April 26, 2012 |
Last week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed the nation's most expansive school voucher program into law. Since the GOP sweep of statehouses in 2010, similar measures have been introduced by the legislatures of more than 30 states — including Pennsylvania, where a bipartisan school voucher bill was defeated in the House in December. Few doubt that there is a crisis in America's public schools. But focusing so much attention on where money is spent — instead of how — oversimplifies a complex problem.
June 6, 2011 |
More than 250 teachers from public and private schools in the Philadelphia area, and from Pittsburgh and other cities, gathered at the National Constitution Center on Sunday for a two-hour discussion about the state of teaching and education, part of a national conversation called "Education Nation. " With little electronic clickers that registered their choices on certain topics, 48 percent of the teachers in the Constitution Center's Kimmel Theater voted that merit pay for teachers should "in some way" be based on student performance - a middle-ground selection that also included choices of "completely" and "not at all. " They also chose poverty and family issues, plus lack of student motivation, as the biggest hindrances to learning; and from a list of five responses, they voted that teachers could perform better if they had more time to work with and learn from colleagues and had additional technology.
March 30, 2010 |
I confess: I dread this time of year. It might sound strange coming from the executive director of the National Women's Studies Association, but Women's History Month reminds me of our education system's failures. At home, I help my elementary school-age children assemble projects with such titles as "Important Women in History" or "A Woman I Admire. " We search the Internet for information that's not in their textbooks and assemble it on poster board. It comes home from school with "great job" penciled on the back and goes in the recycling bin. At work, I field e-mail requests from middle- and high-school students assigned to interview experts on female portrayals in film, women in American politics, and so on. I have come up with an equation for this time of year: incomplete textbooks + inadequate teacher training = poster board + interview requests.
October 30, 2009
As aging baby boomers retire from the classroom, there should be plenty of newly trained teachers coming up to replace them. By 2014, the country's 95,000 public schools will need to hire as many as a million teachers and principals. More than half will be trained at education colleges. But will they be prepared for the classroom? Probably not, shortchanging another generation of the high-quality education they deserve. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has sounded the alarm that more must be done to prepare future teachers, especially those sent to failing urban school systems such as those in Philadelphia and Camden.
August 26, 2009 |
Hundreds of new teachers who are taking on the challenge of instructing Philadelphia's students this year were asked a pointed question at the opening of the orientation yesterday. "What kind of teacher will you be?" asked Elois Brooks, a consultant for the district's Empowerment Schools. She posed that question to about 800 teachers who gathered at Edison High School, 151 Luzerne St., at the start of the two-day program for new teachers. Among them was actor Tony Danza, who will start teaching at Northeast High School next month for a reality-TV show tentatively airing next spring on the cable channel A&E. Brooks spoke on behalf of Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who was absent because her father, the Rev. Bennie Randle, 85, died Sunday in St. Louis.
August 19, 2009 |
If the Philadelphia School District gets its way, a new teacher contract would include longer days, drastically different work rules in a third of all schools, and the end of job assignments based on seniority. The district and its largest union, the 16,000-member Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, are engaged in lengthy daily negotiations to reach a new contract agreement. The current pact expires at the end of the month. In a letter sent to its members and obtained by The Inquirer, the union warned its members of a list of proposals the district has put on the table.
June 7, 2009 |
Three South Philadelphia High School teachers say they are being pressured to pass all students, even those who can't multiply three-digit numbers or who have 100 or more absences. The pressure, both implicit and explicit, they say, has come from principal Alice Heller and other administrators in teacher-training sessions, meetings, and an April 27 memo asking them to give students makeup work and credit for fulfilling promises such as showing up on time and wearing a required school uniform.
February 23, 2007 |
GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C. chief executive officer J.P. Garnier is known for unusual outspokenness as a global CEO. Now, he appears to be putting money where his mouth is. Last week, Garnier, who lives part of the time in Philadelphia, where the London-based drug giant has a U.S. headquarters, let loose during a Wharton health-care conference on the deficiencies of the U.S. education system. "In this country, you can take a college class in video games. It's appalling," Garnier told a roomful of aspiring corporate executives.
November 9, 2006 |
The state Department of Education, looking for help in rescuing the floundering Chester Upland School District, is looking to the Philadelphia School District. At a postelection news conference yesterday, Gov. Rendell said that the state was talking with Philadelphia officials about taking over the "educational programming" in Chester Upland. Education Department spokeswoman Sheila Ballen said yesterday that the state would like to see the Philadelphia district bring in everything from curriculum changes to teacher training and help with management tasks like making sure there are enough teachers, books and supplies.
August 27, 2006 |
Now that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission has extended Paul Vallas' contract, the city schools chief is focusing on the next three years. Buoyed by last week's decision to keep him here until at least July 2009, Vallas has to figure out how to keep test scores rising, boost high school graduation rates and reduce school violence. "I really feel energized - even more so than usual," quipped Vallas, 53, whose nearly manic approach to upgrading the city's schools has become well known since his arrival in July 2002.