Saturday, March 03, 2007

Friday round-up (Saturday edition, heh)

  • Schools

    • Ellen Green-Ceisler, onetime overseer of the Police Department (and would-be Common Pleas Judge) has released a report on the Philadelphia school system last summer, which was just released. It documents all sorts of problems in the classroom, from inattentive students to a lack of teacher training and resources. Among other things, the report recommended a "discipline czar" and safety committee. Her study sampled mostly schools with many at-risk kids, so may be noting the worst cases, but still, advice that feels worth heeding in the wake of recent violent incidents.

    • The School District is due to submit its budget for next year, which still features a substantial (>$140 million) financial shortfall due to rising costs. Vallas will ask for new city and state funding, and/or may reconsider its charter school contracts.

    • That latter point is played up in the DN version of the budget story, which notes that underperforming charter schools could be closed, and some of the pending applications could be put on hold (although with the confusing justification of "if they won't help with crowding at current schools, then..."). Expect to hear more on these issues.

  • Politicians

    • Nutter said part of his plan to modernize Philadelphia zoning would be to reduce the role of the Zoning Board. Better citywide planning would require review of fewer individual projects.

    • Gar Joseph looks at the media circus around Milton Street and considers its benefits for the Fattah campaign, as it bumps coverage of the other contenders. [Also speculation here about who might get Johnny Doc's endorsement, the latest entry in the legacy pool for local offices, and lots of other insider gossip.]

    • The Daily News looks at a number of City Council candidates inspired to run by the way the casinos were handled. A few names here I hadn't heard before.

    • AAJane tips us to a video available of a cable call-in performance by Vince Fumo with another state Senator.

    • Think we've seen the last of Rick Santorum in these parts? Not so fast: Inquirer owner Brian Tierney is attempting to woo him into becoming a contributor.

    • Finally, the Inquirer offers an editorial railing against the secrecy of "bundlers," who raise lots of money for federal candidates from other supporters (in return for unknown favors).

  • New Jersey bits

    • The Garden State is attempting some of the same reforms getting discussed in PA, including prohibitions on insertion of last-minute pork into state budgets and other legislation. A little sunlight never hurt any public process...

    • Philadelphia's immediate neighbor across the Delaware, Camden, is apparently under the control of a state-appointed manager, who threw city agencies for a loop by halting all overtime, hiring, and pay raises in an effort to get the city's finances under control.

    • A Quinnipiac poll of possible Presidential leanings in NJ gives Giuliani a large lead over challengers of either party, perhaps reflecting the regional response to 9/11 (and/or the view of him as a "local boy").

  • Other news

    • Apparently everything in Philadelphia is running smoothly, because City Council is turning its attention to such pressing interferences as requiring nutritional data on restaurant menus. The requirements would apply only to chain restaurants, so are probably aimed at fast food place more than anything else, but still... The restaurant industry says that menu labeling at the required level of detail is unworkable.

    • Lower Merion has enlisted Montgomery County in its efforts to block the Barnes Museum move. I just can't get past my memory that the neighbors regulated and protested the place to death. Why all the belated love?

    • Thousands of images of Philadelphia history have just become available online: Some real gems there for researchers or just lovers of the city -- you might be able to find your block from 80 years ago!

    • An Inquirer editorial applauds plans for an Independence Mall memorial to George Washington's house and to the slaves he kept there (but not for too long, lest they become eligible for freedom under PA law!).

    • A YPP poster shares the experience of collecting anti-casino petition signatures and what he discovered about fellow Philadelphians.


Anonymous phillydem said...

If you've been following the saga of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, formerly the Western PA Cyber Charter School where the Santorum's had their kids enrolled briefly and got Penn Hills SD tuition reimbursement, it's becoming clearer that the Charter School creation act needs serious reevaluation and revision. The charter schools are popping up all over and are a now serious fiscal drain on regular public schools.
The Beaver County Times has written
pretty extensively on this issues since the PCCS is in their coverage

6:08 AM  

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