Dale Mezzacappa

Senior Reporter, Chalkbeat Philadelphia

Dale Mezzacappa is a Senior Reporter for Chalkbeat Philadelphia. She most recently served as contributing editor of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, an independent nonprofit news site, which in August 2020 merged with Chalkbeat. She joined the Notebook in 2008 after 27 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she was a senior education writer. Earlier in her career she reported on government and politics from Trenton and Washington, DC for The Inquirer and The Record of Hackensack, N.J. Her writing has earned awards from the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the New Jersey Press Association, the Keystone Press Association, and the Columbia University School of Journalism. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and for 15 years has taught a journalism course at Swarthmore College. Dale graduated from Vassar and is a past president of the Education Writers Association. Contact her at dmezzacappa@chalkbeat.org or @dalemezz.

Superintendent Tony Watlington wants new incentives for educators to work at schools that are difficult to staff, a $70 million overhaul to curriculum materials, and more.
Although asbestos is only considered a health hazard when it starts to flake, several school closures linked to the material this year have caused serious concern among Philadelphia parents and others.
Superintendent Tony Watlington has been promising to release a five-year strategic plan since he took office. Almost one year and a $450,000 consulting contract later, that plan is set to go to a vote May 25, but the public knows next to nothing about it.
Cherelle Parker and Tony Watlington haven’t shared details about how big changes to the academic calendar would work.
Parker — who is poised to become the first woman to serve as Philadelphia’s mayor — has big ideas for schools, but the teachers union and other power players will help determine their fate.
Frankford High School students staged a production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In The Heights” at another school, after their building was one of several in the district to close recently due to damaged asbestos.
Councilmember Isaiah Thomas wants to discuss creating a new authority to manage school construction and repairs, although a similar approach in New Jersey has fared poorly.
Lillian Izzard and Amanda Jones have won the school district’s prestigious Lindback Award for principals.
C.W. Henry is the fourth school building to close in recent weeks and district officials anticipate more closures could be looming.
The district has come under fire for failing to present a long-term plan for students if more schools shut down.
The mayor has no direct control over the schools, but does have the power to appoint all of the school board members who can then carry out the mayor’s vision regarding charter schools, the lottery admission process, and other education issues. Here’s where the candidates stand.
Fewer than one out of five qualified students offered seats at certain high schools have enrolled in them for the next school year.
Next year’s sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply, and the school board is hoping for a charter school student.
Larry Krasner’s report also found that 95% of girls arrested in the city are children of color.
A March 28 student rally came after Superintendent Tony Watlington announced changes to the admissions system.
Critics of the district’s lottery system had said it would lead to enrollment declines and staff cuts at certain high schools.
Candidates want to lengthen the school day, offer free transportation, knock down old buildings, and raise teacher pay, among other ideas.
Board President Reginald Streater wants the city to increase annual local funding for the district by $318 million by 2027.
During a high school visit, Gov. Josh Shapiro also discussed his plans to hire more teachers and increase education spending in his proposed budget.
City officials and others are demanding a quick response and a detailed school facilities plan from Superintendent Tony Watlington.
The closure of Building 21 highlights ongoing safety and health problems with the district’s aging schools.
State senator says Pennsylvania’s current K-12 system funding ‘harkens back to the days of Jim Crow.’
The Kids Campaignhas detailed policy proposals for issues like the teacher shortage, summer jobs, and juvenile justice.
Instead of relying solely on a textbook, the course’s new material includes many primary sources.
A state senator who claimed the district is freezing out charters got into a heated exchange with the board president.
Pennsylvania’s Act 158 requires students to meet one of five “pathways” in order to get their diploma.
Republican lawmakers stress the need for more school choice but don’t say whether they’ll appeal the ruling.
Commonwealth Court judge highlights disparities between school districts, but her ruling could be swiftly appealed.