Mastery Charter and its methods for training and supporting teachers may soon exert greater influence in schools all over the city, a development that promises to cement the organization’s influence on educational practice well beyond its own schools.
The Philadelphia Great Schools Compact is asking the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for $2.5 million, some $650,000 of which would pay for Mastery to train teacher coaches to work in District and Catholic schools and other charters.
Seeking to create a “pipeline” of principals and teachers who are better equipped to deal with the real-world challenges found in Philadelphia’s toughest schools, city education leaders submitted a three-year, $2.5 million grant proposal this week to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission renewed all five charters up for consideration Friday, but not before a sometimes brusque debate among the commissioners about the growing cost to the District of expanding charter enrollment.
Friday’s renewals and modifications added more than 1,600 charter seats to the District at a projected cost of $40 million over five years. District officials were not immediately able to provide an overview of the total number of charter seats added during this year’s renewal and modification process or how much those new seats are projected to cost.
High-profile charters including Mastery-Pickett, KIPP West Philadelphia, and Boys' Latin were among those renewed on Friday.
The School District of Philadelphia and its largest charter school turnaround operator have agreed on the outlines of a deal that will prevent the relocation of 12 severely disabled children from one of the city’s Renaissance charters.
The deal avoids a potentially traumatic move for students in two Multiple Disabilities Support (MDS) classrooms at Mastery Charter Clymer Elementary in North Philadelphia. It also allays, at least for now, the concerns of disabilities rights advocates that the District had established a precedent for exempting charters from their responsibility to educate some of the city’s most vulnerable – and expensive to serve – students.
“I think we came up with a really positive solution,” said Courtney Collins-Shapiro, deputy chief innovation officer at Mastery Charter Schools.
“I think this is a good sign of the District and charters partnering.”
District staff members have recommended new managers for four recently designated Renaissance charter schools.
Their proposal, to be voted on Thursday night by the School Reform Commission, would award Mastery Charter the school it wanted, introduce two new providers to the District's aggressive school turnaround initiative, and overrule a vote by Creighton Elementary's School Advisory Council (SAC) to keep the school under District control.
The District recommends that:
Undeterred by a bleak budget picture, District officials announced in February that four more low-performing traditional public schools will be converted to charters as part of the Renaissance Schools initiative.
In February, the District selected six "turnaround teams" to compete to manage the four new Renaissance charter schools.
American Paradigm – A Philadelphia-based educational management organization (EMO) formed last year. American Paradigm has no experience doing school turnarounds. Its founders are associated with local charters First Philadelphia and Tacony Academy.
This guest blog post comes from Rich Migliore, a frequent Notebook commenter and veteran teacher and administrator.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Mastery-Smedley Elementary in Frankford. Brook Lenfest, a member of Mastery’s Board of Trustees, had invited me to visit a Mastery school to see for myself what it does for children.
There has been much heated debate lately about Mastery so I approached my visit as a learner. I wanted to see Mastery-Smedley through the eyes of an educator who has spent over 35 years in schools and in classrooms.
In a new twist on the District’s process for converting low-performing schools to charters, six pre-approved turnaround teams have publicly declared at the outset of the Renaissance match process which schools they will – and will not – be competing to manage.
Two developments stand out:
“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.