Editor and director of the Notebook since 1999, Paul was one of the Notebook’s founders in 1994. He came to the Notebook as a public school parent with a long history of involvement in public education and other social justice issues. His children both graduated from Philadelphia public schools. He has been an active Home & School Association member and served as a parent representative on a School Council. Prior to becoming editor, he worked on education issues for the National Coalition of Education Activists and the American Friends Service Committee.
Notebook contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa will be on WHYY's NewsWorks Tonight, Friday at 6 p.m., discussing the Notebook/NewsWorks investigative report about the Pennsylvania Department of Education's delayed release of the 2014 PSSA results. (Listen to the show live at WHYY.org or by tuning into 90.9 FM)
The article, published Thursday everning, also discussed an across-the-board decline in statewide PSSA scores in reading and math in 2013 that had not previously been reported in the press.
The delayed release of 2014 test results has been a topic of discussion in education circles this fall. But what prompted the investigation was a discovery last week by the Notebook/NewsWorks reporting team that 2013 PSSA results were not available on a website that has links to 18 previous years of test score data. That got staff asking questions about 2013 PSSA results. We soon found that the statewide trends included in the 2013 "state report card" had never been announced or made it into the press.
Have standardized test scores declined for a third year in a row in Pennsylvania?
We’re not likely to find out before the gubernatorial election next week.
This year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has waited longer than usual to publicly release any data on test scores or school performance.
Last Monday, the School Reform Commission voted to cancel the teachers' union contract and unilaterally change the health benefits for members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. After that action, PFT president Jerry Jordan charged that several of the official statements about the contract situation were "lies."
Here is a look at some of the statements and issues in dispute, and what the Notebook has been able to find out about them.
Mayor Nutter’s annual Education Week, marking the opening days of school in Philadelphia, will have a couple of new twists this year.
The mayor’s activities will continue into a second week, city officials said, as Nutter plans to be in Harrisburg starting on Sept. 15 in an effort to ensure that the state legislature promptly approves the proposed Philadelphia-only cigarette tax increase upon its return from summer recess. The District is counting on $49 million from the tax this school year in order to avert further layoffs.
In another addition to the usual back-to-school activities, the mayor will go to a charter school board meeting on Sept. 10 to encourage other members of the public to do the same.
Please spread the word: The Notebook is seeking an energetic and experienced fundraising professional to serve as its new development director.
The position is available in mid-October. We look forward to this new addition to our wonderful, seven-person staff team.
An award-winning nonprofit news organization, the Notebook is entering its third decade as a vital source of news, commentary, and community conversation about Philadelphia's public schools. More than three-fourths of the Notebook's budget comes from contributions: memberships, individual donations, and special events, as well as grants.