The Notebook is no stranger to discussions on improving the life outcomes of Black males in Philadelphia. Recent Notebook posts have examined:
the widely attended "Shifting the Numbers panel" on men of color and education.
Those more familiar with this field know that there are a number of organizations and individuals around the city doing great work on this topic, many of which fly under the radar and often don’t get support to sustain and bring their work to scale.
Which is why I was excited to hear about the creation of the new Open Society Fellowship for Black Male Achievement (BMA), in partnership with Echoing Green.
Isaac A. Sheppard Elementary School, now 114 years old, could be living out its final days.
A tiny K-4 elementary school at Howard and Cambria in the heart of one Philadelphia's toughest neighborhoods, Sheppard is one of nine schools slated for closure as part of the School District's facilities master plan. At a Tuesday community meeting, District officials
will make made their case for closing the ancient building and reassigning its students, prompting a huge outpouring of emotion from Sheppard supporters.
Educators including Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan will speak on a panel following a screening of the documentary American Teacher at High School of the Future Thursday evening.
For the first time in recent memory, Patrice Berrian-Marrujo felt that somebody in power was listening to her.
A classroom assistant for students with severe emotional problems at Levering Elementary in Roxborough, Berrian-Marrujo describes herself as a "low-level employee" in the School District of Philadelphia.
But she is passionate about her work, and she is concerned about what the District's recent proposal to close Levering will mean for her students. So on a crisp November Saturday, she joined roughly 100 other parents, students, and teachers at a community meeting at Roxborough High School to discuss the District's plans.
The School District is finalizing plans to expand and improve School Advisory Councils, with the aim of introducing them into additional schools and training members and school principals about their roles.
Lights. Camera. Intimidation.
That's the way I felt standing in front of four video cameras and over a dozen reporters on Monday when the new Change By Us Philly website officially launched.
I was asked to come and speak from my experience using the social networking tool in order to find help and resources in providing laptops for my math classroom at the Academy at Palumbo.
Members of Philadelphia's School Reform Commission oversee a system with 20,000 employees that directly serves 150,000 students.
So a lot of people want their ear.
But what do the new commissioners think the public's role should be in helping the SRC make decisions?
Philadelphia native Wendell Pritchett refers to the Quaker values he learned at Friends Select School in Center City.
"Public input – community making decisions – is a crucial aspect of Quakerism that was beaten into me," he said. "I take it very seriously."
After a year of urgency from the District about the need to shed tens of thousands of excess seats, it was surprising that the facilities master plan unveiled in November called for only nine school closings. Some local officials and School Reform Commission members responded that the plan is not aggressive enough. One critique we heard is that it's better to rip off a Band-Aid than slowly peel it off.
Need in Deed created a valuable space to discuss challenges facing teachers and potential solutions with a screening of American Teacher and a panel discussion. As one audience member put it, “on any given day, a teacher can get chewed out by students, colleagues, parents, and administrators, work on average 15 hours per day, and still struggle to find food on a daily basis. And you want me to stay for how many years?!”
American Teacher joins the ranks of documentaries focused on education including: The Lottery, Waiting for Superman, TEACHED, and 2 Million Minutes. The question is how will this movie change the public discourse?