Philadelphia's struggling School District, mostly through tax hikes on cigarettes and alcohol.
But even if that money comes through, city schools will still be looking for an additional $120 million from Harrisburg and $133 million in givebacks from the local teachers' union.
Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), who chairs the Senate's education committee, said the unions have to go first.
by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
Days after their controversial vote to reject an overhaul of their city's schools, leaders of the Chester Upland school board are vowing to continue fighting efforts to turn their troubled district back over to the state.
That could include a legal challenge to the state's plan to put the district in receivership by Monday.
A new foundation report that tracks state-by-state data has concluded that the high school graduation rates of Black and Latino males continue to lag significantly behind Whites. It calls the problem a result of "willful neglect" and argues that it imperils the country's global competitiveness.
A national report released Wednesday showed that far fewer dollars are spent per student in schools with predominantly Black and Latino enrollments, and that staffing those schools with less experienced teachers accounts for much of the spending disparity.
By Dale Mezzacappa and Benjamin Herold
The School District released a 119-page document on Thursday that summarized the analyses and recommendations of the Boston Consulting Group, an outside firm retained at private expense to help the District avert a financial meltdown by radically overhauling its business operations and delivery of education.
The document details BCG’s work and thinking on hot-button topics ranging from charter expansion to labor negotiations. It also includes the previously unreleased analyses behind controversial District proposals to close dozens of schools and reorganize those that are left into decentralized, independently managed “achievement networks.”
Please help us welcome our newest blogger, Nijmie Dzurinko, former executive director of Philadelphia Student Union.
In the blurry world of education reform, parents, students, educators, and communities need a guiding light to keep us on track. What could public education look like in our city and state if education was fundamentally a human right guaranteed in our society? How can we proceed in our efforts to improve public education using a human rights lens as a way of discerning the competing efforts, frames and messages that inundate us?
“This all sounds too broad. I’m concerned about my school, my family, my community, and I can’t get into the politics.”
If that was your internal voice just now, you may have lost sight of the fact that the most powerful architects of public school reform are taking it upon themselves to tackle big questions like the future of education in our society, how it will be delivered and to whom, who will benefit, and how the role of education will be understood by all of us.
According to data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Black and Hispanic 17-year-olds are achieving math at the level of White 13-year-olds.
This is just one shocking statistic about the achievement gap and overall educational attainment among students of color that was shared at a convening of more than 50 education leaders Wednesday at Community College of Philadelphia.
At the gathering, called The Education Agenda and the Impact on Communities of Color, advocates and reformers talked about strategies for obtaining high academic achievement and for building coalitions for grass roots advocacy that will impact national policy.
The start of this school year is markedly different from past years. Dramatic state cuts to education funding have Philadelphia and other school districts facing unprecedented budget shortfalls.
It's not clear how cutbacks will impact students with disabilities. The Education Law Center will be working with parents and school officials to monitor this.
One point remains clear: Though school budgets have changed, a student's rights have not. Here's a reminder of what parents and students with disabilities are guaranteed by law:
Last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Education announced that 26 of the state's lowest performing schools will receive a share of $66 million in the second round of federal School Improvement Grants funding. Five Philadelphia District schools and two charters will receive grants this year.
Schools applied for the grants by describing plans to undertake one of four federally endorsed reform models. Due to the "transition" within the School District of Philadelphia, the state has "asked the district to revise its plans" for schools awarded grants this year and last, which may affect the funding needs of schools, according to an email from Department of Education spokesperson Tim Eller.
Low-income children and students of color across the state were hard hit by the budget approved in Harrisburg on June 30, with Philadelphia in particular singled out for negative treatment as lawmakers haggled over a final spending plan, according to some education advocates and District officials.