- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Teaching Peace in Philadelphia
The Daily News reported today that by this fall, the Paul Vallas driven efforts to have smaller high schools will be in full swing. According to the article, eight smaller schools will be opening this fall, with about a quarter of Philly students atttending a school with 800 students or less.
The move is designed to reduce overcrowding while offering students a broader array of course offerings. Schools CEO Paul Vallas said this week that the decision to make schools smaller is, to date, his second-most important reform behind the implementation of a standardized curriculum.
"It's all about expanding choice," he said. "The one thing I have mandated is that [the smaller schools] all have to be college-preparatory schools. The children who graduate from these schools have to be prepared for college."
First of all, statements like that last one are why I like Paul Vallas. I know many people have legitimate issues with him, and other YPP writers may not be fond of him, but, maybe it is just me, but he seems to oooze an attitude that says "kiss my ass, Philly kids will succeed." And, that really appeals to me on some level.
I am no expert on education policy, so take this with a grain of salt... But, I think the drive for smaller schools is a good thing. As someone said on here earlier, it makes it easy to keep track of kids, makes it harder for kids to get lost in the shuffle, etc. Can we have very good big schools? Of course. We can also have very good huge apartment buildings. But that doesn't mean it was good to build huge public housing towers. I think small schools are a step in the right direction.
One small themed school in particular caught my eye:
Troubled by the arrival of the Philadelphia Military Academy at Leeds Middle School, Mount Pleasant and Woolston avenues, peace proponents suggested that district officials make way for a peace school this year.
"In a city in which kids are permanently injured every day, if not killed, and in a country that sees so much bloodshed, and in a world that is at war, we should have peace schools everywhere," said Shelly Yanoff, executive director of Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth.
District officials agreed with Yanoff and her allies, and in September plan to open Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Conflict Resolution. Fewer than 400 students will attend the school.
The peace theme will also be promoted through a series of outside speakers, forums and field trips, they said. Course offerings will include a mandatory leadership- and social-development class for ninth- and 10th- graders and a problem-solving elective class for ninth-graders exploring topics such as hunger, poverty, drugs and environmental degradation.
Peace-school staff members, who are receiving professional-development training from Arcadia University this month, are excited about their mission.
"There is such a strong community base of support for this school in this area - Germantown, Mount Airy," said Ethyl McGee, Peace school principal. "We've had so many people who want to work with this school."
Colman McCarthy, founder and director of the Center for Teaching Peace, in Washington, D.C., said he knew of few public high schools with a schoolwide peace theme.
"Peace education is in its infancy," McCarthy said. "The experiment in Philadelphia has great promise.
"I'd be fascinated to see how it works out. If we don't teach our children about peace, somebody else is going to teach them about war."
Calling this a "peace school" seems to be a little bit of a misnomer. It seems more to be a progressive, urban leadership school. Creating 200 Philly kids a year versed in social justice problem solving? Pretty damn cool.