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By Paul Socolar on Oct 2, 2012 05:48 PM

The editorial staff of the Notebook wants to offer an explanation of the decision Saturday to disable comments on the Sept. 28 article about Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon’s leave from the School District. Some readers were upset by seeing comments taken down en masse. We have been accused of censorship.

CAO Penny Nixon to take year leave Nov. 1

By Paul Socolar on Sep 28, 2012 09:02 PM

(Editors' note: Comments on this story have been disabled; see terms of use.)

Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon will be taking a one-year sabbatical from the School District starting Nov. 1. Nixon had been the second-ranking District official and top instructional leader until the recent appointment of Paul Kihn as deputy superintendent.

SRC meeting takes up charter renewals, code of conduct

By Paul Socolar on Sep 27, 2012 05:20 PM

[Updated, 8:15 p.m.] The School Reform Commission, meeting Thursday evening, ratified a change to its new student code of conduct, heard a staff presentation on the status of charter renewals, and listened to extensive testimony from parents at two charter schools clouded by a scandal.

Renaissance Schools get thorough airing at SRC

By Paul Socolar on Sep 25, 2012 11:03 AM

The School Reform Commission held one of its in-the-round monthly strategy meetings Monday evening, looking at District academic performance and Renaissance Schools. It was the first such meeting for new Superintendent William Hite, who praised the format.

The Accountability Review Council (ARC), which has tracked student performance in District and charter schools since the state takeover and creation of the SRC in 2002, reported on its findings for the year.

The hard data: Scores down at every level

By Paul Socolar on Sep 21, 2012 12:28 PM

(Updated, 2:30 p.m.)
The line graphs for the School District are all trending downward.

As the state today finally presents its 2012 PSSA results and report on schools meeting federal targets for adequate yearly progress, the School District has provided its annual breakdown of student performance on the state exam.

The declines in proficiency rates on last spring's test range from as much as 17 points for 3rd graders in math to as little as 1 point for 11th graders in both reading and math. For the most part, the lower the grade level, the steeper the decline.

Union weighs tentative agreement in Chicago

By Paul Socolar on Sep 17, 2012 06:47 PM

Tuesday is a big decision day in a battle that has drawn national attention, the weeklong strike by the Chicago Teachers Union. Union delegates meeting Sunday asked for time to consult with the rank-and-file before a vote on the tentative agreement that they were just learning about in detail.

The union's vote on whether to accept the draft contract and go back to work is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. If they vote it down, the mayor will be going to court on Wednesday for an injunction, attempting to force teachers back to work.

Big crowd for Home & School kickoff

By Paul Socolar on Sep 13, 2012 06:22 PM

Tuesday was an auspicious beginning for the new leadership of the citywide Home and School Council, as the group kicked off the school year with an overflow crowd at a meeting headlined by new Superintendent William Hite.

Mayor Nutter, SRC Chair Pedro Ramos, teachers' union president Jerry Jordan, and Claudia Averette of the District's offfice of parent and community engagement also spoke to the group.

More than a hundred people heard the new District chief commit to "work to really provide opportunities for engagement."

SRC adopts 5-year financial plan

By Paul Socolar on Sep 10, 2012 01:28 PM

(Updated 3:30 pm) The School Reform Commission approved a five-year financial plan today by a vote of 4-0 after hearing Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen's report on the plan and on the District's grim financial situation.

The essential high school guide is out!

By Paul Socolar on Sep 6, 2012 10:24 AM

Just in time for the new school year, the Notebook's fourth annual Fall Guide to High Schools is out. You can pick one up around town at the schools, libraries, and community sites where you always find the Notebook.

It's also available online - right now just in PDF format. Later this month, it will be posted on our site in searchable form.

Right-to-know ruling in favor of the Notebook is now a precedent

By Paul Socolar on Aug 15, 2012 08:31 PM

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court's April ruling in favor of the Notebook in a right-to-know case involving School Reform Commission resolutions is now a legal precedent.

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pelligrini ruled last week in support of a motion filed by the Notebook to “report” the decision, meaning that it will now be treated as a precedent in similar cases in Pennsylvania.

A new partnership on school selection

By Paul Socolar on Jun 5, 2012 01:19 PM

One of the Notebook’s key objectives is to support families in making informed decisions about schools through products such as our annual Fall Guide to High Schools. To support that goal, the Notebook has signed on as a partner in an ambitious new initiative to provide more comprehensive information about school choice in Philadelphia.

The new project, called GreatPhillySchools, was initiated by Philadelphia School Partnership, or PSP. It will debut this fall.

Universal gets go-ahead to run Creighton

By Paul Socolar on Jun 1, 2012 06:06 PM

[Updated, 9:30 p.m.] After hearing passionate testimony Friday afternoon for two competing proposals to overhaul Creighton Elementary School in the Lower Northeast, the School Reform Commission came down on the side of Universal Companies. They voted 4-0 in favor of the recommendation by School District staff to authorize Universal to submit a proposal to manage the school as a charter starting in the fall.

Troubling news from the Notebook

By Paul Socolar on May 30, 2012 04:51 PM

The Notebook is saddened and disturbed to learn that one of our volunteer "community bloggers," teacher Marcus Sean Hall, recently turned himself in to authorities and has been charged with molesting a child in an incident reported earlier this month.

The Notebook is now hiring!

By Paul Socolar on May 18, 2012 02:09 PM

Spread the word: The Notebook is hiring. We're looking this month for a full-time advertising sales and business manager to join the talented staff of our award-winning news organization.

This is a critical position in our organization.

SRC hears questions about charter role

By Paul Socolar on May 16, 2012 04:00 PM

[Updated 11:20 p.m.] The School Reform Commission continued to listen to criticism of its restructuring plan at its monthly action meeting Wednesday evening, as commissioners heard from more than 30 public speakers. The SRC moved speedily through its resolutions in well under an hour, taking action to authorize charters for three recently approved Renaissance School conversions.  

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