by Connie Langland
The people who run the hundreds of youth programs across the city have their hands full, says Nancy Peter, head of the Out-of-School Time Resource Center (OSTRC) at the University of Pennsylvania.
They’ve got kids to watch over, programs to develop, and funds to raise in an era of static or dwindling resources. And the out-of-school time (OST) programs seem ever more essential as afterschool and summer programming in District schools has withered.
What many program directors lack, says Peter, is the time and energy to enhance staff skills, identify emerging trends and network with peers in the field. And that, by all accounts, is the invaluable, behind-the-scenes role that Peter and her staff play with vigor and efficiency.
“I wanted to have a center whose job it was to assist OST staff,” said Peter, who created the center a decade ago.
Literacy events and programs provide opportunities to improve the educational outcomes and quality of life in our city and beyond. Throughout November, schools, libraries, and other literacy organizations will be participating through read-a-thons, book drives, celebrity appearances, and more.
Here are several events worth checking out in Philadalphia.
In June, the U.S. Conference of Mayors – during the meeting at which Mayor Nutter became its president -- enthusiastically endorsed parent trigger laws, which allow parents to instigate a school turnaround. If 51 percent of parents sign a petition at a low-performing school, they can force drastic reorganization according to one of the four federally prescribed methods – from replacing the principal to replacing half the faculty to charter conversion to outright closure.
The following guest blog is from Holly Shaw-Hollis and Ilene Heller, both longtime teachers at E.M. Stanton elementary school in South Philadelphia, who remember new Cleveland Cavalier Dion Waiters.
By Holly Shaw-Hollis, with contributions from Ilene Heller
As teachers, we are tasked with the goal of helping our students achieve the best that they can, and we hope that they continue to work hard and fight for what they deserve in life. Dion is one of those students who continues to do that.
This guest blog post responding to the District's transformation plan comes from Cathy Weiss, executive director of the Stoneleigh Foundation, and Paul DiLorenzo, member of the Stoneleigh Foundation’s board of directors.
In the midst of the drama that surrounds the School District of Philadelphia, perhaps it might be worth considering another perspective.
What if we agreed that the challenge is not just about education, organizational structure, and finance?
What if we focused on the growing number of children who come to the educational environment already at a disadvantage? It’s not just that they are poor. They suffer from inconsistent health care and early learning deficits; some of them are deprived of food and, increasingly, of hope. We have found no research that shows that children facing these odds will succeed, unless something is done.
The night before a crucial vote to find out whether E.M. Stanton Elementary School would stay open, Vicki Ellis reflected back on the weekend that started a nine-month effort to save the school.
June 25, 2011, was supposed to be a relaxing time for the students and teachers of Stanton. The school year had just ended the week before. Blue skies and 80-degree weather made for perfect days to kick off summer vacation.
But that was the weekend the Notebook published a confidential District document detailing preliminary school closure plans – and Stanton was on the list. That news sparked a campaign by Supporters of Stanton (SOS) of more than 36 straight weeks of meeting and lobbying, praying and mobilizing.
Facing budget cuts, but also the possibility of increased autonomy, principal Timothy McKenna decided to be proactive in getting help creating a vision for Furness High School.
The PENCIL Partnership Program pairs business leaders with school principals to help the school reach its strategic goals.
Nearly 100 people attended the School Reform Commission hearing Saturday in support of E. M. Stanton Elementary. Stanton was once touted as a success story of an urban, neighborhood public school with a high degree of student success, parental involvement, and a committed, stable staff. It still has all those things, but the School District recommended that it close.
City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said at the hearing that the District should be promoting Stanton as a model school and trying to replicate its success across the city. Why doesn’t the District promote schools like Stanton?
The William Penn Foundation will be picking up the $1.4 million tab for the five-week contract for an outside management consultant approved last week by the School Reform Commission.
"This is a defining moment for our schools," said WPF President Jeremy Nowak in a statement. "To close the achievement gap for Philadelphia's students, we need to get as much of the District's funds into the classroom as possible. Moreover, we must be able to trust the financial projections and long term operations of the system."
This guest blog post comes from Quibila A. Divine, in response to a recent article about youth “wreaking havoc” on city streets.
To those who agree with our Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Everett Gillison, who feels that we need to blame parents for “reckless” youths, I say: "If they knew better, they would do better."