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OTEBOOK

o SUMMER 1996

"TURNING THE PAGE FOR CHANGE"

VOLUME 3 • NUMBER 4

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Student movement blossoms in spring campaign

Protests challenge City to find new funding by Paul Socolar A citywide student walkout and 2,000 student march on City Hall on May 23 hi ghlighted a series of spring protests at C ity Hall demanding more funding for . Philadelphia schools. Students figured prominently in all these actions, as the Philadelphia Student Union and other student groups organ ized a level of student activ ism not seen in recent years . The protests at City Counci l began when hundreds of parents and students rallied during School District budget hearings March 7. They culminated in a dramatic City Council hearing on June 6 where dozens of students gave passionate testimony on behalf of more funding - but went home empty-handed.

Braxton, coordinator of the Philadelphia Student Union . "We've created a movement around public education , and we've kept the issue in the media. Students have reali zed that it's an important issue and that they can make a difference." T he message of the weekly actions targeting City Council in May and June was that the City shou ld not pass the buck to Harrisburg and ignore its responsibilities to fund the school s. As the protests were escalating, Mayor Ed Rendell and City Council President John Street came up with a one-time $15 million contribution to help avert some of the district's projected budget cuts -but not the $50 million or more urged by the protests. The $50 million, if delivered, would only have brought the City'S per student contribution back to the level of 199 1-92. The more generous funding plan backed by many school advocates and

"We were very successful. We've created a movement around public education and kept the issue in the media."

Students feel their power " We didn't win an immediate victory, but we were very successful ," said Eric

Photo: Fred Engst

Protesters rally at state office building May 16 to 'Close the Gap' in school funding. pushed by Councilman Angel Ortiz would have postponed small planned cuts in wage and business taxes, saving as much as $38 million that wou ld have been redirected to schools. In Council,

Ortiz's bills were strongly backed by Councilman David Cohen. "The state is obviously legally and moral ly liable," Ortiz commented, "but

See "City funding " on p. 12

Contract tension builds

Shape of reforms at issue in contract talks Cientos de padres y estudia.ntes mostraron su apoyo en la "accion publica" en Taylor.

Protesta sobre la comida en la escuela Taylor

Una victoria sabrosa porPat Lowe Padres insati sfechos por la falta de comida "ernica" y por la baja cali dad de los almuerzos escolares preempaquetados que rec iben sus ninos en la Escue la Elemental Taylor, se reunieron con representantes del Di strito Esco lar e l 23 de Mayo. La "acci6n publica," que fu e organizada por e l Proyecto de Orgaruzaci6n de l Este de Fil adelfia (en Ingles EPOP) , atrajo a cerca de 300 personas y ninos al comedor de la escuela, e l c ual tamb ien se usa como gimnasio y auditorio. Liegaron para protestar contra la [alta de com ida calie nte: solo se si rve comida recalentada (congelada) que es tra ida en cami6n

desde Nueva York. Aunque la escuela Taylor tiene una cocina compl etamente equipada y un area de serv ic io al esti lo cafeteria, la com ida no se prepara en las insta laciones para sus mas de 700 alumnos. Un empleado del comedor coment6 que los ninos por 10 general comen la com ida recalentada, cosas como pan tostado para e l desayuno; pedacitos de pavo frito , hamburguesas, pi zza y lasagna para el al muerzo. " A los ninos no les gustan la boloni a y otros sandwiches frfos de almuerzo ," dijo. E I as unto principal esa noche fue el sabor de la com ida. Pero la falta de

"La victoria de Taylor" continua en 18 p. 6

Talks on a new contract between the School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) have been going on since last December. An occasional news fl ash - "Di strict negotiating team removed" or "U nion files unfair labor practice charge" - reminded us that something was happening behind closed doors. B ut with the August 31 dead line approaching, there was little visib le ev idence of acti vity until the School District presented 103 proposals to the PFT on June 14. The DistTict had no proposal on the table until this time because of lack of certainty on funding, d isagreements with its own negoti ators, and a stormy relations hi p with Common wealth Co urt Judge Doris Smith (see p.3). While all parties in volved wou ld be relieved if an agreement were at hand, the stakes are high and the cond iti ons too unsettled to make an earl y accord possible. Many of the signals and specific proposals the District is sending are confrontational. The District's team is now led by Alan J. Davis, an aggres i ve negotiator with a long hi story of hardline battles with unions, including the city's most recent contract showdown with municipal workers in 1992.

The union meanwhile has a June 19 membership meeting set that will authorize the leadership to call a strike if necessary come September I. This meeting is routine, and largely a formality, but it is part of the public negotiating stance taken by the leadership - much like the c harge of not negotiating in good faith fi led with the state Labor Relations Board on May 20. The PFT's immediate response to the

. See "Bargaining" on p. 4

What's inside: Judge Smith's April ruling ......... 3 Merit pay beset by problems ..... .4 Teachers review their peers ........ 5 Parent victories at Bluford ..........8 ... and at Taylor ............ 9 C hinatown Parents Association 10 Opinion: Principal selection ...... l5

Dentro Testimonio estudiantil ................. 7 i,Debe pagar el estado, la ciudad? 7

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PAGEl_ _ _ _ _ _ ------"l

SUMMER 1996

SCHOOL N OTEBOOK

Who ya gonna cali? Listed here are the ~chool District's six pi/ol clusters together lVah {he Names and phone numbers of th e cillster le;,ders and the Alli-

NOTEi3 OOK

ance Orgol1l zmg

"Turning the page for change"

CASE (Audenreid) Cluster

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Working Group Cind y Engst, Kathy Fleming, Helen Gym. Eric Joselyn, Am y Lippman, Pat Lowe. Myrtle L. Naylor, Shawn Poole, Hana Sab ree. Chip Smith. Pau l Socolar. Philadelphia Public School Notebook is a project of th e

ew Beginnings pro-

gram of Resources For Human Develop-

I menl.

We publish four times a year. Send inquiries to School Notebook. 372 1 Midvale Ave., Phila., PA 19129. Phone: (2 15) 951-0330. Fax: (215 ) 951-0342.

Special thanks to .. . Oscar Hernandez, Ben Lariccia, Mig uel

• Ri vera-Diaz, Sandy Socolar, Ellen

Somekawa and all of our subscri bers, advertisers, and the good people who help distribu te the Notebook. Special thanks for this issue are due 10 the Bread and Roses Community Fund, The Edward W. Hazen Foundation, the Walter E. Hering Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation, and CoreStates Bank for fi nancial ass istance.

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Public School Notebook needs your subscription. Be part of this educational dialogue . Your support helps put this paper in the hands of people working for pos itive change a c ross the c ity.

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otebook

3721 M Idvale Ave nue Phtlade lphta. PA 19 129 Phone : (215) 951-0330

s parent organizers

AOP organizer: Glad ys Inman, 755- 10 14 CHAIN (Washington) Cluster

schools.

Advisory Board Shafi k Ab u-Tahir. ew African Voices Alliance Coleen Dav is. LULAC Education Project Rochelle ichols Solomon, North Phila. Community Compact for College Access and Success Len Rieser, Education Law Center Efrain Roche, Community Focus ewspaper Wilfredo Rojas, ational Congress for Puerto Rican Rights Emily Style, Co-Director, ational S.E.E.D. Project - Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity Debbie Wei, National Coalit ion of Education Acti vists Mary Yee. Asian Americans United

PrOject

Leader: Frances Will iams, 35 1-7228

A \'OiCf for parents. students. and classroom teachers who are u'orkillg for

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Leader: Linda Gottlieb, 281 -5903

chal gnu yeal

AOP organizer: Alan McHale, 546-1156 Martin Luther King Cluster Leoder: Alfred Farlino, 248 -6684 AOP organizer: Matty Mason. 878-4253 Olney Cluster Leader: Alice Reyes, 456-5595 AOP orgonizer: Gordon Whitman, 6348922

Strawberry Mansion Cluster Leader: Karen Del Guercio, 684-8980 AOP organizer: Marissa James , 236- 1289 West Philadelphia Cluster Leader: Janis Butler, 471-8334

Student power [t could have been j ust another spring day, but some things c hanged on May 23 when thousands of students at high schools across the city walked out o f sc hool , a nd many of the m converged on C ity Hall to demand more money for the Philadelphia schools. The protest was impressive both for its size and its cohere nce. Here was the fledg ling Philade lph ia Student U nion bring ing 2 ,000 yo ung people together and conveying a cl ear message that the city cannot continue to neglect its schools. Before the students came to City Hall , educational advocacy groups had never succeeded in so wide ly exposing Mayor Re ndell's fa ilure to support public schools. It took onl y one well- organized stude nt delegation to the Mayor 's office to bring out the Mayor 's fi st-pounding, arrogant indifference to the plight of city schoolchildren. Stude nts braved a variety of threats of punishment from school authorities in their decision to walk out. Their defiance of threats suggests a new level of frustra-

AOP orgonizer: Kelley Bradley, 386-5757

tion with year after year of getting less and less at school. T he student protest. even won some small concession s from the mayor, who offered to pay for buses to Harri sburg, and started talking about some ne w fund raising schemes for the sc hool s - a tacit admission that the Cit.y can and should do more. And while student.s' demands to postpone tax cuts and direct the savings to the schools were not heeded, the powerful message they delivered to the City Council over several weeks may deter future knee-jerk tax cuts. For all these reasons, May 23 was a very different sort of day in Philadelphia. When you add it all up, it made a big dent in the "You can ' t fight City Hall" cynicism that usually grips thi s cityand our schools. Signs are that the student protests and the reverberations fro m them will continue. It has been a welcome reminder that students can be a potent force for school change - and they deserve our active support.

High-stakes bargaining We count ourselves lucky to have S uperintendent David Hornbeck and Commonwealth Judge Doris Smith as key players in the city's refonn drama. But the incident this month that almost landed Hornbeck in jai l on contempt charges shows how brittle conditions are. The money for the judge 's programs was going to be found in any case. Why didn 't the Superintendent and the Board just put the programs in the budget instead of testing the judge's a uthori ty? Fortunate ly the situation was resolved without resort to drastic measures. But this conflict between allies - or potential allies, at least - over budget priorities demonstrates how small differences can get magrufied to the point where they can obscure the larger issues at stake in the refonn struggle. Shi ft now to the contract negotiations between the District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFf) this summer. The pressures built up by the budget squeeze are made even greater by the cruclallssue at stake in the refonn debate specifical ly, who's accountable for Our children 's achie veme nt. But basic uni ty underhes the two sides' positions, and is furthermore shared by Judge Smith: agreement on some. fundamental conditions needed for leam ll1g (more resources. smaller classes high expectations). a~ well as On the basi~ phtiosophy that motivates Horn beCk 's

Children Achieving program . These three potential allies - the District's leaders, the PFI', and Judge Smith :- must fmd a way to keep their basic unity m the forefront despite differences that can take on seemingly monstrous proportions. There are two other forces whose concerns should be central to this high-stakes bargaining process: parents and students. But these groups are not yet sufficiently orgaruzed to assert their needs and help shape the negotiated outcome. The responstbtltty for what happens next school year will rest largely with the "professionals." On the other side, arrayed against these pro-education forces, are the finance-frrst market-oriented powers that currently do~­ mate poltttcal life m the city and state. The chotces were clear in the June 6 testimony before Ctty Council: either " symbolic" tax cuts to feed the market gods, or real money for S~hools and kids. This time the kids lost. It s not surprising when politicians embody the dominant money-first ethic and vote the way they do. The hope is that our pro-educaMn allies - Superintendent Hornbeck, the PFI'and Judge Smith -can m~lI1tall1 thelf bearings in the anti-children ~I::ate we hve in and stand for the c hil-

We, in tum -

parents, students staff

~d other public school advocates ~ must am from our experience and gather strength for the next rou nd of battles.

Following is a partiallisting of local educalional advocacy o rg anizations :

Asian Americans United Contact: Ellen Samekawa, 925-1 538 Focuses on equity issues in vol ving Asian Ame ri can students and staff. Promotes multicultural , anti- racist education.

ASPIRA Contact: Delia Reverson , 923-27 17 Infonns and involves parents and students in

school reform and education equity process. Coalition to Close the Gap Contact: Chris Davis, 546-1166 Coalition of organizations and individuals working for equitable funding for Philadelphia public school children. Eastern Philadelphia Orga nizing Project Contact: Gordon Whitman, 634-8922 Organizing and training parents for better schools as part of an effort to build power in schools, c hurches and com munity institutions.

Educational Quality (E-Quality) Contact: Cindy Engst, 329-2687 Membership organization of parents, teachers and community activists. Committed to action for schools that work for all students. Parents' Union for Public Schools Contact: Sarah Gilliam, 546-1166 Infonns, educates and helps parents become active participants in school reform process. Offers parent resource center.

Pennsylvania School Reform Network Contact: Jan Hoffman, (717) 238-7171 Works with parents, commun ity groups and schools around the state to develop school reform projects. PFT Community Outreach Committee Contact: Ron Whitehorne, 342-6926 Union initiative to build a teacher-communityalliance. Parent Exchange Contact: Ruth Landsman, 242-950 I Provides information and referrals to parents of children with special needs and the professionals who work with them. Philadelphia Parents of Individuals with Down's Syndrome Contact: Hana Sabree, 242-8577 Network of parents who meet to share information on Down's Syndrome and provide support around inclusion and IEP issues. Philadelphia S_E.E.D. Project (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Contact: Myrtle Naylor, 248-4834 Parents, teachers, school staff and communI -I ty members workmg to create a multicultura curriculum and school climate. Philadelphia Student Union Contact: Eric Brax ton , 724-1 J 68 Organization of students from all around the city who are working to make the youth vo ice be heard on iss ues that affec t studentS.

Teachers ' Learning Cooperative (TLC) Contac!: Betsy Wice, 732-8875 Week ly meeting of teachers and others interested in teach ing, ch ildren and their work .

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SUMMER 1996

SCHOOL NOTEBOOK In September 1996, this arrangement will change. The Life Skills classes will remain the same, but the funding for the Learning Disabled and Serious ly Emotionally Disturbed students wi ll be given directly to the school. The principals - together with school councils, where they are in place - will decide how to spend the spec ial ed ucation money. The school wi ll have to pay for teachers, books, supplies and prep time teachers from these funds .

EYE ollSRECIAL Er/ucATION 1f~"

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by Janet Lonsdale The Philadelphia School District will change the way special education programs are funded in the 1996-97 school year. Currently money for special education is not given directly to the schools. Instead, the

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based on the number of chil dren with disabi lities who need special educai. tion programs in that i school. For example, for • each 12 students with a specific Learning Disabil ity (LD) or Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED), the School District assigns one spec ial education teacher. In the case of Life Skills students, the School Di strict assigns one teacher and one aide to each 8 to 12 students.

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Benefits, dangers of the change The results of th is change can be beneficial for students with disabilities . The school can be more fl ex ible in developing programs and might be encouraged to keep students with disabilities in their neighborhood. Some options a school might adopt include: increas ing parent in volvement; provid ing more support to students with disabi lities in the regular classroom; hiring a reading speciali st to provide individual tutoring to children who find reading difficult; and not being "forced to label" students in order to give them the help they need.

PAGE 3

The first step is to request a meeting with the principal and ask if there are plans to change the way children with disabilities are served in your school. Ask what changes are planned and how the changes will affect your child. Then tell other parents about the chan ges, and ask if they approve of the changes. If not, what action do they think should be taken . By working together you can

magni fy your impact on the choice~ school makes. For your own chil d. know what your chi ld's special education program doe . Is your child benefitin g from the program? And remember: If a change in your child 's special education program (IEP) is proposed, you have the ri ght to disagree and request either a pre-hearing conference or a due process hearing. If you request either type of hearin g. you invoke the "Stay put" clau e. Your child 's special education cannot be changed until the issues which you are concerned about are resolved to your sati sfaction. Remember, the key is - a special education program must be des igned to assist your child to make educational progress. Now is the time to ask questions and prepare fo r changes - good or bad - and then take action for the good of the kids.You have fh e power! To submif articles 10 Eye on Spec ia l Educa tion , ",rife fO Halla Sabree, clo Phil adelphi a Public School Notebook , 3721 Midl'Gle Avellue, Philadelphia , PA 19129 orfax (215 ) 95 / -0342 .

vinced the judge that these programs would be restored either through an increase in state funding or through cuts made in other areas once the state budget was agreed upon. This agreement allowed the Court to return its attention to the adequacy of state and city funding. Attorneys from the Public Interest Law Center revealed that the gap between the amount available for each student in the average suburban school di strict compared to each Philadelphia

student has grown to $ 1,926. Closing thi s gap in funding would result in $400 million more per year coming to the Phil adelphi a District. Closing the gap would permit the implementation of Judge Smith 's recent orders as well as moving ahead with refonn plans that include smaJl er cl ass sizes and additional time for teacher development. The hearings are likely to last about three weeks, with the judge ex pected to rule later this summer.

But the change in funding could create problems, such as the "dumping" of LD and SED students into " regular" classes; resistance to identi fy ing stu dents who need special education programs; confusion because not all admin istrators or parents know which laws give children with disabilities the right to a free, appropriate public education ; and the use of special educati on funds to alleviate shortfalls in the generaJ budget. Parents have a lot of options and power in deciding what will happen in their child 's school and to their ch il d's special education program .

Actions you can take

Court addresses school funding

Should City, state pay? by Mike ChurchiJI Commonwealth Court Judge Dori s Smith began hearings May 30 on whether the School Di strict must be given additional funds in order to close the educational disparities between raciaJ groups in Philadelphia 's school s. The judge ruled two years ago that Phi ladelphia runs a segregated and unequal school system. The 134 racially isolated schools, whose students are overwhelmingly African American and Latino, receive less of almost everything that is required to assure success in school, including resources, experienced teachers, and special programs. Since 1994 she has ordered the School District to take specific steps to achieve equity within the Di strict starting with full-day kindergartens and early leveling of classes this past fa ll. (See box below for the judge's most recent order.) The current hearings are being held because both the School District and the community intervenors in the desegregation suit have said that the District cannot fix the problem without more funds. Both have joined to ask the Court to order the

state or City to provide needed money. The refomns already ordered by Judge Sm ith are estimated to cost a minimum of $300 million a year. The state vigorously attacks the need for add itional f unding. They charge that the resources can come from other programs and by reducing waste within the District. Intervenors countered that there is little waste and that the state 's approach is like taking medicine away from one sick child to give it to another - there has to be enough for both. The School Board struggled all spring over what cuts to make to balance the District 's budget. But neither the Court nor the state has ind icated from where money should be shifted to fund the Court's orders. For several days in early June, Judge Sm ith threatened to hold Superintendent David Hornbeck in contempt of court for planning cuts totaling $ 16.7 million in programs she had prev iously orderedfull-day kindergarten, pre-school and desegregation . Hornbeck's lawyers eventuaJ ly con-

Key points in Judge Smith's April 22 ruling Commol/wealth Court Judge Doris Smich compelled fhe School District 10 reverse some of its planned budget cuts in early JUI/e 10 comply wilh reforms she had ordered in a ruling April 22. BelolV are some of the reforms demanded in her April ruling in fhe School Districf's 25:year-old desegregation case. Judge Smith ordered the District to: • develop a comprehensive parental involvement plan that builds on the experience of Shaw Middle and Ferguson Elementary Schools as well as on "strategies recommended jointly by the Home and School Council, Parents Union, the A lliance of P ublic SchQol Advocates, Citizens Committee on Public Education nd Parents United for Better Schools." • before the end of the school year, 'distribute to teachers and principals a 'best practices ' guide or checklist regarding effective strategies for engaging parents and increasing their level of involveent in the schools . . .. " • "implement a comprehensive parental involvement plan in aJl schools

by the end of the current school year ...." • "develop and implement a curriclllum plan to govern the development of standards and assessment and professional development" The Philadelphia Education Fund shall have no role in thi process. • evaluate the special education programs and then present a plan to con-ect the over-representation of Black and Hispanic students. as well as their underrepresentation in Mentally Gifted programs. • "provide in each school within one week of the opening of school for the \996-97 scbool year sufficient books and instructional materials, computers and other educationaJ equipment for use by each student to properly learn and to perform at the appropriate grade level. ,. • "not eliminate ... reduce . . . transfer funds out of ... or otherwise restrict current desegregation initiatives without prior .. . approvaJ by the Cowt." • provide a report of "all cost-saving measures undertaken in accordance with

recommendations by its Management and Productivity Task Force." The Court will have the School District's consultant and professional services contracts and other relevant spending audited . • before the end of the school year, "conduct a school-by-school survey of school safety and security needs" and develop a comprehensive plan for chao I safety and security to be impleme nted by September 1996. • "identify effective and exemplary disciplinary practices: ' develop a "comprehensive system-wide disciplinary plan for dissemination to all schools before the end of the current school year" and provide any necessary training so that schools can put programs in place by September 1996. • "distribute to each family and school ... information concerning a voluntary school dress code ... " to be implemented during the 1996-97 school year. • "confer with law enforcement and school security personnel to detemline

the most effecti ve but consistent and non-discriminatory manner .. ." to compl y with Act 26, and report back by M3Y 3, 1996. • present to the Coun detailed IIlformation by May 3. 1996. on the planned implementat ion of the full cluster program in September. 1996. a tr:lIlsition that the C OU11 specificall y authori zes and the Pennsylv ania Human Relations Commission and intervenor, also consent to. • not use the tran sition to clusters as "argument or justification for depriving students of essenri31 educational ,upplles and materials, computers, English tcaehers, remedial reading programs, smaller class sizes, increase in magnet , chool opportunitie" appropriate teaching stan or any other remedial requirements of the Court 's orders." • "ensure that (the clusters) are desegregated to the extent feasible. • "report on the ... re,ult< of the facil ities repair audit for aU raclaJly isolated schools" as well as distrkt-wlde.


SCHOOL NOTE BOOK

PAGE 4

Bargaining holds reform in balance Continued from p. 1 June 14 proposals was outrage. There appears to be much in common that the two sides could build on to avert a strike in the fall: an agreement that the District is greatly underfunded and needs more resources, a verbal commitment to the broad goal of equity as advanced by Judge Smith, and a number of the basic goals of Superintendent Hornbeck 's Children Achieving reform plan. Moreover, both sides fear the outs ide solutions that wi ll be offered if c urrent reform efforts break down in a lengthy strike - namely, school vouchers and privatization. But at the same time, there are contentious issues like modifying seniority ri ghts, the development of a system of accountabil ity, and proposals for merit pay that could blow negotiations apart. In addition, the apparently strained personal relations between Superintendent Hornbeck and the union's leaders adds to the instabil ity of the situati on. Increasing accountability The School District and the PFT approach the issue of accountability in very different ways . The uni on views accountabil ity as a buzzword aimed directly at teachers: if kids don't learn, it's the teachers' fault. Superintendent Hornbeck, by contrast, takes pai ns to stress that it is school s th at are to be held accountable, not individ ual teachers. Horn beck proposes using monetary rewards and penalties for schools as a mechanism to achieve greater accountability. Under his proposals, however, individual teachers would see their paychecks affected, through bonuses or loss of raises . The union sees this proposal as a merit pay system (see article, p. 4) , which they oppose. The District's fi rst negotiating team - Ralph Smith and Rhonda Lauer - was dropped in March, reported ly in part because they emphasized intervention with and retraining of teachers, not merit pay. Any proposed system of school accountability in volves judging children's performance and raises questions about what is to be learned and how it is measured. Hence, curricul um, standards and testing all become part of the discussion. Here too there is disagreement. Under Hornbeck, the District has been revamp-

ing standards and changing the type of

ber of employees working at 21 st and the

testing. The union has taken issue with the process and complained that the children could not be adequately prepared for these new tests.

Parkway.

The union and reform The union has a different emphasis going into negotiations --{)n the need to provide teachers with the proper tools and cond itions to teach . Are cl ass sizes too large? Are there enough books and computers? The PFT says it is fighting for real reform s that impact directly on the way kids are taught. The union argues that expansion of full -day kindergarten, smaller class size and additional resources for classroom teachers are keys to increased student achi evement. They contrast these goals with the District's recent focus on reorganizing the system into cl usters. PFT leaders question the value of spending $85,000 each on 22 cl uster leaders, where before there were only six regional superintendents . The union's charges of waste clash with Hornbeck 's insistence that he is saving money by cutting many downtown administrators and that he is refonning an overly centralized system to boot. And the record shows that there have been major reductions in the num-

Other issues While health insurance, the legal program and, of course, wages will be on the table as well as accountabi lity issues, differences here may not be insurmountable. It is difficult for the union to dismiss the financial crunch facing the District, and signs are that the union wi ll approach a wage increase in a reasoned way. Nonetheless, Philadelphia 's teachers have not had a substanti al raise in many years, and their pay scale is at the bottom in comparison with surrounding suburban rates. Pay is a big issue for the rank and file. The District has chipped away at health benefits, having recently negotiated clauses with the Operating Engineers and the cafeteria workers that exclude coverage of spouses for part-time employees. A similar proposal is likely to be put forw ard in the current negotiations. Also, the union 's legal program is a good one and might be targeted by the District as an area to make cuts. Union leaders responded harshly to other District proposal s - for a longer school day, more night meetings, and criteria other than seniority for placement. PFT president Ted Kirsch commented,

Many parents view poor teaching as the root of why their children do not perform well at school.

-

SUMMER 1996

"David Horn beck wants a strike."

The third party Parents and students are not at the bargaining table, but will be closely fo llow_ ing what liappens there. Some are deeply committed to their schoo ls; others have only a tenuous commitment to the public schools and could quickly abandon the system. In addi tion, sho uld the wider commu_ nity sense that the union is focusing only on their own narrow Issues, teachers could become isolated from parents and students and vulnerable in the event of a strike. Hornbeck 's demands for accountabili _ ty may resonate with parents. Many parents view poor teaching as the root of why their children do not perform well at school. The public may tend to believe merit pay systems are effective, despite the oppos ition of teachers and the clear lack of evidence that it works. The PFT wi ll need to address these points of view. Yet the union's reform package does not acknowledge or suggest methods to deal with incompetence in the classroom , imp lying that current rules that allow princi pals to transfer and, in rare instances, fire teachers are adequate. Nor has the PFT 's response seemed to recognize the immensity of the system 's failure reported by Judge Smith 's outside team of experts in 1994. This documented failure leads community-based critics of the District's reform pl an to see its reorgani zation as not going far enough . What some parents woul d likely say if they were at the bargaining table is that the bureaucracy needs to be broken up with real power placed in the hands of parents, teachers and staff at the school level. Even with the shift to clusters, the D istrict largely has failed to deliver on the promised inclusion of parents and community people in decision-making. As it now stands, the future of school change here will be shaped and fought over this summer by two parties - union and management. More money could solve some problems, but unfortunately the fight takes place in a context of meanspirited financ ial retrenchment. With so much at stake, the conflict between un ion and District could become aggravated into a dangero us antagonism. A breakdown in negotiations and a strike could deal a crushing blow to Philadelphia schools and to our kids. A constructive resolution is vital for the hopes and efforts at school renewal that have emerged in the past few years.

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Researchers find Kentucky experience follows pattern

Merit pay: An old idea haunted by old problems by EriC Jose/yn Th . !eiadcehaeber s hariendremwearridtePdaYwirSthaeSxi mtraPle one "

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earned it wide support. Many parents and community members support it as a means to increase "accountability" within the school system. Political pressure to support pay incentives comes from the business community as well because of its " Money motivates people" outlook . The basic idea is not a new one. Early in this century over 30% of school d istricts tried merit pay. With few exceptions, these practices failed and were abandoned. The reasons: there was no agreement on what constitutes good teaChing: there were no reliable measures of teaching efficiency: and merit pay scheme, undermined teache,,' morale. S1I1ce the late I9HCh there has been a resurgence of intere,t in financial incenmes to nnprovc schools. In Philadelphia.

Superintendent David Hornbeck had his own contract written to include nominal incenti ve-based pay, and the policy is a

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Opposition and alternatives Within the education research community, however, there is near unanimous agreement th at individ ual teacher incenti ves _ the most common of these being merit pay _ rarely work as they are intended to, for a variety of complex reasons. Two recent reviews of research on merit pay from the Harvard Education Leiter reinforce these negative find ings. Critics of individual merit pay point out that individual reward systems have always produced resentment among those not rewarded and created divisions

and competition in a setting where a premium must be placed on team work and collect' ff

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to individual incentives is a "skill- and knowledge-based" approach . This system compensates teachers not on the basis of students' test scores or supervi sor evaluations but for additional ski ll s and know ledge acqui red whIle on the job. But a salary schedule based on whether a teacher has taken a course or workshop is not ve ry diffe rent from the current salary-setti ng praclIce, based on experience and level of education. A second method links merit pay to school, rather than individual , perform~~ce: One well -studied example of thi s co ectlve approach is Kentucky's. The Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990

Early in this century over 30% oif school districts tried merit pay.

led to the distribution of $ 26. 1 million in bonuses to schools and di stricts in 1995.

fOU~~~Or:~~d:~~~d~::~::~:~~;;sa::;_e ally fun ctioned as incentives. Indeed, in some cases controversy over the use of the money appears to have torn school s apart. The ev idence also suggests that in schools that weren 't rewarded, the goals of the statewide reform effort may have been unde rmined, not reinforced. Ominou sly, teachers at these schools reported a lower sense of efficacy, higher stress levels, and most signifi cantl y, less commitment to the goals of school reform. Moreover, many teachers in Kentucky schools that were rewarded did not have a clear sense of exactl y what they did to raise scores . Conversely, teachers in schools where perform ance scores did not increase lacked concrete ideas as to how to go abo ut raising them. Another d irect result of test-driven

See "Merit pay" on p. 5

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SUMMER 1996

PAGES

SCHOOL NOTEBOOK

Experiencefrom other cities

Unions take lead on standards for teachers To eSlablish and maintain high standards of classroom instruction, some school districts have included teachers themselves in a teacher evaluation process called peer review. This approach differs significantly from methods currel7lly in place here in Philadelphia. Many parents in Philadelphia feel that quality of teaching is a major concern today. "Accountability" is a focus of the current teachers' contract negotiations The Notebook here reprints an edited version of an article by Juliet Ucelli on peer review first published il1 the Summer 1994 issue of School Voices, a New York City magazine Formalized procedures for rev iew of teac her pelfOimance are important mechani sms to protect teachers against arb itrary dismissals. Stories of principals harassing competent teachers who are progressive or innovative are common, as are stories of teachers who get away with behavior harmfu l to children. Teachers need due process rights, and parents and children need reasonable safeguards. How can both be guaranteed? In several cities, incl uding Toledo and Cincinnati in Ohio, American Federation of Teachers locals have initiated joint union-board of education "intervention" programs. These programs can req uire teachers with problems to receive assistance from expert peers at their grade level, or in high school , in their subject.

But if the troub led teachers don't improve to an acceptab le standard after two years of help and several levels of rev iew, they are dismissed - without opposition from the union .. The idea be hind these programs is to increase the capacity of teachers to hold themselves accountable to standards of teachin g. As one New York City teacher said , "How can we expect parents to respect us if we don't take action aga inst incompetents in our own ranks?" Advocates of the programs believe that unions shou ld not on ly fight for members' wages and work ing conditions, but should support quality teaching that meets the needs of students.

How intervention works Intervention program s vary somewhat. They all credential "lead teach-

ership, principal and superinte ndent must agree to initiate an intervention referral. In Cinc innat i, a fellow teacher or the principal can do so. A consulting teacher then investigates and reports to the rev iew panel, which decides whether intervention is necessary. If intervention is approved, then a consu lting teacher is ass igned to spend several ho urs a week with the problem teacher. S/he observes, teaches model lessons, rev iews the troubled teacher 's performance with him or her and offers suggestions as appropriate on management, teaching methods or assessment of students. After two years, the cons ulting teacher presents a report, with documentation, on whether the troubled teacher has improved to an acceptable standard , and s uggests either continuation or termination of employment. The rev iew panel goes over the report and makes its recommendation. The final decision is the superintendent's. In Cincinnati , teachers and admin istrators, the local press and the publi c consider the intervention process s uccessful. Between 1986 and 1990, 43 tenured teachers (out of a teaching force of 3,500) were referred for intervention. Sixteen either left teaching or were fired, 15 brought their teaching up to acceptable standards, and the remaini ng cases were continued into 199 1. Also the possibility of mandatory intervention has motivated some veteran teachers with problems to seek assistance voluntarily.

"How can we expect parents ;~~;;~~;~:cn~_ to respect us if we don't take action against incompetents in our own ranks?"

ers" who serve as peer coaches and eval uators for set terms, while continuing to spend some of their time teaching in the ir own classrooms. All the cities have a rev iew panel composed equall y of teachers (selected by the union) and admini strators (selected by the superintendent). In Toledo, the union 's building committee, union lead-

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What is good or bad teaching?

Merit pay Continued from p. 4

assessment of teacher performance serving as the basis of salary incentives is that test preparation eclipses other classroom instruction and experience. The Texas affiliate of the National Education Association reported that the state's ed ucators at present spend one-third of their class time preparing students for the test used to rank schools in a statewide accountabi lity plan. Educators are keen ly aware of the need to teach a variety of thinki ng skills and to engage students in a range of experiences. These activities suffer under a, test-driven c urricu lum.

What motivates teachers? Pe rhaps what is m iss ing from the merit pay model is the understand ing th at teaching is a profession where the rewards of professional success and human interaction, not monetary ga ins,

are primary. What keeps teachers going is the magic of personal growth of the students - seeing the li ght bulb go onand feeling a real sense of control, being part of defining what is to be accomplished and how to measure it. Estab lishing and maintaining high standards of teaching is a vital goal. In the broadest sense, the concept of rewards seems to be a sound one. However, any attempts to implement a spec ific system here in Ph il adelphia must take into account the well-documented experiences from around the country. Materials in this article are from "Early Reports from Kentllcky 011 Cash Rewards For 'Successful' Schools Reveal Many Problems," by Edward Miller; and "Do Rewards Work ? New Ideas Like Collective In celllives and Skill-Based Pay Raise the Same Old Questions," by Michael Sadowski and Edward Miller; both in the Harvard Education Letter, JanuarylFebruary 1996.

Obviously, evaluati ng a teacher is complicated and somewhat subjective. No clear consensus exists among educators or parents on what constitutes competent teach ing. Toledo's review board recogn izes as acceptable a range of teaching methods and phi losophies as long as they aren't harmful to kids . (For example, a philosophy that claims some students are intellectually inferior is not acceptable.) Within thi s range, the evaluator accepts the teacher's choice of method and assesses whether slhe is implementing it appropriately. Despite some initi al resistance, Cincinnati admi nistrators have reported that the in tervention program , by relieving them of some duties, allows them to focus on other school issues . In a simil ar vein, one New York City principa l complained to us that she had spen t several hours each week for six month s writing up observations and dealing with the bureaucracy about a severe ly troub led teacher. She sa id , "I have neglected good, caring teache rs, especial ly new

teachers, who need my feedback and support. I've felt guilty and conni cted this whole time." From a parent perspective, Lola Glover, president of the Toledo Coalition for Qua lity Education, supports intervention programs. Glover, a mother who put eight children through the Toledo public school system, feels that , " It 's a good program, structu rall y and conceptually.. . Sometimes I worry that teache rs who are liked by peers or the union get off more eas ily. But overall, I support the program." Teachers who do not cooperate in these changes will drive parents to oppose job safegu ards and to view teacher unions and teachers' labor rights as obstacles to good education for kids. As one teacher said, "There are different styles and views in teaching. That's one thing. But there are teachers who are really doing harm to kids, and I will no longer defend them."

Juliet Uce/Ii is a New York City public school social worker and co-editor of School Voices.

i--Change-is-in-----the air ...

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Acci6n publica Vierre de /8 p. 1 com ida "etnica" tambien fue mencionada, ya que la poblaci6n de Taylor es predominantemente Latina. Madres/padres y maestros ofrecieron " testimonio" ace rca de la baja cali dad de la comida que se sirve en el comedor. Una mama dijo que las escuelas en Pueno Rico y Santo Domingo [Republica Dominicana] sirven buena comida. Una maestra dijo que sus alumno e enferman por no comer. "Ellos abren los almuerzos empaquetados, sienten el olor y entonces los echan a la basura." En cieno momento durante el even to mas de 50 ninos subieron al escenario para responder a la pregunta, "Que piensan de la comida en Taylor?" Luego una

mama lider Ie pregunt6 ala concurrencia: • Creen ustedes que es justo que tengamos una cocina grandota y que no podamos preparar nuestra propria comida, pero q ue las escuelas elementales en el Noreste si puedan? • Creen ustedes que es justo que aunque nuestros ni nos no coman la com ida se cuente como que sf la comen y que asi el Distrito Escolar pueda recibir un reembolso del gobiemo federal? • Creen ustedes que nuestros ninos puedan aprender con un estomago vacio? En ese momento los lideres de la acci6n publica Ie hicieron una pregunta al Sr. McGl inchy, hasta dentro de poco Jefe de Servicios de Alimentaci6n del Distrito Escolar: "perm itira Ud. el uso de la cocina en Taylor para proveer almuerzos cal ientes a los ninos?"

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McG linchy dijo que el mi smo come varios de esos almuerzos a la semana, Y que con frecuencia se prueba el valor nutricional y la integridad de la com Ida. Pero cuando se Ie precion6 a responder a la pregunta con un "Si" 0 un "No", McGlinchy respondi6 que Taylor va a tener comida caliente: "La cocina se va a usar para preparar los almuerzos siempre y cuando los nifios se coman la com ida". Debe haber efectivamente un 100% de panicipaci6n en el programa de almuerzos para que un servicio de cafeteria completo sea rentable. "Eso es 10 que se necesita para que un programa de almuerzos calientes pueda continuar indefinidamente," explic6 McG linchy. Tambien dijo que el diaJogo entre su oficina y los padres/madres de familia debe continuar, de tal manera que puedan planificar adecuadamente para empezar el nuevo programa en Septiembre.

Entre los padres/madres lideres reinaba la eufori a. Para los padres de TaylorEPOP la acci6n para obtener mejor comida fue la primera victoria de un esfuerzo por mejorar la educaci6n en Tay lor. Los padres/madres de f amilia comen_ zaron a reunirse como grupo en Octubre pas ado y a escuchar las preocupaciones de mas de otros 150 padres antes de decid ir confrontar el asunto de la comida. Ellos se han comprometido a Continuar trabajando en otros asuntos cuando la escuela comlenze en el Otofi o. EI trabajo de organizaci6n en la escuela Taylor por pane de EPOP es pane del Proyecto Organi zac i6n de Al ianza (A lliance Organizing Project), un esfuerzo por constru ir equipos de padres/madres Iideres a traves de la ciudad que luchen por mej orar la educaci6n.

Traduccion par Manuel Portillo

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Schools On Line Thanks to a $500,000 grant from Bell Atlantic, students and teachers returning to class in September will be able to tap the power of the Internet at Philadelphia's 256 public school libraries.

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Bell President and CEO W'II' H I lam arral School B Atlantic-Pennsylvania dP . oar . resident Andrew Farnese (standing, left to right) and h I Supenntendent David Hornbeck (seated) get I . c 00 Internet from Harrity Elementary School stud a esson on surfing the. Li brarian Rachelle Nocito, student Dionna s ent Issac Anderson, While Assistant Betty Berry-Holmes look on. amuel and School Board

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SUMMER 1996

PAGE 7

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La corte estatal presta atenci6n a los fundos

;,Debe pagar el estado, la ciudad? por Mike Churchill

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La Juez de la Corte Commonwealth , Doris Smith, orden6 al Distrito Escolar a revertir algunos de Los cortes presupuestaLes predispuestos a principios de Junio para observar las reformas indicadas por eLla en su Orden deL 22 de Abril. Las siguientes son las reformas incluidas en su Orden deL 22 Abril en Lo que constituye el caso de -segregaci6n escolar que ya ha durado 25 anos. • desarrollar un plan integral para la participaci6n de padres/madres de familia q ue se base en la experiencia de la escuela intermed ia Shaw y la escuela elemental Ferguson asf como en "estrategias recomendadas conjuntamente por el Home & School Counci l, Parents Union , Alliance of Public School Advocates y el Citizens Committee on Public Education y Parents Un ited for Better Schools." • antes del fin del af\o escolar, "distribu irle a maestros y directores de escuela una gufa de ' las mejores pnkticas' que refleje estrategias efectivas para atraiga a los padres/madres de familia y que aumente su participaci6n en las escuelas . " • " implementar un plan integral para la participaci6n de padres/mad res de familia en todas las escuelas hacia el fi nal de este af\o escolar . • " desarrollar e implementar un plan curriculum que supervise el desarrollo de estandars y evaluaci6n y desarrollo profesional. " El Philadelphia Public Education Fund no debera tener ninguna

participac i6n en este proceso. • evaluar los programas de educaci6n especial y luego presentar un plan para corregirlos sobre representaci6n de estudiantes Hispanos y Afro-Americanos, asf como la baja representaci6n en programas para dotados mentales (mentally gifted) . • "proveerle a cad a escuela a partir del inicio del af\o escolar 1996-97 suficientes libros y materiales instructivos, computadoras y otro equipo educacional para uso de cada estudiante de tal manera que aprenda adecuadamente y que efectue su aprendizaje al grado escolar apropriado. " • "no eliminar .. . reducir . . . trans-

ferir fundos de ... 0 de alguna manera restringir las iniciativas de desegregaci6n actuales sin previo. consentim iento de la Corte."

la seguridad que sea implementado a partir de Septiembre, 1996. • " identificar las pnicticas di sciplinarias efecti vas y ejemplares," desarrollar un "p lan integral de disciplina uniforme a traves del systema para la diseminaci6n a todas las escuelas antes del fin de este af\o esco lar" y proveer cualquier entrenam iento necesario de tal manera que las escuelas puedan establecer programas a partir de Septiembre, 1996. • "distribuir a cada familia y esc uela . .. informaci6n concemiente a un c6digo de vestuario escolar voluntario ... " que sea implementado durante el afio escolar 1996-97 . • "consultar con las autoridades competentes y el personal de seguridad escolar para determinar la manera mas efectiva, consistente y no di scriminatoria . para observar el Acta 26, y reportar

"Implementar un plan integral para la participacion de padreslmadres de familia en todas las escuelas."

• proveer un reporte de "todas las medidas de costo-ahorro tomadas de acuerdo a las recomendaciones de su Equipo de Administraci6n y Productividad." La Corte ordenara la auditorfa de los asesores y contratos de servicios profesionales y relacionados. • antes del final del af\o escolar, "conducir una encuesta escuela-por-escuela sobre la seguridad en las escuelas y necesidades de seguridad" y desarrollar un plan integral de protecci6n escolar y

resultados no mas tarde del 3 de Mayo. • presentar informaci6n detail ada a la Corte no mas tarde del 3 de Mayo, 1996, de la ejecuci6n planificada del programa completo de clusters (grupos de escuelas) para Septiembre, 1996, una transici6n que la Corte autoriza especificamente y que la Commissi6n de Relaciones Humanas de Pennsylvania y relacionados aprueban. • no utilizar la transici6n a los clusters como "arg umento 0 justificaci6n para despojar a los esrudiantes de articu los escolares y materiales, computadoras, maestros de Ingl es, programas de lecrura remediales, clases pequef\as, aumento en oportunidades para escuelas ' magnet ', personal educati vo apropiado 0 cualquier otro requerimiento remedial de las ordenes de la Corte." • " asegurarse que (los clusters) estan de-segregados hasta donde sea posible." • "reportar sobre . .. el resultado de la auditoria de reparaci6n de edificios para todas las escuelas aisladas racialmente" asi como a traves del distrito. Traducci6n pOl' Manuel Porrillo

Una voz de los mas afectados

Los estudiantes exijen al consejo municipal por Sarah Shapiro no estamos haciendo nuestra parte. Le pedimos apoyo al Consejo MuniEl6 de junio, el Consejo Municipal cipal para los proyectos de ley de fondos escuch6 testimonio sobre dos proyeclOs escolares. Votando para estos proyecros de ley presentados pOl' eI miembro del de ley es la manera mas eficaz para concejo Angel Ortiz que propone echar demonstrarle a las personas en este sal6n para Olros cortes en el impueslO de y al resto de Filadelfia que ustedes se ingreso y eI impueslO de negocios para preocupan sobre la educaci6n publica. as[ poder cubrir el fondo escolar. EI No hay ningun argumento que nos conNotebook reprodujo los comel1larios de venza que estos proyectos de ley no son Sarah Shapiro, estudial1le de Central importantes. Sabemos que este dinero es High School y representante de la Uni6n de Estudiantes de _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ solamente el primer paso en la Filadelfia. larga batalla para Hoy nos reuniFondos esco lares, mos aquf para pedir pero es un primer su apoyo. Hemos paso de imporranhecho todo 10 posicia que no puede ble, como estudiser ignorado. antes, para conPid iendole al estado el dinero que nos seguir dinero para nuestras escuelas. deben sera mas facil cuando la ciudad Sabemos que la ciudad no tiene dinero hay a hecho todo 10 posible por ayusuficiente para sostener nuestras escuelas darnos. y tenerlas de la manera que debi eran ser. Realmente creemos que la lIave hacia Solo pedimos que la ciudad haga su parte un futuro brillante, no solo para los indiantes de que vayamos a Harrisburg. Si la vi duos sino tam bien para el bienestar de ciudad no demuestra que esta haciendo la ciudad, es un excelente sistema educa10 posible por conseguir dinero para sus tivo. Estudiantes de escuelas intermedias nif\os, entonces el estado no tendra y superiores que son motivados yeducaninguna simpatfa por nosotTOS. Es una dos seran graduados educados de la unihipocresfa pedir dinero al estado cuando versidad, los cuales proveeran a la ciudad con emp leados talentosos y responsables. Los negocios vendnin a la ciudad y crearan trabajos de buena paga al saber Las bienvenidas del Public School que la ciudad cuenta con una Fuente de buenos empleados. Habran menos perNotebook a su correspondencia, las sonas viviendo en la pobreza, que signifi criticas, u oponiendo puntos de vista. POl' Favor envielos al School Notebook, cara menos crfmenes violentos y una ciu3721 Midvale Ave. Phila. PA 19129. dad mas bonita.

Solo pedimos que la ciudad haga su parte antes de que vayamos a Harrisburg.

l emIl es su opinion?

Los impuestos se podnin reducir sin amenazar algun programa vita l 0 de importancia. Esto dado a que habran empleados con buena paga y el valor de las propiedades subira. Los hijos de estas fami lias creceran y continuaran e ta cadena de exitos y Fi ladelfia se convertini en la ciudad en que todos quisieramos vivir. Esto no podn\ suceder sin que se tome la iniciati va para mejorar nuestras escuelas. EI primer paso en este proceso se puede tomar hoy con su apoyo del plan de fondos esco lares. A cad a conceja l que esta aquf hoy Ie digo: Ud. tiene e l poder. No 10 malgaste. Tradllcci611 pOl' /I'IS Losada

Riege las noticias Ayude a di tribuir Philadelphia Public School Notebook. Usted puede ser parte del equipo que distribuye School Notebook a traves de la ciudad. Copias estan disponible para la distribuci6n en su escuela, lugar de trabajo e iglesia. Esuln disponible para un evento publico, una reunIon en la e. cuela 0 en un centro comunal. Favor de lIamar al School Notebook, 951-0330, si csta lnteresado en formar parte dcl equlpo.


SUMMER 1996

SCHOOL NOTEBOOK

PAGE 8

Maintenance problems pile up

Bluford parents prod District to make repairs by Chip Smith "It was frustrating coming into the school every day and seeing the building run down and no heat in the cafeteria. The children had to wear coats during lunch. On really cold days the temperature wa around 45°," noted Tamara Parnell, president of the Bluford Home and School A sociation, in a recent interview with the Notebook. '"I grew up in Maryland, and I know how schools ought to look, " she added. Guion-Bluford (formerly Hanna) Elementary School is located at 58th and Media Street in West Philadelphia. It's pan of the Overbrook Cluster and has about a thousand students in gtades K-5 . "We meet once a month - the last Tuesday - and in January we sent out a flier urging parents to come to discuss the horrible, horrendous conditions at the school. We usually have about 50 to I 00 parents at our meetings, but this one was a little larger," Parnell said. (It 's worth recalling, when thinking about conditions at Bluford, just how cold and snowy January was this year.)) The parents decided to go to the next School Board meeting to press their case. After touring the building and taking pictures of cracked ceilings, mi ssi ng bathroom stall doors and more, the parents made up two large poster-boards cataloging the more than 70 maintenance problems they found.

Who's to blame? There are confusing, even contradictory views as to why the build-up of problems occurred at Bluford. Tamara

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Parnell blames the lack of School District oversight of maintenance work at the school. She says she talked to the principal who. in tum, called the District Facilities office " numerous times" concerning the work orders that the building engineer presumably had sent in. Bluford's principal, Dr. William Garberina. commented, " When a work order is sent in, they won't come out for j ust one. But a ca ll downtown will usually bring them out when things build up." And AI Dorsey, Administrator of Faci lities Management, countered with the view that in schools with privatized maintenance contracts, building engineers never learn how to get things done, due to their " tremendous" turnover. "They changed every two or three months," he said. 'There were 76 identified repairs," he added. 'The larger ones need a work order."

Parents take action Regardless of how the blame is spread about, the fact remains that no action on the problems occurred until some 30 parents and their ch ildren appeared at the School Board meeting in early February. The parents' preparation and testimony brought immediate results. AI Dorsey's assistant came out the next day and, accordi ng to Parnell, was "shocked" at the conditions of his old alma mater. Work began and a week later Schoo l Board president Andrew Farnese toured the building. A permanent solution for the school 's heating problem was serried on , instead of the piecemeal repairs that had been done each year since 1989. Principal Garberina credits the parents with achieving this permanent solution , as well as with speeding up maintenance on the other problems. Today almost all the repairs have been completed. " It was enl ightening for all of us," said Tamara Parnell, " What people can do when there's unity!"

Spread the news Help distribute the Philadelphia Public School Notebook. You can be a pan of putting the Notebook in the hands of people across the city. Copies are avai lable for distribution to your school, community center, place of worShip, special public event, or Home and School meeting. Contact us at Public School Notebook, 372 1 Midvale Ave ., Phi la. PA 19 129. Phone: (2 15) 951-0330.

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Evaluations favor maintenance Local 1201

Privatized schools likely to revers to union A debate over who's best at keeping our schools clean and running is being tested out at twenty school sites across the city. For the past three years, ten schools have tried out maintenance service contracts with private non-unioB companies, Arrow-General and HGO. But now, according to Al Dorsey, head of Facili.ties Management for the School District, principal evaluations of these schools compared to ten other schools maintained by Operating Engineers Local 1201 have favored the union's perfonnance. It seems likely that by the time the trial period ends on August 3, maintenance services at all the privatized schools will revert back to the union rather than be re-bid or extended for an additional year.

ed for change. EJeinentary schools, due to their smaller size, generally do not permit the same part-time to full-time saving. Team-cleaning is being put in place, however, and the union and the District continue to discuss other possible efficiencies. Even under current arrangements, Local 1201 has an advantage over the private firms because its workforce is more stable. (See1l)eaccompanying story on the Bl.u:fo¢$chooJ.) AI Dorsey pointed out th.<lt contract provisions restrict builditlg'engineers in Local 1201 from bidding off a job until they have held it for at least a year. The private firms have no such limitations, and turnover is heavy. As a result, engineers have less opportunity to become familiar with the facility, its repair needs and the operating environment of the School District.

Union pilot program In what was a cost-cutting eltperiment, the District put out the contracts for bid in 1993. Four SChools were awarded to HGO, and silt to ArrowGeneral. Operating Engineers Local 1201 initially grieved this pl1ivatizing of the schools, but lost in arbitration. The union then proceeded to negotiate into their 1993 contract the setting up of a "pi lot progtam" that would match the union's performance in an equal number of schools against that of the private companies. The union implemented new practices in the secondary schools tbat have contributed to increased efficiency. Five-hour part-time jo~s were com- . bined into a reduced mUnber of fulltime positions, thereby saving the School District on benefits costs. At Wi lIiam Penn High School, for example, seven people were displaced, and all were r~assigned to currently open five-hour Jobs. By convening schools one by one in !his manner, the agteement assures that no workers are laid off. The pilot program also eliminated the practice of reponing to fixed work stations. Now union workers can be assigned more flexibly throughout the school based on the maintenance needs at any given time. Finally, the union Implemented a more productive teamcleanmg approach in the ten schools. The success of these new work arrangements led Local 1201 and the School Dlstnct to incorporate them into the fall 1995 Contract covering all secondary schools. Ten schools have been convened to date, with ten more target-

Perspectives differ on privatization Larry Byers, a spokesperson for Arrow-General, stres~ed the importance of separating out pJoblems of poor maintenance at a particular school like Bluford's, which he attributest0 long-term neglect on the part of the School Dis trict - from the issue of privatization. "Philadelphia is a union town," he added, "and it's s tacked against privatization." Byers declined to go into more detail on the matter. Anthony Ott9bre, president of Operating Engineers Local 1201 , had a diffe~nt pefSPtl':tive: "We never belie.v ed thatpdvatizati~~ would work. One , lerl¥entary, reverted to io ne or July due to poor performance. Two others, Shaw and Carnell, are currently in the process." While Dorsey suggested that decisions on what to do about the contracts would have to be made in the next few weeks, Ottobre expressed concern that the switchover would come too late. If the private companies do not properly PJepare the schools during the major end-of-the-school-jlear cleaning, then the union - and the chi ldren - will be left with unacceptable conditions at the start of the school year in September. "Privatization has been perceived by some people as the remedy for all kinds of problem s. It's been proven here that it's not what they thought it would be,"' commented Ottobre. "We are willing to keep working with the School District to improve productivity," he added. "It's what the children need ."


PAGE 9

SUMMER 1996

Food quality at Taylor School protested

Parents savor their victory by Pat Lowe wiches," she added . Parents di ssati sfied with overa ll food The palatability of the satellite proquality and the lack of ethnic food given gram 's food was the main issue of the the ir children in frozen pre-wrapped evening. B ut the lack o f ethnic Hispanic school lunches me t with Schoo l Di stri ct food was also mentioned, in light of the officials on May 23 at Tay lor Elementary K-4 school's predomi nantl y Latino popuSchoo l. lation. Organized by the Eastern North Parents and teachers presented "testiPh iladelphia Organ izing Project (EPOP) mony" to the poor qua lity of food served and the Taylor Parents- EPOP, the in the lunchroom. One parent said that "action " brought nearly 300 parents and schools in Puerto Rico and Santo children to the school's - _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Domingo [Domini can mUltipurpose lunchroom, which also serves as a gym and auditorium. They came

"S d tu ents open up and II sme the lunches and h h '

to protest the unavai lability of hot lunches: only warmed-over food trucked in from New York is served. Despite the fact that Taylor has a fully equipped ki tchen and a cafeteria-style serving area, no food is cooked on the premises for its 700-plus students. A lunchroom worker commented that the chi Idren usually eat heated food , such as French toast for breakfast; or turkey nuggets, ham bu rgers, pizza and lasagna at lunch . "The kids don ' t like the bologna and other cold lunchmeat sand-

Republic] serve good food. A teacher said the kids in her class get sick from not eating, "They open up and smell the lunches and throw them away." At one point over 50 children came on stage to answer, " Wllat do yo u think about the food at Taylor?" Then one parent leader asked the crowd: • Do you think it 's fa ir we have a huge kitchen and can 't prepare our own food , but elementary schoo ls in the Northeast can? • Do yo u think it 's fail' when the kids don't eat the food but are counted anyway, so the Di strict can get reimbursed

trow t em away. '

from the government? • Do you think our kids can think on an empty stomach? Leaders of the action then asked Mr. Daniel McGlinch y, outgoing head of Food Services for the School District, one question: "Will you restore use of the kitchen at Taylor to provide hot cooked mea ls?" McG linchy stated that he himself eats the box lunches severa l times a week, and that the food is regularly tested for wholesomeness and nutritional value. B ut when pressed for a "Yes" o r "No" on the question , McGlinchy answered that Taylor School will have hot cooked food : "The kitchen will be used for preparing the meals as long as all the kids eat the food. " There must be virtuall y 100% part ic ipation in the school lunch prog ram for a full -servi ce cafeteri a to be ab le to pay for

Schools and hospital in team effort

King Cluster students organize health fair by John Shinefeld Martin Luther King Hi gh School and four mi dd le schools from the King Cluster he ld the ir first hea lth fair on May 8. Stude nts from King together with Ada Lewi s, Leeds, Hill-Freedman and Wagner Middle Schools worked with staff from Geemantown Hospital and Medical Center to plan and carry out the event. The project began last fa ll when hospital representatives sought to build a sense of partnership with loca l students and the ir families. They hoped to make Germantown Hospital and other healthcare institutions less intimidating and more accessible. "Thi s was an opportunity to work with children and students -to assist them to develop li fe skills and learn abo ut important health issues wh ile gaining the ex perie nce of working on a long-te em project," said Vanessa Jackson, Germantown Hospital's Director of Community Development. Patty Barell a, a reg istered nurse, observed , "Hospital staff co uld have planned and run this event for the students, but we recognized earl y on that student involve me nt was essential for two reasons. First, we needed to be in touch with the types of things that are important to the students. Second , we hoped to mentor the students through the planning process, to make the who le project a real learn ing ex perience for them. "

dents practiced skill s such as problem solving, keeping a schedu le, resource plannin g and utili zation, ne tworking and work ing with others, and project management. Th e students were able to refi ne the basic idea of hav ing a health fair for the ir peers until they were actuall y able to run th is event fo r 600 of the ir fellow students. Z ulette He nry, Shanae MOOJy, Kasetta Coleman and Jamar Dove were four of the students who spent many hours on the event. They viewed the who le process as fun , es pecia lly working on the day of the event. Zu lette talked about how she learned health infoemation at the same time that she learned how to work with people of all ages. Kasetta commented that teaching kids her own age was especiall y challenging and fun. One key feature of th is event was the involvement of students' parents in the planning meetings . Another was the surveyi ng of students to determine activities that would interest 7th , 8th and 9th graders. Five broad themes emerged: substance abuse, teen pregnancy and sex ually-transmitted di seases, awareness of the physicall y challenged and body mechan ics, health y habits, and violence and confl ict resol ution. From these themes students developed activ iti es to help teach information and concepts through acti ve participati on and interaction . For in stance. Youth Organi zed about Comm unity AIDS Project (YOACAP) perfo rmed several times during the event. In formational booths he lped combine fun games with a learning foc us. A King High School peer med iator provided information on using med iation to reduce viole nce. Liberty Services, a community organiza-

tion that advocates for the physically challenged, used tying shoes while wearing mittens and maneuvering around an obstacle course in a wheelchair to demonstrate what it is like to be physica ll y challe nged. One of the most heavily visi ted areas featured a teenage mother and father who engaged students in seriou s conversation about the rea li ties of being a

itself." That's what's needed if a hot lunch program is to continue indefinitely," McGl inchy explained. He a lso stated that the dialogue between his office and the Tay lor parents must continue so that they can plan adequately for the new lunch program in September. Parent leaders were jubilant. For Taylor Parents-EPOP the action for food was the first victory in an effort to improve ed ucation at Taylor. Parents began meeting last October and listened to the concerns of more than 150 parents before deciding to tackle the food issue. They vow to continue on other issues next fall. Organizing at Tay lor School by EPOP is part of the Alli ance Organizing Project effort to build independent parent leadersh ip teams fighting for improved education across the ci ty. teen parent. They talked abo ut what it is reall y like to be pregnant, give birth to and care for a baby. They spoke of the al tered body im age, caring for the baby while trying to go to school. and not being ab le to go out with their friends the way they used to. Their message contrasted reality with the romanticized ideas they had held before. Diane Satterwaithe. Family Resource Network Coordinator for the King Cl uster, reflected, " It took a while to gel. but it was a wonderful experience to see things come to fruition. I truly hope this is someth ing we can do every year."

The hospital became an alternative learning site for the students.

The hospita l became an a ltern ati ve learn ing site fo r these stude nts. Hospi tal staff worked as mentors and teache rs not "doers" - he lping the students stay On track and prov id ing feedback. With the guidance of hospi tal employees. stu -

Salute (sa' - 'lute) To give a sign of respect, honor or courtesy.

We proudi y salute Ronald R. Haynes, Jr. an 8th Grade Student at Warren G. Harding Jr. High School. Ronald is one of the First Prize Winner of the Mellon PSFS Stop the Violence Essay Contest.

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Mellon PSFS®


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PAGE 10

SUMMER 1996

SCHOOL NOTEBOOK

Finding a voice, speaking to power

Chinatown parents build on busing victory by Chip Smith Up until 1992 the parents of Chinatown children spent up to two hours a da y walking their small children across busy Center City streets to the McCall School at 6th and Delancey Streets - across Arch, Market, Chestnut and Walnut Streets in the morning and again at school c losing. Sui Ling Cheung remembers looking down from her apartment on Race Street, seeing school buses go by, and thinking , "Why can ' t our children be taken to school by bus like the other children?" The oldest of fi ve children, Che ung quit school in the 1970s to work in the garment industry and he lp raise her small sisters and brother. Cheung was able to see the other children in her famil y successfull y fini sh school. Now she is struggling to make it possible for her own children to do the same. Cheung, together with two other publi c school parents, Xiu Mei Tsang and F u Zhen Sie, spoke with the NOIebook recently about the Chinese Parents Association (CPA), the organization that succeeded in persuading the School Di strict in 1992 - and again in 1993 to provide transportation for their ch ildren through the rush-hour traffic. The Di strict initially refused the request for bus service by pointing to a rule that requires the distance to school to be more than one and one-half miles before they will set up a route. The parents consulted with people at Asian Americans United (AAU), a Chinatownbased community organization they had come to know through its youth programs for their children . AAU affirmed the parents' right to bus serv ice and helped them get organized. A core of 15 parents planned strategy and, together with AAU staffers, knocked on doors throughout the community to organi ze support fo r safe transpon to school. Eventually a group of 35 parents, with signs in Chinese and English, traveled with their volunteer translators to the School Board to make the ir case. The collective effort was successful and the children began to be carri ed to and from schoo l in the spring of 1992. But the battle was not complete ly won. The nex t year the School Di strict tried to

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eliminate the bus ro ute when large budget cuts were forced on the schools. The parents mobilized once again. This time they were able to ral ly more parents than before - now that the buses had actually been won and were playing such an important role in people's lives. The result was a second victory. Today, two buses each day continue to carry 120 children from Chinatown to the K-8 school and back. But any talk of budget cuts by the District arouses parents' concerns, evidenced by the large CPA turnout March 7 at the City Council demon stration to demand full funding for the schoo ls. "Winning a school bus was a real achievement," Fu Zhen S ie commented. "It helped us believe that we can reall y do something." The role of AAU in the victory was noted by Xiu Mei Tsang, "AAU listens . It 's one place where we can speak up, where Chinese people can get together, united , to pressure fo r change."

Obstacles at McCall School Important as the buses are in people's lives, getting the children safely to and from McCall is onl y one step toward getting a good education for the children in Chinatown. Once at school, the children face barriers to ed ucation that result in 70% of McCall 's Asian-languagespeaking graduates eventually dropping out of Furness High School. For years parents have complained that McCall has too few Chinese-speaking staff and that the ESOL (English for Students of Other Languages) program retards students' development compared to their Engli sh-speaking classmates. The proble m that parents in the CPA see with ESOL is that children are taken out of regular classes for half the day and taught English - just

(Cantonese, Mandarin, Fukien), as well as the non-Chinese languages represented at the school (Vietnamese and Laotian). The ability of McCall to prepare all its children for high school depends on the School District's hiring and assignment of teachers with the needed language abilities. But the District began to hire bilingual teachers only as a result of a lawsuit it lost in 1989. Its actions to comply with the court order have been largely formal according to Alex Wong, a volunteer with AAU who works with the CPA . "They hire just enough to comply - and then make assignments that don't match students' needs across the district. " Further progress at McCall is in question now because Principa l Samuels is leav ing. CPA parents were so upset by this development that last December they wrote a letter to Superintendent Hornbeck outlining their concerns and specifically requesting that their children 's needs be taken into acco unt in the hiring of a new principal. Hornbeck 's response was that parents shou ld work through the normal channels at McCall, in particular the Home and School Association. The parents' problem here is that the Home and Schoo l has only recently been reconsti tuted and has not yet dealt with the language barriers that effectively keep immi grant parents out.

The ESOL program retards students' development compared to their Englishspeaking classmates.

English, not math or socia l studies or any of the other subjects they are missing while there. The result is that children do not understand what 's going on in their regular classes and are not taught this material while in ESOL. Moreover, children seem to be ass igned to ESOL based on the fact that they are Asian, not based on language needs. So children born in the U.S. - nat ive speakers - can be ass igned to ESOL and have their studies he ld back for no reason at all. Special tutoring assistance helps, parents say, because that way children unde rstand their home work assignments and can get he lp doing them. But the tutoring program at McCa ll was cut several years ago. This past year one hour of tutoring per week was reinstated as a result of pressure from CPA parents. The principal of McCall, Janet Samuels, is viewed by the CPA as helpful in responding to parents' concerns. The two Chinese-speaking teachers at the school have been given a combined class, made up of half Chinese- and half Engli sh-speaking children, that covers regul ar subjects in both Engl ish and Chinese. This arrangement is a significant improvement, but is avail abl e for less than a qu arter of the Asian children in the schoo l. Matters are complicated by the various d ia lects that children speak at home

Barriers to unity The CPA has won some victori es and learned a lot about the power relations that control the schools. But underlying the ability to cha llenge school decisionmakers is the bu ilding of unity among the parents and their supporters in Chinatown. Just as language is a barrier to learning and involvement in the schools, it is also a barrier to organi zing in China-

town. The core of the CPA has been Cantonese-speaking parents. But the largest percentage of parents in Chinatown speak Fukien dialects; and a smaller number, Mandarin. While for large meetings translation among the different dialects and English can be arranged, conducting the sessions becomes very unwieldy. Recently, the group has been able to run meetings using a mixture of Cantonese, Mandarin and English. Regular participation of Fukien-speaking parents, however, remains to be achieved. A second problem is the perception of many parents in Chinatown that it is the children that are to blame for poor perfonnance at school, not problems in ESOL or language barriers. Recent immigrants tend to be very respectful of teachers and school authorities. As a result, many ch ildren who are placed in an ESOL structure that systematically holds them back receive no support for their problems at home. Thus , parent organi zers have to overcome significant resistance to involve parents in vo icing opposition to school policies.

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Project 10,000 A Children Achieving Agenda Initative Recruit and Match

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Don't let the right out-organize us. Join NCEA. • In a single weekend the Christian Coalition is able to generate tens of thousands of phone calls about education issues to policymakers at all levels. • Between 1989 and 1994 Citizens for Excellence in Education/ National Association of Christian Educators helped elect 12,000 conservative Christians to school boards around the country. • Concerned Women for America. a virulent opponent of sex education. claims 1.200 chapters and reaches 750.000 daily w ith its radio show. These groups are successful because those who share their beliefs support them. People for the American Way and the Institute for First Amendment Studies estimate that 90% of the religious right's funding comes from individual contributions. The National Coalition of Education Activists is building the kind of organization that can speak and act with equal power for parents and teachers who share progressive. anti-racist views. But we can't do it without you. For more information about joining or to send tax-deductible contributions: NCEA. P.O. Box 679. Rhinebeck. NY 12572. Phone 914-876-4580 E-mail rfbs @aol.com

Name'_____________________________________

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Address,__________________- - - - -Zip Code_ _

SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY: COLLABORATING FOR JUSTICE

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July 25-29, 1996 in Cleveland.


SUMMER 1996

PAGE 12

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Spring protests push Council on funding Continued from p. 1 how the c uts are hurting their education and threatening their futures; how the City mu st continue to demon strate increased spending on schools could it s own commitment to education. " strengthen the city 's economy and slow Advocating for the bill was an up hi ll m iddle class fl ight to the suburbs; and ; truggle because Counc il had j ust _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ approved the tax how state legislators will be loath cuts wi th little to increase fund dissent earlie r this ing for Ph il ade lyear. phi a schools if The hearings they see Philaon Orti z's resoludelphi a c utting tions to postpone its taxes and its the tax cuts drew school spending. hundreds of stu On ly a minoridents and parents ty of the 17 City Counc il members sat to Counc il chambers on June 6. through the afternoon hearings . Several Re ligious leaders. economists and parothers indicated they had their minds ents joined many students in testifying made up agai nst the bill or sa id they would vote for it only if eight other votes were fo und. After a long day of compelling testi mony, an e loquent sixth grader, Lakeea Moore from Pierce Middl e School , brought the cro wd to its feet with her welcomes parents to clos ing line - "Calling Governor visit our library Ridge! Calling Mayor Rendell! No more c uts!" Council rnembers aJl joined in the Come f ind out about you r standing ovation. The anger at year upon school year of fin anc ial neglect appeared to have finally struck a chord with Council me mbers. But as the hearings drew to a close, this ex pression of support did not translate into votes for Orti z's bi lls. Council Pres ident John Street finally adjourned the sess ion without a vote but closed with a speech about all the complications preventing City Council from 3 11 S. J un iper St. supporting the bill s. Angry parents in Rm. 602 the crowd responded, " You keep telling Philadelph ia, PA 19107 us aJi the things that we can ' t do to help (215) 546-1166 the school s; te ll us what we can do! " Street's response was that

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One outcome is that the City negotiated a more fa vorable rate with Peco Energy, saving the District $1.6 million.

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Winners: The perennial powerhouse women's track team from William Penn High School won its thirteenth straight Public League Track Ch~m足 pionship as well as its thirteenth straight State Indoor Track Champl~n: ship this year. Pictured above are Angel Patterson (left) and Neffertlttl Cooper (third from left). Other members of the All-State Track and Field Team not shown here are Brandit Copper, Charlene Jones, and Quanda Talington. The team has been coached by Tim Hickey since 1972. Philade lphians must wait and see what funding decisions are made by the state.

Issue of tax cuts remains Whi le no action was taken on the Ortiz bills, the protests represented the first strong challenge to Mayor Rendell's political and budget strategy calling fo r five years of small , symbolic tax cuts. The tax cuts are now likely to face ongoing resistance over the coming month s and years, as long as the schools ' financial predicament continues. The protests also spurred discussion of several other approaches to averting school budget cuts. One outcome is that the City negotiated a more favorable rate with Peco Energy, which prov ides some

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of its industria l customers a rate 50% lower than it charges the School District. The new rates , announced June 6, are only slightly reduced but wi ll save the District $1.6 m illion (and save the City an additional $17.5 million over fou r years). Other strategies that have emerged for increasing revenues for schools include : sales of city tax liens; stricter enforcement of the liquor tax; a credi t card from wh ich a portion of the profits would go to schools; and suing the state for increased fund ing.

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For more information concerning ongoing organizing efforts of the Philadelphia Student Union, call 724-}j68.

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For Every Child The Opportunity to Learn A Common Sense Agenda for Real Education Reform Philadelphia's children deserve more than slogans and sound bites. Philadelphia's children can achieve- but only if we act to assure each and every one of them an opportunity to learn. That is why the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' education reform agenda focuses on what children need most if they are to have a fair chance to succeed in school. The experience of the thousands of educators who spend time with our children tells us what common sense does: Every Child Needs To Be Ready for School The research is unanimous. Children who receive age-appropriate child care and early education fare better than children who do not. We can no longer afford to have to choose between failing children in first grade or passing children on who are clearly not prepared fo r the work that lies ahead. In either case, we do a disservice to our children, damaging their self-esteem and in far too many cases, perpetuating failure. As a community, we must do a much better job of preparing children for sch ool. Our community should begin by guaranteeing every child the opportunity to attend and benefit from high quality pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs. Every Child Needs To Be Safe In School It is difficult for children to learn if they feel unsafe in school; if they and their teachers are physically threatened or assaulted or verbally abused; if their lea rning is disrupted by unruly students. Children do best in a safe, disciplined and caring environment. That is w hat they deserve. And that is what we should strive to give them. That is why the PFT proposes more effective security and more adult supervlslOn tn schools; a stron g, consistently enforced dlsclpltne code whICh communicates clearly to students, parents and teachers high expectatlOns for Civil behavlOr and consistent consequences when these expectations are violated; accommodation ro~ms to ensure that disrup tive students arepromptl y removed hom that classroom; quality alternative settings that provide services and programs needed by troubled children . Every Child Needs Eff ective Teaching Individual Attention and Individualized Instruction That many students do not receive the attention they need w hen they need it is a reflection of the large class size and adult stud ent rati o in Philadelphia's public schools. Th is situation is aggravated w hen literally hundreds of classrooms exceed even the al read y high levels agreed upon. This mus t change. We propose that immediate steps be undertaken to reduce class size and the adul t/s tud ent ratio; to avoid oversized classes by making more realistic enrollment projections (Tennessee Studies) Every Child Needs Books Materials Computers

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SUMMER 1996

PAGE 13

SCHOOL N OTEBOOK

Ridge's freeze opposed; small state increase likely In the wake of a long campaign to pressure CIty Counctl, advocates for schoo l funding are now aiming their protests at state legislators, like House majority leader John Perzel of Northeast Phi ladelphia. As the Notebook goes to press, the prospect for adequate state funding for the Philadelphia School District seems as remote as ever. Yet both Republican and Democratic legi slators are now proposing that there be at least some increase in funding for public schools across the state 10 the budget to be adopted by June 30. Given the sharp divisions in the legislath~ ture around vouchers last year and the controversy over medical assistance cuts last month, the leadership in the Senate and House is backing away from Governor Ridge's proposal for no increase in aid to school s. Philadelphia schools are counting on some increase in aid to lessen the need for budget cuts though nothing near what would be required to close the gap in funding between the city and suburbs. State laws can be interpreted as actually requiring more aid to be provided; and they define how it should be obtained. The Pennsylvania constitution says that the state must provide a "thorough and efficient system of public education." A state law, Act 25 of 1991 , spells out the fonnu la for state aid, known as ESBE (Equalized Subsidy for Basic Education). But the state has failed to follow its own funding fonnula, contributing to c uts in Philadelphia schools during the

past five years and preventing investment in educational reforms like Children Achieving. Adherence to the state 's ESBE fonnula would have provided increases in excess of $350 million over the past five years. But in 1992 the State Legislature froze the amount of money provided under ESBE to Phi ladelphia - and to the other 500 school di stricts - at the 1991 level. The State Legislature under both Governors Casey and Ridge created supplemental formulas during the past few years, but they di stributed only small amounts of new school funding throughout the state. From these allotments Philadelphia received tiny supplements in aid tHat did not even cover the cost of inflation in utilities and salaries, let alone reforms like fu ll-day kindergarten , professional development and lower class size. During the same period that schools have been frozen out of the state budget, the state has cut business taxes dramatically, without simultaneously reviewing the unmet financial needs of schools. Nearly every time the state legislature passes a new tax law, it closes another window of opportunity to support schools with more state aid. Governor Ridge 's recent Advisory Commission on Public School Finance refused to rev iew the issue of state taxes for education , in violation of the purpose for which the Commission was establi shed by executive order. In the meantime, state spending on prisons has risen 300% during the past

Adherence to state's formula would have provided the city with increases in excess of $350 million.

decade. There are two lawsuits which can affect state aid for Philadelphia public schools. In the schoo l desegregation case before Judge Doris Smith, the judge could rul e that it is the obligation of the state - and the city - to fund the plan to reverse the unlawful effects of segregation in Phi ladelphia on racial minority children. In the Pennsylvani a Association of Rural and Small Schoo ls lawsuit before Judge Dan Pellegrini , the judge could decide that the entire system of state fundin g for schools is illega l because it does not adequately make up for the limited local tax doll ars avail able in less wealthy school districts. Such a ruling could help Philadelphia, depending on how a new formula is designed. For information on efforts to pressure state legislators for adequate education funding. contact the Coalition 10 Close the Gap at 546-1166.

Student testimony Continued from p. 16 work force in the city. There wi ll be fewer people living in poverty, which will in turn mean less violent crime, and a nice r looking and feeling city. In effect, the taxes will then be able to be lowered without threatening any vital programs, because there will be more higher-paid workers, and property values will go up. The chi ldren of these families wi ll grow up and continue in thi s chain of success, and Philadelphia will become the city that we all would like to live in. All of thi s cannot happen, though, unless the initiative is taken to improve our schools. This first step in this process can be made here today with all of your support for the school fundin g plan. To every si ngle councilman and councilwoman here today: You have the power. Don't waste it.

VETERANS FOR PEACE

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• EIGHT PHILADELPHIA HIGH SCHOOLS HAVE JUNIOR ROTC (JROTC) UNITS. • JROTC IS DESIGNED TO RECRUIT STUDENTS INTO THE MILITARY. • THESE PROGRAMS ARE SUBSIDIZED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT. • SHOULD OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPPORT MILITARY PROGRAMS WHILE SACRIFICING ART, MUSIC, SPORTS AND EVEN BASIC EDUCATION? FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: VETERANS FOR PEACE/ANTI-JROTC COALITION 300 WEST APSLEY STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19144 (215) 848-9188 (215) 387-5773 E-MAIL: abolwar@igc.apc.org Advertisemcm

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Every Child Needs Some Additional Services and Supports Full time School Nurses, Counselors, Reading Teachers, Librarians, Department Heads, and Social Workers are not frills. They are essential to effective teaching and successful learning. When these supports are stretched thin or nonexistent, teachers stand alone, without critical information and much needed support. Every Child Needs the Opportunity to Learn Both the "Basics" and Challenging Subject Matter Subject matter content is a necessary step in learning to develop the abilities to comprehend historical and current events, to make independent evaluations and decisions. In order to help accomplish this, teachers need diagnostic tests that help determine strengths and weaknesses of each individual student. What does each student know or not know? What skills have to be developed or strengthened? Content should be made an important part of the development of curricula, standards, and assessments. These should all be related. Students should not be discouraged by being tested on subjects they haven't had as part of their curriculum. The main purpose of any standardized testing program should be the enhancement of the teaching and learning process for each student. Every Child Needs the Opportunity to Attend a School That is Responsive to Children and Parents. Fully-Staffed and Well-Managed Special programs such as the Academies, World Affairs Council, magnet schools, magnet programs, mentally gifted programs, elementary Latin programs, art, music and drama programs, and many others are not extras. Children have a need to explore, test, and develop their interests. They have to be introduced early to a variety of programs. Their mterests should be encouraged at later stages. Each school's allotment should reflect the Importance of these programs. Parents or guardians must be made comfor~able ~d welco~e. The Involvement of a parent or guardian with his/her individual child is an important component for helpmg children achieve. In order to bring parents mto the schools, we should ~on­ sider offering classes and services they need. This involves the staffmg needs for Home and School Vtsttors, School Community Coordinators and the use of the Adult Basic Educatton DIVISIOn. Vital to improving student achievement is the presentation to each school of successful programs or methods that have actually demonstrated such improvements. As one example, nationally, there is a program called Higher Order Thinking Skills. There are also programs, locally developed, that should be demonstrated th~ou?hout the district. This must. ~e an ongoing proce s. Rewards of large sums of money by a financially strapped school dls~nct ar~ unnecessary. Recogmt.lOn to groups of teachers is a much less expensive form of recognition and could actually he~p chlldren.m other schools. Releas~ng these teachers to provide demonstrations throughout the city could turn these re.wards mto ed~ca~lO.nal .assets for ma.ny chll~ren. <?roup rewards encoura e team work. We welcome the involvement of the bUSiness commu~l~y If It wls~es to prOVide for finanCial re~ards. Teams o~ individuals at every level throughout each subdivision could b.e elIglble!o receive awards for successful a~,hleve­ ments above and beyond what is expected. The process for such awards IS already In place. The system used for the Teacher of the Year Award" is a system that 'c ould be used. . .. . Old reward s stems and whole school bonus systems have proven questtonable at best; expensive and ineffective at worst (Harva rd Educatiofal Newsletter January/February 1996; Research and Polley Committee for Economic Development (CEO), 1994). . ' ic bullet that will solve immediately all of the challenges confronting public education in Phila!here IS no Single m.ag N the much heralded notion of "accountability." We can all start being accountable by delphia and across the natIOn. ot even ensuring that every child has an opportunity to learn.


SUMMER 1996

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INSIDE OUR CLASSROOMS • •• Union curriculum eases transition to work

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Preparing students for jobs by Irv Rosenstein The majority of high school graduates in Philadelphia do not go on to co llege. A key goal of the Children Achieving agenda is that all students who do not go to college will have jobs waiting for them on graduation. This goal comm its the District to prepare all children to be able to perform at high level s. At the same time, it places a demand on the region's industry to provide the necessary employment opportunitie for our youth.

School to work As things stand now, the transition from schoo l to work is rock y. Graduates are genera ll y not we ll prepared, much less the thousands of young people who drop out of high school. Young people bounce from job to job, hang out on the street and worse, or feel compe lled to join the military due to the lack of other options. Finall y. if they 're luc ky, they may catch hold of something more or less permanent and more or less decent once they' re in their twenties . Society prov ides little or no help d uring this transition. Even in hi gh school , overworked counselors devote most of what little time they have for post-high school planning to the college-bound. One as pect of this difficu lt transition is being addressed by the city's trade unions. The AFL-CIO Central Labor Counc il 's Education Committee has collaborated with the School District 's Office of Education for Employment to develop Going to Work, a curriculum to he lp students better understand the world of work. It provides information about work opportunities in Philadelph ia, young people's rights at the workplace, and the role that unions play in society - and specificall y in Philadelphia. A committee that included students as well as teachers, administrators and con-

sultants developed Going to Work and then field-tested it this past fall. AFLCIO union representatives provided recommendations and guidance. The threeweek program was well received in a trial run with students at the Randolph Skills Center and Fel s High School, especially the sections that focused on rights at the workplace and job opportunities in the nex t decade.

Job opportunities, worker rights The first week, students look at the work hi stori es of people in their own fam ilies, exam ine the changing economy of the city and region , and project from current job opportunities to those that will be avai lable in the year 2005. This process helps students develop a sense of what's poss ibl e and what's req uired in a career they might be interested in. The second unit focuses on student and worker ri ghts: ch il d labor laws, minimum wage and overtime regulations, health and safety, unemployment compensation and discrimination. What un ions do - in the workplace and in Philadelph ia and the struggle to build a labor movement are the subject of the third

Overworked counselors devote most of what little time they have for post-high school planning to the college-bound.

week's study. Students go over a local union contract, disc uss how di sputes are handled in a grievance procedure, and look at what's in volved in an organizing campaign . During May and June an in-serv ice staff development program on Going to Work is being offered for teachers at Olney High School's Public Service and Law Enforcement Small Learning Community. The curriculum and teachers' guide will be printed up this summer and then will be made available to teachers in all the high schools in the fall. For more information contact Irv Rosenstein , Temple Un iversity Labor Education Program, 1616 Walnut St. , Phila., PA 19103 or caI/204 -5619.

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Winners: The Julia R. Masterman School captured the National High School Chess Championship at a three day tournament held April 26th to 28th that attracted over 1100 scholastic players on 175 school teams from all over the U.S. Team mem.bers shown are Jennifer Shahade (center), and clockwise from left Greg Shahade, .Nlck Smith, Ma.x Pistilli, Steve Josefowicz, and Thaddeus Hawkins. Not shown: Stan Rltvtn. The team IS coached by Stephen Shutt, a teacher in the Gifted Support Program at Masterman.

Teaching resource: Stories of immigrant women by Rachel Martin Looking for a way to counteract anti immi grant hysteri a? Need a tool that will help you do anti-rac ist work in yo ur high school classroom? The teachi ng kit, Other Colors: Stories of Women Immigranrs meets both these needs. The kit includes eight audio features - on race and identity, education and employment, changing family relationships, sex uality, and organi zing against domestic violence. Women and girls are the subject of the stories fTom all over the world - from Latin America to Europe, Africa and Asia. The Teachers' Guide contains acti vities aimed at helping students overcome racism and prejudice through reading, writing, discussion and research based on the audio programs. The tapes and Guide challenge misinformation regarding the lives of immigrants in the U.S. They feature immigrant women taking authoritative and activist stances on issues that affect us aU: famil y iss ues, a relationship with a boss - the concerns of everyday life. And they reveal the multiple reasons women leave their home countries: unemp loyment and domestic violence, war and political repression, or lack of opportun iti es to pursue educational

goals . Other Colors points up the ways racism and sexism are internalized in the ideas we have about ourselves as women and people of co lor. It rai ses questions about economic class and how it affects all our experiences. And the program encourages dialogue among students who are immigrants about what living in the U.S. has meant to the ir li ves. One comes to understand that women 's rights and imm igrants' ri ghts are sometimes inseparable. As Zenobia Lai says in "Immigrant Women and Domestic Violence," "Immigrant women's right to be free from violence cannot be seriously addressed without also confronting the larger issue of immigrants' rights to be here ataIJ. " Interwoven with its other aims, the Teachers' Guide also helps teachers use Other Colors to enhance students' sense of pleasure and fluency in reading and writing. Copies of the kit are $20 for individuals, $35 for schools, postage included. A brochure is available describing the program in more detail. Contact the Other Colors Pr~jectat P.O. Box 4190, Albuquerque, NM 87196, via e-mail at rmart@unm.edu, or call (505) 265-3405.

Miss Saigon: A class tour of racism and mysogyny by Debbie Wei Many hi gh schools students have gone on class trips to see the pl ay Miss SaiKoli. currentl y ending its run at the Forrest Theatre. T he play has been touted as a modern-day version of Madame BlIItelfly. li s storyli ne about an Asian pros titute - a sexy, demure siren with a heart of gold (Kim) who fa lls for a white man (Chris) and whose sale purpose is to love deepl y, be compliant to his demands, wai t longingly and lov ingly for hIm to return 10 her. and tragically, though always happil y, e nd in self-sacrific ing death - is quite familiar to Asian Americans. Wh at are the historical roots of this Image? U.S. military involvement in ASIa thro ughout the 20th century contri butes to an Image of a "feminine" A ia whose role is to be sexual servant to a "masculme" America. Butterfly/Kim become symbols for an Asia which longs to Jom the modern , "c ivilized" world , but

cannot do so without the help of the West. Kim sings of "A man who will not kill. who ' ll fi ght for me instead ... He'll keep us safe all day ... and in a strong GJ's embrace, leave this life, leave thi s place." These lyrics are intriguing in their allout attempt 10 musicall y reflect historical amnesia. The brutality of U.S. troop involvement in Vietnam is well-documented , com ing to a head with the uncovering of the My Lai massacre. While the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC, records the names of some 58 ,000 Americans killed in Vietnam, the Vietnamese suffered two million deaths and fou r million wounded - not to mention the eight million gallons of defoliants, including Agent Orange, sprayed or the 15 million tons of bombs and ground muniti ons exploded on a country less than half the size of Texas. How interesting then for Miss Saigon

to present images of Vietnamese women who eq uate U.S. GI's with "peace and safety." In addilion to this pol itical message, rac ism and mi sogyny [hatred of women] are also part and parcel of the package of Miss Saigon. The opening number features American Gl's in a brothel singing: "The heat is on in Saigon. T he girls are holter than hell. One of these s lits here wi ll be Miss Saigon. God, the tens ion is hi gh, not to mention the sme lL " This is a show where Asian women are referred to as " meat" - "T he meat is cheap in Sa igon" - and there is not even the barest attempt to present balanced racial images. Every Asian woman in the production is a prostitute, every Asian male is ev il , every American is a hero. When I discussed the show with hi gh school students, we talked about the symboli sm of Kim as "Asia" and Chris as "America." One of my stude nts wrote in her joumal, "It 's like all they want to

say is that Asia is the re to be raped and yo u can do whatever you want to her, and she will still love yo u and want yo u. And then the thing that Asia is good for is producing things for you, the way K im produces a son for Chris ." Another student commented on the portrayal of Asian men in the play, and li kened it to popular visions of Asian men as ev il and undes irable - as people from whom women, even Asian women, need to be resc ued. Many students J spoke with sa id their classes didn ' t really anal yze the play afte r they saw it. The show was summari zed as either "good" or " bad" in terms of entertainment. But the play does offer a good opportunity to engage students in di alogue around critical issues regarding hi story and popular c ulture. I hope teachers and parents will now recons ider th is play with their children and students, carefulIy read the Iyrics and consider the messages conveyed.

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196 SUMMER 1996

PAGE 15

SCH OOL NOTEBOOK

GUEST OPINIONS

Principal selection: A tale of two cities by Greg Brainard

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In any school system, effective teachers working together with our kids can clearl y make a diffe rence. But what if the system is run in such a way that whether or not a child learns real Iy doesn't matter? To understand how thi s situation might develop, compare how principals are chosen and evaluated in Chicago and Phil adelphia. Since 1988 when the Illinois State Legislature passed Chicago School RefOlID , elected majority-parent Local School Council s have done the hiring of Chicago school principal s. Each Local School Council signs a four-year performance contract with the principal it chooses. The council evaluates the principal each year and make a dec ision after four years whethe r to renew the contract. The virtue of the Chicago system is that it creates direct accountability between the principal and parents. No far-fetched ex periment, direct and close accountabi lity between elected community representatives and school leaders is the same tool used by school boards across the country. T hi s is basic democracy the job of hol di ng government institutions accountable is in the hands of the people. Designs for Change, a Chicago research institute, reports sign ificant educational improvements at a majority of schools, especially elementary schools, since the school reform law was passed. They also report that "90 percent of principals who were in place when the reform law passed have either retired or been replaced as of 1996." Here in Philadelphia we choose principals through a so-called "site selection" process. A committee made up of the Cluster Leader, the PFT Building Rep, the Home and School President and a community representative chosen by the Cluster Leader interview candidates. They make a list of three names and give the list to the Superintendent, who

makes a final decision. If a veteran of the School Di strict is on the li st, he or she is automaticall y selected. The ru les say that the committee should meet in advance to set criteria based on the needs of the school. In practice, this is not always the case. For example, last month at Sheppard Elementary School , the site selection committee was brought together for the first time on the same day it was asked to interview candidates and make a fin al decision. Members of the site selection committee are sworn to secrecy, so they cannot check references or discuss cand idates with other peopl e. Few of us would hire a plumber wit'hout a reference, let alone the principal of our child 's school. Once hi red, a pri ncipal has permanent tenure in Philadelph ia . After being selected to serve at a school, the principal does not owe hi s or her pos ition to the fa mil ies who rely on the school. Those fa milies in turn have no institutional way to evaluate how well the principal is overseeing the education of their children. The Philadelphi a system leaves accountability in the hands of the School District bureaucracy. In practice, almost no one working for the Di strict loses their job or is punished when children do not learn . No surprise then that study after study shows that educational fai lure is a norm in Philadelphia. Probably the best example of the fail ure of our top-down system for accountability is that the Mayor and most other major political leaders in Philadelphia do not send their children to neighborhood public schools. Ultimately, the quality of education children receive depends on the power that parents have to hold principals and teachers accountable for teaching their children. In a district as big as Philadelphia or Chicago, that can happen only school by school. In Philadelphia, some well-organized

Once hired, a principal has permanent tenure in Philadelphia.

mentary school: 8,000 • Percent of state subsidy for education received by Philadelphia: 15%

Facts and figures that take a closer look at our schools and society m

• Increase in Philadelph ia public school population since the 1990-91 school year: 10% • Increase in City funding for schools over the same period: .05%

• Percent of the state's poorest children that live in Philadelphia: 44% • Financial gains by the richest 0.5 % Americans from 1983-1989: $1.45 triUian • Increase in national debt over the same period: $1.49 trillion

• Increase in state revenues over the same period: 8%

• Decrease in the School District 'S management and supervisory positions between 1988 and fall 1995: 15%

• Percentage of 16 - 19 year old dropouts that end up on welfare within the first year: 75%

• As of 1996 ~97 school year, the percentage of (he District 's work force that will work in cluster or central

• Rate Peco Energy charged the School District prior to June 1996 renegotiation: over 12 ce'n ts per kilOwatt hour

• The number of lunch meals served during the 1993-94 school year: 17.9

• Peco Energy's industrial rate: 6.1 cents per kilowatt hour • Estimated number of televis ion murders wi tnessed by the average ch ild by the time s/he g raduates from ele-

offices: 5%

million • Amount of additional money avail able to each class of thirty students in the Ph iladelphia system if funded at the average level of surrounding suburb,:

$ 57,780

parents have had enough power to choose their principal, despite the ex isting process. For example, parents at Central East Middle School put the same name down th ree times on the li st they gave to Constance Clayton and forced the District to choose the principal they wanted. At the same time, in Chicago. at schools where parent organi zation is weak, the Local Schoo l Counc il process cannot by itself create accou ntab ility between school leadership and parents. Most research - and common sense - says that the qua li ty of a principal is the most im portan t exp lanation for why some schoo ls succeed where others fail. Yet despite al l the ta lk in Phi ladelphia about accountab ili ty, the Superintendent 's Children Achieving agenda says little about principal selection. In fact, one of the fi rst major deci-

sions Superintendent Hornbeck made in Philadelph ia was to unilaterally appoint a large number of principals who were on the payroll but not permanently ass igned to any schoo ls. These appointments were made out ide the site selection process and with no notice or involvement of teachers or parents. Principa ls were simply dropped into these schools from above. Parents in Philadelphia have too much on the line to depend on good intention;. however well they are packaged. Parent> need the power to reward success and pu ni sh fai lure at their children 's schools. Chicago is a good example of this type of power. But li ke most thi ngs worth having, the power to hold schools accountab le will not be g iven to parents - they will ha ve to take it through organization.

Community speakout

Ideas for teachers' contract The School District and the Philadelphia Federation a/ Teachers are in the process 0/ negotiating a new contract. What do you think should be included in the new teachers' contract? Beulah Parker, Pa rent Involvement Coordinator, Northeast Region: grandparent, E.M. Stanton a nd McDaniels Elementary, Audenried, Gratz and South Philadelphia High Schools: "I think the contract shou ld include full-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes, and more support fo r teachers by providing more classroom ass istants and more in stTucti onal support teachers." Ramona Thompson, public school graduate and teacher: "First, the new contract should incl ude a waiver from the state to elim inate tenure fo r teachers, and a prov ision for each teacher to be solely accountable for the success of each and every student. A more expedient process needs to be put in place to get rid of aoyone who is not teach ing. 0 student can afford to miss out on one or more years of their educati on. The School District also needs to stand fi rm on the issue of school-based management - with school counci ls being more inclusive of the school community and having the power to hold each school accountable." Donna Huff, Pa rent Scholar, Jackson Elementary: "The children are coming in from foster homes and poverty-stricken fam il ies and the contract should provide more coun se ling services for these students." Wallace Mart in , paren t of 1\'0 public school graduates: "They need to

incl ude in the contract a mechan ism for students and parents to be a part of the princi pal- and teacher-evaluation process. Principals are too intimidated, or not equipped, to give honest evaluations; and teachers are left in classroom s not do ing the job. Parents and students a lot of ti mes have more insight into what is reall y go ing on in the classroom and school and don 't have a way to make any changes." Linda Bean, teacher, Southwa rk Elementary: "The contract shou ld include issues around what is good for the kids, such as lower clas sizes; more flexibi lity in the way teachers are grouped; giv ing teachers double prep;. which would allow students to have enri chmen t such as art class: a new typc of assessment - getting away from ' ABC ' grades; les paperwork and more time for teaching and teacher collaboration. There should also be teacher raises and more flex ibility in chang ing health insurance."

Ta nya Fuller, co mmunity volunt eer in a North P hilad elphi a elementa ry school: " I would like to see teachers and aides trained in bas ic manners. The way they talk to the children is often inhumane. I find the children's behavior mirrors what they are experiencing in the cia room. I have seen teachers completely out of contro l, and they , hould be removed ." Pam ler Powell , parent a nd ~upport assistant, Hartranft Elementary: " J don't thin k the teache rs get the money Ihey deserve . They worl- hart! with the kids."


PAGE 16

SUMMER 1996

SCHOOL NOTEBOOK

A \'oice from those most affected

Students urge Council to provide full funding City Coullcil heard testimollY June 6 on cwo bills illlrodC/ced by Councilman Angel Orti: (hat proposed (0 roll back cues in the wage tax and the busilless gross receipts tax ill order to fund the schools. Here (he Notebook reprill(s (he remarks of Sarah Shapiro, a studelll at Celllral High School alld a represellla(ive of the Philadelphia Studelll Union. Today we have come here to ask for your support. As students, we have done everything that we could possibly do up until now to get money to fund our schools. We know that the City does not have enough money lying around to completely fund our schools - to make them the way they shou ld be. We are only aski ng the City to do its part before we go to Harrisburg. If the Ci ty does not show that it is doing everything it can to find money for its own children, then the state will have no sympathy for us. It i hypocritical to ask the state for money when we are not doing our part. City Council people, we ask for your support of the school funding bills today.

Voting "Yes" to these bills is the most effective way right now to show all of the people in thi s room, and the rest of the people in Philadelphia, that you care about public education. There are no arguments that can be given that will conv ince us that these bills are not important. We realize that thi s money is only a first step in a long battle fo r adequate school fu nding, but it is a very important first step that should not be ignored. Aski ng the state for the money that they owe us wi ll be much easier when the City has done everything it can to help us. We truly believe that the key to a bri ght future, not only for individual s, but for the entire well -being of the city, is an excellent educational system. Educated and motivated middle and high school students wi ll become educated college graduates, who will provide our city with reliable and talented workers for businesses. Businesses will move in and create more high-paying jobs because they know that they can get a good

Thousands of students rallied at City Hall May 23 to demand adequate funding from City.

One major accomp lishment of

Children Achieving has been the expansion of full-day kindergarten classes. This year the children have had increased time for in-class learning activities, as we ll as for subject-specific classes like music and physical education. Full-day kindergarten also permits more in-depth learning outside the classroom by way of class trips to museums, libraries artd other places of interest. Here are some artistic expressions of what full-day kindergarten means to tudents at Anderson Elementary School in West Philadelphia, along with some photos of the kids enjoying their kindergarten days.

I

See "Student testimony" on p, 13

Summer 1996  

Volume 3, Number 4

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