Students Don’t Know How to Handle the State University Faculty Strike

More than 5,000 faculty members at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities went on strike this morning in a move that affects more than 100,000 students, and many of them aren’t really sure what to do about it. Read more »

Q&A: Anne Holton, Clinton Ally, on Education

Anne Holton in Ardmore on Saturday

Photo | Star Shooter/MediaPunch/IPX

Last Thursday, Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine stopped at Spring Garden Elementary School to stump for votes and brandish his education credentials. He was joined at the stop by American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.

Over the weekend, Anne Holton — a former judge and Kaine’s wife — was also in the Philadelphia area campaigning. She made stops in West Mount Airy, Ardmore, and West Chester. Read more »

In Defense of Trigger Warnings

Left: Kutztown University Director of Women's and Gender Studies Colleen Lutz Clemens. Right: The trigger warning that appears on her new syllabus. (Highlighting added.)

Left: Kutztown University director of Women’s and Gender Studies Colleen Lutz Clemens. Right: The trigger warning that appears on her new syllabus. (Highlighting added.)

Last week, the University of Chicago made national headlines when the school announced to incoming freshman that it does not support trigger warnings. (You can read the school’s letter to students here.) But Colleen Lutz Clemens, the director of women’s and gender studies at Kutztown University says that the University of Chicago got it all wrong. We reached out to her to learn more about the origin of trigger warnings, why she uses them, and why parents may be to blame for their existence. Read more »

Philadelphia School District: We’ve Filled 99 Percent of Teacher Vacancies

Photo | It's Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons | Teacher Vacancies

Photo | It’s Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Philadelphia School District superintendent William R. Hite Jr. announced Wednesday that the school district is on track to have all teacher vacancies filled by the start of the school year.

At a news conference at Roxborough High School today, Hite said 99 percent of teacher vacancies have been filled.

Read more »

Philly Organization Hopes to Recruit 1,000 Black Male Teachers by 2020


Members of The Fellowship pose with Pennsylvania secretary of education Pedro Rivera and State Senator Anthony Williams during a town hall they hosted with U.S. secretary of education John King in January.

A group of local teachers has put together a plan to increase recruitment of black men into the profession.

The Fellowship, a recently founded organization, has already received national attention for its work. Studies have shown that minority students’ performance in the classroom can be enhanced when their teacher is the same race as them. However, according to the organization, having diverse teachers can be beneficial to all students. It can challenge stereotypes that students may have and make them more tolerant.

The group’s motto, “2 percent is not enough,” refers to the fact that just two percent of teachers in America are black men, according to the Department of Education. Only seven percent of total teachers are black, and only eight percent are Latino, compared to 80 percent who are white. Additionally, 3/4 of educators are women nationally. Around five percent of educators are black women, which is also an incredibly small amount. All of this is despite the fact that black students make up nearly 15 percent of the nation’s student body. This means that students everywhere have very little chance of ever having a black man as their teacher. Read more »

Why Pa.’s New School Funding Formula Is Still Unfair and Unconstitutional

Photo by Christopher Futcher/iStock

Photo by Christopher Futcher/iStock

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from guest writer Michael Churchill. Churchill is a staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center in Philadelphia.)

While politicians and advocates are celebrating the legislature’s passage last week of a student-based, fair formula for distributing new school funds, it is important to understand this reality: Our school funding system is as unconstitutional today as it was last week. Read more »

Op-Ed: Bernie Sanders Is Wrong About the Soda Tax

Randi Weingarten Bernie Sanders

L: Randi Weingarten (Damian Dovarganes/AP) R: Sen. Bernie Sanders (Matt Rourke/AP)

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from guest writer Randi Weingarten, written in response to an op-ed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, and a member of a coalition of labor unions and civic groups supporting the mayor’s soda tax proposal.)

Philadelphia’s students deserve a fair shot to succeed, and Mayor Jim Kenney has a plan to significantly boost funding for critical programs.

The mayor is proposing a significant increase in pre-kindergarten, to provide 25,000 kids a chance to get their education started early. And he’s proposing to expand community schools that provide critical services like health care and counseling to students who often can’t access the support they need to thrive.

You’ve probably heard the corporate spin, but here’s the truth about Mayor Kenney’s soda tax proposal: It would tax corporate profits — not consumers — and generate $400 million to fund programs to give Philadelphia’s children safe communities and a quality public education. Read more »

A.C. Teacher Intervenes in Fight, Gets Fired

Atlantic City beach and boardwalk at twilight

Photo | Dan McQuade

An Atlantic City teacher has been fired, accused of using excessive force after intervening in a fight between sixth graders.

The Press of Atlantic City reports Phillip Eisenstein is appealing his firing. The incident took place in October; Eisenstein said that he grabbed the instigator of the fight under the arms and took him to the office at New York School.

“I’d already broken them up two or three times and had them sitting on the bleachers,” he told the paper. “But when they were lining up to leave, the bigger student went after the other one again and had him cornered. I did what I had to do to protect the other student.” Read more »

Penn Prof: “Don’t Grade Schools on Grit”

Angela Duckworth |

Angela Duckworth |

There’s probably no person in America who has done more to popularize the idea of “grit” as an essential component of a child’s success than Penn’s Angela Duckworth — she even won a MacArthur “Genius” grant for her work a couple of years back.

Now, though, she’s worried that her work is being misused — and she’s speaking out.

In Sunday’s New York Times, she writes that measures of grit and character are increasingly being tested in the nation’s public schools — and, in turn, being used to judge the progress of teachers leading those students. That’s not right, she says.

“A 2011 meta-analysis of more than 200 school-based programs found that teaching social and emotional skills can improve behavior and raise academic achievement, strong evidence that school is an important arena for the development of character,” Duckworth writes.

“But we’re nowhere near ready — and perhaps never will be — to use feedback on character as a metric for judging the effectiveness of teachers and schools. We shouldn’t be rewarding or punishing schools for how students perform on these measures.” Read more »

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