August 25, 2012 |
The leadership of the nonprofit Philadelphia School Partnership announced Thursday that it was more than halfway to its goal of raising $100 million to pump into expanding strong schools, whether they're charter, public, or private. That the group has shaken loose $51.9 million in just under two years in a tough economy is a symbol of the considerable and rising influence of the partnership (PSP) in the city's education sector. An energized Mayor Nutter, speaking at a news conference with deep-pocketed donors and city school officials to announce PSP's fund-raising prowess, made it clear he was on board with the organization's goals.
August 24, 2012 |
IT MIGHT HAVE once seemed unthinkable: Handing the keys to a large, troubled public-school district over to a high-profile advocate for increasing privatization, including vouchers and for-profit private schools. But activists said that last Friday's surprise announcement that Gov. Corbett had named the Rev. Joe Watkins - an MSNBC pundit who headed the Students First PAC, the pro-voucher group that's dumped millions of campaign dollars on Corbett and other pols - as chief recovery officer to run the Chester Upland schools in Delaware County marks a tipping point.
August 19, 2012 |
Joe Watkins, head of a political action committee that supports school choice initiatives, former managing director in an asset management firm, and a Philadelphia minister, has been appointed by state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis to guide the financial recovery of the struggling Chester Upland School District. "Joe is a qualified individual who has the ability to assist the Chester Upland School District with long-term financial stability, as well as ensuring the district's students continue to have access to quality academic programs," Tomalis said in a statement Friday.
August 3, 2012 |
With a nearly $300 million deficit, a leadership transition, and rapidly-unfolding plans for a comprehensive governance overhaul, the School District of Philadelphia faces challenges that are unprecedented in its nearly 200-year history. The "Blueprint for Reforming Philadelphia's Public Schools" proposes one course for navigating the rough seas ahead by focusing on two major goals: safe, high-achieving schools for all kids, and the elimination of the district's deficit by 2014.
June 27, 2012 |
A NEW, big-money political-action committee turned up on the Pennsylvania radar screen this spring — at exactly the same time that the Philadelphia Archdiocese launched a full-court press for legislation in Harrisburg that would pump millions of dollars of scholarship money into its struggling schools. The new Fighting Chance PA PAC shares a name with a self-described grass-roots campaign launched in March by the Pennsylvania Catholic Coalition, and it shares office space with wealthy King of Prussia developer Brian O'Neill, who spearheaded a drive to raise $12 million from 10 anonymous donors earlier this year to keep open four endangered Catholic high schools.
June 15, 2012 |
Before New Jersey hightails it down the road to more charter schools, including cyber charters, it needs to ensure better oversight. Gov. Christie has made school choice and more charters key ingredients of his school reform agenda. But state officials must be cautious in entering relatively unknown waters that include cyber charters. Proposed regulations would eliminate the requirement that charter schools operate in "contiguous" school districts, making it easier for online charter schools to operate.
June 4, 2012 |
Forget the campaign ads designed to persuade, repel, or mislead from a television screen — the most effective way to capture votes is back-fence politics. That was the message Saturday at a training session in Ivyland, Bucks County, for campaign workers hosted by FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit group that trains volunteers and assists political campaigns. More than 100 people — many representing local tea party groups — gathered at Spring Mill Manor for a tutorial on getting out the vote using strategies that emphasize old-fashioned elbow grease and newfangled media.
May 30, 2012 |
Don't make city unaffordable So it has come to betting on whether the real estate-tax increases will induce flight to the suburbs and kill the city slower than will concern over the schools and the relentless level of violence in them ("Schools face ugly choices," Sunday). The truth is that this is a very sick city. Mayor Nutter took office recognizing that tax burdens — from the business privilege tax to the wage tax — were negatively impacting Philadelphia and harming development.
May 25, 2012 |
There's a myth circulating in Philadelphia these days that families and neighborhoods don't want more public-school choices. A handful of activists with specific agendas use demonstrations, community forums, and City Council and School Reform Commission meetings to spread this myth. But there are a whole lot of people in Philadelphia who are too busy trying to take advantage of their educational options to stage rallies, attend meetings, or get on the phone with a reporter. Last week, I attended freshman orientation night at Central High School, a selective public school that U.S. News & World Report recently named the 10th best high school in the state.