Monday, April 09, 2007

More About Philadelphia Public Schools

In part because Dr. Gregory Thornton is the Chief Academic Officer, and not the Superintendent in Philadelphia, I'm not finding much on the web about his work.

The The Philadelphia SchoolStat Model seems to be a major focus of Dr. Thornton's work in Philadelphia, along with Building the School of the Future with Microsoft. He is also an enthusiastic supporter of the IBM K-12 Education Data Warehouse (IBM School District of Philadelphia improves performance with data ...). Dr. Thornton presented one of two opening sessions at 2006 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Summit, and presented a data showcase session called "Strategic Use of Data for Improvement in the School District of Philadelphia."

By contrast, there is plenty of information online about Dr. Thornton's boss, CEO (not superintendent) Paul Vallas. Below are some interesting articles about him, his work, and the politics of public schools in Philadelphia.

- Should the School Reform Commission Fire Paul Vallas?
- the impatience of paul vallas
- Alliance for Excellent Education
- The Philadelphia Story
- Has the Philadelphia Experiment Failed?


Charlie Mas said...

There's a lot to like about the Philadelphia SchoolStat Model:

1) It is an attempt to provide the data needed to make data-driven decisions.

2) It recognizes science as part of the core curriculum.

3) It is an effort to impose some accountability - remarkable in the world of K-12 public education.

4) Even better, it imposes that accountability at the TOP where it belongs.

5) It has the goal of PREVENTING failure, not just monitoring it as we do here in Seattle.

6) The meetings include a follow-up agenda item in which people report progress on previously identified and assigned action items. I know this sounds basic, but Seattle Public Schools doesn't do this.

7) Duplicating best practices. No, really. Not just talking about it, but actually doing it because the principals and the education directors feel pressure to do it because the CAO and the education directors apply pressure to do it.

8) The standardized reports - no special versions for this school or that school to sweep their failures under the rug.

9) I like the idea of duplicating the meetings down one more level to the schools and including the PTA in that meeting.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I reviewed it briefly and came to the same conclusions as Charlie. I like that it is not just the WASL scores that define a school's success and accountability front and center.

For what it's worth, my husband looked at the interviews on tv and said, from his experience, he could tell in the first 15 minutes that Dr. Thorton is likely to be open and easier to work with than Dr. Goodloe-Johnson (this is based on body language, not on what they said).

I have to wonder if Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has an edge because of her relationship with Carla Santorno.

I also emailed into KUOW yesterday when the Mayor was on. I had been wondering why there was no mention of him during this process. I asked if he had been part of the process, met the candidates, if so, what did he think, if not, why not. He said he was not part of the process and would have liked to have been. I know Holly Miller from his office was at the interview forums. The person up the food chain that I spoke to about this said that Ms. Miller could have passed along that the Mayor wanted to meet the candidates but my feeling is that Cheryl Chow, even if she feels miffed over the Mayor's unhappiness with the Board, should have had the courtesy to offer a meeting with the Mayor. Because the Mayor didn't say directly that he was not asked, I have a call into Ms. Miller to confirm but I'm willing to bet he wasn't asked.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Talked to Holly Miller at the Mayor's office. No, the Mayor wasn't invited to speak with the candidates privately. I'm no fan of Mayor Nickels and I do think he has been publicly disrespectful of the Board. But I still think he should have been given the courtesy of an offer to meet the candidates. He is a important person in our city, his office oversees the Families and Education levy and he will likely interact with the new superintendent. I'm not sure why he was not invited but, to me, it's a glaring oversight.

Beth Bakeman said...

The reason "why" the mayor wasn't invited to meet the candidates is because, in my opinion, adults' needs (egos, hurt feelings) took priority over kids' needs (selection of the best superintendent possible).

Anonymous said...

Has anyone read "Crash Course" by Whittle? Excellent read, important food for thought during this time for SPS. revo too tame

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, our leaders (school board directors, mayor, deputy mayor, ex-mayor, etc) don't seem to know how to take the high road, or that the benefits of such outweigh the short-term and superficial tit-for-tat ego satisfactions that seem to drive them now.

Anonymous said...

anonymous, what does "revo too tame" mean?