District ready for its school ‘Renaissance’

PHILADELPHIA. Let the experiment begin.
The School District of Philadelphia outlined its process to transform 14 underperforming schools, or Renaissance Schools, a key part of the district’s five-year “Imagine 2014” plan.

It’s the latest reform attempt after controversial partnerships with Educational Management Organizations began in 2001.

District officials insist that this time communities will have more input and that the “turnaround teams” selected to run the schools must demonstrate a proven track record for fixing failing schools.
“We are not going to experiment with children in these schools,” said Ben Rayer, head of charter and new schools.

“I think there’s a little more clarity in regards to what these reformed schools would look like because with the EMOs the school district kind of went back and forth with ‘Is this privately managed, or district-managed or quasi-managed,’” said Sheila Simmons of Public Citizens for Children and Youth. “They seem to have put a lot more thought into the different elements of how this would work.”

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