As the School District announced that it wanted teams of educators and others to submit plans for school overhaul, a group of young Philadelphia teachers was holding a summer institute on teacher leadership.
For three days this week, 18 of them met under the auspices of Teachers Lead Philly on the campus of Swarthmore College to discuss their challenges, draw from the wisdom of veterans, tell their stories and work on skills including mentoring, curriculum design, and writing for publication.
Try to find the constant in most schools, and you'll most likely end up in the classroom of a veteran teacher. Students come and go – as do principals, superintendents and, with them, technology fads and ever-shifting educational philosophies.
But through massive budget cuts, a record number of school closings, and widespread staff layoffs, many Philadelphia teachers believe their voices have been lost in the shuffle.
Teacherpreneurs: Innovative Teachers Who Lead but Don't Leave does a great job of examining the skills and traits of thoughtful, innovative, and maverick-like educators. This new book, written by Barnett Berry, Ann Byrd, and Alan Wieder of the Center for Teaching Quality, documents the leadership journeys of eight teachers who are exceptional at what they do but not the exception.
When we first looked at the title of the book, we had mixed reactions. Like many teacher-leaders, we bring an entrepreneurial and activist spirit to our practice. We were excited about the concept of innovative teachers leading, but not leaving, the classroom, yet concerned that the language of market-driven entrepreneurship may lure talented and dedicated teachers away from our craft, our passion, our willingness to give back and connect with our communities.
If the events of the last few years make anything clear, it's that teachers need a strong union.
The School Reform Commission -- backed by the governor, the mayor, and self-appointed civic elites -- has launched a full-scale attack on the living standards and professional status of teachers. The union, supported by significant community allies as well as other unions, is waging a campaign of resistance.
A big target of the corporate reform agenda is the principle of seniority. I think that eliminating seniority would be the first step toward the reduction of teaching from a lifelong profession to a Peace Corps model favored by the likes of Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst, and Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America.
Negotiators for the School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers reached the midnight deadline without reaching agreement on a new contract.
PFT president Jerry Jordan said in an interview that the two sides "made some progress," although there were still many unresolved issues.
Asked whether the two sides were still far apart, he said, "There are a number of outstanding issues. We were not close enough to close the deal."
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
Claims that the company running the Olney Charter High School tried to intimidate teachers who sought to unionize may be heading for a hearing.
Hanako Franz teaches 9th-grade history at Olney Charter High School, which became an non-unionized charter run by Aspira in 2011 -- Franz's first year of teaching.
Over the next two years, Franz says, the administration made many decisions -- some she says to the detriment of children's education -- without consulting with the teaching staff.
School vacation, for many teachers, is not time off, but time on.
Contrary to popular perception, many educators don't spend the summers just relaxing at the beach or rejuvenating for the coming school year. Plenty of teachers take advantage of the summers by organizing, participating in professional learning communities, and lesson planning, among many other things.
On June 25, the first day of this “school vacation,” many Philadelphia public school teachers rallied in Harrisburg with more than 1,000 other teachers, counselors, nurses, safety workers, librarians, and others from across Pennsylvania to demand equitable funding for public schools.
On Wednesday, Mayor Nutter announced his plan to raise $95 million for Philadelphia's struggling School District, mostly through tax hikes on cigarettes and alcohol.
But even if that money comes through, city schools will still be looking for an additional $120 million from Harrisburg and $133 million in givebacks from the local teachers' union.
Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), who chairs the Senate's education committee, said the unions have to go first.
Today is National Teacher Day, and this afternoon 59 Philadelphia teachers, one from each District high school, will receive the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
The honorees will join Superintendent William Hite, School Reform Commissioner Wendell Pritchett, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan, three trustees from the Lindback Foundation, and others for the celebration, which will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Prince Music Theater.
Teacher Action Group Philadelphia and the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools will hold the 4th annual Education for Liberation Curriculum Fair and Citywide Summit on Saturday, May 4, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Folks Arts and Cultural Treasures charter school.
The theme for this year’s curriculum fair and summit is “Flipping the Script in Philadelphia.”