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Posts from guest bloggers

How eligible voters can register and get voter ID

By the Notebook on Sep 26, 2012 02:01 PM

This guest blog comes from Steve Seplow, a freelance writer and former Inquirer editor, via the Committee of Seventy. The Notebook invites guest blog posts on current topics in Philadelphia education from its readers. Contact us at to make a submission.


By Steve Seplow

With all the talk of needing a state-sanctioned photo ID to vote, teachers, administrators and other School District employees should be aware of one complicating fact about the law: Although photo IDs issued by every level of government from municipal to federal will get you into the voting booth, School District photo IDs do not count.

It is still possible that the law requiring ID will be voided by the courts. In the meantime, in case it is not voided, it is important to make sure that 18-year-olds voting for the first time or any other eligible voters both register and have the necessary ID documents.

TAG Philly Story Slam - reframing the 'failing school' refrain

By Samuel Reed III on Sep 18, 2012 05:09 PM

If you love stories, you should plan to attend TAG Philly's annual Teacher Story Slam. The back- to-school event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at Zocalo Restaurant, 3600 Lancaster Ave.

Let me tell you a story…

Because the human brain is wired for stories, I bet you were all ready to follow a narrative with an attention-grabbing opening, a topsy-turvy plotline, and some satisfying ending or lesson to learn.

Test score decline - what do you think?

By the Notebook on Aug 17, 2012 06:05 PM

As the Notebook and Newsworks reported Thursday, preliminary results of the 2012 PSSA tests show declines after 10 years of increases, with the biggest drops occurring in schools under investigation for possible cheating and in the lower grades.

Most of the 53 schools under investigation showed sharp drops.

District settles lawsuit on search of student

By Guest blogger on Jul 24, 2012 01:50 PM

This guest blog post comes from Harold Jordan, Notebook board chair and staff member at ACLU of Pennsylvania.

Last week, the School District of Philadelphia settled a lawsuit filed by the parent of a young woman, a student at Harding Middle School, who said she had been subjected to an unlawful and invasive search by school police. I wrote about the case and about the results of state-funded audit of school security that was critical of police behavior at several high schools. In the case at Harding, the student said that a male officer had placed his hands in her shirt without justification. The District agreed to pay the student $35,000 in exchange for ending the suit. It did not admit guilt.

Although we may never know the full details of what happened that day, it is my hope that the lawsuit will force District staff to pay attention to how searches are conducted and to be careful that interactions between police and students are lawful and appropriate. In addition, students need to have a mechanism for complaining about instances in which they feel wronged and have confidence that those complaints will be properly investigated and acted upon.

Note: Following is Jordan's original guest blog post about the case, written in March.

Teachers remember former E.M. Stanton student picked fourth in NBA draft

By the Notebook on Jul 12, 2012 05:15 PM

The following guest blog is from Holly Shaw-Hollis and Ilene Heller, both longtime teachers at E.M. Stanton elementary school in South Philadelphia, who remember new Cleveland Cavalier Dion Waiters.


By Holly Shaw-Hollis, with contributions from Ilene Heller

Dion Waiters is one of our students who finally achieved his dream.  He was the fourth player selected in the NBA draft and will be playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers next season!

As teachers, we are tasked with the goal of helping our students achieve the best that they can, and we hope that they continue to work hard and fight for what they deserve in life. Dion is one of those students who continues to do that.

Commentary: The '20% less' solution is the problem, not the answer

By Guest blogger on Jul 3, 2012 04:42 PM

This guest blog post comes from Michael Churchill of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is being told that District budget deficits can only be avoided through deep program cuts, massive school closures, and contract concessions. City Council was asked to increase funding to avoid even further damage. But little attention is being focused on the true cause of the District’s deficits – the state’s insistence that Philadelphia students ought to be educated for 20 percent less than what is being spent on students in the rest of our region.

Students contribute to book on healthy living

By Guest blogger on Jun 20, 2012 05:00 PM

This guest blog post comes from Talia Fisher of Healthy NewsWorks (no connection to WHYY's NewsWorks).

Local students recently published their own book through Healthy NewsWorks, a nonprofit organization that engages elementary and middle school students in creating authentic journalism to promote health and literacy.

Healthy NewsWorks, which was founded by former Inquirer health and medical writer Marian Uhlman and Upper Darby teacher Susan Spencer, works with students in 13 area schools, including four in Philadelphia. Each school publishes a newsletter focusing on making healthy lifestyle choices.

Commentary: Plan must consider students' basic needs

By Guest blogger on Jun 18, 2012 03:01 PM

This guest blog post responding to the District's transformation plan comes from Cathy Weiss, executive director of the Stoneleigh Foundation, and Paul DiLorenzo, member of the Stoneleigh Foundation’s board of directors.

In the midst of the drama that surrounds the School District of Philadelphia, perhaps it might be worth considering another perspective.

What if we agreed that the challenge is not just about education, organizational structure, and finance?

What if we focused on the growing number of children who come to the educational environment already at a disadvantage? It’s not just that they are poor. They suffer from inconsistent health care and early learning deficits; some of them are deprived of food and, increasingly, of hope. We have found no research that shows that children facing these odds will succeed, unless something is done.

Support community news this Tuesday!

By Guest blogger on Jun 11, 2012 05:22 PM

This guest blog post comes from Shanee Garner, co-chair of the June 12 event committee.

Tomorrow, some of Philadelphia’s most thoughtful and concerned citizens will gather to celebrate another year of excellent reporting from the Notebook. True Notebook readers understand that the Notebook’s impact is so much bigger than education news -- it’s community news.

When the Notebook reported that the School District of Philadelphia’s graduation rate finally exceeded the 60 percent mark, it transcended school news. It opened a conversation.

Let's talk about what really makes for a successful school

By Guest blogger on Jun 8, 2012 02:25 PM

This guest blog post comes from Lori Shorr, Mayor Nutter's chief education officer and executive adviser to the School District.

From the time I was Home and School co-president at Jenks Elementary to now, in my current position, it has been clear to me that there are key priorities that really matter at schools: 

  • Each child should feel safe and cared for by the adults in the building;

  • All the adults in the building, both District employees and community members, should feel that they are a team working toward the same goal;

  • Each student should get what he or she needs to be successful; and

  • Enough resources should exist so that no decision is based solely on what can be afforded at that time. 

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