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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

Past Chester Community Charter testing head disciplined in cheating scandal

By Dale Mezzacappa and Paul Socolar on Nov 27, 2015 08:09 AM

A former testing coordinator at Chester Community Charter School, the state’s largest bricks-and-mortar charter with more than 3,000 students, has been sanctioned by the state for “systemic violations of the security of the PSSA exams” over the five-year period between 2007 and 2011.

The school was under scrutiny for testing irregularities by the Pennsylvania Department of Education as part of a statewide cheating scandal that broke in 2011.

District to create task force on testing

By Dale Mezzacappa and Greg Windle on Nov 12, 2015 06:11 PM

The Philadelphia School District plans to convene an assessment task force to study the impact of all the tests administered to city students and make recommendations for changes.

Chris Schaffer, deputy chief for curriculum, instruction and assessment, said that the task force will include parents, teachers, community members, and perhaps students.

The goal is to have its members in place by the December break and start meeting in January to reconsider the District's approach to testing.

Caucus of Working Educators unhappy about PFT election procedures

By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 10, 2015 03:25 PM

The Caucus of Working Educators, which is trying to topple the long-dominant Collective Bargaining (CB) Team for leadership of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, is protesting the union's election procedures -- or the lack of them so far.  

WE, as it is known, also alleges that CB-loyal building representatives – the elected union leaders at each school – are improperly seeking to bar them from distributing flyers and holding meetings in school buildings.

Kenney and Gym change the education conversation

By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 3, 2015 09:46 PM

[2nd paragraph updated] 

With the election of Democrats Jim Kenney as mayor and Helen Gym to City Council on Tuesday, there is a new dynamic at City Hall regarding education policy.

Kenney has promised to work toward universal preschool, which was also a focus of the Nutter administration. But the mayor-elect has thrown his support behind community schools as the primary reform strategy for the District. That is a departure from Mayor Nutter's approach. Throughout his administration, Nutter supported the strategy that relied heavily on closing low-performing schools and expanding charters, with the goal of having "a great school" in every neighborhood. 

The role of police in schools: A discussion on 'Radio Times'

By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 3, 2015 03:11 PM

Notebook board chair Harold Jordan, senior policy analyst with the Pennsylvania ACLU, appeared on WHYY's Radio Times this morning with Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel to discuss the role of police officers in schools. The topic recently got renewed attention after video went viral showing a sheriff's deputy in South Carolina throwing to the floor and arresting a Black high school girl who would not leave her classroom.


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