February 1, 2013 |
ON A HOT June day nine years ago, I met up with an architect and an historian at LOVE Park and we spent the next few hours slowly making our way up Ben Franklin Parkway on foot. By the time we got to the Art Museum I had not only a sunburn, but also a new appreciation for just how much work this grand boulevard needed. While imposing institutions lined both sides, the spaces in between were, for the most part, unplanned and inhospitable. With no places for people to convene, expanses of dead space, no food offerings but a Subway sandwich shop, and constant car traffic that made crossing the street an obstacle course, the Ben Franklin Parkway fell far short of greatness.
January 31, 2013
THE BEN FRANKLIN Parkway, already on a hot streak, will see even more updates by the time Mayor Nutter leaves office. The city Department of Parks and Recreation on Monday will release a plan called "More Park, Less Way: An Action Plan to Increase Urban Vibrancy on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. " An agency spokesman said Tuesday that the title is suggestive of what the public can expect to be unveiled. "We heard from many in the community and specifically those neighborhoods that are adjacent to the Parkway," spokesman Patrick Morgan said.
January 9, 2013
EVERY NEW superintendent releases a plan soon after taking office - a blueprint for how things will be different this time as he attempts to turn around our struggling schools. Superintendent William Hite's action plan for city schools, released Monday, calls for higher SAT scores, early literacy and placement of more students in advanced math. But his plan has something that recent superintendents haven't included in theirs: an acknowledgment that money is a problem. As he explains, "The School District of Philadelphia does not have the luxury to set its education agenda without regard for financial implications and sustainability, nor can it be successful if financial decisions are divorced from educational impact.
January 8, 2013
WILLIAM R. HITE'S "Action Plan v1.0" is the product of three months of listening by Philly's newest superintendent. Here are some highlights of the plan's strategies: * Balance and sustain operating, capital and grants budgets. The district faces a cumulative $1 billion deficit over the next five years, and Hite's proposal calls for cutting expenses and tracking progress against the district's five-year financial plan. Fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, is "especially critical," the plan says.
January 8, 2013 |
It is William R. Hite Jr.'s "call to action," a 25-page document that maps out strategy for the future of the Philadelphia School District. And, despite the school system's brutal budget picture - a projected $1 billion deficit over five years, preparing to close one in six schools - Hite's blueprint, just released, is ambitious. He wants to create a virtual school to compete with cyber charter schools that now take district students. He wants to "professionalize teaching," in Philadelphia, rework outdated graduation policies, improve student nutrition, boost the number of students who score well on the SAT and Advanced Placement exams, and increase the percentage of graduates who earn college degrees within six years.
January 5, 2013 |
Coming Monday: a blueprint for the William R. Hite Jr.-era Philadelphia School District. Expect a focus on early literacy, a call for more art and music classes, more students in advanced math by middle school, and more and higher-quality spots in vocational programs. Count on "more prescriptive" strategies in teaching reading in struggling schools, though not a return to the reviled scripted curriculum the district used in prior years, the superintendent said. Get ready for an emphasis on better training for teachers and principals, and a real framework for just how Philadelphia schools should be implementing new national curriculum standards, which has so far been missing.
December 29, 2012 |
Today a third-grade teacher in a Philadelphia School District classroom, next month a teacher-training specialist with direct access to Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.? District officials hope so. They are recruiting a small group of people at every level of the organization, from teachers on up, to be part of a unique "Transformation Corps" - 15 or so employees who will work to solve the school system's most critical problems. The members of the corps will answer to folks at the top reaches of the district and work with high-level mentors - successful superintendents and experts from around the country.
November 14, 2012 |
Forced by state budget cuts to drain its rainy-day fund and postpone its reconstruction plans, SEPTA is now trying to save $2.2 million a year by reducing its energy consumption. The transit agency on Monday issued its first-ever "energy action plan," a blueprint of 18 initiatives aimed at cutting power use and greenhouse-gas emissions. Since 84 percent of SEPTA's energy is used by its vehicles, much of the effort is aimed at making vehicles more efficient or replacing energy hogs with vehicles that use less fuel.
May 8, 2012 |
A partnership aimed at removing some of the ocean of pavement that surrounds too many of the living and work spaces in Philadelphia is a welcome sign of environmental progress for the city. A groundbreaking ceremony planned for Thursday will officially kick off the second phase of the Green 2015 Action Plan, whose goal is to add 500 acres of parkland to city neighborhoods by "depaving" them. The partnership, which includes the Philadelphia Water Department, the city Department of Parks and Recreation, the Trust for Public Land, and the Mural Arts Program, hopes to locate at least a patch of parkland — grass, trees, perhaps a few park benches — within a 10-minute walk of anywhere in the city.