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Budget cuts, restructuring plan stir up outcry

by Dale Mezzacappa

With a projected shortfall for 2012-13 of at least $200 million even after the deep cuts this year, District leaders are proposing a major restructuring that would further downsize the central office, close 64 schools, and break up those remaining into "achievement networks."

Balancing expenses with revenues won't happen until 2013-14, said Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen. It will require significant short-term borrowing, deep union concessions by 2013, and the swift passage of a tax reassessment plan by City Council that would net the District $94 million annually.

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The Notebook * Summer 2012

Nutter: 'Not satisfied'

by Benjamin Herold for the Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorks

Mayor Michael Nutter is adamant that he is "not taking one step back" from his goals of doubling the percentage of city residents with college degrees and bringing the city's high school graduation rate to 80 percent.

But a second straight year of deep state cuts to higher education proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett would mean even steeper challenges for students and families, he said.

"We're undermining our own efforts here in the state by driving up tuition costs," Nutter said during an interview with the Notebook/NewsWorks.


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The Notebook * Summer 2012


Is Student Motivation the Missing Link in School Reform?

By Emily Richmond

Amid the dizzying crush of school improvement efforts -- federal incentive grants, new regulations for teacher evaluations, proposals to raise state curriculum standards -- how often do you hear discussion about student motivation as a factor in academic achievement?

A new report from the Center on Education Policy suggests student motivation is a potential missing ingredient in campus improvement, and that it deserves more attention from educators, parents, community organizations and policymakers. 

In examining a wide swath of research, CEP found some common themes among initiatives that were successful as well as those that fell short of expectations, said Alexandra Usher, a senior research assistant at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank and the report’s lead author.

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The Educated Reporter * May 29,2012

School funding disparities persist, analysis shows

By Valeris Strauss

Legislators can extend the school day, force new tests on students and link the scores to a teacher’s job, but a new analysis about disparities in school funding raises the uncomfortable question of just how effective any reforms can really be when issues of equity are ignored.

The second edition of the National Report Card, called “Is School Funding Fair?” is a critique of state school funding systems that shows that many public schools don’t get the resources they need to boost student achievement — even if there are plenty of folks who like to say that money doesn’t really matter in education.

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Washington Post * June 19, 2012

2012 Distinguished Teachers

Sixty-three Philadelphia high school teachers were named 2012 winners of the Lindback Award for their talents. The Christian R. and Mary S. Lindback Foundation celebrates excellence in education and has been awarding the teaching prizes since 2008. There is one winner from each school. The winners will be honored Tuesday at ceremonies at the Prince Music Theater. Meet the winners and read excerpts from the nominating information.

Read full article * May 7, 2012

Stories of interest to teachers

More like this

No diploma, no job

By by Benjamin Herold on Feb 6, 2012 11:11 AM
'I Want to Be Working': As part of our comprehensive coverage of dropouts and jobs, the Notebook and WHYY's NewsWorks have created a multimedia package of materials for our readers and listeners. Listen to Monica Reyes's story in Benjamin Herold's radio report for WHYY. View a slideshow, infographics, and additional reporting. Check out the hour-long discussion of Philadelphia's dropout crisis on WHYY's Radio Times. And join us this Wednesday at Johnny Brenda's to share your perspective.

Like almost 14 million other Americans, Monica Reyes is looking for work.

"Macy's, Walmart, Kmart, Sears, Friday's, Outback," said Reyes, ticking off her list of recent unsuccessful job applications.

A sluggish economy has made finding work difficult for people from all walks of life. Nationally, the unemployment rate is still above 8 percent. Four people compete for every job.

Few of them will have a tougher time finding work than Reyes.

SRC hears urgency, skepticism on Great Schools Compact

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 12, 2012 03:11 PM

by Benjamin Herold
for the Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorks

Philadelphia’s new Great Schools Compact lays out an ambitious goal: replace or transform 50,000 seats in low-performing schools with better options.

But will the Compact include a push to close low-performing charter schools and help successful District-managed schools flourish? Or will it function solely to accelerate existing efforts to close District-run schools and expand the city’s burgeoning charter sector?

Those were the biggest questions on the table during a lively discussion Monday night attended by about 100 people before the School Reform Commission’s “choice, rightsizing, and turnaround” committee.

E-mentoring program aims to reduce dropout rate among Black males

By the Notebook on Feb 23, 2012 04:00 PM

by Samantha Byles

With the dropout rate among African American and Latino male students slow to improve, many people ask how one can keep these students engaged in their education.

“The best way I think is to look for things that interest them,” said Anthony Martin, the founder of What it Takes (WIT), a Philadelphia-based e-mentoring program aimed specifically at connecting at-risk Black male students with successful Black men.

State prohibits Philly teachers from administering PSSA to their own students

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 28, 2012 06:43 PM

Update 2/29, 2:40 p.m. PDE has just confirmed that three charter schools, including the Chester Community Charter School and the Hazleton Area School District, have also been required to follow this protocol. The other two charter schools are both in Philadelphia: Philadelphia Electrical and Technical Charter High School and Imhotep Institute Charter High School.

PDE spokesman Tim Eller said that even though hundreds of schools in Philadelphia have not been flagged for any suspected testing irregularities, "The Department believes it is necessary to apply the policy districtwide."

He also confirmed a statewide change: In the past only the building principal had to sign a certification that the testing protocols had been followed. Now multiple signatures are required. The building principal, the district and school assessment coordinator, and the proctor must all sign documents affirming that they have followed protocol and not tampered with the test booklets.

West Philadelphia nonprofit opens 12th public school library

By the Notebook on Mar 7, 2012 02:22 PM

by Samantha Coggin

Last summer Heston Elementary School Principal Icilyn Wilson-Greene received a phone call from the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePac) about an opportunity to restore the school’s library.

It was a welcome call because a large and growing number of Philadelphia public elementary school students don’t have access to a school library or a certified school librarian, and Heston was struggling to keep its own library doors open.  

District on-time graduation rate surpasses 60 percent

By by Paul Socolar on Feb 3, 2012 12:31 PM

The School District's on-time graduation rate climbed 3 percentage points last year to 61 percent, the first time in memory that more than six of ten Philadelphia students have graduated on time. That figure is the percentage of students who entered 9th grade in fall 2007 and finished high school by 2011.

Teacher anger?

By Guest blogger on Mar 8, 2012 04:00 PM

Earlier this week on Metropolis, Tom Ferrick wrote about comments he read on the Notebook blog. We're republishing his piece as a guest blog post. Teacher unhappiness is a national trend. The newest MetLife teacher survey, released earlier this week, showed that "in the past two years there has been a significant decline in teachers' satisfaction with their profession," decreasing 15 points since the survey two years before.

Charter schools are a fraud. The leadership at school district headquarters is clueless. Powerful interests are combining to ruin public education in this country. Teachers are being made scapegoats for the failure of urban schools.

So say Philadelphia's public school teachers, as they fill the comments section on on the website of the Philadelphia Public [School] Notebook.

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  • Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
    Represents more than 16,000 women and men working in Philadelphia public schools today. This group includes teachers, librarians, school nurses, counselors, psychologists and social workers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, and classroom assistants.
  • American Federation of Teachers
    The American Federation of Teachers has more than 3,000 local affiliates, including the PFT, 43 state affiliates and more than 1.4 million members. Founded in 1916 to represent the economic, social and professional interests of classroom teachers, it is an affiliated international union of the AFL-CIO.
  • The Pennsylvania State Education Association
    Represents the labor, policy, and professional interests of more than 187,000 public school teachers and education support professionals, staff in state higher education institutions, nurses in health care facilities, retired educators, and college students preparing to become teachers
  • National Education Association
    The nation's largest professional employee organization, it is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA has 3.2 million members who work at every level of education-from pre-school to university graduate programs, and has affiliate organizations in every state, including the PSEA, and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.
  • Philadelphia Writing Project
    Located at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, this organization works to enhance the teaching of writing as a critical tool for learning in all Philadelphia schools.
  • Need in Deed
    Need in Deed’s mission has been to prepare youth for civic responsibility and service to others, enabling young people to become capable, contributing members of their community by using the My Voice service-learning framework in public schools.
  • Teachers Learning Cooperative
    The Philadelphia Teachers' Learning Cooperative (PTLC) TeacherSPACE is a teacher center welcoming teachers and parents in Philadelphia to network, share ideas, and collect resources in a creative environment. PTLC is committed to developing our teaching and inviting others to share resources in order to support Philadelphia students’ creative voices, academic engagement, and emerging leadership.
  • Education Policy and Leadership Center
    Focuses on education policy, education leadership, and education advocacy.
  • Fair Test: National Center for Fair and Open Testing
    Advances quality education and equal opportunity by promoting fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial evaluations of students, teachers and schools. Also works to end the misuse and flaws of testing practices that impede those goals.
  • U.S. Department of Education
    This extensive site includes resources and data on student achievement and on federal efforts to ensure equal access to high-quality education.



  • Edutopia
    A publication that offers teachers information about integrated studies, project-based learning, teacher development, and other educational topics.
  • Rethinking Schools
    A magazine that covers a variety of educational topics of interest to teachers and other educators.
  • Teaching for Change
    Provides teachers and parents with various tool to transform schools into centers of justice where students learn to read, write and change the world. Some of these tools include professional development workshops and publications.
  • Teachers Learning Cooperative/TeacherSPACE blog
    The Philadelphia Teachers' Learning Cooperative (PTLC) TeacherSPACE is a teacher center welcoming teachers and parents in Philadelphia to network, share ideas, and collect resources in a creative environment.
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art education pages
    The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Wachovia Education Resource Center provide a wide range of free services and materials for Philadelphia teachers and their students that help make learning come to life! Learn more about class visits and videoconferencing lessons for Pre-K - 12th grade, teacher workshops, and teacher resources.
  • Teaching Tolerance
    A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, this organization isdedicated to reducing prejudice, improving inter-group relations and supporting equitable school experiences for the nation's children.
  • PA Education Voters
    A non-profit organization that promotes a pro public education agenda with elected leaders, legislators and the public by lobbying for laws that further a sound education policy.
  • Education for Liberation Network
    A national coalition of teachers, community activists, researchers, youth and parents who help to improve the practice of a liberatory education.
  • Pennsylvania Department of Education Academic Achievement Report: 2007-2008
    Here you will find Philadelphia School District and school reports that contain information about Adequate Yearly Progress targets, last year’s results and next year’s targets, and a discussion of results for parents and educators.
  • Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technologies to Promote Children's Learning
    A 52-page document that provides information about the use of children’s cell phones and other hand-held devices in an effort to support learning in and outside of school.
  • The New York Times Learning Network
    A mix of activities for students, parents, and teachers that promote education. Learn about using the New York Times as a teaching tool in your classroom. Get free lesson plans for grades 6-12.
  • Philadelphia Inquirer’s Report Card on Schools
    School-by-school information from the Inquirer’s Report Card on the schools.
  • School Data Direct
    An online service providing comprehensive education data as well as analytic tools.
  • School District Office of Accountability, Assessment and Intervention
    Monitors and reports on the performance of schools and district support functions. Reports student achievement and demographic data to multiple audiences such as central offices, schools and regions, the State and federal governments, and the public. Also collaborates with the District's Office of Information Technology and outside vendors in the design and maintenance of district data systems.

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