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Commentary: District-run schools need help to access Partnership funds

By Guest blogger on Sep 14, 2012 02:27 PM

This guest commentary comes from Christine Carlson. She is a public school parent, a member of the Philadelphia School Partnership advisory committee on Great Philly Schools, and a founder of the Greater Center City Neighborhood Schools Coalition.The Notebook invites guest blog posts on current topics in Philadelphia education from its readers. Contact us at to make a submission.


Last month, the Philadelphia School Partnership announced that it had received significant new funding, propelling it closer to its goal of raising $100 million so that it can award grants to increase the number of “high-performing seats” in Philadelphia schools. 

PSP’s stated mission is to contribute to the expansion of all high-performing schools, whether private, charter, or District-run. So far, however, the only schools that have been awarded PSP grants have been private and charter schools. 

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.

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.


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