Due to the District's fiscal crisis, most schools in Philadelphia are suffering a counselor drought. But Promise Academies are not among them.
In fact, the 12 Promise Academies -- the District's in-house turnaround schools -- have 19 counselors, which amounts to 15 percent of the 126 counselors available to all 220 or so District-run schools.
More than half the District's schools -- 115 of them, with a population of more than 48,000 students -- are sharing 16 "itinerant" counselors who travel from school to school and have caseloads averaging about 3,000 students each.
In the Promise Academies, which have a combined enrollment of about 8,000, the average caseload works out to one counselor per about 420 students, much closer to the recommendations of the American School Counselor Association.
The Philadelphia School District is vowing to take a hard line on two issues that have caused confusion when charter operators take over traditional public schools: special education and facilities costs.
Even as the District tries to convert three more of its schools into charters, officials and parents alike are wading through confusion over “exceptions” that past administrations granted to outside managers in previous years of the District’s Renaissance school turnaround initiative.
Former Philadelphia schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who led the District from 2008 to 2011, died Saturday of pancreatic cancer. She was 66.
Ackerman had been living in Albuquerque, N.M., since she accepted a controversial buyout of her contract after leaving the District in August 2011. Before coming to Philadelphia, she had served as a superintendent in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.
Philadelphia's independent Renaissance school operators are bringing families back to struggling neighborhood public schools that they have "turned around" -- with one notable exception.
Universal Companies, the city's second-largest manager of Renaissance charter schools, is lagging behind its targets for serving students from the surrounding community at most of its schools.
For nine years in a row, up through 2011, every summer brought cheery news that test scores went up in Philadelphia schools. Sure, performance wasn’t where it should be, but things were on the right track. More and more students scored proficient and many schools met their adequate yearly progress targets.
By Bill Hangley, Jr.
[UPDATE: The final transitional chart has been released]
The Philadelphia School District says it is preparing to release an updated organizational chart for the first time since the departure of former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.
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.
When the Notebook welcomed Arlene Ackerman in 2008, our editorial was called “The stars are aligned.” It seemed the District was poised to move forward.
In contrast, the circumstances Superintendent William Hite confronts as he takes his new post are exceedingly grim.
The always daunting process of getting into high school has a new twist this year.
In a system where studies have found that parents are already befuddled by the process, students and their families have a dizzying array of high school choices – small schools, large schools, themed schools, charter schools, themed charter schools, neighborhood schools that have become charter schools – the list goes on.