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I know this might not matter to you guys, but it would mean a lot if you took the time to watch this video. Governor Tom Corbett is cutting a huge portion of the funding from Philadelphia public schools, to the point where some schools don’t have counselors or nurses or office staff or even basic things like pencils or paper. They’ve also had to close a large number of schools in the past few years, which makes the few really good schools more crowded and less good. Not to mention the huge number of staff cuts they’ve had to make in every school. This is a huge issue, and it affects me and other Philadelphia students directly. It’s only a minute and a half, and it would help raise awareness for this huge issue. If you watch it, thank you so much!

The SRC needs to review their action plan from six months ago (and follow it)

By Colleen Kennedy

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported earlier today, the School Reform Commission, the unelected, appointed body that oversees Philadelphia’s citywide school district, voted unanimously to cancel the contract that has been negotiated by its teachers. In its place, significant benefits cuts have been enacted. The School District contends that it will not be making any wage cuts, but most agree that benefits are a part of the overall package for most teachers in the district, who struggle financially. The meeting took approximately 17 minutes to conclude, and there has been an uproar on social media in the way the meeting was (not) publicized. SDP is filing with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania preemptively, knowing all too well that the PFT will challenge the validity of the cancellation of their contract in this manner.

Proponents of the plan to throw out the PFT contract have framed the decision in numbers that the public may sympathize with more - teachers will only pay 10% or 13% percent of their current medical benefits, which amounts to almost $200 per month for the average teacher. They say it will save the cash-strapped district $50 million this year, with the potential to save it upwards of $70 million for each year after that.

SDP took to Twitter with the hashtag #SDPfacts, in order to influence the public in their direction. 

It backfired majorly, as hashtags tend to do.

And based on their very own infographic, the new benefits plan would out-scale the sacrifices of teachers out in West Chester, who receive higher wages, have more resources for their schools, and who have fewer overall challenges than the School District of Philadelphia.

In April 2014, SDP released a 564 page report outlining their goals for the district’s future. By page 6, they’ve stumbled upon territory already considered the land of broken promises. Via Superintendent Hite’s opening letter:

“As a school district – as a city – we should aspire to have all children exposed to rigorous academics, surrounded by caring adults with high expectations for them. Our goals are solidly intertwined; we cannot graduate 100 percent of students who are both college- and career ready if we do not have 100 percent of 8-year-olds reading on grade level. We cannot invest in making all schools great without 100 percent of the funding needed to educate all children. We cannot have 100 percent of our students meeting our high expectations without 100 percent of our schools having great principals and teachers. And we cannot enhance our workforce and regional economy without 100 percent of students becoming productive citizens." (Page 6)

If we cannot meet the goals of graduating all students in SDP, nor have 100% of eight year olds reading on grade level without great principals and teachers, then why are we making budgetary decisions that guarantee even more teacher and principal resignations?

Admittedly, the provisions passed today include a suspension of class size provisions of teacher contracts, as the Philadelphia Public School Notebook points out, so I guess SDP isn’t very concerned with the teachers they will lose with this plan. Nor are they concerned with the impact on retired teachers, who rely on their health plans through the PFT Health and Welfare Fund, funded by SDP.

As the Pew Research Center has noted, though millennials are overwhelmingly in love with the City of Brotherly Love, half predict they will leave before they create a family. Do we think young teachers will stay, this "shared sacrifice” that they apparently have not been contributing to thus far?

Governor Corbett released a statement today on the matter to the Inqy:

“Today’s action by the SRC will effectively close the funding gap and provide the district with the ability to hire new teachers, counselors and nurses, and secure educational resources that will benefit the students of Philadelphia.“

We all know what policies and what politicians caused the funding crisis to begin with, and we know who is responsible for policies at the School District of Philadelphia. Pennsylvania runs the district, and has maintained control since legislation was passed in 2001.

As Pew reported last year in their Philadelphia report, the district has seen an overall decrease in the student population of 12%, even taking into account the shift of students from traditional public schools to brick and mortar charter schools and cyber charter schools.

Families who can afford to avoid the abject mismanagement from top to bottom of Philadelphia’s school system by state officials are doing so, in droves.

Let’s also not forget the leaked poll from 2013 that showed the public Governor Corbett’s exploitative political agenda to pin the public against Philadelphia teachers. This isn’t exactly that hard to put together, if you’ve been paying attention at all.

Here’s the bottom line: here’s my question for Superintendent Hite and the SRC…if you aren’t going to follow the basic core values outlined in the first few pages of a 500+ page document from less than six months ago, why even write the thing? 

What a First Friday!

A word from SLAphotolab:

We would like to thank everyone who came out on Friday, December 5th; opening weekend was a smashing success! While we intended the First Friday reception to run from 6-8pm, doors remained open until 10:30 to accommodate all of the attention and energy our students work received. Many of the 46 wall prints (and hundreds on digital display) were purchased to support the growth and sustainability of this dynamic program.

If you haven’t had a chance to view the student’s work, or would like to visit the gallery again, “What We See… What We Are" is open each Saturday and Sunday between 11-4pm, now through January 18th (closed Jan. 3rd & 4th).

And because First Friday was so incredibly positive, we have several exciting events planned to draw more attention to this evolving showcase of photography. Mark your calendars!

SLAphotolab Free Photography Workshop Series - Saturday, Dec 13th (12-2pm)

The first in a series of free photography workshops open to the public will be held at Metropolitan Gallery 250 this Saturday, Dec 13th from 12-2pm. SLAphotolab students will lead workshop attendees in a series of activities and a Photo Scavenger Hunt in Rittenhouse to teach the fundamentals of photography. 

SLAphotolab Holiday Happy Hour- Thursday, Dec 18th (6-10pm)

Come out and enjoy a few cocktails in support of Science Leadership Academy's photography program. This event is free, with a suggested donation for refreshments, and all prints on display are available for purchase at affordable prices. 100% of tax-deductible sales support the growth and sustainability of this dynamic program at SLA. 

[Metropolitan Gallery 250 is located at 250 S 18th Street, jut steps from Rittenhouse Square]

Nation Piece Spells It All Out: How To Destroy A Public School System

Daniel Denvir is the best reporter I’ve seen at pointing out the long term strategies of schools privatization, and his piece in this week’s The Nation might be his best yet. I strongly urge you to read it all, because the issue is too complex for bullet points:

In 2010, State Attorney General Tom Corbett was elected as governor, his political network heavily populated by advocates for private-sector education reform. Backed by a conservative state legislature, Corbett cut about $860 million from public education in his first budget rather than tax the state’s booming natural-gas industry. He also expanded Pennsylvania’s “voucher lite” programs, popular among conservatives, which provide corporations with major tax credits in exchange for donations for private-school tuition.

“This budget sorts the must-haves from the nice-to-haves,” Corbett told the Legislature during his March 2011 budget address. “I am here to say that education cannot be the only industry exempt from recession.” Philadelphia was forced to eliminate more than 3,500 teacher and staff positions. The crisis also set off the most aggressive privatization campaign since the state takeover, embodied by the so-called “Blueprint for Transformation” plan.

read more http://goo.gl/ZM0KD1

Nation Piece Spells It All Out: How To Destroy A Public School System

Daniel Denvir is the best reporter I’ve seen at pointing out the long term strategies of schools privatization, and his piece in this week’s The Nation might be his best yet. I strongly urge you to read it all, because the issue is too complex for bullet points:

In 2010, State Attorney General Tom Corbett was elected as governor, his political network heavily populated by advocates for private-sector education reform. Backed by a conservative state legislature, Corbett cut about $860 million from public education in his first budget rather than tax the state’s booming natural-gas industry. He also expanded Pennsylvania’s “voucher lite” programs, popular among conservatives, which provide corporations with major tax credits in exchange for donations for private-school tuition.

“This budget sorts the must-haves from the nice-to-haves,” Corbett told the Legislature during his March 2011 budget address. “I am here to say that education cannot be the only industry exempt from recession.” Philadelphia was forced to eliminate more than 3,500 teacher and staff positions. The crisis also set off the most aggressive privatization campaign since the state takeover, embodied by the so-called “Blueprint for Transformation” plan.

read more http://goo.gl/ZM0KD1

Goals of a Teacher of Impoverished Students

Hello! Thank you so much for reading this tumblr. My name is Becca and I teach at an after-school program in a Philadelphia School District elementary school– not a magnet school or a charter school, a public school. I won’t get too much into the issue of privatizing education here, except to say that my students are the ones who have been left hanging out to dry when it comes to funding.

I am really excited for my new job of teaching the summer program, which is unlike other summer camps in that there is a desperate need to keep these kids off the streets and in some cases away from their own homes. It’s also a black freedom school, so I’m obligated to teach them black history in a very honest manner. Unfortunately, systemic racism is alive and well in the very institutions that contain my students. So it’s tricky and complicated. Also, I’m white.

My students are amazing people. They range from adorable first graders to pissy teenagers. I admire all of them for being brave enough to just keep on keeping on in a violent, oppressed neighborhood.

My ostensible job is to teach drama, art, black history, black pride, math, reading and writing. But realistically, I need to do art therapy and play therapy with these children because a lot of them have active, ongoing, undiagnosed PTSD, and the budget cuts eliminated much-needed counselors. I am also making it my personal goal this summer to help lift these kids out of poverty. I know that involves reaching out, and that’s why I’m writing this blog.

As a white person from a middle-class neighborhood, I’m more familiar than my coworkers are about just how much excess there is. Excess money, excess stuff, excess resources. I need those things directed to these young human beings who have been essentially left for dead (imprisonment) by different government entities.

I’ll catalogue my summer and my needs. Who is willing to help?

Metropolitan Gallery 250 Presents "Fresh Artists" Show & Sale to Benefit Art in Philadelphia Schools

Metropolitan Gallery 250 is proud to host new artwork created by Philadelphia schoolchildren as part of the Fresh Artists program, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to saving art instruction in our public schools. The show and sale will run June 6-8 from 11am to 7pm, the same weekend as the Rittenhouse Square Art Show. In addition, Fresh Artists will take over the Metropolitan Bakery window starting June 5th.

Just because these artists are kids, don’t underestimate the work,” said Bailey Chick, curator of Metropolitan Gallery 250. “We encourage everyone to stop by and be amazed by their talent, dedication and generosity.”

With the goal to save access to art for all children, Fresh Artists engages children as full partners in philanthropy, inviting them to participate in fundraising by making their art available to people and corporations who, in turn, invest money into their schools. The money raised is used to purchase and deliver innovative art programs and supplies directly to art teachers in severely under-funded public schools.

Deva Watson, lead art teacher at Philadelphia’s Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School and co-founder of Fresh Palates to Palettes, takes her students to some of the top dining rooms in Philadelphia (Pub & Kitchen, Sbraga, Vernick to name a few) and teaches the art of still-life painting from one of the Chef’s signature dishes. Afterward, the students are invited to dine with the Chef and to taste the meal they just painted.

With the help of Fresh Artists’ Barbara C. Allen, Watson accepts donations in exchange for high resolution, enlarged photographs of the children’s finished artwork.  

All proceeds from the Metropolitan Gallery 250 sale are donated directly to Fresh Artists; the non-profit Metropolitan Gallery 250 does not take a commission.

 For more information, or to make a donation, visit www.freshartists.org.

Interactive School Catchment Map

One of the most important determining factors for many Philly homebuyers has nothing to do with the home itself – it has everything to do with the catchment it lies within. There are some exceptional public schools in Philadelphia, and parents will often pay high premiums to live in those catchment areas.  School Finder is an interactive tool put out by the Philadelphia School District that shows color coded catchment areas. There is also a search function that will match a specific address to a school catchment, and display the school location.

(School District of Philadelphia)

Green Street Coffee Roasters Invite You....

The Molieri brothers have partnered with Deva Watson to help raise money for her art classroom, located in one of Philadelphia’s many struggling public schools. Enjoy food, beer, music and (of course) coffee while simultaneously supporting the arts. Sure, a donation isn’t required to party with Green Street, but think of the kids. Dig into your purses, find that loose change buried in your couch and come out for some fun. We’ll see you there!

citypaper.net
Philadelphia School District announces its dissolution

This is horrifying:

      “Philadelphia public schools are on the operating table, reeling from a knockout blow of heavy state  budget cuts. It was too much to bear after decades of underfunding and mismanagement at the hands of shortsighted Philadelphians and mean-spirited politicians in Harrisburg.

So the District is today announcing that it’s going to call it quits. Its organs will be harvested, in search of a relatively vital host.

“Philadelphia public schools is not the School District,” Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen told a handful of reporters at yesterday’s press conference laying out the five-year plan proposed to the School Reform Commission. “There’s a redefinition, and we’ll get to that later.” 

He got to it: talk about “modernization,” “right-sizing,” “entrepreneurialism” and “competition.”

Forty schools would close next year, and six additional schools would be closed every year thereafter until 2017. Closing just eight schools this year prompted an uproar.”

Education is not an entrepreneurial venture.

And Knudsen threatened to outsource all custodial, maintenance and transportation work to private companies unless union workers could underbid them.

“There are other people out there who do these things, if not better, then at least less expensively.”

This seems to now be the theme song for public education in cities like Philadelphia: other people do these things maybe not better, but cheaper.

I asked if the five-year plan would address the District’s core problems: severe teacher understaffing, too few school police, too few counselors, too few extracurriculars, too few libraries, too few everything? Is this just triage? 

“The things that other networks do in other parts of the country,” said Knudsen, “is that these networks attract resources.”

What he meant was a startling admission: like some high-end charter schools, Philly schools would panhandle for donations from rich people.

Say Yes to Education

During formal and informal conversations, the Buffalo State community proclaims the importance of education as an elevating and transformative experience. Thousands of Buffalo State alumni, current students, faculty and staff members, and friends of the college agree that Buffalo State is an institution that transforms lives.

So it is not surprising that Buffalo State partners with public and charter schools, the city of Buffalo, other higher education institutions, and champions of education everywhere to participate in the Say Yes to Education program. Say Yes was initially conceived and founded in 1987 by George Weiss, money manager and philanthropist, to support students with few financial means to attend college. Initially serving just over 100 sixth-graders in one Philadelphia public school, the program has broadened its reach and deepened its commitment over the years, expanding to Syracuse in 2008 and to Buffalo in 2012. Say Yes now works with nearly 65,000 public school students in grades pre-K–12 in five cities.

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