Study: Pa. Gets D+ for Pre-School Education

Earlier this week, Philly Mag told the story of cutthroat competition among Philly parents to get young children into top-notch preschools. A new report from a national foundation suggests one reason why that’s the case — Pennsylvania lags behind the national average in nearly every measure of access to pre-K education. And the gap between the haves and the have-nots is, unsurprisingly getting wider.

The Quality Counts 2015 report from Education Weekly measured the states on a variety of criteria. Pennsylvania lagged behind most U.S. states in most of them:

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Former Philly Educator Named Wolf’s Secretary of Education

Pedro Rivera, a one-time Philadelphia educator who moved on to superintendent of the Lancaster school district, has been named the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education by Governor-elect Tom Wolf.

“Pennsylvania schools are struggling. My top priority is making sure our schools have the resources to teach our children the skills they need to succeed,” said Wolf said in a statement. “Pedro Rivera is nationally recognized for his efforts to improve urban education, and he will work with me to build a strong public education system and get Pennsylvania back on track.”
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John Boehner Uses Taylor Swift GIFs to Warn America About Obama’s Community College Plan

John Boehner apparently has a stockpile of Taylor Swift GIFs, and they finally seem to have come in handy. On his website this afternoon the Speaker of the House created a Buzzfeed-esque post using Taylor Swift GIFs to explain why Republicans are skeptical of President Obama’s proposal to provide two years of free community college for Americans.

It starts like this:


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Obama’s Community College Plan Would Be a Total Disaster

President Obama | Photo Jeff Fusco; piggy bank |

President Obama, photo Jeff Fusco |  piggy bank,

Obama’s dream plan to offer free community college tuition to students across the nation could work. The key word here is “could.” It would require a vast majority of community college systems to re-focus and re-think how they are currently handling their student populations and, to be frank, the nation’s potential community college students would need to re-focus and re-think what a college degree ultimately delivers.

However, given the “business model” that many community colleges are currently using, the Obama plan would be a total disaster. We’d simply be pumping out more students with more degrees that essentially mean nothing.  Read more »

Wednesday’s City Reads

Albuquerque | Shutterstock

Albuquerque | Shutterstock

National Reads: “In Albuquerque, protests against police shootings and charges against officers”

The national debate around police-involved shootings has largely centered on two places: Ferguson, Mo. and New York. But cities and towns across the country, including Philadelphia, are grappling with the issue.

The Washington Post takes a look one such place: Albuquerque, where “police shot and killed 27 people between 2010 and 2014.”

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Are State and Federal Exams Dragging Down Philly Schools?

With funding battles likely to rage in City Hall this week, City Council appears prepared to open another front in the battle over public education in Philly — this time, the target is the growing burden of standardized testing on public schools.

The council’s Committee on Education will meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss whether to hold hearings on the growing burden of standardized tests required by state and federal authorities, and whether they ultimately harm or help the education received by Philadelphia students.

“What are we sacrificing, education-wise, for all these required tests?” asked Sean McMonagle, legislative aide to Councilman Mark Squilla, who introduced the resolution calling for hearings.

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Lawsuit: School Funding in Pennsylvania is Unconstitutional


Seventeen years ago, the city and School District of Philadelphia filed suit against Pennsylvania, accusing it of failing to provide sufficient education funding in violation of the state Constitution, which obligates the state legislature to “provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education.”

It didn’t work. Commonwealth Court rejected the suit, and the state Supreme Court in 1999 refused to hear an appeal.

Now school funding advocates are looking for a rematch. A potentially momentous lawsuit was filed in Commonwealth Court this morning, claiming that the state has “adopted an irrational and inequitable school financing arrangement that drastically underfunds school districts across the Commonwealth and discriminates against children on the basis of the taxable property and household incomes in their districts.”

One of many striking elements of this suit is that the School District of Philadelphia — which would be among the greatest beneficiaries of a successful lawsuit — is not among the plaintiffs.

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ThinkFest Preview: How Philadelphia Is Reinventing Medicine and Healthcare

Dr. Stephen Klasko, president and CEO of Jefferson; Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, head of medical ethics and health policy at Penn; and Dr. Stephen Altschuler, CEO of CHOP.

Dr. Stephen Klasko, president and CEO of Jefferson; Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, head of medical ethics and health policy at Penn; and Dr. Steven Altschuler, CEO of CHOP.

Jefferson, HUP, Hahnemann, Temple, CHOP—Philly is undeniably a medical town. And while our landscape of top doctors, researchers, institutions and hospitals helps shape the medical community and conversation around the world, its growth and innovation also leave an indelible mark locally—on employment, the economy, real estate and much more.

Next month, at Philly Mag’s ThinkFest, Ezekiel Emanuel, head of medical ethics and health policy at Penn, will lead a discussion with Thomas Jefferson University president and CEO Stephen Klasko and CHOP CEO Steven Altschuler on how institutions here are reinventing medicine, and how out-of-the-box thinking is leading to programs and ideas that are shaking up the ed/med establishment for good.

Join us on November 14th at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business for a day of the city’s smartest people sharing their biggest ideas. Read all of our ThinkFest 2014 previews here, and watch the livestream, starting at 9 a.m. on Friday November 14th.

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