November 22 — 12:00 am, 2007

Mayoral task force finds progress, public skepticism

While the School District has made significant improvements “by almost every measure” since the state takeover, according to a report by Mayor Street’s Education Advisory Task Force, it “has a long way to go in generating widespread confidence and praise from Philadelphia’s citizens.”

The task force report, issued November 1 after a year of research and discussion, cites public confidence, along with budget deficits, as major challenges facing the District. A poll conducted on behalf of the task force found that only 16 percent of residents are satisfied with the quality of the city’s public schools, while 58 percent are dissatisfied. In addition, the report notes the continued migration of students from District to charter schools.

Task force recommendations, drawn from the work of five committees, include:

  • increased support for professional development, including the restoration of funding for new teacher coaches.

  • reduced class size to improve both achievement and school climate.

  • expansion of afterschool programs providing holistic support for children.

The task force also calls for restoration of local control of the School District by 2010, and it questions the provision of extra funds to schools run by education management organizations.

The full 96-page report is available online.

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