A Phillie Teacher

I was a starry-eyed teacher from New Jersey. Now I work for Philadelphia Public Schools.

Sad News

Posted by aphillieteacher on March 10, 2011

“In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin.”


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Flash Forward

Posted by aphillieteacher on March 8, 2011

What will it be like after teacher unions are outlawed, school districts decide Teach for America is the best way to go and data is king?

Flash forward to the future (5 years from now maybe)

  • Certified teachers have fled the profession. They are happy and working in places that encourage them.
  • TFA has increased training to 7.5 weeks a year to prepare their candidates for 65-student class sizes.
  • TFA’ers don’t flinch at huge classes. Now that every lesson is scripted and all assessment is multiple choice and electronically scored, there’s no extra work!
  • Building administrators have been laid off and replaced by data-entry clerks.
  • There are no more troublesome students. 10 months a year of test prep has beaten all resistance out of them. They have become empty husks.
  • Bill Gates and the other megla-millionaires are satisfied because . . I guess because everyone did what they told them to do.
  • The US has given up on  exciting entrepreneurship, but their citizens make great factory workers: unquestioning lovers of cogs and repetition.
  • No Child Left Behind has a new definition. All children with dreams of creativity are sought out and forced to join the lockstep educational system (for their own good.) Resistance is futile!  They will be assimilated.
  • Finally, somewhere, and dimly at first, people will realize that art class was fun and poetry was more than just fodder for  Constructed Responses. People will want to go back to the old days when children worked on strange and exhilarating activities that came from something called “Project Based Learning.”
  • Someday they’ll want the teachers back, doing what they do best.  They’ll want Learning back in the classroom too.People may not realize it yet but eventually that day will come.

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I <3 Diane Ravitch

Posted by aphillieteacher on March 6, 2011

and Jon Stewart.

Here they discuss how teachers have been singled out in what amounts to an education witch hunt. (I wish they’d let me do a direct embed :/

I hope they’re available to come over my house for dinner. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have as guests.

Posted in Education | 2 Comments »

This Math hurts the kids

Posted by aphillieteacher on March 1, 2011

Disclaimer: Everything in this post is public knowledge; all information has been previously published in newspapers or online.

Arlene Ackerman is one of the highest paid superintendents in the country. Her salary is $348,000 a year – more than the mayor of Philadelphia and the governor of Pennsylvania combined.

She is also entitled to huge bonuses. Last year it was a $65,000 gift. The reason for the bonus has been hidden from the public. This year she could have gotten $100,000 just for hanging on until the end of the school year. Dr. Ackerman has deferred taking that bonus but don’t worry, Philly. You might still end up paying it since she hasn’t declined it entirely.

Our district could have a shortfall of 400-500 million dollars for the coming school year.

Dr. Ackerman’s plans to cut costs?
Ackerman said the belt tightening will start close to home.

“The first thing we are starting with is anything that appears to be redundancy in services, programs, and people,” she said.

Sell the schools, cram some more desks, layoff a lot of teachers and support staff and voila! Budget magic!

Too bad about the kids. And now I hear that Ackerman’s contract has been renewed.

Like I said: too bad about the kids.

Posted in Education, Philadelphia Schools | Leave a Comment »

Laying Low for Now

Posted by aphillieteacher on February 26, 2011

I want to lay low for a while. Philadelphia Public Schools apparently do not like teachers to be outspoken. Even if I speak from my own experience, not talk about kids or never mention names, there’s a good chance they’d go after me and any other teacher who dared to criticize The District, its Queen Regent or any of her minions.

So here’s what’s going on in Philadelphia schools. I regret deeply that I couldn’t be at yesterday’s rally for Hope Moffett.
Fighting for a High School Community’s Right to be Heard

If you want to read my posts, leave a comment here and I’ll get back to you.

Posted in Education, Philadelphia Schools | 5 Comments »

Snow Day!

Posted by aphillieteacher on February 22, 2011


Is there anything in the world closer to a teacher’s heart than an unexpected snow day?

Maybe I’m an overachiever, but I’m planning a lot of things for my surprise day off:

cookie baking
catching up on email
reading blogs
sending warm thoughts to a fellow Philly teacher


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Bartleby, we need you now

Posted by aphillieteacher on February 20, 2011

Since December my juniors have not read single shred of literature in class.

They have not read poems, short stories, sampled the great literature of American writers or written creatively in response to an idea. None of the things that someone getting quality education would get.

instead, for the last 3 months it has been drilling for PSSA each and every day. The kids are sick of it, they don’t give a crap about testing and any glimmer of reading for enjoyment is long gone.  Wonderful. This is what the School District of Philadelphia has done for their kids.

I ran across this today and I want to share it with you. I wish I could share it with kids all across America.

Posted in Philadelphia Schools | 3 Comments »

I’m Tired of Fighting

Posted by aphillieteacher on February 13, 2011

Fighting the good fight

Why must everything be a fight?

Battle #1 Before any lesson can start, I must battle students who are out of uniform, wearing a hoodie and/or carrying electronics.

Supposedly they don’t get into the building with that stuff, but all of us (especially the kids) know better. The people at the door with the metal detector don’t do their job.

In reaction to the situation which she let go on for the first half of the year, our Fearless Principal put out a bulletin warning the teachers that if a student was seen in class wearing any of the above items, the teacher would be written up.

Get where this is going? it is the teacher’s fault that

1 the student disobeys the rules and
2. administration didn’t take care of their end of things

So before I even begin a class I have a fight at the door. Some kids push right past me, others put up a long, drawn out debate asking why do I care, others just walk away and I put them down for cutting.

Battle #2Administration hates us and every week we have a new set of imperative directives that should have been implemented yesterday.

It’s an never-ending game of “gotcha.” Informal walk throughs have now expanded into mandatory daily check lists for Junior teachers.

Friday I got caught. For some unknown reason I was distracted (probably by an argument at the door) and forgot to update my objectives on the board. Students wearing all kinds of hoodies, etc were in the classroom because they pushed past me or took the hoodie out of their book bag and put it on *after* coming into the room.

Guess what? yup. Walk-through time. Haven’t seen the hateful write-up yet, but I’m sure it will be a doozy.

Posted in Philadelphia Schools | 3 Comments »

Who Are These People??

Posted by aphillieteacher on February 10, 2011

New People at New High School Back in September New High School got a new Assistant Principal. She was classy, smart and professional. Not only that, she was human. We teachers liked her.

The principal never introduced her to staff or students. We just kind of found out about her through the grape vine. Strange, no?

Even stranger was when this assistant principal disappeared sometime in December. Nothing was said about her continued absence: nothing about illness, nothing about job shifts . . nothing. Rumors were out that she and our Fearless Principal didn’t get along and when the new assistant principal disappeared, the principal said nothing. For all we know, the poor woman is locked in a dungeon under New High School’s gymnasium.

Weeks passed. I continued to email my lesson plans to the vanished a.p. because no one told me otherwise. There was never a response.

Finally, around the end of January our Fearless Principal got on the p.a. and to the complete surprise of staff and students, announced that we now had a new assistant principal and his name was >unintelligble<


We never got an introduction and none of us knew what the man looked like. Is he taking the place of our vanished assistant principal? we wondered.

Apparently that was none of our business. After 2 weeks of wondering, I asked a cafeteria aid to point out the New Assistant Principal. Aha! I walked up to the friendly looking man and introduced myself. Seems like a pleasant guy; professional. What must this man think, when a teacher walks up to him and says, “Hello. Welcome. No one knows who you are.”

Quite suddenly, this week we got wind of *another* assistant principal in the building. A woman who has no name, has appeared without fanfare or introduction. She is using the missing Assistant Principal’s office.

No introduction for her either.

I’m not sure how to summarize all this, but to my way of thinking, this principal thinks the teachers don’t matter enough to tell them who’s who. Shame on her to keep the staff and students in the dark like this.

And shame on her for not making the new people welcome with a simple walk through during common planning time to introduce them. If I was a new Assistant Principal, I’d wonder why the hell no one introduced me. Considering what happened to our missing Assistant Principal, it probably doesn’t bode well for their job security.

Posted in Education, Philadelphia Schools | 2 Comments »

Amazing words on Gay Marriage

Posted by aphillieteacher on February 3, 2011

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