Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Two things worth noting in the school district

This is cool:
The University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia School District plan to create a high school in the university's West Philadelphia neighborhood that will focus on international studies.

The school, which would open in September 2006 at a location that has not been determined, is slated to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of a new network of international high schools, officials said yesterday.

Students will study world languages, take an international curriculum integrated across subjects, be connected to schools worldwide via technology, and be immersed in community service for groups with worldwide links - which could even include international internships.

The effort advances what Penn calls its commitment to revitalize its neighborhood, focusing in part on improving school options, to benefit the community and university staff who choose to live in the area.
Penn, the City's largest employer, and one of, if not the biggest driver of the rise in Philly home values, strikes again. As the article says, as Penn has operated its own Charter school, neighborhood home values have gone up and up, as more people want to be inside the eligibility boundaries.

A few in the community have expressed concern that the school will only serve a very targeted number of people (read: white middle-class kids), and I very much hope that is not true. One thing (get ready for some pop psych here with no basis in fact) I think can be really powerful for poor children of all colors is to get some perspective on the world, to sort of think outside the US borders. So, assuming this is done equitably, this is unconditionally good news.

And, so is this:
Nearly five years ago, Central High School's alumni set out to raise $100,000 to give the school's Barnwell Library fresh paint, carpeting and furniture.

A few alumni, though, had grander dreams.

This afternoon, alumni and school officials will unveil what they call their "wow library" - a new communications, research and media facility that Apple Computer Inc. has named a national demonstration site for school-library technology.

Central graduates picked up the project's $4.5 million tab.

"The alumni did it all - not the school district," marveled Ellen Rosen, a library assistant in the new Barnwell Library. "I think that's what's incredible... . So many people are attached to their colleges. These people are attached to their high school."

Colleges and private schools are accustomed to ambitious fund-raising, but officials say the capital campaign by Central alumni may be unprecedented for a public school in this area.


Tina Weinraub, Central's "cybrarian," said the school would try a new electronic checkout system. Staff will be able to inventory books instantly with handheld scanners. And alumni are paying subscriptions for several research databases.

"It's the premier place to work in Philadelphia as a librarian," Weinraub said. "The library will be a portal to all the knowledge that's out there."
The idea that Central High, a 2,300 person high school that is both economically and racially diverse, will have a real research library? Awesome.

Now if we could just get those types of facilities in our other schools.


At 1:38 PM, Blogger LA said...

Side note: Penn is not the largest employer in Philadelphia. Penn is the largest private employer. The Federal Government is the largest employer in Philadelphia. I think that's important to remember when we think about Philadelphia's economy as it relates to the federal government, and what it means to have an administration in power that seems to have the worst interests of cities at heart. The second largest employer is the City of Philadelphia, followed by the School District of Philadelphia, followed by Penn, then Jefferson. (check out citystats for more fun facts here: http://www.philaplanning.org/data/citystats05.pdf)


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