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PSP's Gleason cited as a 'reformer to watch'

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 15:59 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

Mark Gleason, the executive director of the Philadelphia School Partnership, has been named one of four "education reformers to watch" nationwide by the Walton Family Foundation.

Walton, which has given some $1 billion to its education causes, is one of the country's leading backers of parental choice in education, including vouchers and the expansion of charter schools. It believes that choice is the best path to equal opportunity for low-income students.

More Philadelphia schools land on state's lowest-achieving list

Submitted by thenotebook on Tue, 02/12/2013 - 16:27 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

by Julie Mazziotta

On a yearly list of Pennsylvania’s low-achieving schools, the number of Philadelphia schools increased in 2013, raising the District’s total from 158 in 2012 to 177 schools, according to the state’s Department of Education.

The Philadelphia School District now constitutes about 44 percent of the list, with 177 of the 406 lowest-achieving schools. Pittsburgh has 21 schools on the list.   

Students at these schools are eligible to apply for the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OITC) program, which provides scholarships for students to transfer to a participating public or non-public school.   

District chief to present turnaround plan for schools on Monday

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on Fri, 01/04/2013 - 12:11 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

Four months after William Hite took the helm of one of the most troubled big-city school districts in the nation, the new Philadelphia superintendent is set to release his blueprint for turning the system around on Monday.

Hite is facing a grim reality. He is already committed to closing 37 schools -- nearly one in six -- and needs to stave off what will turn into a $1 billion annual shortfall by 2018 if austerity measures aren’t taken now.

Coalition developing alternative to consultant’s plan for District

Charlotte Pope Posted in December 2012 Edition | Permalink

Education advocates worked this fall to ensure a community voice in the discussion about the future of Philadelphia schools: The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) sought input through two forums and a survey aimed at parents, educators, students, and other public education supporters. 

Where charters run the neighborhood schools

by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner Posted in October 2012 Edition | Permalink

As part of its Renaissance Schools turnaround initiative, the School District of Philadelphia has outsourced management of 17 struggling public schools over the past three years.

The result is a transformed educational landscape in which a patchwork of seven independent charter school management organizations has replaced the traditional school system in large sections of the city, as shown in this graphic by NewsWorks, the Notebook, and geospace analysis firm Azavea.

Eyes on Hite: Community organizers hope to influence superintendent’s reform plan

Submitted by thenotebook on Thu, 10/04/2012 - 15:58 Posted in Latest news | Permalink

By Bill Hangley, Jr.

With just a few months before Superintendent William Hite issues his recommended reforms for the School District of Philadelphia, a coalition of education and labor advocates is hoping to bring its influence to bear.

The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools includes the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU), Youth United for Change (YUC), Action United, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and more. The group opposes many aspects of a reform plan produced for the District by the Boston Consulting Group that calls for the closure of over 60 schools and the introduction of a decentralized "portfolio management" model.

SRC considers consultant report; more school closings to come

by Dale Mezzacappa Posted in October 2012 Edition | Permalink

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.

How's our portfolio doing?

Posted in October 2012 Edition | Permalink

Portfolio management is a hot trend in school reform, and Philadelphia school leaders have embraced the concept. Nationally, Democrats, Republicans, and big foundations are on board. It’s a strategy for cities like Philadelphia that have many students in low-performing schools and want them in high-performing ones.

How is it supposed to work? For starters, shrink the size and role of the central office. Shift its focus to identifying and closing poor performing schools and finding managers who can operate better ones.

Commentary: 'Won't Back Down' won't be real about school reform

Submitted by Helen Gym on Tue, 09/25/2012 - 14:16 Posted in Commentary | Permalink

Helen GymLast week I attended a local screening of Won’t Back Down, the latest flick from the producers behind the controversial documentary Waiting for Superman.

The film stars Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal as two moms of special-needs children, one also a teacher, trapped inside their failing public schools while battling an evil union leadership. They decide to take advantage of a state law called the FailSafe (known as the “parent trigger” in most states) in order to take over their public school, close it down, and re-open it under their personal and private management.



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