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Dale Mezzacappa has reported on education since 1986, most of that time with The Philadelphia Inquirer. Prior to taking over the education beat, she was in the Trenton and Washington bureaus covering politics and government. Her work has won many local and national journalism awards, including for a series spanning 13 years that followed 112 inner city sixth graders promised a free college education by a wealthy philanthropist. She is currently contributing editor at The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, a quarterly independent and non-profit publication. A graduate of Vassar and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, she teaches a journalism course at Swarthmore College and sits on the board of the Education Writers Association.
 

Recent Blog Entries

More by Dale Mezzacappa

Legal battle between SRC and PFT heads to Commonwealth Court

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 28, 2014 12:06 PM

Updated | 2:30 p.m.

The legal battle over whether the School Reform Commission can impose benefit changes on teachers has shifted to Commonwealth Court, which could hear arguments in the dispute as early as December.

On Monday, Common Pleas Court Judge Nina Wright Padilla made an injunction permanent that delays any benefit changes until the matter is resolved in court, and the District appealed that ruling to Commonwealth Court. 

Both sides said they are pleased by the outcome of the latest legal maneuvers.

The District says that the legal proceedings will accelerate a final resolution in court of the extent of the SRC's powers. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers says the ruling points the parties back to the bargaining table, a move that the District says it remains open to. 

Are health care changes fair to teachers compared to central office workers?

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 24, 2014 04:43 PM

Updated | 10/25

 If and when proposed changes to teachers' health benefits take effect, most non-unionized central office employees will have access to a better health care plan without having to "buy up" to it, while all teachers' union members will have to start paying significantly more for the same coverage.  

Members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have complained about being shifted into a plan that has higher out-of-pocket costs, although they have expressed a willingness to start contributing something toward their benefits.  

As the acrimonious fight between the SRC and the PFT plays out in court and both sides vie for the moral high ground in the realm of public opinion, there are many ways to parse what is fair and reasonable.

Some insights from controller's latest report on charters

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 22, 2014 10:51 PM

Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz has been studying charters in Philadelphia for a while now, looking into fraud and keeping tabs on the quality of School District oversight

In his latest report, released Tuesday, he concludes that the way charters are funded is crippling the District's finances.

The Butkovitz report mostly goes over well-trod territory, but he comes up with a few facts and figures worth drawing attention to:

Pa. court hears arguments in teachers' contract dispute; no ruling yet

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 22, 2014 07:17 PM

Lawyers for the School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers traveled to Harrisburg on Monday for one of the legal skirmishes in the battle over whether the School Reform Commission has the power to nullify the union's labor contract and unilaterally change health benefits.

The session in Commonwealth Court before President Judge Dan Pellegrini was scheduled to start at 9:30 and lasted until 11 a.m. As of 7 p.m., there had been no ruling. 

Malala accepts Liberty Medal, says education is a right for all

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 21, 2014 11:33 PM

The stage was set to celebrate the power of women at the Constitution Center on Tuesday night as the Liberty Medal was presented to the world's most famous schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai.

The 17-year-old Pakistani, whose outspoken defense of girls' right to an education led to her being shot by the Taliban -- and then becoming a world-famous human rights activist -- accepted the award under a tent set up on the Constitution Center's lawn.

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