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Ackerman slates 14 schools for big changes

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

The School District of Philadelphia today named fourteen low-performing schools as “Renaissance Schools,” making them targets for long-awaited and controversial reforms.

Five of the schools have been dubbed Promise Academies, meaning they’ll still be run by the District, but with no more than half the same faculty.

The five are:

Ethel D. Allen Elementary

– Roberto Clemente Middle School

– Paul Dubar Elementary

– University City High School

– Roberts Vaux High School

 Nine other schools will be turned into contract or charter schools. The private companies or nonprofits that take them over could hire entirely new staffs.

The nine schools are:

– Guion S. Bluford Elementary

– Samuel H. Daroff Elementary

– Frederick Douglass Elementary

– William F. Harrity Elementary

– William B. Mann Elementary

– Potter-Thomas Elementary

– Franklin Smedley Elementary

- John B. Stetson Middle School

– West Philadelphia High School

Advocates say the reform will help poorly performing schools improve.

But opponents — including many teachers — are unhappy that the “Renaissance schools” will be able to require teachers to work longer days, some Saturdays, and part of July.

Philadelphia School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman said the schools’ scores on state tests show the agggressive approach is needed.

Ackerman:  “We have schools where 3 percent of the young people are at proficient, 88 percent of them are below basic. That’s the norm ,not the exception – very low students achievement. If we focus just on the adults, we miss what this is all about.”

The Renaissance Schools should be set up this summer and open next fall.

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