Monday, April 30, 2012

Reactions to Philly Restructuring Plan

Here's a link to our regular postings for April 30th: “….arts advocates are looking to the state legislature for solutions. "Our fight is not with the school district. It's with the state."

Posted: Sun, Apr. 29, 2012, 6:04 AM
Philly schools gear up for huge venture
The radical restructuring is raising many questions, namely, How will it work? and Will it work?
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
On the brink of financial ruin and not improving nearly fast enough academically, the Philadelphia School District will, over the next 16 months, completely reinvent the way it organizes and runs schools.  And with the announcement of its radical restructuring last week, questions swirl.
Is the district privatizing public education?
Who will run the new "achievement networks," groups of 25 or so schools to be managed by either outside providers or district staff, bound by performance contracts with the School Reform Commission, and expected to be entrepreneurial?
How will the 40 schools to be closed in 2013 be chosen?

Posted: Sun, Apr. 29, 2012, 6:24 AM
Education leader sees no reform in Phila. plan
By Kristen A. Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
Diane Ravitch, education historian and pointed observer of the American educational scene, came to Philadelphia last week to speak at a math teachers' convention.
She had read the Philadelphia School District's "Blueprint for Transformation," and she wasn't pleased.  "If you really want to improve schools, you do something about teaching and learning," Ravitch said. "This is all shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic."

Philly School reorganization plans raise concerns by  Damon C. Williams Thursday, 26 April 2012
The reaction to the School District’s release earlier this week of the controversial Blueprint for Transforming Philadelphia’s Public Schools has been mixed, with many local and state elected officials either willing to give the plan a chance, think only a few elements of the plan will work, or wish to scrap the plan altogether.

Posted: Sun, Apr. 29, 2012, 3:00 AM
Phila. children deserve better
Philadelphia Inquirer Opinion by Pedro Ramos
Pedro A. Ramos is chairman of the School Reform Commission
After days of listening intently to public responses to a draft plan that could transform our broken and broke public education system, I’m hearing one common thread in the conversation: All children in this city deserve better than the status quo. They are entitled to a high-quality public education that will prepare them for productive and satisfying adult lives. They are also entitled to a safe environment at school so they can focus and learn. And we, as a city, have not delivered.

Churches criticize transformation plan
The Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 30 2012
Several hundred people gathered at historic Mother Bethel AME Church on Lombard Street Sunday night to decry plans put forward by the School Reform Commission to close dozens of schools, expand charters, and reorganize the School District into “achievement networks” primarily run by private entities.  A succession of preachers roused the gathering and put public officials on notice that their voices would be heard before any such radical restructuring would be allowed to take place.

Ravitch: My visit to Philadelphia

Diane Ravitch’s Blog April 26, 2012
Yesterday I went to Philadelphia to speak to the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Before I left New York City, the local spokesperson for Parents Across American, Helen Gym, asked if I would meet with some journalists to talk about the “reform” plan just released the day before. She sent me a link to the plan, and as I read it, it sounded just like the plans recently proposed or adopted in such cities as Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Cleveland: Close public schools, open privately managed charter schools, cut the budget. That’s the basic formula, and it is always accompanied by impressive promises of glory to come: higher test scores, higher graduation rates.

Posted at 11:41 AM ET, 04/28/2012

A defeatist plan to restructure Philadelphia public schools

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
Philadelphia school “recovery” officials have announced a radical restructuring plan that calls for:
* closing 40 low-performing, underutilized schools in 2013 and a total of 64 more by 2017
* organizing “achievement networks” of about 25 schools that would be run by outsiders who bid for management contracts
* increasing the number of charter schools, which now educate about 25 percent of the city’s roughly 200,000 students
* effectively shutting down the central office, which is already half the size it was last year
* phasing out all academic divisions now in place by this summer, with pilot achievement networks in place as early as this fall.

In Philly, Radical District reorganization, 64 school closings planned
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 24 2012
District staff and consultants are recommending a sweeping overhaul of how public schools in Philadelphia operate, planning to close 64 schools over the next five years and divvy up those that remain among “achievement networks” led by teams of educators or nonprofit institutions.

Citypaper Naked City Blog by Daniel Denvir
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.” 

Budget: This is what austerity looks like
The Notebook by Paul Socolar on Apr 24 2012
The District's transformation plan announced today includes a five-year budget plan. The District also published its annual 43-page budget-in-brief document today. Here are 10 details that stand out about this far-reaching plan to bring the budget, which now has a $218 million gap, back into balance:

Commentary: You're not speaking to me, Mr. Knudsen
The notebook submitted by Helen Gym on Tue, 04/24/2012
Dear Mr. Knudsen:
I am the mother of three children in District and charter schools in this city. I have been actively involved in stopping good schools from decline and helping low-performing, violent schools turn around. I believe in the essential role that a high-quality public school system plays and have fought for that vision. My 7th grader will soon have outlasted four superintendencies, including yours. And I’m here to tell you that you’re not speaking to me.

SRC 'restructuring' plan isn't about students or achievement
It's a business model to privatize schools.
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers website by Jerry Jordan, President 4/24/2012
I released the following statement to the news media after the School Reform Commission news conference today:
This restructuring plan has nothing to do with raising student achievement. The district provided a business model, not a research-based plan for turning around or supporting schools.

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