October 28, 2013 |
Public education has become the third rail of local discourse, particularly when discussing the fate of our beleaguered city schools. It is far safer to debate politics or the Middle East. Lori Shorr, the city's chief education officer, has seen arguments erupt at her children's soccer games. She said: "I think carefully when I accept a dinner invitation. " Me, too. I've been excoriated over drinks - and this is by friends. The debate over public education, especially testing and the quality of teachers and principals, has long been loud and passionate.
October 23, 2013 |
PHILADELPHIA Pedro Ramos resigned Monday from the School Reform Commission, throwing the Philadelphia School District into further turmoil. Ramos, who had served as chair since late 2011, cited "recent, unexpected" family news in his resignation, announced by the Governor's Office. It was not clear who would lead the SRC or when a permanent replacement might be nominated by Gov. Corbett. District officials directed those questions to state officials, who said only that answers would be forthcoming.
October 23, 2013 |
PEDRO RAMOS, who as head of the School Reform Commission oversaw a fiscally distressed district, rounds of layoffs and the closure of 30 schools, resigned yesterday morning after two years in the position. Gov. Corbett's office, which made the announcement, said Ramos resigned to "attend to recent, unexpected news within his family. " Ramos, 48, had been absent from Thursday night's SRC meeting because of a "pending family matter," Commissioner Wendell Pritchett said at the time.
October 19, 2013 |
Inside School District headquarters, the School Reform Commission listened Thursday night to pleas to restore counselors to every public school. Outside, hundreds gathered to mourn the death of a sixth-grade girl last month after an asthma attack at Bryant School, which had no nurse on duty. Crises continue on nearly every front for the troubled Philadelphia School District, whose officials are even considering selling some of its valuable artwork to raise cash. About 60 of the district's 1,100 paintings, once hung in schools and for the last decade in storage, together could fetch $200,000 to $600,000, officials estimate.
October 18, 2013 |
THE ART stays. The School Reform Commission voted unanimously last night to oppose the sale of an esteemed art collection, prompting surprise and joy among advocates for the artwork. The resolution would have authorized the sale of 60 paintings that have been locked away since about 2004. The proceeds would have gone to the general fund and not toward an education fund, which was a sticking point with SRC member Feather Houstoun. She said she received many phone calls asking that if the art had to be sold that any proceeds should go toward art education.
October 17, 2013 |
Five weeks into the school year and under a cloud of fiscal uncertainty, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission on Tuesday night got an earful about the need to improve interaction with parents. "You've undermined whatever people have tried to build with virtually next to nothing," said Rebecca Poyourow, who has two children at Cook-Wissahickon School. The district continues to operate without sufficient counselors and teachers, and with financial woes. Poyourow was one of about 100 parents and community members who attended the SRC meeting, held specifically to discuss parent engagement.
September 26, 2013 |
Charles Zogby said what?! Zogby, Gov. Corbett's budget secretary, said he wasn't really expecting to make news when he told a reporter this week that there was talk in Harrisburg of giving taxing authority to the unelected members of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. He said the idea had arisen because of the stalemate between Mayor Nutter and City Council over extending the city's extra 1 percent sales tax for the benefit of the cash-strapped schools. Council has refused to even introduce the mayor's proposal to extend the tax. If Council won't act, Zogby told a reporter from WHYY NewsWorks, maybe the taxing authority should go to the members of the SRC. On Tuesday, when asked to elaborate, Zogby was vague about who exactly had suggested that alternative - saying only that there had been "various discussions in the Capitol.
September 25, 2013 |
At its first voting meeting of the new academic year, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission heard from parents and staff about the effect staff cuts and resource shortages are having on schools. Ruth Garcia, one of 16 itinerant counselors, said she was now responsible for more than 3,700 students at eight schools. She asked the SRC how itinerant counselors could be expected to help that many students with their academic, personal, and social issues and assist special-education students.
September 24, 2013 |
School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro A. Ramos, 48, must lead Philadelphia's school system through its worst fiscal crisis in memory - $220 million deficit, thousands laid off, barely enough money to operate the schools this year. Most counselors, secretaries, and vice principals will be missing. No wonder SRC meetings are loud and tense. Question: How do you restrain your temper when people are yelling at you? Answer: There's nothing to restrain. Q: Forgive my disbelief.
September 18, 2013 |
A WEEK AFTER the state Department of Education announced a reduction in violence reported at district schools, officials said yesterday that they are optimistic some new initiatives will lead to further improvements. Just two district schools were listed on the state's persistently dangerous list, down from six the previous year and 10 two years ago. The number of violent incidents reported dropped 32 percent in the 2011-12 academic year. In June, the district announced a $730,676 multiyear grant to provide training and support to teachers, staff, students and parents at 20 schools on restorative practices and behavioral intervention.