My Son Is Getting a Great Education in Philly Public Schools

Photo Jun 15, 5 56 56 PM

At Greenfield, recess has corporate sponsors.

The school year ends this week, which makes it as good a time as any to offer this announcement: I’m really glad my son attended a Philadelphia Public School this year.

Scratch that, and let’s start over: I’m really glad my son attended a specific Philadelphia Public School this year — Greenfield Elementary School in Center City. Greenfield often ends up on the list of the city’s best public schools; it’s why my family stayed in our tiny little Fitler Square basement apartment when we’d otherwise have moved long ago — to give our son the best possible chance at a good and affordable education in the city.

And he got it: T started out with some challenges — his late summer birthday made him probably the youngest student in the school, with maturity to match. That didn’t make for an easy start to the school year. But a persistent tough-love approach from his teacher (something we tried to reinforce at home) helped get him in shape: By the end of this year he was grading well on the social aspects of school — and as for the academic aspects, well, all I know is this: My son is now reading books, at the end of kindergarten, that I didn’t get to until I was in second grade. And I was a good reader!

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Pennsylvania Creates Commission to Study New School Funding Formula

One thing Governor Tom Corbett and Philadelphians can agree on: The funding system for public schools in this state is broken. What we don’t know if they’ll agree on: Whatever recommendations the new Basic Education Funding Commission makes.

Corbett signed the bill, sponsored by Republican Bucks County Rep. Bernie O’Neill, which attempts to overhaul how school districts are funded. “Our current system is very antiquated and fails to recognize the differing needs of school districts with increasing or decreasing enrollment levels,” O’Neill said in a press release.

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Philadelphia Public School Notebook’s 20th Anniversary Gala

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Tuesday as the weather raged outside, inside the University of the Arts the Philadelphia Public School Notebook celebrated its 20th anniversary with a party. The Notebook started out as a handout at supermarkets and community meetings, one chock-full of information on what was going on in the city’s public schools, how the school board was dealing with issues, and what concerned parents and community members could do.

These days it’s grown into a full-blown, highly respected journal which the public relies on for information on the education of children in Philadelphia. Even though schools superintendent William Hite has been the target of criticism in some of the articles written in The Notebook, he still took time out of his schedule to make an appearance at the party, and wish them well on their continued success.

Philadelphia Public School Notebook’s 20th Anniversary Gala »

Notebook: City Charters Get $100M More for Special Ed Than They Spend

Dale Mezzacappa, a reporter at The Notebook, reports today that charter schools in Philadelphia get $100 million more for special education than they spend.

The Notebook did the analysis of the $100 million gap using statewide calculations from Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officers (PDF). In all of Pennsylvania, charter schools take in $350 million for special education and spend just $156 million. Half of the state’s charter schools are in Philadelphia.

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Bill Green Is Still a Rebel

bill green

Turns out, Bill Green’s the same rebel we always thought he was.

Yeah, for a moment there, we thought maybe he’d gone establishment. Quitting the Council and taking over the School Reform Commission might’ve had some appeal to Green’s tinkering nature, but as much as anything it seemed to put him in the position of being the boss — which is a bit different from being a lowly, relatively new councilman annoying your more experienced colleagues with think-tank-style position papers about the way things should be.

What’s more, even bosses have bosses, and it’s pretty inconceivable that in their talks about Green taking the helm at the SRC, he and Gov. Tom Corbett — the man who nominated him to SRC — had any conversation that looked like this:

Corbett: “So, when you take over, I’d like for you to throw an unprecedented monkey wrench into the works by working with the Superintendent to defy the city charter and short-circuit the whole budgeting process, making Philly education an even bigger headache at the state level than it already is!”

Green: “Can do!”

No, unless Corbett’s pulling off some Machiavelli-level planning — he’s never given much indication of that capability before — we’re left to conclude one thing:

Bill Green’s still charting his own course.

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SRC Refuses to Pass “Doomsday” School Budget

Big news. “The School Reform Commission declined Thursday to adopt a budget proposal that would raise class sizes as high as 41, cut 800 teachers, reduce special education services to their bare minimum, prevent all but the most basic building maintenance, and make further cuts in services like counselors and nurses,” the Philadelphia Public School Notebook reports.

Why is this meaningful?: “The SRC made the decision even though failing to adopt a budget before the end of May violates the city charter.” It’s also unprecedented.

Why did it happen? “Rather than adopting the ‘Doomsday 2′ budget and giving anyone the impression that the cuts it contains are feasible or acceptable, we are not going to act on the budget tonight consistent with Dr. Hite’s recommendation,” said SRC Chair Bill Green, according to 6ABC.

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