As news of violence and disarray at Bartram High School dominated Philadelphia headlines, national education researchers were downtown at the Convention Center, discussing the theory and practice of a “portfolio” school reform strategy that relies on management changes – converting low-performing schools to charters or closing them.
And although many have tied Bartram’s troubles to the budget cuts that sharply reduced staff levels at the school, Philadelphia School Partnership head Mark Gleason does not agree.
by Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks
In college, and for a brief time in the NFL, it was Chief Inspector Carl Holmes' job to protect the quarterback from being flattened into the gridiron grass.
Since joining the Philadelphia Police Department, the former offensive lineman has helpled tackle street crime, spending most of his two-plus decades on the force in patrol and narcotics.
This is a reprint of an article that originally appeared at Education Week.
by Ross Brenneman
A great deal of what's widely considered (or derided) as "education reform" over the last decade reflects a philosophy espoused by former President George W. Bush, in what is now a well-known piece of education rhetoric: Overcoming "the soft bigotry of low expectations." The thought is that a school can make its students achieve regardless of extenuating circumstances, and it drives policies ranging from teacher evaluation to accountability.
On the other hand, many push ideas that engage students on every front, from counseling to nutrition to anti-drug campaigns, under the belief that there are nonacademic reasons that students might not become proficient at math and reading.
Brickyard. Dogtown. Haines Street. Somerville.
For thousands of teens in Northwest Philadelphia, the names signify a potent mix of neighborhood loyalty, turf rivalry, and gang conflict that has been passed down for generations.
Take Dayton Melton.
The 15-year-old hails from Brickyard, in lower Germantown.
Melton says he’s fought kids from Somerville, on the other side of Chew Avenue, dozens of times.
After years of youth organizing groups making arguments against the District’s “zero-tolerance” policy, members of the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools achieved a victory in August.
The School Reform Commission voted to adopt a new student code of conduct, which gives principals more authority to handle disciplinary cases and puts more emphasis on intervention and prevention rather than punishment.
The Notebook has a content-sharing agreement with Education Week, where this piece originally appeared. Last week, the School Reform Commission revised the District's Student Code of Conduct to prohibit the use of out-of-school suspension for several low-level offenses.
The School Reform Commission voted Thursday evening to adopt a revised code of conduct that gives principals more discretion in handling disciplinary cases and prevents some infractions from being punished by out-of-school suspensions.
Incoming Superintendent William Hite told a roomful of school leaders at the District's annual leadership summit Monday morning that enforcement of rules is just one piece of school discipline and that "zero tolerance" to him means "a preventive set of strategies," rather than a punishment tool.
This guest blog post comes from Harold Jordan, Notebook board chair and staff member at ACLU of Pennsylvania.
Last week, the School District of Philadelphia settled a lawsuit filed by the parent of a young woman, a student at Harding Middle School, who said she had been subjected to an unlawful and invasive search by school police. I wrote about the case and about the results of state-funded audit of school security that was critical of police behavior at several high schools. In the case at Harding, the student said that a male officer had placed his hands in her shirt without justification. The District agreed to pay the student $35,000 in exchange for ending the suit. It did not admit guilt.
Although we may never know the full details of what happened that day, it is my hope that the lawsuit will force District staff to pay attention to how searches are conducted and to be careful that interactions between police and students are lawful and appropriate. In addition, students need to have a mechanism for complaining about instances in which they feel wronged and have confidence that those complaints will be properly investigated and acted upon.
Note: Following is Jordan's original guest blog post about the case, written in March.
The Inquirer’s Public Service Pulitzer for the Assault on Learning series is welcome and well-deserved.The series is an example of dogged, compelling multimedia reporting on a terrible problem that plagues not just Philadelphia, but many places across the country. The winners are all my friends and valued colleagues.
The award is especially welcome given the travails that the Inquirer, my former employer of nearly three decades, has been through during the last few years. The staff produced such high-quality, high-impact journalism while enduring crippling cutbacks. It is more unthinkable now than ever that this storied newspaper would fall by the wayside, which has seemed not so far-fetched in recent months.
But that is not why I am writing this. There is another Philadelphia-related Pulitzer story that has gotten much less attention in all the excitement.