Why are so many students performing poorly in schools, and who is accountable for students’ success? The debate about these questions looms large in educational reform arenas. I recently read I’m Your Teacher Not Your Mother, a self-published book by first-time author and veteran teacher Suzette Clarke, who taught middle school English and social studies in New York City public schools for 15 years. What follows is a frank discussion with Clarke, who urges parents to recognize their responsibilities.
by Isaac Riddle
About 50 parents, teachers, students, and community members joined Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan in a protest about budget cuts outside of Vare-Washington Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon.
The group gathered to voice concerns over the latest loss of programs and services at the South Philadelphia school and to talk about the impact the District’s leveling efforts will have on a school already hurting from staffing shortages brought on by districtwide budget cuts.
by Naveed Ahsan
School nurses, parents, and education advocates concerned about budget cuts held a silent candlelight vigil outside of District headquarters before Thursday’s School Reform Commission meeting in memory of 12-year-old Laporshia Massey, who died from an asthma attack on Sept. 25.
By Mark McHugh
Dressed in their red union shirts, members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers filled a crowd of abut 60 people who gathered outside DeBurgos Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon to protest the budget crisis in the School District.
The protest is the first of an August campaign launched by the PFT called “Rally the Neighborhood,” in which PFT members and community organizers will stage rallies at neighborhood schools to call attention to the District’s fiscal crisis and paint a picture for the public of what students will be without when school starts in September.
Last year, the School District of Philadelphia revealed that its system for rating schools was faulty and suspended the use of the “School Performance Index,” or SPI. But on Monday, the District will begin a process to develop a new school report card that will not only replace the SPI, but also the school annual reports. District leadership is asking the community to help them decide what will go in the school report card and how it will be designed, and will hold six community meetings to get the process underway.
by Charlotte Pope
Now that the School Reform Commission has voted to close 23 schools, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools -- a major voice in the school-closings debate -- is regrouping and laying out its next steps.
About 200 people came together Wednesday evening during the group’s general assembly to hear about a new three-part campaign focusing on school funding, community schools, and charter school accountability.
This is a reprint of an article that originally appeared on Parents United for Public Education's website.
by Tomika Anglin
On Dec. 13, 2012, the School District of Philadelphia recommended 37 schools for closure. There were impassioned pleas and hard-worked proposals. There were well-written reports of community input. There was anger. There were tears. There were rallies, chants and marches. There was organization, mobilization and solidarity. And then the School Reform Commission voted to close 23 schools. They voted against our children. Against their safety. Against their education. Against their future. So what do we do now as parents and a concerned community? How do we impact this bureaucracy that is called the School District of Philadelphia? How do we impede this assault on our children’s future?
by Bill Hangley Jr.
The School District’s deadline for alternative community proposals for its closure plan has now passed, and all 38 proposals received have been posted on the District’s website.
The alternative plans represent a wide range of responses to the District’s recommendations. Some are highly detailed blueprints endorsed by powerful officeholders and complex proposals citing multiple partners, while others are brief plans from community groups and individuals.
One consistent theme: Many schools propose addressing under-utilization by expanding their program offerings or grade spans. Some suggest bringing in new schools to share their buildings. In a few cases, schools offer alternative plans that they believe are cost-neutral and will meet the District’s overall goal of saving money.
by Charlotte Pope
Dressed in uniform, students of the military academies at Leeds and Elverson came to District headquarters Tuesday to hear alternative proposals to the planned relocation of both schools.
They joined parents, teachers and community members -- about 40 attendees in all -- at the meeting, the fourth of an additional six sessions that the District scheduled this month to focus on individual schools or groups of schools slated for closure or relocation.
The District has proposed to move Elverson and Leeds to the Roosevelt Middle School building, combining them to create Philadelphia Military Academy High School.
The School Reform Commission will hold a series of public hearings over three days to hear testimony on the proposed school closures before the commission votes March 7. The meetings will take place Feb. 21, Feb. 22 and Feb. 23. All hearings will be held in the auditorium at the School District of Philadelphia headquarters, 440 N. Broad St., and will be divided up according to District planning area.
Those who want to testify must pre-register by calling the Office of Parent, Community & Family Engagement at 215-400-4180. Pre-registration runs from 9 a.m. Feb. 19 through noon Feb. 21. No more than 10 speakers will be permitted to testify about each school that is slated to close, and the guidelines as outlined in the District’s speaker policy for SRC public meetings will apply to the hearings.
The dates and times of the hearings are listed below: