First hearings held for nine proposed new charters

priority schools

First hearings held for nine proposed new charters | Philadelphia Public School Notebook -December 19, 2017

See the above article for a description of each of the proposed nine new charters. The article concludes with testimony of APPS members:

Aspira had to settle several suits brought against the company because of the sexual harassment perpetrated by Aspira Philadelphia CEO Alfredo Calderone. Unbelievably, he is still CEO… [Dawn Lynn Kacer, head of the CSO] testified that the financial improprieties had not only not been resolved, as promised by Kenneth Trujillo in May 2016, they had actually gotten worse,” Haver said in her public comment. “For the SRC to agree to put the education of more young people into the hands of Aspira would be a clear dereliction of duty.

She ceded the floor to several other activists from the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS), familiar faces to anyone who regularly attends the SRC.

“Corporate charter schools continue to fight the SRC even today challenging the District’s right to oversee our public school students’ academic progress in their schools,” Lynda Rubin said during her public comment. “The SRC was put in place to purportedly shore up the financial supports for real public education in Phialdelphia. Not to hold a fire sale, selling or giving away its parts to private companies masquerading as public education stakeholders.”

Karel Kilimnik took issue with the argument made by SRC commissioners like Bill Green, that the SRC is not legally allowed to consider the financial impact that authoizing new charter schools would have on the District, since students take state dollars with them when they leave to attend a charter.

Kilimnik read from the 2015 SRC testimony of David Lapp, who was then an attorney with the Education Law Center:

I testified to the District that, when reviewing new charter school applications, the factors the District should consider cut against approval of new charters in the current fiscal and educational climate. This is especially true given the dearth of evidence that the charter sector has achieved superior results.

There have been recent public comments that suggest a mistaken belief that the charter law requires the SRC to approve new applications without considering the impact on District students. To the contrary, since the District has been declared to be in fiscal distress and the state constitution still requries that there be a ‘thorough and efficient system of public education,’ the impact of charter expansion on all students should be the most important consideration of all. But since questions have been raised, I wish to briefly clarify why such considerations are also legally valid.

The bottom line is that there has never been a [Charter Appeals Board] or court holding that a fiscally distressed school district is prevented from considering the educational impact on all students, including students in District schools and existing charter schools, when deciding whether to approve a new charter school application. In addition, no cases have addressed these issus since the charter reimbursement was eliminated. As you identify problems with the merits of a partricular charter application, you should be sure to also include, in the alternative, evidence and findings that approving the charter would negatively impact the educational experience of all students, including District students.

Priority School Updates

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Do Communities Truly Have a Say in the Future of Priority Schools?

by Lisa Haver

In mid-September, just weeks after the start of the new school year, Superintendent William Hite announced this year’s list of schools targeted for some type of turnaround through his “System of Great Schools”: Rhoads Elementary, Steel Elementary, Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, Penn Treaty Middle/High School, Gideon Elementary, and Wagner Middle School. This is the second year the district has engaged in a months-long process of data collection, choice of schools, community hearings, in-school focus groups, and determination of the fate of these schools. The district has again contracted with Cambridge Education for consulting services, this year for $100,000, to conduct focus groups with teachers and students. Temple University has been hired for $70,000 to conduct the public outreach and facilitate meetings.

Last year, eleven schools were designated Priority Schools. After the hearing and focus group period, three schools forced out principals and most faculty after being placed in the district Turnaround Network. Two other schools developed internal turnaround plans which mandated that teachers reapply for their jobs.

Some schools, including Harding Middle, have put into place an all-blended learning curriculum in which students spend a significant amount of time learning on the computer rather than interacting with the teacher and other students. The district hired ISA (Institute for Student Achievement) to be embedded year-round for intensive professional development and teacher coaching at Fels, Overbrook, and Kensington Health Sciences Academy high schools. [The resolution approves a contract with Education Testing Service (ETS) as ISA is now a subsidiary of ETS.]

The district also contracted with Jounce Partners (see Resolution B23 at the bottom of the page) for similar intervention at McDaniel Elementary.

The plans implemented at many schools ignored the stated wishes of the parents who attended the community meetings. At both Blankenburg and KHSA, principals were removed over the objection of the parents and educators. At none of the hearings we attended did parents call for the reconstitution of faculty. No district representative mentioned the contracting of outside consulting companies.

Community members who attended last year’s meetings are experiencing a strong sense of déjà vu at this year’s meetings. The district is using the same Power Point presentation, with the same disclaimer that the schools are not performing “despite investments” made in them. Again, the district does not explain what the options involve unless specifically asked by community members. The district has attempted to place the onus on the public to give them information without any explanation of what could happen to the school.

As defenders of public education, APPS members are attending community meetings and posting reports from each school.

These are updates (at the end of each report) of previously posted reports on Priority School meetings. We will be updating information on the Priority Schools as some meetings continue and when Dr. Hite makes his decision.

APPS reports on Priority School meetings
(To read the updates scroll to the end of each school post.)

The Growing Influence of Jounce Partners

Gideon Elementary School

Penn Treaty Middle/High School

Rhoads Elementary School

Wagner Middle School

Steel School

 

 

The Growing Influence of Jounce Partners

jouince parntersby Lisa Haver and Lynda Rubin
November 24, 2017

It would be safe to say that no public school teacher in Philadelphia has seen or heard any colleague forcing a student to face the wall and repeat the same phrase 25 or 30 times. Any principal who witnessed such an occurrence would be within his or her rights to formally reprimand that teacher.

Wall Practice:
1. After giving feedback and monitoring to the point of automaticity, have teacher(s) turn toward a wall in the room to practice the skill 10-20 more times (primarily used for multi-teacher PD sessions).
2. Frame as optimal practice because greatest number of reps can be achieved this way.

3. Emphasize the importance of every rep being executed perfectly and with exaggeration of nuances.

Incredibly, that is precisely what teachers in some district schools are being forced to do. It is but one of the tactics developed by Jounce Partners as part of its intensive coaching and professional development plan, already in use at McDaniel Elementary, one of the eleven schools designated last year as “Priority Schools”. The district has approved Jounce as a partner for principal and teacher training in schools that have been included in its “System of Great Schools”.

The district hired Cambridge Education to conduct surveys of the parents, teachers, students and community members at last year’s Priority schools. APPS members heard these stakeholders ask for more staff, return of NTAs and librarians, more counselors, smaller class size, less standardized testing and more after-school activities. We did not hear any member of any the eleven school communities ask for the removal of teachers and principals or more training for teachers. Nevertheless, the SRC approved a resolution to enter into a $70,000 contract with Jounce Partners for “Implementation of High-frequency teacher Coaching for School Transformation” at McDaniel Elementary”. That resolution, one of 142 approved by the SRC at its June 2017 Action Meeting, stated:

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Do Communities Truly Have A Say in the Future of Priority Schools?

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by Lisa Haver

In mid-September, just weeks after the start of the new school year, Superintendent William Hite announced this year’s list of schools targeted for some type of turnaround through his “System of Great Schools”: Rhoads Elementary, Steel Elementary, Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, Penn Treaty Middle/High School, Gideon Elementary, and Wagner Middle School. This is the second year the district has engaged in a months-long process of data collection, choice of schools, community hearings, in-school focus groups, and determination of the fate of these schools. The district has again contracted with Cambridge Education for consulting services, this year for $100,000, to conduct focus groups with teachers and students. Temple University has been hired for $70,000 to conduct the public outreach and facilitate meetings.

Last year, eleven schools were designated Priority Schools. After the hearing and focus group period, three schools forced out principals and most faculty after being placed in the district Turnaround Network. Two other schools developed internal turnaround plans which mandated that teachers reapply for their jobs.

Some schools, including Harding Middle, have put into place an all-blended learning curriculum in which students spend a significant amount of time learning on the computer rather than interacting with the teacher and other students. The district hired ISA (Institute for Student Achievement) to be embedded year-round for intensive professional development and teacher coaching at Fels, Overbrook, and Kensington Health Sciences Academy high schools. [The resolution approves a contract with Education Testing Service (ETS) as ISA is now a subsidiary of ETS.]

The district also contracted with Jounce Partners (see Resolution B23) for similar intervention at McDaniel Elementary.

The plans implemented at many schools ignored the stated wishes of the parents who attended the community meetings. At both Blankenburg and KHSA, principals were removed over the objection of the parents and educators. At none of the hearings we attended did parents call for the reconstitution of faculty. No district representative mentioned the contracting of outside consulting companies.

Community members who attended last year’s meetings are experiencing a strong sense of déjà vu at this year’s meetings. The district is using the same Power Point presentation, with the same disclaimer that the schools are not performing “despite investments” made in them. Again, the district does not explain what the options involve unless specifically asked by community members. The district has attempted to place the onus on the public to give them information without any explanation of what could happen to the school.

One difference between this year and last is the haste in getting public participants into separate “breakout” rooms—even before any real information is provided. People at several meetings refused to move into those rooms until questions were answered by the district. At the second round of meetings, there was no general auditorium meeting; people were directed immediately into separate rooms. It seemed to be a deliberate strategy to keep educators, parents and community members from forming alliances. There were reports that teachers at three of the schools were told by principals not to attend community meetings.

As defenders of public education, APPS members are attending community meetings and posting reports from each school.

We will be updating information on the Priority Schools as the meetings continue and when Dr. Hite makes his decision.

APPS reports on Priority School meetings (in progress)

Gideon Elementary School

Penn Treaty Middle/High School

Rhoads Elementary School

Wagner Middle School