October 15, 2014 |
THE DECISION by Chairman William Green and members of the School Reform Commission to invalidate its long-standing contract with school district teachers, nurses, counselors and secretaries - in a meeting which was, for all practical purposes, closed to the public - is about issues much larger than money. Their decision represents a violation of the civil rights of those who educate our children, and signals another step in the almost casual obliteration of the rights of the many Americans who work in public service.
September 10, 2014 |
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Tuesday in a charter school case that has raised grave concerns among Philadelphia School District officials. The dispute, which is being watched closely by the charter community and others, centers on the powers that the School Reform Commission has to manage charter school growth in the financially distressed district. The West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School contends that the SRC illegally suspended parts of the state School Code to cap charter school enrollment and then threatened to close schools that did not sign agreements with enrollment maximums.
September 8, 2014 |
Jeffrey Rosen, author, constitutional law professor, and president and chief executive officer of the National Constitution Center, may have hit upon a novel idea. At a time when public debate over the central constitutional and political issues of the day has devolved into a dispiriting swamp of ad hominem attacks, misleading ad campaigns, and television shouting matches, Rosen says there is a public hunger for civilized, respectful conversation. Since taking over at the center last year, he has organized a series of public forums featuring prominent guests from the political right and left to unravel weighty and emotional issues, from gun control to the use of drone strikes, within the context of constitutional law. Give Rosen half a chance and he waxes rhapsodic about the nation's founding documents.
July 15, 2014 |
THOUGH it may not have made national headlines, last week a Senate committee voted on a resolution that could have major ramifications for our democracy. From where I sit, our democracy could certainly use some support. It seems to me that it's getting harder and harder for real people to vote, and easier and easier for corporations to buy elections. One of the main offenders pushing us in this direction has been the Supreme Court. From their 2010 Citizens United decision, which opened the door to unlimited corporate political spending, to their Shelby ruling last year, which gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, to their McCutcheon decision in April, which said yes, the super-rich can put even more money directly into political campaigns, the Supreme Court's conservative majority doesn't exactly seem to be on the side of "We, the People.
July 10, 2014
THE HEARTBREAKING and alarming news that one in five high school students is involved with either DHS or the juvenile justice system should be a wake-up call for systemic change. Even though we should never abandon these students or give up hope, the intervention that has the best chance of saving them must happen as early as possible. Blaming their dysfunctional homes as an excuse not to fund early intervention programs only exacerbates the problem. Meanwhile, many teachers apply for positions in urban schools at all levels for the purpose of making a difference.
June 13, 2014
MOST stand-up comics mine such topics as relationships and parenthood for laughs. But Colin Quinn has much bigger fish to fry. In 2010, Quinn, 55, debuted "Long Story Short," his hit one-man Broadway show that took a jaundiced - but hilarious - look at world history. Now, he's journeying through the past again with "Unconstitutional," which Philadelphia Theatre Company is presenting today through July 6 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. In case the title doesn't tip you off, "Unconstitutional" is a humorous examination of the four-page document - conjured here in Philly, in 1787 - that sets forth how America is to be governed.
May 20, 2014 |
So, who was Continental Army Maj. William Jackson? "It's not a name memorized by schoolkids in history class," John Hopkins, coordinator for Christ Church Burial Ground, told folks gathered there Sunday afternoon. "It's more like an answer to a Jeopardy! question," Hopkins suggested, his mention of a TV show lightening the ceremony at Jackson's grave at the southeastern corner of Fifth and Arch Streets in Center City. So who was Jackson? Certainly not the tourist attraction of Benjamin Franklin, whose grave is a few steps up a grassy row. But a man of merit: Secretary of the Constitutional Convention which, on Sept.
April 5, 2014 |
PHILADELPHIA The Nutter administration is processing the paperwork to raise the pay of five members of the Board of Revision of Taxes - even though such midterm salary increases are forbidden by the state constitution. City Council last month unanimously approved the salary increases to $70,000 a year, and Mayor Nutter allowed the ordinance to become law last week without his signature. Councilman Mark Squilla, the prime sponsor, said he was hoping the pay boosts for members of the BRT would get it to speed up its handling of more than 20,000 real estate tax appeals, challenging new assessments made under the Actual Value Initiative.
March 25, 2014 |
HERSHEY - Imagine seeing everything you've worked for all season riding on the revolutions of a last-second three-pointer. After losing in the Public League championship, Constitution High was desperate for PIAA redemption Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey. And the fate of the Class AA championship had just left the fingertips of Seton-La Salle's Levi Masua. "I'm not gonna lie," said Constitution junior forward Ahmad Gilbert, "when it was in the air, I thought it was going in. " And there was good reason to anticipate defeat.
March 24, 2014 |
HERSHEY, Pa. - With Seton-La Salle's potential game-winning three-pointer in the air, the Constitution players on the bench, including Raheem Liggins, locked arms and prayed for the best. Their prayers were answered, as Levi Masua's right-wing attempt - he had nailed a tying shot from that spot a minute earlier - bounced off the back of the rim and into the hands of Kimar Williams. With that, Liggins and the Generals began celebrating their 61-59 victory over the never-say-die Rebels, of suburban Pittsburgh, Saturday in the PIAA Class AA boys' basketball final at the Giant Center.