I'm looking forward to the Notebook's event next Tuesday as an opportunity to celebrate the close of another year, chat with some of the best-informed folks about Philly schools, and, of course, support the Notebook!
In addition to being a District teacher, Teacher Action Group member, Philadelphia Writing Project member, and Notebook blogger and member, I have also been involved in another group in the Philly education community. I am a member of the GreatPhillySchools Advisory Council, and when I attended its first meeting, I felt I had to state my caveat to the new partnership on school selection: “More choice can lead to less choice.”
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has officially joined the Great Schools Compact, with Mayor Nutter calling it a "historic" move toward cooperation by two once-rival systems – both of which face shrinking enrollment, excess buildings, dwindling resources, and questions of quality.
Instead of considering themselves competitors, the two systems will cooperate in an effort to increase the number of “high quality” seats in neighborhood schools, Nutter said, and give parents more choices. For instance, they will try to learn from each other in areas of academics and safety and will consult on neighborhood changes, building use, and other matters.
For many Philadelphia families, a diploma from ultra-selective Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School is the holy grail of public education in the city.
But how do parents get their children into the prestigious magnet school at 17th and Spring Garden Streets?
Philadelphia already has some schools that are really good. So why not focus on sending those schools more money and more students?
That’s the basic challenge facing the District, says Mark Gleason, the executive director of the Philadelphia School Partnership.
“Ideally, you could channel students and dollars out of programs and schools that are not getting the job done. We have plenty of those in Philadelphia,” said Gleason. “The goal should be to move those tax dollars and those kids into better performing schools.”
Today the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that four high schools and 45 elementary schools will be closed or consolidated. The Archdiocese's Blue Ribbon Commission studied Catholic education in the area and released their report this afternoon at a press conference.
The Inquirer has a full list of the schools affected, including the closure of St. Hubert and West Catholic High Schools. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said at the press conference that "we need an honest response to serious losses," according to the Inquirer's Kristen Graham.
Could there someday be a single lottery for all of Philadelphia’s charter schools?
What about more charter school programs for students with severe disabilities?
How would Philadelphia taxpayers feel about charter school operators being included on School District bond initiatives?
All the above are strategies currently being implemented or explored in Denver, where Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and city educational leaders are visiting Thursday in the hopes of learning more about its efforts to promote greater collaboration between the school district and charter schools.
Mayor Michael Nutter and School Reform Commission Chair Pedro Ramos will join a delegation on a visit to Denver to learn how that district has handled district and charter cooperation. Today, they spoke at a press conference at Dunbar Elementary Promise Academy.
In a Tuesday ceremony held at Renaissance Charter Stetson Middle School, representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation added Philadelphia to a list of 14 other school districts already eligible to compete for $40 million in grants the foundation will make available next year.
The state House rejected a voucher bill last night, but concerns remain about the charter law changes Governor Corbett proposed as part of the bill. In this guest blog post, Susan DeJarnatt and Theresa Glennon, professors of law at Temple University Beasley School of Law, describe the proposed changes and their shortcomings.
Pennsylvania currently spends nearly a billion dollars on charter schools, and Gov. Tom Corbett proposes to escalate their growth dramatically.
The School District of Philadelphia alone is paying $525 million dollars – more than 20 percent of its total budget – to charter schools. Just five Pennsylvania cyber charter schools receive over $200 million dollars – getting the same per pupil funding as bricks and mortar schools despite minimal costs for facilities and much lower staffing costs. Charter schools are increasingly operated by large, for-profit companies more beholden to their shareholders than to the students they teach. Already, the oversight system is under strain.
The tuition voucher plan potentially in store for Pennsylvania is now in the House Education Committee, having been passed by the Senate, 27-20, on Oct. 26. The House has voted down past voucher plans, but the outcome of this year’s version is far from certain.