The Debate: Should Philly Schools Crack Down on Prom Dress Code?

Image via Shutterstock

These dresses might not make the cut at some local high schools. | Image via Shutterstock

If you’ve been to any mall in the past few weeks, you know that it’s officially here. Prom season. The telltale signs are everywhere: stuffed dressing rooms from which emanate screeches and squeals and OMGs; moms trailing teen daughters, eyes raised to the heavens; buzzy stories about scandalous prom dresses and the resulting crack-downs on dress codes. Every year, the dresses get smaller. And every year, the dress codes get more nitpicky.

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UPDATE: Actually, Biology Is Offered at Overbrook High School

Photo by "Smallbones" via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by “Smallbones” via Wikimedia Commons

[UPDATE: 4:25 p.m.]

Editor’s Note:

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 »

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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The Philly Outrage Meter for the Week Ending September 12, 2014

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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No, an Uzi Was Not Found at a Philadelphia Charter School

not an uziOn 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.

The Philadelphia School District’s Unfortunate Hashtag: #phled

philadelphia school district hashtag phled

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.

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