I arrived in Philadelphia in 2002 to begin studying at St. Joseph's University. Almost eight years later, I have lived and taught across city. Three years ago I began my career in the School District of Philadelphia as a prep science teacher. While I had no idea when I was teaching Kindergarten as student-teacher this is where my vocation would take me, it has been a rewarding and inspiring ride. I have throughly enjoyed the privilege working with students in a inquiry-based, problem solving environment. Currently, I am working toward my Master's in Education degree with a Principal Certification. I am also a Star Discovery Educator within the Discovery Educator Network. My main interest in writing for The Notebook will be science instruction in the School District. I hope start and take part in lively conversations about what science instruction looks like in the District, and what it can look like in the future.
The School District of Philadelphia needs all the help it can get, so I’m happy to see a number of local nonprofits band together to offer their advice.
The member groups of the recently launched Coalition for Effective Teaching are calling for reforms to the teachers' contract. As I looked over their list of recommendations, I saw a mix of ideas, some already happening and some that would be helpful. But many of them are misguided. The coalition would have greatly benefited had the members bothered to talk to rank-and-file educators during the planning process.
Schools must close. Some buildings in Philadelphia are just too expensive to maintain. The process will be painful -- this much we can all agree on.
As I listen to the public discourse and read different editorials supporting or opposing school closings, I am disappointed by the lack of knowledge as to the specifics of recommended closures. Those who call for no school closings at all, as well as those who agree with all proposed closings, have not dug deeply enough into the School District's plan. I support closing schools that are poorly utilized, are in poor condition, and have high operational costs. It is what school districts do, both in times of fiscal security and insecurity. Some of the recommendations in the District's Facilities Master Plan meet these criteria, and some do not.
In June, the U.S. Conference of Mayors – during the meeting at which Mayor Nutter became its president -- enthusiastically endorsed parent trigger laws, which allow parents to instigate a school turnaround. If 51 percent of parents sign a petition at a low-performing school, they can force drastic reorganization according to one of the four federally prescribed methods – from replacing the principal to replacing half the faculty to charter conversion to outright closure.
My education world has exploded this school year. I feel like this is true for a lot of teachers across the nation, and especially in Philadelphia. Not that each year of teaching doesn’t bring about pain and change, but this year was something else. And I mean explosion in a lot of different ways. Some explosions were bad, some explosions were fantastic.
Ex.plo.sion - n. a violent and destructive shattering or blowing apart of something