Archives for category: Philadelphia

For the first time in 70 years, a third-Party Candidate was elected to the City Council in Philadelphia. 

Kendra Brooks of the Working Families Party just won a seat that has long been Republican.

Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks held an insurmountable lead of 10,000 votes over her nearest rival, according to unofficial election returns. The insurgent third-party candidate, who campaigned on ousting Republicans from City Hall, declared victory just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday night

With nearly 95% of votes tallied, the five Democratic nominees clinched the remaining at-large seats, with the five highest vote totals. Two of Council’s seven at-large seats are reserved for candidates from a minority political party — and it was that bottom-ticket contest that proved the most competitive on Tuesday’s ballot.

Brooks was endorsed by the “wildly popular” Helen Gym.

 

 

 

 

 

It is illegal for public schools to refuse admission to students with disabilities.

A charter school in Philadelphia admitted a six-year-old, then rejected her when the parent told the school the child had special needs.

 

An education advocacy group sued a Philadelphia charter school on Thursday, alleging it barred a 6-year-old from enrolling after learning she required services for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

The Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School in July accepted the girl for first grade this fall, according to the lawsuit brought by the Education Law Center. But when she and her mother, Georgette Hand, went to the school later that month with her documents, Veronica Joyner, the school’s founder and chief administrative officer, said she could not enroll the child because of her special needs.

Joyner told Hand the school “did not have the class or teacher to provide the services required” by the girl’s Individualized Education Plan, which specifies how schools must meet her needs, according to the lawsuit filed in Common Pleas Court Thursday. The suit seeks to have the girl immediately enrolled at the charter and awarded “compensatory education services” for the time she was excluded from the school. It also asks the court to order the school to include students with disabilities, and to contract with a provider to train staff on inclusion and diversity.

Margie Wakelin, a staff attorney for the Education Law Center, called the case “explicit” discrimination.

Charter schools say they are “public schools,” but they act like private schools.

Back in the early days of school choice advocacy, it was often claimed that school choice would “force” the public schools to compete and they would get better because of the magic of the market.

Now we know that was a selling point, and it was not true.

Deborah Gordon Klehr, executive director of the civil rights group Education Law Center-PA, writes about the negative effects of “school choice” on the public schools of Philadelphia. 

The publics schools in that city have long been severely underfunded, and school choice has stripped them of both students and funding, leaving them even worse off.

Klehr writes:

A study of charter schools in Philadelphia published by the Education Law Center earlier this year is a stark reminder that many parents don’t get to choose and that ultimately it may be the school and not the parent doing the choosing. More charters and more slots haven’t cured an ailing school system.

This is not to discount the successes we know exist for students in many city charters. But Philadelphia’s 22-year history of rapid charter expansion coupled with inadequate oversight is entrenching new inequities in an already unequal landscape.

Sometimes the problem is blatant discrimination: For instance, a recurring pattern we see among families who contact us is charters telling students with disabilities, after they have been accepted, “We cannot serve you.” As public schools, charters are prohibited from discriminating against students with disabilities. And yet, we see this pattern persist.

Sometimes the obstacles to enrollment are more subtle; for example, enrollment documents may only be available in English. The results, however, are clear. The population of economically disadvantaged students is 14 percentage points lower in the traditional charter sector (56%) vs. the district sector (70%). And, the percentage of English learners in district schools (11%) is nearly three times higher than in traditional charters (4%), with nearly a third of traditional charters serving no English learners.

Few of the special education students in traditional charters are from the disability categories that typically are most expensive to serve. And, the vast majority of traditional charter schools serve student populations that are two-thirds or more of one racial group – a significantly higher degree of segregation than in district schools.

In short, the city’s traditional charter schools (excluding “Renaissance” charters charged with serving all students from a catchment area) disproportionately enroll a student population that is more advantaged than the students in district-run schools; as a sector, charters are shirking their responsibility of educating all students.

No independent observer could look at the Philadelphia schools—public, charters, and vouchers—and say that any problems have been solved by privatization.

 

 

Register today for the Network for Public Education’s National Conference in March 2020 in Philadelphia.

Today is the last day to get early bird discounted rate. 

Great speakers, great panels, and a chance to meet the leaders of the Resistance! Including you!

Marc Mannella opened the first KIPP middle school in Philadelphia in 2003.

He started with 90 students in fifth grade.

KIPP promised that students who stuck with the “no-excuses” regimen would go to college.

Avi Wolfman-Arent of WHYY in Philadelphia tracked down 33 of those students to find out what happened to them.

The former KIPPsters are now about 25.

Of the 90, 25 dropped out in the first year of middle school.

The students entered a world of incentives and punishments, of strict rules administered strictly.

It wasn’t right for everyone.

Of the 90 students who enrolled in KIPP Philly’s first middle school class, about half were boys. By the time 8th grade graduation arrived, enrollment was whittled down to 34 students — and only 11 boys remained….

Almost none of the KIPP alumni we interviewed did four years at one high school followed by four years at one college. All of them seemed to flounder or grow restless or get sidetracked somewhere along the journey up that mountain.

KIPP propelled them to high school — usually a Catholic school or a private school or a magnet school — but they didn’t stick there. KIPP’s lessons didn’t always follow them out the door…

Here’s what the numbers say.

Six years after high school graduation, 35 percent of the original KIPP Philly class had an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. At the seven-year mark, that number was 44 percent.

What does that mean?

In Philadelphia, about a quarter of students who graduate high school earn a college degree by the six-year mark. That overall Philly number would be lower if you tracked students back to eighth grade, like KIPP does.

There’s a prominent nationwide study that tracked students starting in 10th grade.

It found that eight years after high school graduation, about 14 percent of students from the lowest income quartile had a degree.

KIPP Philly students almost all came from poor neighborhoods, and the results suggest that they earned degrees at much higher rates — rates that are about the same as middle-income students.

“And that feels like we did something that was real,” said Mannella, the school’s founder.

There are serious caveats, though.

KIPP’s number doesn’t count all the kids who left over those four years. Some of those kids did graduate college. Some didn’t. It’s quite possible that the 34 who made it through KIPP were more likely to have long-term academic success for a whole host of reasons, no matter what school they attended.
Frankly this project is incomplete, too.

We talked with 24 of the 34 alum from the original class — as well as nine students who attended KIPP Philadelphia but didn’t finish. The ten graduates who chose not to talk may have very different experiences than the 24 who did

The author wonders what is the best way to evaluate KIPP. Graduation rates? College entry? College persistence? Employment?

KIPP is now the largest charter chain in the nation.

One thing we learn from this piece is that its strict discipline code helps some students, turns off others.

Its methods are not a panacea. Most kids who enter do not persist. For some, it is a lifesaver.

Perhaps the same might be said of the public schools that were closed to make way for KIPP and the public schools that accepted the KIPP dropouts and pushouts.

 

Helen Gym is a firebrand member of Philadelphia’s City Council. She leads the way on progressive issues. She got her start as a parent advocate fighting for public schools.

Now there is speculation she will run for Mayor in 2023.

Helen will be a keynote speaker at the convention of the Network for Public Education on March 28-29, 2020.

Join us in Philadelphia for another great meeting!

 

Jeff Bryant, a prolific writer about the Resistance to Faux Reform, will moderate a panel at Netroots Nation about how Philadelphia activists fought back and regained democracy.fought back and regained democracy.

The session is called “What Philly Taught Us: How Philadelphia Activists Brat SchoolPrivatization to Restore Local Control.”

 

Starts: Thursday, Jul. 11 2:30 PM

Ends: Thursday, Jul. 11 3:30 PM

Room: 119A

State control of Philadelphia’s schools came to an end in November 2017. This was an historic event, long in the making by a resistance campaign led by Philadelphians. State control had essentially stripped the city’s majority-black and brown residents of their democratic rights. The state agency emphasized cutting expenses and staff, closed neighborhood schools, and imposed various forms of “school choice.” Philly saw its core institutions ripped out and replaced with schools operated by private interests with no knowledge of community values and culture. But years of intense public opposition successfully pressured the mayor and governor to transfer state control to a People’s School Board representative of Philadelphians.

For more than a decade, Netroots Nation has hosted the largest annual conference for progressives, drawing nearly 3,000 attendees from around the country and beyond. Netroots Nation 2019 is set for July 11-13 in Philadelphia.

Our attendees are online organizers, grassroots activists and independent media makers. Some are professionals who work at advocacy organizations, progressive companies or labor unions, while others do activism in their spare time. Attendees can choose from 80+ panels, 60+ training sessions, inspiring keynotes, caucuses, film screenings and lots of networking and social events.

 

 

Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools

 

June 5, 2019

For immediate release: Statement of APPS Re CREDO study

 

The CREDO study released today presents more evidence that the charter experiment foisted upon the state’s children has been a resounding failure, especially considering the enormous amount of taxpayer dollars that have been spent on charter schools.  

 

For many reasons, comparing charters to district schools is not an apples-to-apples exercise. Charter schools receive outside funding from private donors, including significant amounts every year from the Philadelphia School Partnership.  PSP identifies as a non-profit funder of schools, but they have been strong financial and political advocates for privatization and charter expansion. The bulk of their corporate funding goes to non-district schools. 

 

Charter schools have been cited over the years for unfair practices such as presenting barriers to enrollment, failure to inform students and parents of their due process rights when facing disciplinary action, and expelling students for trivial offenses including being out of uniform and lateness.  Thus, many charters are able to exclude students with special needs, both behavioral and academic.  

Studies done by both Philadelphia City Controller’s Office and the State Attorney General’s Office have documented fraud and questionable spending in some of the city’s largest charter organizations.   Organizations including PCCY and the Education 

Law Center have conducted in-depth studies that show charters do not outperform district schools in most categories. ELC’s recent report shows: 1) the population of economically disadvantaged students is much lower in Philadelphia’s charter schools—70% in the District, 56% in charters; 2) the percentage of English learners is nearly three times higher—11% in District, 4% in charters; 3) few of the special education students in the traditional charters are from the low-incidence disability categories, such as autism and intellectual disability, that are most expensive to serve.

The diversion of public funds to privately managed charters has made it more difficult for public schools to fund essential programs, but public schools still manage to outperform charters in most categories.  Lack of oversight, both on the state and local level, has resulted in a lack of accountability in the charter sector. 

The CREDO study confirms that the claim of charter investors and operators that charter schools are a better choice has never been true.  Harrisburg must reform the PA Charter Law so that the voters in each district can have the means to fully fund and strengthen their public school systems.

This is a terrific documentary, created by professional filmmakers at Stone Lantern Films. It will be shown in Spanish and in English. If you want to show the documentary in your community, contact the filmmakers by email, listed below.

MEDIA ALERT

____________________________________________________________________________________

THE UNITED FEDERATION OF TEACHERS HOSTS SPECIAL SCREENING OF THE ACCLAIMED DOCUMENTARY “BACKPACK FULL OF CASH”

EXPLORING THE REAL COST OF PRIVATIZING AMERICA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Narrated by Academy Award-winning actor, Matt Damon

BACKPACK has screened over 360 times in 39 states and nine countries

— including nine film festivals

WHO: Sarah Mondale and Vera Aronow, BACKPACK filmmakers; Nicholas Cruz, United Federation of Teachers; James Rodriguez, College Goal New York Coordinator; NYC teachers; parents of NYC students; NYC students; members of the community

WHAT:  The United Federation of Teachers will host a special screening, in English and Spanish, of the acclaimed documentary BACKPACK FULL OF CASH.  As the next election season kicks into high gear, education is at the forefront and BACKPACK is serving as a powerful tool to inform parents, teachers and community members about the reality of market-based education “reform,” and its impact on American public schools and the 50 million students who rely on them.  BACKPACK was made by the team that produced the award-winning PBS series, SCHOOL: The Story of American Public Education.  The Bronx event will be free for members of the community.  

Public RSVP at: https://uft.wufoo.com/forms/qqwn5z81x5qcqo/

WHERE: ​​UFT Bronx Learning Center, 2500 Halsey Street, The Bronx, NY 10461

WHEN: ​​Tuesday, June 11, 2019

             ​​Press Call: 4:00

PRESS RSVP:  Natalie Maniscalco / Retro Media

                           Natalie@retromedianyc.com / 845.659.6506

For more information about the film, upcoming screenings, downloadable photos, trailer and other resources, please visit http://www.BackpackFullofCash.com

Official Website: http://www.BackpackFullofCash.com

Email: info@backpackfullofcash.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/backpackfullofcash/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/backpackthefilm

Instagram: @backpackthefilm\

To Register for screening:

https://uft.wufoo.com/forms/qqwn5z81x5qcqo/

 

Jan Resseger does not title her post “The Futility of School Closings.” She calls it “Considering School Closures as Philadelphia’s Empty Germantown High School Faces Sheriff’s Sale.” I inserted “futility,” because that is what I see as I read the books and studies she cites.

I am persuaded by books like Eve Ewing’s Ghosts in the Schoolyard (Chicago) and by Shani Robinson’s None of the Above (Atlanta) that the primary purpose of school closings is to gentrify low-income neighborhoods, push out poor black people, and open charters to lure white middle-class families. Chicago lost 200,000 black people from 2000 to 2016. Coincidence?

Read Jan’s great post and see what you think.