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The Notebook's latest news posts.

Kenney and Gym change the education conversation

By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 3, 2015 10:46 PM

[2nd paragraph updated] 

With the election of Democrats Jim Kenney as mayor and Helen Gym to City Council on Tuesday, there is a new dynamic at City Hall regarding education policy.

Kenney has promised to work toward universal preschool, which was also a focus of the Nutter administration. But the mayor-elect has thrown his support behind community schools as the primary reform strategy for the District. That is a departure from Mayor Nutter's approach. Throughout his administration, Nutter supported the strategy that relied heavily on closing low-performing schools and expanding charters, with the goal of having "a great school" in every neighborhood. 

Philly District's borrowing due to Pa. budget impasse passes $500M

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 3, 2015 08:35 PM

As Pennsylvania enters its fifth month without a state budget, school districts across the commonwealth have been forced to borrow money in order to keep their doors open.

The Philadelphia School District has needed to borrow the most – authorizing more than $500 million in loans.

The role of police in schools: A discussion on 'Radio Times'

By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 3, 2015 04:11 PM

Notebook board chair Harold Jordan, senior policy analyst with the Pennsylvania ACLU, appeared on WHYY's Radio Times this morning with Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel to discuss the role of police officers in schools. The topic recently got renewed attention after video went viral showing a sheriff's deputy in South Carolina throwing to the floor and arresting a Black high school girl who would not leave her classroom.

LGBT-friendly high school among slate of Philly charter school hopefuls

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 2, 2015 11:01 AM

The Philadelphia School District, which will accept applications for new charter schools through Nov. 15, already has received 22 letters of intent.

One of them is from James Baldwin Charter High School, which would stress lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion.

READ! by 4th director explains goals of campaign

By Fabiola Cineas on Oct 29, 2015 01:19 PM

The Notebook sat down with Jenny Bogoni of the Free Library, READ! by 4th’s executive director. In the interview, she outlines the mission of the campaign, its strategies, and challenges.

What is the READ! by 4th campaign’s main goal?

Ensuring all children can read on grade level by the time they enter 4th grade.

Philly NAEP scores below average for urban areas; nationally, scores slip

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 28, 2015 04:01 PM

Students nationwide showed a marked dip in math performance and a somewhat smaller decline in reading proficiency, according to 2015 results of the only standardized achievement test administered across the country by the federal government.  

It was the first reversal of a steady upward trend that held for the more than two decades that U.S. students have been taking the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 

Philadelphia students continue to score below the national average for big cities, according to analysis of the scores from 21 urban areas. Both nationally and in the city, there are huge achievement gaps among racial and ethnic groups. 

Here are some key facts on the NAEP and its significance.

Cyber charters have 'overwhelming negative impact,' CREDO study finds

By Benjamin Herold for Education Week on Oct 28, 2015 10:40 AM

Students who take classes over the Internet through online charter schools make dramatically less academic progress than their counterparts in traditional schools, according to a sweeping new series of reports released today.

How stark are the findings?

Mayor: Dissolve the School Reform Commission

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 27, 2015 01:23 PM

Updated, 5:40 p.m. with additional quotes and reaction

In a major education policy speech this morning, Mayor Nutter called for the dissolution of the School Reform Commission and the return of a local board of education.

"Of all the policy recommendations I make today, none will have a bigger impact on Philadelphia than a return to local control," he told an audience of invited guests at WHYY.

After 15 years, Nutter said, "it's time for the experiment to end."

Media lab program expanding to 27 more schools

By Brianna Spause on Oct 26, 2015 01:18 PM

With more than 1,000 middle and high school students completing WHYY’s Youth Documentary Workshops each year, the program has outgrown its home at WHYY headquarters.

To help increase student access to media arts production, the School District has teamed up with WHYY to bring Media Labs to 27 schools over the next three years. This expansion will provide video storytelling workshops and professional training to more than 700 students throughout the District.

Too much testing? Ed. Dept. outlines steps to help states, districts cut back

By Alyson Klein for Education Week on Oct 26, 2015 11:18 AM

The Obama administration, which spent its first six years in office arguably upping the ante on standardized tests by calling for them to be a part of teacher evaluations, has instead spent the last year encouraging states and districts to make sure that assessments are of high quality and don't take up too much instructional time.

The shift has come as many parents have decided to opt their children out of standardized assessments, states have sought to rein in testing time, and the Common Core State Standards have faced serious political pushback, in part because of concern about the tests that go along with them. (More on changes to the administration's testing rhetoric here.)

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