The Philadelphia School System Renaissance

The Philadelphia School System Renaissance

 In January 2012 till August 2012 Philadelphia engaged in a widespread reform of its educational system.

Dr. Leroy D. Nunery II was a major driver for that project.

Leroy is a former Acting Superintendent and CEO and Deputy Superintendent/Deputy CEO of the Philadelphia School District, so he had inside real-life experience of what had to be addressed . . . and he was able to earlier do so as an outside consultant.

Today, Leroy is the Founder and Principal of PlusUltre LLC and is an Educational Advisor to the Gilfus Education Group.

In today’s Learning Curve with Roger and Virginia you’ll hear what situations had to be addressed, what changes had to be implemented and how they affected the renaissance of the school system.

The Philadelphia School System had many “challenges” among which were:

  1. Low graduation rates
  2. Aging buildings
  3. Many changes to its curriculum

The Philadelphia Renaissance Schools initiative, under then Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, aims (and definition) for the turn-around were:

  1. Ensure every child had equitable access to resources
  2. Close facilities that were to old and too expensive to maintain
  3. Reorder the staffing in schools

Many options were explored including external management through Charter School enterprises.

Hear how Leroy navigated and handled the political delicacy of all this.

Much was learned including the point that no one single solution would work in every school district across the US.

Hear how Leroy combined and blended several other cities programs for use in Philadelphia.

Hear how parental engagement was crucial to the turn-around.

Learn why schools need to have a “customer service attitude” towards their “clients”; the parents and children.  And parents need to become informed “consumers” of the services on offer to them and their children and not accept anything less than the best.

In this broadcast of the Learning Curve you’ll hear about the changes that were introduced to upgrade and affect the renaissance of the system in Philadelphia.

One of our favorite implementations was that of “Hybrid Learning technology.”  The benefit of this system is that each child can learn at their own individual rate on a curriculum tailored to the needs of the child.

The other is the recognition that access to information is crucial for students and particularly for parents if the system is to work to the benefit of the “consumer.”

Click here to listen to Dr. Leroy Nunery: Leroy Nunery: The Philadelphia School Renaissance

Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve



INEQUALITY FOR ALL: The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools

INEQUALITY FOR ALL:  The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools.

Why Can’t We “Get it Together”?

That’s what Virginia and I were left wondering after this interview with Dr. William Schmidt, the author of the exciting new book: INEQUALITY FOR ALL:  The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools.

No, it’s not about rich versus poor or disadvantaged versus privilege.  It’s a revelation of the fact that our schools, even within the same districts, cities and States do not have comparable curriculum content and standards on the same critical science and math subjects.  And the greatest variations are in middle-income school districts; and it happens even within the same school.

In other words there is no equivalence between classes of the same Grade on the same subjects.  And this results in many kids being short-changed or otherwise graduating with different knowledge than other kids who’ve done the “same” subject Grade classes elsewhere in the system.

Dr. Schmidt reveals that some teachers are not properly equipped or competent to deliver the math and science curriculum—and that is part of the problem.

Compared to this, the nations that are bettering us overseas have national standards of common core material that all kids are exposed to.

By “common core standard” is meant what is to be taught: not how it is to be taught.

Parents will ask: what to do?

The answer is go to the Common Core Standards website and see what their child should be learning at each grade, and take the action needed to have the material delivered to your child.

This is important because math is the language of technology and the information driven society we now live in.

Click here for more information on INEQUALITY FOR ALL:  The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools.

If that link doesn’t work go to and look in the “what’s New” section.

William H. Schmidt is University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University and co-director of theEducationPolicyCenter.


Click here to Listen: Dr. William Schmidt — INEQUALITY FOR ALL: The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools


Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve.

Did You Know Most Kids Lose a Lot of What They Recently Learned in School While on Summer Break? Teachers Call it the “Summer Slide.”

Did You Know Most Kids Lose a Lot of What They Recently Learned in School While on Summer Break?  Teachers Call it the “Summer Slide.”

Nowhere is the adage: “If you don’t use it, you lose it” more accurate than in the case of young minds and the reason behind the “summer slide.”

In today’s Learning Curve Francie Alexander explains how you can protect your child’s learning and advancement.  Learn how you can easily prevent the “summer slide.”

Francie Alexander is Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for Scholastic Education. Francie has taught at all levels, was a district reading consultant for Pre-K through high school, and has authored professional articles for educators as well as 25 “Books Kids Can Read” for children.

In today’s Learning Curve we reveal:

  • What the “Summer Slide” is.
  • The fact that teachers typically need 4 to 6 weeks in the fall to re-teach material students have forgotten!
  • The importance of “summer reading in beating the summer slide.”
  • The wonderful treasure trove of tools and resources available at the website.

Learn of the many initiatives and tools Scholastic has made available to you so you can beat the “summer learning loss” and also help your child in everyday learning.

  • Scholastic Summer Challenge a program where students can win prizes by logging their reading minutes online or using a new mobile app. called The Scholastic Reading Timer.
  • Scholastic Reading Timer kids can set personal reading goals, using the built-in stopwatch to reach their target number of reading minutes.
  • Storia® is a free eReading app specifically designed to support kids’ reading
  • Sushi Monster, Scholastic‘s newest free math fact fluency game available on the iPad.
  • Summer book packs for all age groups.

Get tips for parents from Francie on how to keep kids learning over the summer

For teachers, the Scholastic website is an equally wonderful resource.  Their website has been set up to serve as the content and e-Commerce hub for everything a teacher needs most for use in the classroom.  Each week, more than 1.6 million visitors to access over 100,000 pages of free content and teaching resources.

This show is one of the most enjoyable Roger & Virginia has done on the Learning Curve.  And the material it makes available to parents, teachers and students is truly valuable and quite amazing.

Scholastic, Inc., is a publishing and educational industry service company whose mission is stated as:

“The corporate mission of Scholastic is to encourage the intellectual and personal growth of all children, beginning with literacy, the cornerstone of all learning. With more than 90 years of experience supporting the learning lives of children, today Scholastic remains committed to providing quality, engaging educational content in digital and print formats for the next generation of learners, and the families and educators who guide them.”

But the big surprise to Roger is that Scholastic are also the people behind bringing the Harry Potter series to America!  So it’s not all serious academics at Scholastic.


Click her to listen to:  June 11, 2012 Francie Alexander

Roger and Virginia at The Learning Curve.


How to Repair a “Failing” Student’s Ability to Learn

The Learning Curve July 11, 2011

How to Repair a “Failing” Student’s Ability to Learn

This week’s Learning Curve is important for all parents who have children who are failing at school or who have the consideration that they are “slow,” “dull,” “can’t learn” or “learning disabled.”

Roger and Virginia take you through the process that handles and restores a student’s certainty that they can learn.  It demonstrates to the student that learning is an ability we all have; and the procedure restores to the student their certainty that they can exercise it and actually, successfully learn anything they apply their attention to.

Last week we and our guests from debunked the notion that dyslexia is a “disability.”  We showed that dyslexia is not correctly understood; and that, instead, these folks are what can be called “right brain learners” who exhibit quite remarkable abilities not enjoyed by others.

This week we take on another of the myths held by the educational establishment.

At the end of Chapter One of our book: How to Learn-How to Teach: Overcoming the Seven Barriers to Comprehension, ( we have a section dealing with how to recover the ability and certainty for your child that they can learn and succeed one-hundred percent at their school studies.

This week’s program reveals some of that important information.

For the full discussion of the material, folks who have Kindles or Nooks, can obtain the Parent’s & Student’s Edition of How to Learn-How to Teach: Overcoming the Seven Barriers to Comprehension, from either Amazon (

or Barnes & Noble (

Alternatively, you can download the Nook or Kindle application to you computer and read it there.


Click here to listen July 11, 2011 Roger & Virginia

For more information go to

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How Do You Recognize if Your Child is Having Difficulty in School Early Enough to Properly Help? What to Do and How Do You Find the Help You Need?

The Learning Curve March 5, 2012 Dean Larson

How Do You Recognize if Your Child is Having Difficulty in School Early Enough to Properly Help?  What to Do and How Do You Find the Help You Need?

Too often parents fail to recognize their child is having difficulty and by the time they spot it, too much damage and loss has occurred.

Even when parents are astute enough to recognize the struggling student in their child, they still have the problem of what to do to help and where to go to get proper professional help.

Today, on The Learning Curve with Roger & Virginia, we have the return of Dean Larson, Director of Access for Knowledge Learning Centers.

Dean has a wealth of experience in both preventing student difficulty in his own students and remedying the struggling conditions of students brought to him.

Hear Dean describe how you would first observe, and then proceed to handle, indications of your child having difficulty at school.

His first, critical word of advice is that a parent must stand back and examine the facts of the situation . . . don’t dub-in emotion or opinion.

Look for trends in grades and behavior; a change in friends and a change towards the family.

Write down only the facts.  Just gather data.

You must use “reflective listening” with your child—you must ask, and listen: not tell and assert your belief.

Kids don’t have enough life experience to yet be able to understand all the emotions and feelings they go through.

You’ll hear Dean explain how all this is done, and give you the key question to be asked:

  • What are the possibilities of change?
  • Are there medical conditions (hearing, eyesight, biochemical) behind the trouble?
  • What about tutoring services?  How do you evaluate the options?

Dean brilliantly and clearly answers all these questions . . . .


Click here to listen  Dean Larson 3-5-12 redo of e too large 

Jennifer Turner is an Honest to Goodness, Genuine Home-Schooling Mom Who Believes in student-led learning.

The Learning Curve February 27, 2012   Jennifer Turner

Jennifer Turner is an Honest to Goodness, Genuine Home-Schooling Mom Who Believes in student-led learning.

Jennifer is lucky to be able to benefit from A Cyber Charter School with on-line curriculum along with on-line teacher back-up and testing.

The benefit of all this to Jennifer’s two children is that, while they have to meet the state testing standards, she can allow the kids to progress through each item on the curriculum at the pace that best suits the child and also ensure mastery on all subject matter.

Hear how Jennifer practices Student Led Learning.

Hear how she works the interests and needs of each child into the lesson plans and material.

She is also able to allow each of her children to learn in the style best suited to the child—indeed she pays special attention to facilitating her children’s two different learning styles.  And this further enhanced by her practice of Student Led Learning.

Jennifer says this method of educating her children has developed in them a wondrous love of learning, and the ability to discover and master anything they will ever have to deal with in later life.

And the big bonus Jennifer has found is that Home Schooling allows families to be flexible in meeting all of the needs of each member of the family.

Hear Jennifer answer these questions:

  • What is student-led learning?
  • How do home school parents incorporate their children’s interests during instructed learning time?
  • How do our children meet state and federal school requirements by following the student led philosophy?
  • Can traditional school settings incorporate a student-led philosophy?

More wisdom from Jennifer at her Blog:


Click here to listen  February 27, 2012 Jennifer Turner

Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve



Imagine a parenting technique that doesn’t tell you what to do, but teaches the art of self discovery that can be implemented with your child for its benefit.

The Learning Curve February 20, 2012 Socratic Parenting

Imagine a parenting technique that doesn’t tell you what to do, but teaches the art of self discovery that can be implemented with your child for its benefit.

The big question parents should be asking is: when it works, why is it working; and if it doesn’t work, why not?

Our guest today with Roger and Virginia on The Learning Curve is Laurie Gray, the founder of Socratic Parenting.  Laurie’s experience includes having been a high school teacher, a civil and criminal trial attorney and author of young adult literature.  Currently she writes, speaks and consults through Socratic Parenting LLC as well as working as a child forensic interviewer and as a College Professor.

What would happen of you used “open inquiry” questions with your child instead of telling and indoctrinating?  Would it lead to greater self discovery and appreciation of truth?

Socrates is said to have stated: I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.

Only the practice of “open inquiry” opens the mind for thinking.

Many wise educators have deplored the current educational system’s practice of treating kids as sponges to be filled with the attempt to wring them dry at exam time.  It is an unwise parenting practice also.

As Laurie explains, there is nothing more useless than a mind filled with others’ thoughts.

Hear Laurie explain the principles of Socratic Parenting — principles such as:

  • Be aware versus beware.
  • Don’t cause a child’s life to be ruled by fear.
  • Have the child being present with interested.
  • Acknowledgement and appreciation is a very important first step.
  • Accept who your child is.
  • Appreciate the positives.
  • And much more.


Clock here to listen February 20, 2012 Socratic Parenting

Roger and Virginia at The Learning Curve


Parental Choice in Education Allows Needs to Start with the Child and be Customized Around the Child.

The Learning Curve November 28. 2011 Linda Dobson–part 3

Parental Choice in Education Allows Needs to Start with the Child and be Customized Around the Child.

Into whose hands goes the decision of what will be learned and by when?

Currently, the system’s standards make the system more important than the children it is supposed to serve, hence:

A Declaration of Educational Independence.

Parental choice in education is needed rather than the new laws being foisted upon us.

We need to change the core common standards that perpetuate the current system along with its belief that all children can be cookie-cutters and all the same.  This is a system that has not served our children well; and has only served itself.

Become your child’s best learning coach.

More freedom in education.

Today on The Learning Curve with Roger and Virginia we have the return of Linda Dobson, author of The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child, and eight other books on helping your child’s education.

Linda has a treasure trove of information on her website:

Linda has been a columnist with Home Education Magazine “forever,” and was the first “Early Years” adviser for  She also participated with Barnes and Noble University on these issues.

Click here to listen November 28, 2011 Linda Dobson 3

Roger and Virginia at The Learning Curve.


How to Benefit From Home Schooling Internet Resources Whether You Home School or Not! Part 2.

The Learning Curve August 15, 2011 –Terry Neven Part 2

How to Benefit From Home Schooling Internet Resources Whether You Home School or Not!  Part 2.

What internet resources are there available to help you help your kids get good grade?

What about Public Home School Programs?  Getting Your Program Accredited?

This is Part 2 of Roger & Virginia interviewing Terry Neven, the Administrator of the Sundland Home School Program. Terry founded Sundland in 1981. In 2008, Terry, Sundland and their attorneys won the case before the California Supreme Court that established as law the right of caring parents to home school their children. This win established the precedent that affected home-schooling rights for all Americans.

Terry runs the “Home School Program” at which we recommend listeners go to to feast on the available resources provided.  It is one of the very best sites we’ve found to help parents help their kids get good grades.  Coaching is available, as are curricula accreditations.

See the High School Manual here:

In this interview key issues are addressed, such as:

  • To home school or not — all questions are answered.
  • How to begin your home schooling endeavor.
  • How home schooling recovers and enhances your best relationships with your child.
  • Only 52 minutes in a six hour school day are spent actually learning in a conventional school.
  • Learn about the superior scholastic achievement of home schooled children.
  • Is the public school system really just tax sponsored daycare?
  • The Montessori Method works very easily with the home schooling environment.
  • Student learning styles are facilitated and worked with so the child’s natural ability to learn is enhanced.
  • Why some parents choose to home school to protect their children from the conventional system.
  • Choosing an accredited program so your home school work is accepted academically for college entry.
  • Erasing the unfounded fears of whether or not you will succeed in home schooling.
  • Did you know some public schools have been trying to sabotage some home schoolers?
  • The benefits of accreditation and how to get it.
  • How to handle the fallacy that home schooling impedes “socialization” of a child.

And much, much more.


Click here to listen  081511 Terry Neven–Part 2

Roger & Virginia

How Can You Best Help Your Kids Get Good Grades? How Can You Ensure You Win at Learning in Life?

The Learning Curve July 25, 2011

Roger and Virginia discuss how Virginia uses the secrets of the Seven Barriers to Comprehension when tutoring adult learners in her evening classes at Literacy Partners in New York.

Hear how Virginia discovered the secret to her own learning style and also overcame the learning problems she had as a child in school.  She found that it wasn’t her fault — it was the fault of the teaching style and practice that actually prevented her from “getting it.”

Is your child being impeded by the teacher?  Is your child being falsely labeled “slow,” “inattentive” or even “learning disabled” when in fact it is the teacher or educational practices that are to blame?

This is a must hear show for parents who truly care about their children winning at school and in life.

After all, all of life is a learning curve!


Click to listen July 25, 2011

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