It's another busy day in Philadelphia School District land - on tap is an SRC meeting, a student die-in, and a five-year financial plan for the cash-strapped school system. Follow along as I livetweet...
U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez on Thursday announced a $100 million competitive grant program - the largest in history, he said - that will go to expand apprenticeship programs.
Perez made the announcement in Philadelphia, where he touted a successful Philadelphia School District apprenticeship program that equips students to be Information Technology professionals - jobs that often land products of the program starting salaries of $50,000 or above.
"Apprenticeship is not only your ticket to the middle class," Perez said. "It's the other college."
At three city schools, students staged "die-ins" on Friday to protest police brutality and racism.
The Masterman die-in happened in a first-floor hallway, when roughly 100 students sat or laid down silently at mid-morning. Some held "Black Lives Matter" signs. Others closed their eyes or stared straight ahead.
The die-in lasted four minutes - symbolizing the four and a half hours Michael Brown lay dead on the ground in Ferguson, Mo., students said. They said they were deeply affected by the deaths of Brown and of Eric Garner in Staten Island. Both died at the hands of police who controversially faced no criminal penalty for the deaths.
Teachers and support staff at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, a 195-year-old school in Germantown, want to unionize.
The staff have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to form a collective bargaining unit at the school, they announced on Monday<NO1>dec 1<NO>. The move comes after the state-run school’s board refused to voluntarily recognize the union.
And it comes amid a growing rift between school staff and administration.
On a visit to a Philadelphia School District school today (hi, Parkway Center City!), a familiar thought occurred to me: financial circumstances are tough (see: running a school on $160 tough) but man, are the students great. (See also: Ben Franklin students, whom I visited last week and wrote about in today's Inquirer.)
I write a lot about the things that are broken in Philadelphia schools. I love finding and writing about the good stuff, too. Colleague Cathy Rubin, editor of our Style & Soul section, has put out a call to Philadelphia students. Cathy writes: "tell us what you're thankful for in your classrooms - the teacher who always goes the extra mile, for instance, or the lesson you'll never forget. Please send your e-mails of 100 words or less to firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 18. Please include your full name, age, and school. We will publish some of them in Style & Soul Nov. 27."
So, Philly students, we're all ears - send us your thoughts by tomorrow! I can't wait to read what you have to say.
Last month, student activists from the Philadelphia Student Union - pupils at city public schools - staged a protest at a screening of the film "Won't Back Down," held at school headquarters and hosted by School Reform Commissioner Sylvia Simms.
Students present at the event said that as they were chanting to disrupt the film, Simms yelled at them, telling them they "probably attend failing schools."
Simms, in an Inquirer interview after the event, denied the charge. She said that she has "noticed we have a lot of failing schools. It's my job to try as fix as many schools as I can."
Join me Tuesday at noon for a live chat on Philadelphia schools. As always, things are hopping - from the school whose entire discretionary budget is $160 to a recently-filed education funding lawsuit, there's plenty to discuss.
School districts, parents, an organization representing small and rural school systems and the state NAACP on Monday filed a lawsuit against Gov. Tom Corbett, state education officials and legislative leaders, saying that Pennsylvania fails to uphold its constitutional obligation to educate children adequately.
Plaintiffs of the suit, filed in Commonwealth Court, include two Philadelphia School District parents and the William Penn School District in Delaware County.
State officials have "adopted an irrational school funding system that does not deliver the essential resources students need and discriminates against children based on where they live and the wealth of their communities," say the plaintiffs, who are represented by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the Education Law Center-PA.