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



The Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project—What a Wonderful Idea This is!

The Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project—What a Wonderful Idea This is!

Wonderful results have been achieved by implementing the simple idea that if teachers visited parents in their homes, both could work together more productively to benefit the child student.

Carie Rose is the Director of The Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project

This simple, wonderful idea is now a nationwide activity achieving great results.

Since 1998, the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project non-profit members have created stronger home/school partnerships that support students and transform schools.  Home visits lead to increased parent involvement, reduced disciplinary problems, improved attendance, and increased student achievement.

Home visits also lead to trusting, respectful relationships between parents and teachers, creating the foundation for understanding and cooperation between home and school that is critical to every student’s success.

Families report greater understanding of graduation requirements, student status and available site based resources — if needed.

Educators report greater understanding and connection to their entire school community and each student’s individual learning needs.

Studies of successful home visit pilots have documented the many benefits of home visits, including:

Home Visits Create Partnerships:

  • Increasing parental involvement
  • Developing trust and understanding among parents and teachers
  • Identifying common goals for students
  • Helping parents learn how to better help their children

Home Visits Improve School Climate:

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Fewer suspensions and expulsions
  • Improved communication between home and school
  • Shared accountability

Home Visits Increase Student Achievement:

  • Improved test scores
  • Higher school-wide API scores
  • Improved accountability for students, parents, and teachers

Home visits work with schools and districts in eleven states having adopted our model.  Home visits work for parents. They work for educators. And, most importantly, they work for students.

For more information about Home Visits contact:

Carrie Rose, Director, The Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project 

Or email:   Phone:  916/448-5290

Click here to Listen090312 Carrie Rose Parent-Teacher-at-Home

Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve


What is Integrated Learning? Why Are American Students Behind Other Nations in Science Education, and What can Be Done About it?

The Learning Curve March 12, 2012  Lisa Niver Rajna

What is Integrated Learning? Why Are American Students Behind Other Nations in Science Education, and What can Be Done About it?

Lisa Niver Rajna is an honest-to-goodness science teacher working in the trenches at K-6.

Lisa’s success is evident in the following:

One of her students WON an international award with OXFAM Canada in its contest on making toys out of recycled materials. Her team was the FIRST USA team in the contest in 20 years

Further she has been invited to be Geographic Awareness Editor on the site: Wandering; and most recently has been nominated for a Presidential Award as a Science Teacher.

Hear Roger & Virginia talk with Lisa about the Global Achievement Gap as revealed by Tony Wagner.

We explore with her such issues as:

  • Is there a conflict between preparing students for the world of work and teaching them about their roles as citizens?
  • What does it mean in today’s world to be an active and informed citizen, and how does a democratic society best educate for citizenship?
  • What would be involved in created the ‘challenging and rigorous curriculum’ for all students that many are now demanding? What is even meant by ‘rigor’ today and how do we get more of it in our students’ classes?
  • Are students learning how to think critically, solve problems, work collaboratively, take initiative, communicate effectively, access and analyze information, be curious and imaginative?
  • Learn how the kinds of questions students are asked and the extent to which a teacher (or parent) challenges students to explain their thinking or expand on their answers are reliable indicators of the level of intellectual rigor in a class.
  • What about our kids’ future roles as world citizens? Are we educating them for it?
  • Given that, as a society, we become good at what we measure: are we measuring the optimum things in our students?
  • Learn how Lisa excites her students and interests them in science.


Click here to listen March 12, 2012 Lisa Niver Rajna

Visit Lisa’s website at

Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve

What Are the Three Types/Stages/Areas of Child Development?

The Learning Curve January 16, 2012 Anne Maxwell 2

What Are the Three Types/Stages/Areas of Child Development?

Learn to Work with the Child’s Chronological, Cognitive and Emotional Developmental Stages.

Today’s guest is Anne Maxwell, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and founder of The Child and Family Therapy Play Center.  She also founded the website.

Anne has had extensive experienced dealing with “troubled,” “disabled” or “disadvantaged” children in her clinical career — but something was discovered by her: many of these disturbed or troubled children were, in actuality, highly gifted children who’d been misdiagnosed with one of the many fashionable designations used nowadays to try and fit the too sharp kids into the very dull system that is the US educational assembly-line.

Many of these kids, mislabeled with any one of the acronyms ending with “D” for disorder, were actually very bright youngsters driven into displaying symptoms of boredom, rebellion, disinterest or distraction due to them not fitting into a system that isn’t geared to deal with exceptional talent and doesn’t know how to correctly cater to them.

These gifted kids get stressed-out because they end up feeling they are not being heard or understood . . . but who doesn’t suffer when that occurs to them!

Out of this experience Anne has developed a system of tools and game playing routines that enable all children: gifted, normal or “different” to have the best brought out in them.

This is the second half of our interview with Anne, and in this show Anne discusses how you can “get it right” with your child.  The things you can do, the tools you can use, to help your child develop its full potential and reap the rewards in life it is due.

Learn the characteristics of a gifted child.

Learn the Three Stages and Types of Childhood Development.

Learn how to find out what is “in your child’s universe/mind” . . . this instead of blaming or incorrectly assuming what’s going on.

Hear Anne address The 10 Keys to Joyful Parenting.

Anne gives you an exercise of how to help your child realize its infinite possibilities.

Did you know children are often so perceptively sensitive they take on others’ emotions?

Learn how to honor your child’s uniqueness and not mold it into society’s expectations.

Did you know that “behavior” is often a form of communication.

Get Anne’s list of tools for happy parenting that will benefit your child.


Click here to listen January 16, 2012 Anne Maxwell 2

Roger and Virginia at The Learning Curve




Learn What Exercises and Drills You Can Use to Help Your Child Read Easily and Well.

The Learning Curve December 26, 2011 Jeffrey Pflaum 2

Learn What Exercises and Drills You Can Use to Help Your Child Read Easily and Well.

Today, with Roger & Virginia on The Learning Curve, we have the return of Jeffrey Pflaum, the author of Motivating Teen and Preteen Readers: How Teachers and Parents and Teachers Can Lead the Way.

Jeffrey is a 34 year veteran of teaching in the New York City School System where he achieved spectacular results in the classroom. He and his work have been widely cited in publications dealing with education and is featured on the Education Resource Information Centerat Teachers’ College, Columbia University and Indiana University. Also at the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, Illinois University.

Jeffrey is also a BAM! Street Journal Blogger at the BAM Radio Network serving the education community.

Jeffrey reveals the simple exercises and drills he used in his classroom to help kids become better readers.

Hear how Jeffrey taught his students that words can excite and incite young readers to create three-dimensional concepts and images; and that reading is like a 3D virtual reality created by the reader.

Jeffrey’s book is available at your local bookstore, and B&N.

Jeffrey can be contacted at


Click here to listen December 26, 2011 Jeffrey Pflaum #2

Roger and Virginia at The Learning Curve


Student Failure is Caused Before Grade School and Continues on to High School Drop-out—How Can You Prevent This for Your Child?

The Learning Curve December 12, 2011 –Murray Bass Part 2

Student Failure is Caused Before Grade School and Continues on to High School Drop-out—How Can You Prevent This for Your Child?

How Can You Start Your Child on the Path to Successful Learning and Literacy? What are the Successful Sequential Steps?

Today’s guest with Roger & Virginia on The Learning Curve is Murray Bass, the founder and president of Tools of Learning for Children. This is part 2 of our interview with Murray.

Murray is an 83 year-old retiree who has some children enjoying reading books as early as 3 years-old! His “wards” are routinely doing it at age 4! What a remarkable story this is.

The Mission Statement of Murray’s registered Section 501c(3) non-profit, Tools of Learning for Children organization is:

“The Founders of this Nation envisioned a country populated and governed by literate, patriotic people. To fulfill their vision, Tools of Learning for Children commits to this mission.

“We will raise funds and provide materials for two purposes: to facilitate children being able to read — the foundation of all learning — and to help them understand that they are blessed to be citizens of the United States of America.”

This is important because:

  • The 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (published October 21, 2008) showed the following achievement levels for Californian public schools:
  • 4th Grade reading — only 18% were proficient and 30% reading at a basic level.  47% are reading below the basic level.
  • 8th Grade reading — only 20% were proficient and 41% reading at a basic level. 38% are reading below the basic level.

What a disaster!

Compare this example of what Murray’s organization is accomplishing with 3 and 4 year-olds at a cost of around $15 per child.

A letter from Judy Ingersoll,VacavilleChristianSchools,Vacaville,CAdated June 18, 2008.


“Out of 102 report cards for Early Kindergarten students (children who have not yet entered kindergarten)

102 children (all of them) know all of their phonics sounds

92 children can easily blend consonants and vowels

87 children can read one vowel words

56 can read two vowel words*

“* We have not stressed two vowel words in the past as our kindergarten teachers have asked us to focus on phonics and blending, but with front line phonics the children are more prepared to read so we have tested the children this year to see how they are doing.

“Please remember we still have 4 year-olds in EK, and some of these children started school very late in the year, even during the last couple of months so they did not have a full year with Front Line Phonics. Still, the fact that 100% of the children know their phonics sounds and 90% are blending consonants and vowels the first week of June tells us by the end of summer these children will be even more prepared than they are now.

“Thank you for all you do for VCS.

“Judy Ingersoll”

You can reach Murray at (707) 427-0744 or by email at

Give him a hand . . . he could also use an extra dollar or two.


Click here to listen December 12, 2011 Murray Bass Part 2

Roger and Virginia




Roger and Virginia links to

Tools of Learning for Children links to



Has Your Child Been Wrongly Diagnosed with ADHD? How Big is the Risk of Misdiagnosis?

The Learning Curve October 10, 2011

Has Your Child Been Wrongly Diagnosed with ADHD?  How Big is the Risk of Misdiagnosis?

2007 US government stats state 5.4 million children have been given an ADHD diagnosis.  The most recent figures are much higher.

This week’s guest, Dr. Frank Barnhill, M.D., author of Mistaken for ADHD, reveals the incidence of wrong diagnosis is something in the order of 20%-40%!

Kids in the conventional educational system are at real risk of being misdiagnosed, mistreated and mishandled.

This is a program that should outrage many parents.

Dr. Barnhill reveals some of the egregious reasons for this calamity.  He reveals the classic symptoms too often mistaken for ADHD —and more importantly, he takes us through the lessons all parents, teachers and professionals need to be aware of so they can be sure to get a correct diagnosis and properly help their children.

Learn about the “Medical Zebras” that look, taste and feel like ADHD, but aren’t!

Hear how a 13 year old girl suffering from hypothyroidism was incorrectly diagnosed and treated incorrectly with nearly calamitous result.  Hear how a boy being bullied when transferred to a new school became withdrawn and then misdiagnosed; and then hear how Dr. Barnhill got it corrected and saved the lad.

Learn how non-ADHD siblings are affected by their relationship with an ADHD brother or sister.

Learn what the three core symptoms of ADHD are.  Knowing them will help you not be fooled.

Find out how to get a doctor who is properly trained and qualified to diagnose correctly this troubling condition.

Parents need to hear this interview of Roger and Virginia on The Learning Curve with Dr. Frank Barnhill, M.D. so they can protect their children from the system’s errors.

Dr. Frank Barnhill, M.D., author of Mistaken for ADHD and


Click here to listen October 10, 2011 Dr. Frank Barnhill

Roger and Virginia


What Does Your Child Need to Know Before Going to Kindergarten?

The Learning Curve October 3, 2011

What Does Your Child Need to Know Before Going to Kindergarten?

What’s the importance of an at-home kindergarten readiness program? . . .

  • Because children who are ready for school do better in all the other grades and have more chance of finishing school.
  • Because many children who enter school unprepared or behind their classmates stay behind.
  • But mostly because being ready for school starts long before getting there: it starts at home—this and parent involvement are shown to be critical factors in the child’s success at school.

Today’s Learning Curve interviews Barbara Allisen, the author of, 123 Kindergarten: Everything Your Child Needs to Learn Before Kindergarten.

Barbara has more then 30 years in the classroom.  She speaks from experience.

Today’s show reveals:

  •  How critically important the child’s early learning years are, and why.
  •  Ninety-percent of learning and brain development happens in the first five years!
  •  Early parental involvement is a key factor in a child’s success at school.
  •  Why and how to make your home the child’s first classroom.
  •  There are many, many precursors to basic concepts that we assume children know, but fail to ensure they know to the detriment of the child’s development and later success at school—how to be sure your child has these basic elements.
  •  Children need to feel comfortable with the whole issue of learning—those children who know they can learn and who expect to learn are the most successful at school.
  •  Find out how to use everyday chores as learning opportunities for your child.
  •  Points to consider when determining when to first send your child to school.
  •  Find out why kindergarten is a pivotal year for children.
  •  Find out how to have your child prepared for and excited to go to kindergarten, confident in its grasp of the needed basics.

 Click here to listen October 3, 2011 Barbara Allison

Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve


The Six Step Method for Tutoring Your Own Child

The Learning Curve September 26, 2011   Marina Ruben

The Six Step Method for Tutoring Your Own Child

You’ll be surprised how easy it is to tutor your own child and thereby ensure their academic success.

Today’s guest, Marina Ruben, is the author of How to Tutor Your Own Child: Boost Grades and Inspire a Lifelong Love of Learning—Without Paying a Professional Tutor.

Hear Marina describe the fun to be had by both parent and child in this activity, the easy successes to be had with it and the simplicity of the techniques that can be used.

More at her website:

Marina answers many questions parents have on the issues of:

  •  How can they best tutor their own child, if at all?
  • How easy or difficult is it?
  • What are the pitfalls if any?
  • What do I need to know to be able to do it?
  • How can I motivate my child?
  • What are the best methods to employ . . . and much more.

Click here to listen September 26, 2011 Marina Ruben

Roger and Virginia at The Learning Curve


What is the Most Real Danger Your Child Faces at School in its Early Years?

The Learning Curve September 19, 2011

What is the Most Real Danger Your Child Faces at School in its Early Years?

Today’s show reveals the true, horror story of what too many children go through in our educational system when they are mislabeled, misdiagnosed and wrongfully medicated — this, all in the misguided effort to handle children who are “different.”

Melissa Binstock is now a 22 year-old college student and author of the book, Nourishment: Feeding my Starving Soul When My Mind and Body Betrayed Me.

Visit her website:

By the time Melissa was 11 years old, she had already been diagnosed with 6 disorders, taken 14 different medications, and seen 10 doctors. Some of Melissa’s disorders include Tourette’s syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, dyslexia, ADHD, anorexia nervosa, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Melissa has been honored for being an advocate for people with mental health concerns by the Tourette’s Syndrome Foundation and Mental Health America, and she has also lectured at Texas Women’s Univeristy and written articles for the National Anxiety Disorder Association and the OCD Foundation about the psychosocial issues children with psychological and neurological disorders face.

As Melissa herself says:

“I am a 22 year old psychology student who recently had a memoir published by Health Conmunications Inc. My memoir recounts my struggle and ultimate success in learning to cope with psychological and neurological disorders, including a learning disorder in reading, Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD, and a learning disorder in working memory. Although I am not yet an expert in the professional sense of the term (i.e. I am still in school), I believe my experience has made me an expert in the sense that I’ve learned to cope with my disorders. Despite my learning differences, I have a 4.0 GPA, have written a book, and, best of all, I am now getting to help others.”

Her book has been declared a “must read” and endorsed by several prominent professionals such as Joseph Janovic, M.D., Professor of Neurology and Director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine and Ira M. Sacker, M.D., Eating Disorders Specialist and author of Regaining Yourself and Dying to Be Thin.

Please be sure to tune in so you can ensure these horrors do not befall your child.

Click here to listen September 19, 2011

Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve