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PSP makes $10.5 million grant to five new charter schools

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Dec 2, 2015 05:45 PM

The Philadelphia School Partnership will provide $10.5 million in startup grants to five new charter schools that were approved to open for the 2016-17 year.

PSP will provide $3.3 million to Mastery Charter Schools to open Gillespie, a K-6 campus in North Philadelphia that plans eventually to enroll 588 students – giving admissions preference to students living in the Simon Gratz catchment area.

Four charter organizations apply to convert three elementary schools

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Dec 1, 2015 11:09 PM

Four charter management organizations have applied to take over operations at three District elementary schools and run them as neighborhood-based charters, the School District of Philadelphia announced Tuesday.

Superintendent William Hite proposed Renaissance charter conversion for Cooke, Huey and Wister Elementary Schools on Oct 1.

From a newlywed and new homeowner: Don't turn Huey into a charter

By Cecily Harwitt on Dec 1, 2015 03:29 PM

Dear Dr. Hite,

In my role as statewide campaign director for POWER Interfaith, I’ve sat across the table from you more times than I can count. For the last three years, I’ve been fighting for a full and fair education funding formula at the state level that would help all Philadelphia children get the incredible education that they deserve. I write this letter in that spirit, but in a different capacity – as a newlywed and new homeowner.

Hearings for new charter applicants set for next week

By the Notebook on Nov 30, 2015 04:09 PM

Hearings for 12 would-be school operators looking to open new charter schools will begin next week.

The School District will review applications for 13 new schools, which, if approved, could increase the city's public charter school enrollment by more than 9,000 students. One applicant, KIPP, is proposing to open two schools.

Last week, one of the applicants withdrew its proposal to create a James Baldwin Charter High School in Mantua focused on serving LGBT students, according to the District.

Pa. House OKs delaying Keystone exams as graduation requirement

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 30, 2015 03:05 PM

This story was published by NewsWorks on Nov. 25

The Pennsylvania legislature is one step closer to pushing back the use of standardized tests as a graduation requirement.

State law now mandates that, starting with the class of 2017, high schoolers must pass Keystone exams in Literature, Algebra I and Biology to graduate.

Past Chester Community Charter testing head disciplined in cheating scandal

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

Accountability and the ESEA reauthorization deal: Your cheat sheet

By Alyson Klein for Education Week on Nov 24, 2015 02:53 PM

The newest proposed version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act—is almost over the congressional finish line, with votes in both chambers of Congress imminent.

So how would accountability work under the ESSA, if approved? And how does it compare to the No Child Left Behind Act, Classic Edition, and the Obama administration's waivers?

Your cheat sheet here. Top-line stuff on accountability first, then some early reaction. Scroll down further if you want the nitty-gritty details on accountability.

Mayor-elect Kenney pushes plan to create 25 community schools

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 23, 2015 07:48 PM

In his first major policy announcement since winning election, Philadelphia Mayor-elect Jim Kenney formalized a campaign promise to create 25 "community schools" over the next four years.

Before a sea of schoolchildren and TV cameras in the gymnasium of North Philadelphia's Tanner Duckrey Elementary, Kenney told students Monday that the initiative would help give them "the ability to reach your potential in your life."

Wolf: Budget framework in 'deep peril'

By Mary Wilson for NewsWorks on Nov 23, 2015 05:47 PM

A tentative outline for a Pennsylvania budget looks like it could crumble this week, dealing a bitter reality check to Gov. Wolf and the top lawmakers who said they could deliver a spending plan by Thanksgiving.

Waiting for sorely needed pre-K expansion

By Shawn Towey on Nov 23, 2015 04:00 PM

Amid lots of distress about the impact of the Pennsylvania budget impasse on pre-K, the most critical budget issue for the city is actually pre-K expansion.

With its enormous unmet need for affordable, quality preschool, Philadelphia had been expecting a huge expansion in pre-K funding. Based on Gov. Wolf’s intention to add 14,000 new seats in the state’s two programs, Head Start Supplemental Assistance and Pre-K Counts, many applicant organizations went ahead and invested in readying classrooms and even hiring new staff, competing for certified teachers with experience in early childhood education. In April, 23 providers in the city applied for more than 3,800 new seats worth more than $30 million.

But nearly five months into the new fiscal year, leases have been dropped and classrooms that were readied for the new seats sit empty or have been repurposed.

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