Proposed school closings and relocations will disproportionately affect Black students in the District, based on District data analyzed by the Notebook and displayed below.
About 15,000 students attend the 43 District schools being closed or relocated. Of those, 79 percent are African American. Only 55 percent of the District's students overall are African American.
Nearly three-fourths of these 43 schools being closed or relocated have student populations that are 80 percent or more African American. More than a dozen of the proposed school closings and relocations are in predominantly Black North Philadelphia, where many of the school buildings are both aging and underutilized.
Last fall, the District was weighing a consultant report that recommended closing 26 schools.
Now, the SRC is weighing another report that recommends closing about twice that many schools by the next school year.
Last spring, after a months-long process, the School Reform Commission voted to close just eight. Now, facing huge funding shortfalls and committed to continued charter growth, the District says it must be more aggressive this time and close 29 to 57 schools – possibly as many as 50 of them this year.
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.
I finally had a face-to-face chat with Christopher Paslay at an end-of-the-school-year celebration with the Teacher Leadership Professional Learning Community (PLC). We agreed to put some padded gloves on and have a sparring match on education reform.
Christopher Paslay: Schools and education do not exist in a vacuum.
Everyone is part of schools and education — teachers, students, parents, administrators, community members, business leaders, clergy, lawmakers, etc. Yet somehow our society seems to think schools are cut off from all this, that they are some free-floating entity that operates independent of all these factors.
There is a gender gap in college-going rates in Philadelphia. The rate is 14 points lower for both White and African American males than for their female counterparts.
The variations by race are even greater. For instance, both Asian males and females enroll in college at double or more the rates of their Latino counterparts.
With costs soaring, getting to and through college is more difficult now than ever, and that has many students skeptical about whether it’s even worth the effort.
The Notebook wanted to offer practical information and advice on how students can successfully navigate the college-going process. To do that, we talked to two local college placement experts, Thomas Butler and Karen Campbell, asking them questions that high school students may have.
I’m not sure college is really for me. Why do you think it is?
In a few weeks, thousands of Philadelphia public high school students will graduate. They will march down aisles to the familiar and always stirring "Pomp and Circumstance." It will be an exciting day for these students, one that will fill them with a sense of accomplishment and optimism about the future.
But based on the postsecondary enrollment data that the Notebook highlights throughout this issue, that future will include a college education for only a few of those students.
Gov. Tom Corbett has been slashing funds for higher education. He and other anti-government types are ignoring a growing understanding in the real world: Making college more accessible and affordable is critical not only to individual success but to the nation's future.
Philadelphia City Rowing, a nonprofit that offers District high schools free access to competitive rowing, helped Masterman High School senior Deblyn Lawrence find her voice.
They liked what they heard.
Lawrence knew next to nothing about the sport a year and a half ago when a friend encouraged her to join PCR. One day, early in her tenure, the girls' varsity boat was without its coxswain – the member of each boat that yells instruction to the other rowers.