[UPDATE: 4:25 p.m.]
On Wednesday morning, we published the story below, stating that Overbrook High School has not offered biology to students during this school year. The article was based on information provided on-the-record by a Philadelphia School District spokesperson. The spokesperson originally told us, in writing, that biology was not being offered at Overbrook and that it had not been offered since the start of the school year. What a difference a few hours makes. On Wednesday afternoon, the spokesperson contacted us to say that she spoke with Overbrook’s principal and that the school does, in fact, offer biology.
“Just spoke to the principal at Overbrook HS,” she wrote. “Biology is available to students this school year. There are five sections currently being taught. Students are also enrolled in an online program and a Keystone preparation course. The school is still looking for a certified biology teacher, however.”
When we pointed out that this information was contradictory to what we were told earlier Wednesday morning, she noted that she had been unable to reach the principal in the morning and that “another department provided incorrect information.”
We asked Fernando Gallard, the district’s lead spokesperson, for further explanation. He offered neither explanation nor apology; he simply confirmed that the original information provided by his colleague was wrong and that the new information is right.
Biology is a rite of passage in high school, with all the gross-outs during dissection, the snickers and rude remarks every time the teacher refers to anything involving sex organs. And in Pennsylvania, passing the state’s Keystone Exam in biology is actually a graduation requirement. But at Overbrook High School in the beleaguered School District of Philadelphia, no one is learning biology. Read more »
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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Mark Hoey is a longtime teacher in the School District of Philadelphia and currently the AP History teacher and Social Studies Department Chair at the Philadelphia High School for Girls aka Girls High. And given the grim state of the financial situation in the Philadelphia schools, he is taking matters into his own hands. Read more »
During the week ending September 12, 2014, Philadelphians, it seemed, were most outraged over the whole LeSean McCoy 20-Cent Tip at PYT saga, which garnered approximately 90% of the total outrage according to our precise calculations. What remains unclear, however, is whether more people were outraged at LeSean McCoy for leaving the 20-cent tip, or at PYT owner Tommy Up for publicly outing him for it. But suffice to say, PYT has been working hard to scrub all of the new one-star Yelp reviews it has received since the McCoy backlash began — reviews left by people who have never been to PYT.
Precisely 1% of the outrage is being directed at the outrageously bad Philadelphia schools.
And the rest of the outrage (9%) is divided between outrage over changing the name of Fishtown to Northern Liberties II, the outrage over bad Philly cops, the outrage over Atlantic City, the outrage over slave jokes, the outrage over what is and what is not “torture porn,” and the outrage over the Ray Rice situation.
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On Monday, according to police, the assistant dean at the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Partners Charter School on Harbison Avenue in the Frankford section of Philadelphia found a loaded gun inside a locker during renovations.
CBS Philly quickly reported that the gun was an Uzi, and people really freak out about Uzis. But it turns out it was just a 9mm handgun from MasterPiece Arms, like the one seen here.
The School District isn’t answering any questions about the gun, since Walter D. Palmer is a charter school. And as for the school itself, they hung up on me when I called to get a comment. But rest assured, parents: It was not an Uzi.
Parents in Cheltenham have started a Facebook page — always the forefront of 2014-style activism — asking that the school open later in the morning, KYW 1060’s Brad Segall reports. Wait, what?
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CBSPhilly reports that Mayor Nutter is trying, again, to get approval for a cigarette tax to fund Philly schools:
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In a city that has smart parents fleeing in droves to the better, safer schools of the suburbs, this hashtag used by the School District of Philadelphia is probably ill-advised. Ah, homophony.
Hours after the city officially declared a snow emergency in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Streets Department announced that those of us with Monday trash pickup would have to hold our trash for a whole week (yay!), the School District of Philadelphia finally got around to announcing that Philadelphia public schools would be closed on Monday. Read more »
Philly Mag’s cover article offering proposals to fix the city’s school crisis will be the center of a live panel discussion at today on 6ABC.com.
Sarah Bloomquist, 6ABC anchor, will moderate the discussion, which will feature Patrick Kerkstra, author of the Philly Mag article. Other members of the panel will include Farah Jimenez, a new member of the School Reform Commission; Jerry Jordan of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Scott Gordon, CEO of Mastery Charter Schools; Gerald Wright of Parents United, as well as several other elected officials and activists.
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