Ongoing efforts by the School District and its private provider of substitutes, Source4Teachers, are still failing to have a visible impact on the proportion of empty classrooms being filled across Philadelphia, according to the latest figures.
Incentives designed to encourage teachers to take on substitute positions with Source4Teachers in recent weeks have included adjustments to the pay scale and written invitations to retired teachers. But the fill rate in Philadelphia’s classrooms remained at just 20 percent this week.
Have you seen Glen’s Village yet? If not, you’ve certainly heard the buzz about the 30-minute documentary that focuses on Glen Casey, a 20-year-old West Philadelphia native who found the supports he needed both in and out of school to rise from a life surrounded by drugs and violence, graduate from high school, and become a University of Pennsylvania student.
The film, which has received a series of awards since its release in May, will be screened in Philadelphia at noon on Sunday, Oct. 25, as part of the 18th annual FirstGlance Festival Philadelphia at the Franklin Institute.
The festival, which is held in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, brings independent filmmakers and audiences together to view a variety of feature films, documentaries, and short films. This screening of Glen’s Village will mark its first showing to a public audience in Philadelphia since its release in May and the 11th film festival into which it has been accepted.
Last week, the Moonstone Arts Center held a three-day festival titled “Education in Black & White” as part of its Hidden History project with panel discussions and presentations focusing on the struggle for African American education in the city. They included a historical look at the impact of the Institute for Colored Youth and a modern-day take on the importance of Black teachers for Black students.
“What’s interesting and scary is that these are the same issues in education today as there were 150 years ago,” said Larry Robin, director of Moonstone, introducing the panel talk on the Institute for Colored Youth.
As Election Day nears, the two top Philadelphia mayoral candidates have separated widely in their thoughts on charter school expansion.
Democrat Jim Kenney, a former board member of Independence Charter School in Center City, believes that Harrisburg Republicans have pushed charters as a way to starve the traditional system.
In May, the Philadelphia School District asked for outside proposals to help it provide better health services in schools without raising its medical budget.
The District received six proposals, but has now decided not to act on any of them.
"Some of what we found out was: We need to find out more," said Karyn Lynch, chief of student services for Philadelphia schools.
Critics may get small consolation from the news that Source4Teachers, the firm hired to provide the District's substitute service, is not getting paid by the District for the teachers that it is failing to place in city classrooms.
And the District has incorporated standard language into its contract terms allowing it to terminate its agreement with Source4Teachers "for its convenience" and without penalty, simply by providing the company with 14 days' notice.
Ready to apply to college? Philadelphia Futures is dedicated to helping students get there with its annual edition of the Step Up to College guide.
The 66-page resource helps students navigate through each stage of preparing for college and applying.
“There is much public discourse currently about the cost of college and equal access to higher education for first-generation-to-college students; however, there is often less focus on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the college admissions process,” said Joan Mazzotti, executive director of Philadelphia Futures.
As Pennsylvania's budget impasse creeps toward its fifth month, the Philadelphia School District will need to borrow additional money to cover payroll beyond October.
In August, the District borrowed $275 million to get through the first two months of school because of the logjam in the state Capitol – a move that will ultimately cost an additional $1 million in debt service.
As part of the Free Library’s Teen Author Series, high school students from 13 District and charter schools received a copy of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me to read in their English classes and literature clubs. On Friday, they all listened to Coates read from his book at the Free Library.