2012 has been an interesting year for the School District of Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. School closings are on the horizon. A new superintendent has come to Philadelphia, and a new blueprint for the school district is in the works. At the beginning of 2013, we should reflect on the events (good and bad) that continue to shape education for our youth.
On January 18, 2012 Chester Upland School District needed 7 million to make payroll and to cover debts. They laid off the Superintendent and the Assistant Superintendent in order to close the financial gap, but eventually those educators in that district went without pay until negotiations between the governor and Chester came to an agreement.
TAG Philadelphia sponsored a screening and conversation on January 26 around the film, “The Inconvenient Truth behind Waiting for Superman.” The film was set in New York City and the story was told by educators, parents, and students. The organization continues to be “committed to fostering positive school transformation, environments where students and teachers can thrive, and influence education.” This evening allowed teachers to respond and comment on the current climate following the leave of Dr. Ackerman, former SDP Superintendent. Continue to keep an eye out for future events.
Occupy 440 occurred each Wednesday at 4 pm in front of the School District office locates at 440 North Broad Street. It was a direct response to the teacher and nurse layoffs earlier in 2012 and inspired by the Occupy movement.
The dissonance between the benefits of charter schools versus public schools continues. According to a study conducted at Stanford only 17% of charter schools fare better than traditional public schools and 43% have similar outcomes. Parents continue to be split as they seek safer environments for their children and academic rigor.
53 public schools in Philadelphia were under investigation for cheating on the PSSA. As a result, new security measures were put in place for the 2012 test and it resulted in a drop in scores. The measures will continue for 2013.
DOW awards science innovation in Philadelphia public schools. 15 grants went to science teachers. The funds directly supported hands on science exploration that included problem solving, invention, and critical thinking for under served populations.
Shire Great Food Fight awarded 21 schools in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties a total of $21,000. Teens collected over 71 tons of food supporting Philabundance’s fight to end hunger. The contest continues this year and winners will be announced April 2013. The new goal is to collect over 100 tons of food.
Teachers wore read in May 2012 to stand in solidarity against the plan to close 40 schools. A town hall meeting at Enon Tabernacle Church addressed the concerns from parents, stakeholders, teachers, and the community. The Boston Consulting Company worked with the school district n School to measure its fiscal efficiency and capacity. At the time, the School District of Philadelphia expected 700 million dollar deficit.
Purina Tidy Cats “No More PU” Campaign came to Philadelphia in May to Comely Watson School located at 1001 Byberry Road. They developed an outdoor classroom for faculty and students. It supports science and creative thinking to be used throughout the year.
Dr. William Hite was hired June 2012 as the new acting Superintendent. He came to the district under a cloud that included allegations of wasteful spending and no raises for teachers in his previous district.
Project Write Summer 2012 “Inspire Me” was a two-week program sponsored by the Philadelphia Writing project and the National Park Service. 15 middle and high school students viewed historical documents and sites, and were inspired to write original editorials, poems, creative stories, and political cartoons. Many comparisons were made between the rich past and present of Philadelphia’s history.
Communities in School spearheaded the 2012 GIVE Education campaign to support the many programs that assist over 300 million children across the globe. The funding is imperative for the programs to continue. Communities in Schools of Philadelphia supports at risk youth to succeed in their educational goals despite obstacles such as poverty, teen pregnancy, and drop out rates.
In September, the Teacher’s Union wore red in support of the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike in September. The strike continued for several weeks over wages, work conditions, and many other pending contractual issues.
The year ended with the announcement of 37 school closings. There will be no town hall meeting to avoid them, but there will be an SRC meeting to provide an explanation. It will be held January 14, 2013 at 6 pm in the auditorium. The number may reach 40 by spring. No teachers are expected to be fired, but administrators may be laid off.
Continue to keep your eye on the news and any announcements regarding the new blueprint for the School District of Philadelphia. It affects all of us.