December 28, 2015
The Prize Who's in Charge of America's Schools? By Dale Russakoff Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 237 pages. $27 Reviewed by Barbara Hall Throughout the 1960s, Newark, N.J., was a city in trouble. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the city's 70 struggling schools. Dale Russakoff, author of The Pr ize, an excellent chronicle, identifies a "cycle of neglect and corruption" over decades that made a terrible situation worse. In 2010 then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker, N.J. Gov. Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, joined in what became known as "the nighttime ride.
June 22, 2015 |
People are suddenly asking Dwight Evans for lottery picks. That happens when you are two-for-two betting long on the most important political offices in Pennsylvania. In back-to-back elections, the Democratic state representative from West Oak Lane has wagered and won big with his support of the relatively unknown Tom Wolf for governor last year and Jim Kenney for the Democratic nomination for mayor of Philadelphia last month. Evans now can boast of having the ear of both men and an inside track on favors and future political appointments.
April 17, 2014
Smoke and glamor If we really wanted smoking cessation, or at least a dramatic reduction, we could achieve it ("Pa. to get back $120M in tobacco ruling," April 11). Jurisdictions that enjoy the revenue from smokers, however, are not about to turn off the spigot. That's why so many well-touted efforts are no more than smoke screens (pun intended). I was a three-pack-a-day smoker. If we are serious about the health effects of smoking, there is only one way: Cut out blatant promotion of smoking in movies and on TV. The all-time classic movie smoking scene remains Sharon Stone in that short white dress, lighting her cigarette and taunting police.
April 30, 2013 |
IN 1939, a 6-year-old boy moved to Detroit with his working-class parents - Lithuanian Jewish immigrants - and walked into the remarkable engine that propelled so much of America's prosperity in the 20th century, his neighborhood public school. That kid, Eli Broad, graduated from Detroit Central High School in 1951 and went on to become one of the world's richest people, a billionaire who made his fortune first in the post-World War II housing boom and later in insurance. Today, the 79-year-old Broad (it rhymes with "road")
April 1, 2013 |
Gov. Christie's decision to take over the Camden school system was described by his education commissioner as the politically gutsiest thing he had ever seen. "This is not politically smart, this is not politically driven," Commissioner Christopher Cerf said. ". . . It's not for the timid, it's not for the safe, it's not to stay in the harbor. " He gushed: "There is no one who has more political courage on a matter like this . . . than this gentleman to my left. " Or not. Because in several ways, Christie's takeover was politically smart, obvious - and, yes, as safe as can be. Forget, for a moment, the merits of the takeover.
February 20, 2013 |
We interrupt this highly partisan moment with some contrarian news: President Obama is not the only politician who thinks that expanding access to pre-kindergarten is a good investment. In Alabama, Republican Gov. Robert Bentley urged a 60 percent increase in preschool funding in his state, with the goal of having a universal preschool system in place within 10 years. "I truly believe by allowing greater access to a voluntary pre-K education," Bentley declared earlier this month, "we will change the lives of children in Alabama.
July 27, 2012 |
During a recent School Reform Commission meeting, Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky decried the cost of independent charter school expansion under the Philadelphia School District's reform plan, saying district Renaissance Schools have been less costly. We at the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools disagree with the commissioner's math as well as his philosophy on education reform. Dworetzky and others are overlooking the fact that the costs of any reforms have been exacerbated by the inability or refusal of previous commissioners to "rightsize" the district.
July 23, 2012
By Jerry Jordan It's blockbuster season at the movies, the time of year when many of us allow ourselves to suspend reality, munch on over-buttered popcorn, and get lost in a world of superheroes, alien attacks, and outrageous plot lines. Philadelphia has its own far-fetched story line this summer. It's about a school district that, even though it's so cash-strapped it can't afford summer school, decides to spend $139 million over the next five years for an education reform strategy that won't improve student achievement.
June 20, 2012 |
TRENTON — The idea of making tenure tougher for New Jersey teachers to get and easier to lose took a big leap forward Monday when a state Senate committee advanced a bill and Gov. Christie endorsed it. Bills on the issue have won committee approval in both chambers of the state's Legislature in the last five days, with the support of the state's education-advocacy cottage industry. The Senate bill was put together by Teresa Ruiz (D., Essex), who worked out the details with groups representing a variety of interests.
May 17, 2012 |
FIXING THE SCHOOL district would be simple, if only: The schools went back to teaching basics. We'd stop siphoning off money to charter schools. We'd open more charters. We had the means to get rid of bad teachers. We had a way to get rid of bad students. Parents cared more. We made sure there were music and art classes. The state funded the schools they way it is supposed to. This list could go on — and on and on, limited only by the number of people you ask. Everyone has an opinion about how to fix the district, and the district has an opinion about how to fix itself via a new set of proposals that would close 40 schools, move many students to charters, establish "achievement networks" and require major concessions from the unions to close its fiscal gap. Tuesday, City Council members offered their own opinions, quizzing the School Reform Commission as they consider providing $39 million to the district.