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Stories tagged: school choice

District continues to defend charter enrollment caps in court

By by Celeste Lavin on May 25, 2011 05:11 PM

Even though a legal issue hasn't been settled, the Walter D. Palmer Charter School in Northern Liberties received $1.3 million in redirected state aid in April that the District maintains the school is not entitled to.

State Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis ordered the payment, finding that the District overreached its authority when it set a cap on the number of students Palmer could enroll – taking the side of charters in a dispute with the District over their right to expand.

Introducing our new blogger: Ryan Bowers

By Ryan Bowers on May 25, 2011 02:41 PM

First, I’d like to acknowledge what an honor it is to join the Notebook’s blogging community. I’m looking forward to making a small contribution to the growing debate around school choice, a topic of importance to me both personally and professionally.

I’m starting to feel the weight of school choice at home as my wife and I are faced with figuring out where we’ll send our 4½-year-old son to kindergarten next year. I'm taking a hard look at our neighborhood school, as well other options that might be on the table.

District plans for selling facilities

By the Notebook on Apr 12, 2011 04:27 PM

The Notebook and PlanPhilly are working together to cover the District facilities master plan and school closings. This piece originally appeared on PlanPhilly.

by Patrick Kerkstra

Over the next three years, the School District of Philadelphia plans to close as many as 50 school buildings. The targets - which schools, which neighborhoods - for now remain largely unknown.

But no matter which buildings go dark, the closings seem certain to have a significant impact on the communities they serve. Schools, after all, are much more than buildings where children learn how to read and write. They are neighborhood anchors - often with imposing physical presences - that double as community meeting spots, informal rec centers and more.

Voucher bill explained by its sponsor

By the Notebook on Mar 17, 2011 10:02 PM

by Paul Jablow

Senate Bill 1, which would provide taxpayer-funded vouchers for low-income children to attend non-public schools in Pennsylvania, has passed the Senate Education Committee and is now in the Appropriations Committee. The bill was sponsored by Sens. Jeffrey E. Piccola (R., Dauphin) and Anthony Hardy Williams (D., Phila).

The voucher concept is supported by Gov. Corbett, according to his nominee for secretary of education, though Corbett has reservations about some parts of the bill. There is no movement on voucher legislation in the state house of representatives.

The Notebook talked about the bill with Sen. Piccola, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

Are school vouchers real reform?

By Guest blogger on Mar 1, 2011 02:29 PM

This guest blog post comes from Caitlin Garman, a former elementary school teacher and current staffer on the support team at a District high school. Today the state Senate's education committee passed Senate Bill 1, which would bring vouchers to Pennsylvania.


The latest school reform movement is gaining momentum in Harrisburg and it goes by the name of school choice. Pennsylvania’s Senate Bill 1 would provide “opportunity scholarships” to low-income students attending the lowest performing schools in the state. This would allow them to leave their neighborhood school and apply a voucher to another institution of their choice.

With Corbett in office, voucher debate is back

By by Celeste Lavin and Raquel Ronzone on Feb 2, 2011 07:32 PM

Recently inaugurated Republican Gov. Tom Corbett kicked off his term by declaring his second week in office "Pennsylvania School Choice Week," signaling that his educational priorities will diverge markedly from those of former Gov. Rendell.

School vouchers never went far during Democrat Rendell's eight-year tenure, after getting a vigorous airing in the previous two terms of Republican Tom Ridge, who failed to get a bill passed in three tries.

But with state control seesawing back to a Republican administration, the voucher debate is again front and center.

Voucher bill lists eligible schools

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 20, 2011 02:36 PM

Senate Bill 1, the voucher bill that is the top educational priority of the new administration in Harrisburg, lists 144 schools whose students will be eligible for vouchers if they meet certain income limits.

Of that total, 88 are in Philadelphia.

The list is interesting:

'A Community Concern,' cinematic counterpoint to 'Superman'

By Ron Whitehorne on Nov 23, 2010 06:17 PM

Davis Guggenheim’s "Waiting for 'Superman'" documentary has quickly become the media narrative about what’s wrong with public education and how to fix it. It boils down to the argument that bad teachers and their unions are the culprits and charter schools are the solution.  

The documentary “A Community Concern” tells a different story and points us in a different direction when it comes to solutions.

A peek inside Community Partnership School

By Peak Johnson on Nov 16, 2010 03:05 PM

Last time, Peak Johnson reflected on his experience at Douglass Elementary school. This week Johnsons visits a private school a few blocks away that is based out of Project H.O.M.E.'s Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs.


It's Wednesday morning, and the students of Beth Vaccaro’s 5th grade class arrive after eating breakfast with their peers.

“Where is my teacher?” asks one student, who notices me sitting in a corner, scribbling down notes. “Good morning,” he quickly adds.

Reality check: The midterm elections and Philadelphia schools

By Helen Gym on Nov 11, 2010 04:18 PM

In the week following an election that dramatically changed the political landscape in Harrisburg and DC, local education observers shared a grim sense of reality about what Philadelphia public schools are likely to face.

School closings, increased privatization, and reduced spending on education are themes echoed by a number of observers. Those possibilities demand even greater activism, focus, and community engagement, noted others.

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