Philadelphia Metropolis

June 2011 Archives

Confessions of a Crossing Guard

By Christine Waldman» You may not know this about me, but I am well versed in the Crossing Guard arts. In fact, I have my own Crossing Guard name - Chris Cross. Now, you may be asking yourself: "There's an art to being a Crossing Guard?" Yes, my friends, there is. First, not everyone can make a fashion statement wearing a neon-green vest. Apparently, I know how to work it, because during my first week of standing on the corner working (so to speak), a scruffy looking guy in a rusty car slowed down and said, "It's about time they got a good looking crossing guard in this town!" "Um...thanks." I replied. (Comments)

Ackerman's Final Act

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Feeding Dropouts Faulkner

By W.C. Huskey» For the school year that just ended, I worked as a new faculty member at one of Philadelphia's endangered accelerated schools, where students -- ranging from 16-to-21-years-old -- are given an opportunity to earn their diplomas, and make up for time lost due to every conceivable circumstance. Sure, there are kids (I call them kids, even though I'm only three or four years older than most of them) who show up just to collect a SEPTA transpass (a trizzie in their parlance) and do little else. But the level of determination and commitment shown by many of these pupils is staggering. These are kids who, for the most part, had dropped out of school at some point, but now are working to turn negative aspects of their lives around. (Comments)

"Rightsizing" Public Schools

If you think this year's budget crisis in the Philadelphia School District was traumatic, you ain't seen nothing yet. The district is at work on a new "Facilities Master Plan" a bland name for a process that will likely result in the closing of a number of schools, the merger or consolidation of others, even the demolition of some school buildings. (Comments)

The New Home Schooling

Like many Pennsylvania children, eight-year-old Venus Kennedy has just begun third grade, but not in a new and unfamiliar classroom. She is doing all of her schooling from the comfort of her family home near Temple University. Kennedy is among the thousands of youngsters in the Philadelphia region for whom the start of school this year means pulling up a chair in their living room, dining room or bedroom and logging on to a computer. They are attending virtual schools - a fast-growing trend in K-12 education, enrolling about 175,000 students nationwide and estimated 23,000 in Pennsylvania. (Comments)

It's the Student, Not the School

By Jennifer Gregory» I am a junior communications major at Holy Family University. I am the Editor-in-Chief of the campus newspaper, co-editor of the literary magazine, and co-vice president of the Equal Student Union. I work part-time in the campus bookstore and manage to keep a 3.5 GPA. My life isn't the most difficult, but it's not exactly what I would call a walk in the park. I'm your typical overworked and underpaid college student - and I love it. I worked hard to get where I am now. I didn't need a fancy, high-end private education to get into college. All I needed was my Philadelphia public school education and lots of hard work. It bothers me when I tell people that I'm a graduate of Northeast High School and they grimace, asking me how many fights I've gotten into and how many (Comments)

Just Another Morning in June

By Caroline Smith» On this particular June morning, the phone went off just after 6 a.m. It was my husband, calling from his car on his way to work. "Tell Mike he can have a lie-in this morning," he said. "There's no school. It's closed today. Some jerks have done something to the buses. It's all over the news." I called through Mike's half-closed door to tell him he didn't have to get early up because something was up with the school buses. I received a sleepy grunt back, and went downstairs to watch the news. The story was that vandals, probably a handful of students, had broken into the high school bus depot in our suburban Philadelphia district and apparently slit all the tires. "Idiots!" I thought. (Comments)

Quack? Quack? Quack?

Did you just hear a duck quack? I could have sworn I heard it -- faintly, in the distance, in the vicinity of City Hall. Could it be that Michael Nutter is becoming a lame duck even before he is... (Comments)

Breaking In Is Hard To Do

By Jaclyn Chilcote » I broke up with Justin because I had this horrific feeling in the pit of my stomach that I might be falling in love with him. Or something like that. We were not emotionally adept creatures, he and I. We preferred to have fun, to stay up all night in bed, talk about books, or go dancing to shady warehouse parties in Northeast Philly. We were firm karaoke devotees, hated cats, and hated talking about our feelings. Soon, I found myself bringing him soup when he was sick, picking him up trinkets when I'd travel overseas for work, and blabbing incessantly about him to my friends. We started to have those stupid, weird, couple-like fights that would reach a resolution via a three-hour G-chat conversation, because, well, at least we didn't have to talk to each other face to face. About feelings. I was the type who knew that anytime feelings (Comments)

Finding the Light Within

As editor of this site, I must disclose that I hesitated before writing the headline that appears on this week's Cover Story.  I called it "The Stetson Miracle." though not without pausing to ask myself: Was I overstating the case?... (Comments)

The Stetson Miracle

Just a year ago, John B. Stetson Middle School was in deep trouble. Assaults. Suspensions. Disruptions. Its students among the lowest performing in the city. Labeled "persistently dangerous." The School District of Philadelphia acknowledged as much - and turned over the keys of the mostly Latino school to a charter group, ASPIRA of Pennsylvania. Stetson was a problem child in need of reform school, and that's what it got - reforms and renovations that stretched from fresh paint and new desks to a longer work day for teachers to a strictly enforced code of conduct for students. (Comments)

Tough Love for Tough Students

Class over, 10 students line up single file in the 4th floor hallway, no talking, hands clasped behind their backs. They all appear well groomed in school uniforms --belts cinched, shirts tucked in, no flashy jewelry in sight, no caps. Their teacher is with them, and several other staffers stand nearby, watching for even minor misbehavior, as the youngsters head for their next class. It looks like boot camp and, in a way, it is -- the middle school version, where students do classwork but also get what amounts to basic training in self-control, social skills and appropriate behavior. (Comments)

Zen Master of Peacock Watching

By Lisa Z. Meritz» I got the call at night. My 86-year-old father Morry, a man so full of energy and life that he worked full-time until he was 76 years old, had overdosed on pain medicine. They pumped his stomach, but they couldn't tell yet whether he would live. My heart sank. How could I have missed seeing just how desperate he had become? For months, my sister and I took turns taking him from doctor to doctor for his intractable pain. He was ornery, not at all himself, but we never realized just how bad things were. Was he trying to kill himself? Quiet the unbearable pain? I think it was a call for help, but I will never be sure. (Comments)

Tweaking DROP

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday (6/8/2011) proposed a major overhaul of the state's pension program, which covers state workers, teachers and all local government employees. Cuomo wants to double employee contributions from 3 percent to 6 percent. ... (Comments)

At Last, I Am In Love

By S.R. Grant» I am in love. I am 46 years old, never married, and have yet to experience a healthy, spiritual long-term relationship. I am a black woman, and the statistics clearly show that if I want to remain within my own cultural-ethnic group, the pickings are slim. Because of all these factors, the fact that I am in love should be a marvelous and hopeful thing. It is not that simple. The object of my desire has a dubious past and a questionable future. He has three small children, and even more women, including me. He is 10 years my junior. He has no education. Other than the foundation of our shared African-American background, we are culturally, socially, and environmentally worlds apart. He is currently incarcerated, and will (Comments)

Bad Policy, Bad Policing

The Philadelphia Police Department should get out of the business of acting as de facto deputies of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) and stop funneling undocumented immigrants to ICE for deportation. It is a bad policy and,... (Comments)

My Declaration of Independence

By Susan Toland» It is no coincidence that I now live only a few blocks from Independence Hall. When I was a toddler, I was determined to do everything by myself, so my grandfather dubbed me the Declaration of Independence. The name still suits me. To appreciate this, you need to know that I am legally blind. That means that I have minimal sight in one eye and none in the other, and no depth perception. While I can get around without the assistance of either a guide dog or a white cane, I can't read street signs or facial expressions, and I hold printed matter inches from my eyes to read it. You will be relieved to learn that the state of Pennsylvania, in its wisdom, will not grant me a driver's license. (Comments)

Los Mexicanos de Filadelfia Part One: The Deportation Machine

One moment Teresa Garcia's son was there, the next he was gone. Garcia said her 25-year-old son was deported to Mexico last year after being arrested by Philadelphia police for allegedly making threats against a friend who had failed to repay a loan. Her son was innocent, his mother said. He never got a chance to prove it. (Comments)

This Kitty Will Live

  School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman really screwed the pooch this week by finding the $55 million needed to fund full-day kindergarten.  One of the last people to know about it was none other that Mayor Nutter, who had been counting... (Comments)

Taxing College Students to Help Public Students

  If the leaders of this city have the political courage it will take to do it, there is a way to raise millions to help the Philadelphia public schools from an untapped source of wealth. It will not cover the... (Comments)

Philadelphia 4, Our New Car 0

By Dalyn Montgomery» We are selling our car. We love it. It works perfectly, fits all the kids, and we like how it looks; but it has to go. We used to drive a 1996 Saturn with 250,000 miles on it. The ceiling would sag down and mess up your hair, it was ugly, and it would not die. From the day I made a friend take $50 dollars (he wanted to just give the car to us) it drove us everywhere in reliable, utilitarian style. The Please Touch Museum, the shore, the aquarium, even to the relatives down south. The car fit right in. Our neighborhood is not known for fancy cars. I always thought it was our blue-collar humility, our being "down to earth", our inner confidence that didn't need to be compensated by some fuel injected metaphor. (Comments)

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