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William Hite: A look at his background in 5 critical areas

By Katie McCabe on Jun 26, 2012 12:01 PM

Attending tonight’s public engagement forum to hear from superintendent candidate Bill Hite?

Here are links to previous reporting done on five important areas.    

1. Education & experience

  • Current superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools
  • Former middle school and high school principal in Henrico County, Virginia

2. Budgeting background

  • Collaborated with heads of other Maryland school districts to pressure Maryland state governor to increase state funding to education.

3. Work with district reorganization

4. Work to improve school performance

5. Efforts to support principals and teachers

Also check out our blogger Timothy Boyle’s crowd-sourced list of questions to ask tonight.

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Comments (45)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 26, 2012 1:29 pm

So both of our option are pro-charter expansion?

That's like having a Catholic run your abortion clinic.

Submitted by Tres. (not verified) on June 26, 2012 2:52 pm

Unless I'm missing something, Mr. Boyle, I don't see questions about unions and their philosophy about them, going forward. I agree with the above comment too that both of these guys see charter expansion as a good thing so why are they candidates to run a Public School System? Also, and as always, the people have had no input in any of this really and that can't be good.

Submitted by Laura Boyce (not verified) on June 26, 2012 3:24 pm

Could we get some more info on his teaching experience? He said in the teacher Q&A that he taught high school marketing and middle school reading? For how long, and where?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 26, 2012 7:00 pm

Met soon to be superintendent Dr. Hite today in a principal's Q&A. He presents well, is knowledgable, but he's a snake oil salesman. Exactly what the SRC is looking for.

Submitted by Mike G. (not verified) on June 26, 2012 8:13 pm

Why do you say that?? I'll tell you why--Because you googled him and read about his arrogance and dismissive tendencies as well as his playing the race card immediately if not sooner.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 26, 2012 9:28 pm

He said all the right things about transparency and accountability. Mentioned that grant money should be used for structural improvements rather than salaries since it is only temporary (seems to understand this basic fact -very good). And he said several times that teachers need more time to collaborate and evaluate (sounds like support for more prep time to me -also very good). Also recognized community as a crucial factor (another very good). And covered the behavior issue in terms of creating relationships and expectations rather than suspensions. So far so good...

He speaks very well. He seemed to be sincere. Certainly he has a definite advantage in his Education background over Mr. Martinez.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 26, 2012 11:57 pm

Ms. Cheng,

I second all of your points. His answers showed that he has a depth of knowledge and experience in both instructional and administrative issues. I was really impressed with his understanding of value added measurement, including its flaws and limitations. He doesn't see test scores as the end all be all. Of course, it's easy to say these things...acting on them is another story.

EGS

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 27, 2012 8:23 am

Yes an awareness of things does not always guarantee action. There was good critical thinking and listening, but really no new plans of action. This may be a good thing however. Another good thing he said was that things that currently are working should be recognized and used; Then he said that resources should be looked for "out there" for things that are "lacking" which might be a weakness that eager vendors could take advantage of.

Thank you to Notebook's Katie McCabe for your research. Did anyone ask about the success of splitting the Prince George District into zones and decentralization?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 27, 2012 7:30 am

Hite learned about not using grant money to prop up a budget because he did the same thing Ackerman did with the federal stimulus money:

"School board members say budget cuts are particularly painful this year because the system has relied for the past two years on federal stimulus money that has ended."

http://soetalk.com/2011/02/25/prince-georges-schools-face-budget-cuts/

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 27, 2012 8:13 am

Thank you for the article reference. It is not a good sign, because when he was asked what things (was it mistakes?) he regretted, he mentioned having a climate where teachers were not able to speak their mind freely for fear of retribution, but did not mention having to cut jobs and increase class size. I did not tune in from the beginning so I may have missed earlier mention of these from him? Is this a sign of insularity I wonder?

Submitted by George C. (not verified) on June 27, 2012 6:44 pm

If you google him, you will see that what he does is NOT how he behaved yesterday. Words are cheap. He is very similar to Ackerman in terms of being dismissive and arrogant. A blog from there called him, Vallas without the charm. Seems like the new bully on the block is in the house. I think Pedro needs to head to the ballpark as he was just taking up space to pretend we had a choice.

Submitted by Anonymous on June 29, 2012 11:27 am

I am a principal in Prince George's County. Dr. Hite is an excellent leader in all regards. He respects people and is not at all arrogant. He is very reserved. Yes, he had to make very difficult financial decisions in order to reduce deficit and keep the school system viable so therefore some people will say bad things about him. Dr. Hite keeps teaching and learning at the heart of all he does. He always tries to do his best to keep cuts away from the classroom. Remember that leaders are sometimes blamed for the actions of those around them. Dr. Hite is not a micro-manager. This is Philadelphia's gain and Prince George's lost. Many of his employees whom he calls COLLEAGUES are devastated about his eminent departure.

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on June 29, 2012 11:02 am

Mr. Ramos----We know you want this guy--give it a rest. By the way, Dr. Hite has a reputation IN WRITING as a very arrogant and dismissive person who considers dissent as a personal attack on him. Sounds like Ackerman part 2.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 29, 2012 11:42 am

We will see how he does at the negotiating table with the PFT and its crew of lawyers. He gets too stubborn and arrogant nothing will get accomplished!!!

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 29, 2012 12:41 pm

The negotiating table would be a good place to get some things in writing. Things that need to be spelled out, such as recognizing that there is financial fallout from decisions (such as giving schools to charter operators, or huge contracts to vendors with "hot" educational products) that result in a weakened financial position of the District, and thus leads to other school closures and the layoff of teachers. Small test score gains do not justify huge deficits and massive school closures. Any compromises that teachers have to give, need to have the legal responsibility of the District to fully disclose all political ties and be responsible for/compensate for, instability that results from poor planning. It is only right. A lawyer in court would only have to cite the actual costs of these charter conversions to win financial compensation (lost wages and benefits) for those teachers laid off as a result. Though far from an "iron clad" guarantee, it would be at least something.

Parents, guardians don't have any legal bargaining status, so we hope that the PFT in representing the interests of teachers can put forward a safeguard to the traditional public school system in our interests also.

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on June 29, 2012 1:10 pm

Why would any clear thinking person believe anything a charter school says and I mean anything. There is no real transparency and what does exists is intramurally based which is code for zero disclosure.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 29, 2012 1:30 pm

All the more reason to get it in writing :)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 29, 2012 1:56 pm

In that regard look at these:

http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.blogspot.com/2012/05/pa-charter-s...

http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.blogspot.com/2011/06/follow-money...
(I wonder if this is why Chester Upland was given more money. All other low income districts including Philadelphia received nothing.
http://articles.philly.com/2012-06-28/news/32442070_1_school-districts-s... )

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 29, 2012 8:46 pm

Chester Upland had to sue the State to get money to keep running. I believe it was based on the Special Ed funding (which was what bankrupted them in the first place, that is, payments to charters for Special Ed instruction). So they've figured out a way to give them "just enough" so that they can't sue for more I'm sure.

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on June 29, 2012 11:11 pm

I am confused as to why parents do not have any legal barganing rights, given it is our money we parents pay out in the form of property taxes, that fund the school district and pay their salaries. And our children are their customers...so if the SRC has a plan that is a misuse of my money and harms my child by not educating him, is their nothing I can do?
I don't like the sound of that...

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 30, 2012 7:51 am

We don't have any direct legal bargaining rights. Supposedly we have the right of "choice" as parents/guardians in enrolling our children, and as voters in choosing our lawmakers. The closest we could get would be in electing a school board, but even that is not necessarily direct influence.

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on June 29, 2012 1:11 pm

He likes playing the race card too. The Queen returns in a male body.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 29, 2012 1:45 pm

How successful do you feel the decentralization of the Prince George District was? Did the costs for specialized services such as Special Ed go up; and are these students being served adequately? How many schools are able to maintain an Instrumental Music program?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 29, 2012 6:31 pm

I Totally agree; Dr. Hite is a thoughtful well read leader who keeps children at the center of all of his decision. It is a shame that individuals can post such negative comments and have so much hatred in there hearts for a person they don't even know. I wish Hite and his family well in whatever decision they decide to make.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 29, 2012 7:22 pm

I'm so tired of hearing "hatred in their (check your spelling, its not there) hearts" and "negative" to refer to anyone who tries to actually think a little. It is sad that we need to shut down our critical faculties to be "nice". There are a lot of emotional comments that have to do with the fact that we have been down the road of candidates that are "too good to be true". I would rather people be honest than "polite". Yes we don't know Dr. Hite. The most polite and respectful person I knew also was the one that decided to use the bulk of our Title I money for his own personal adminstrative assistant with a fancy "whatsit" title, "Instructional Reform Facilitator". He asserted that he actually cared about the kids; but if he did, he would've spent that Title I money where it was supposed to go, not on himself so that he would look good to his superiors. More than $400 a child would have paid for swim lessons or trips to museums, plays... lots of things that middle class kids take for granted...

Did Dr. Hite try and convince the school board that there might be another option besides raising class size and laying off librarians, counselors, ending successful science programs? Careful borrowing against future economic growth or appealing to community philanthropists perhaps? Where was the use of technology to reduce costs he spoke of? None of these questions is about "hate in the heart", only about facts that matter to yes, the kids.

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on June 29, 2012 7:03 pm

Ms. Cheng--To whom are you referring?? Is it a Principal who stole Title One money ?? Just curious because you have mentioned Title One funds lots of times in your posts? Name a name, please or at least a school?

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 29, 2012 8:01 pm

Yes, it was a principal, but I'm sure it happened at more than just this school. I will have to follow Notebook rules in not naming names. I don't think the principal viewed it as stealing Title I funds, and technically it wasn't. Regarding the Title I budget, the mandated parent/guardian involvement was not there. The School Improvement Plan was an empty (as in no substantial plan) document that lacked real collaboration (it was the work of, lo and behold, that "Instructional Reform Facilitator"), so forth and so on... the end result of which was that the money was not used for what it was intended. The principal was the most affable person; Seemed I was the one at fault for being critical.

Yes, Title I is one of my most gnawed on bones, because I'm sad for the kids who are left out (it's not behind, it's out), and I don't see enough awareness of how this grant money/ tool could really make a difference if used correctly. It certainly can.

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on June 29, 2012 9:31 pm

Sounds as if you should have reported this Principal for misappropriation of Title One funds.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 29, 2012 10:39 pm

I brought up my objection to the principal first. He said the District recommended this position. I brought this up to the Regional Title I office (I see they no longer have these) and I was informed this wasn't true (District recommendation). They also told me that there were indeed problems with the school's School Improvement Plan. Guess what was done: Yup, absolutely nothing!

So everything rides on the integrity of the principal. Ultimately all the dishonesty can be justified if it is written into the School Improvement Plan, because... no one checks.

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on June 29, 2012 10:32 pm

Did they push you out of the school? Clearly, the Principal shouldn't have used that money the way he did.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 29, 2012 11:51 pm

Indeed, the "Instructional Reform Facilitator" sent the school police officer to remove me from where I was staffing a uniform exchange closet saying "they" didn't want me "wandering the hallways" (as if I'd ever done that). He (the officer) was derisive and rude and wouldn't divulge who "they" was other than it was a senior staff member, so I pretty much guessed who it was.

Here's a figure from an article dated Feb 13, 2012, 'Chicago Policy Review', "Rural School Snub: The Inequity of Title I Funding" by Gary D. Funk. It states the Philadelphia School District receives $2,424 for each of its qualifying disadvantaged children. Wow, you could provide a musical instrument and lessons, swim lessons at the YMCA, gymnastics, dance, theater, crafts, books, science kits galore, etc. etc. for that amount. Wouldn't any family love to have that to spend on their child for enrichment in a year? How does an "Instructional Reform Facilitator" equate to this? There were many school budgets that had this position. One only has to look at the individual school budgets that are posted on the District's website. And there's the problem. No one looks, let alone asks if everything has been properly spent.

It's a lot of money: Recall how Ms. Ackerman "found" the money in the Title I pot to save full day Kindergarten. Now, full day Kindergarten is a good use of the money. I actually agree on that one.

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on June 29, 2012 11:13 pm

Isn't that money supposed to only be spent on title 1 activities?? Who's the accounting firm that audits the districts financials? If they can spend all that $ on consulting groups, I am sure the district has a good accounting system, so that they can analyse costs, the consulting groupd would be poor if they haven't already implemented on that was transparent to improve analysis and cost controls.

That's what happens in the corporate world, and if the SRC is really trying to make the school district effecient, they would easily provide that information to their stakeholders, the parents of their students.

Let me know where to look for it, and I can analyse it for you.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 30, 2012 7:23 am

There are a lot of "cans" and few "musts" in Title I. The major stipulations are that the spending must support the School Improvement Plan and must not fund/displace funding for core curriculum. There are various others such as what you are allowed to spend based on what corrective status your school is in (2% vs 1% on professional development e.g.) The purpose of this funding is "enrichment" for poor disadvantaged children, to "even the playing field" by giving them what middle class children have access to. A Federal audit (www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oig/auditreports/fy2010/l03k0002.doc ) reported PSD as "at risk" to the State for improper spending/accounting, but I don't believe the State ever followed up on this.

You can see the school budgets by going to philasd.org and selecting "School Budgets" from the drop down menu under "About Us", then "Budget". You must select a fiscal year, then from 3 different accounting statements. It is not entirely clear how the Title I spending is allotted. The missing piece of info is the School Improvement Plan, the SIP.

In short, Title I is a good illustration of the bureaucratic muddle in the PSD that is shortchanging the kids; and can help explain why the charters can do so much better with this money.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 9:36 am

If anyone wants to see how Title I works, read Appendix I: Title I Guidelines on page 55-58 of the "Guide to School Budgets" from the SDP Office of Management and Budget. Just do a search from their main page.

There was no misappropriation of Title I funds in that school's budget or any other school whose budget included an Instructional Reform Facilitator. Check out the most recently published individual school budgets for 2012-2013 and you will see Title I funds being used to purchase a variety of positions, including "teacher leaders" (teachers with released time who basically act as administrative assts. to principals when they aren't teaching) and prep teachers. Previous year's budgets back to 2010-2011 may be posted in order to compare. Positions/teachers purchased must be "supplemental".

The point of my comments here are to direct those interested to the "Guide to School Budgets" which highlights the Title I Guidelines (the "Do's and Don'ts" of Title I purchases). Yes, a school's SIP is what guides the purchases, and "supplemental teachers" are allowable (reduced class size, intervention teachers, teacher leaders, kindergarten, and supplemental prep teachers). When Dr. Ackerman was the sup, she did create the Instructional Reform Facilitators AND they were allowable purchases under Title I (much like the "teacher leader" positions).

I am not in agreement with the over-use of Title I money on supplemental staff -- when you see the guidelines, your eyes are open wider, but principals make the final decisions for their school's purchases based on the school's needs as addressed in their SIP. To say that a school's SIP is not even read or considered when a school's budget is approved -- well, I would disagree with that.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 9:04 am

Be careful of your grammar----My point is not are and so forth.........................yikes !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2012 8:48 am

Yes, I know it's "is"...sheesh....at least I had a legitimate comment with regard to Title I guidelines, as opposed to being someone who constantly uses this forum to spread propaganda about a neighborhood school.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 1, 2012 3:56 pm

Yes, you had a good and valid comment. Again, thank you for that. Spelling and grammar should be the last, though helpful, things to point out.

Here's a final comment on the end of your comment here. My comments use my experience with a neighborhood school, but apply to far more. Recall the conversation is about those who do a good job "talking the talk" and then whose actions contradict or don't support what they want us to believe they are saying. I use my experience to support my comments and understanding. Sorry if my repetition is confused with propaganda in your mind. If it were propaganda against a specific school I am interested in, I would name the school, and it would be the main topic wouldn't it?

In the end the teachers in the PSD are "guidelining" themselves into busywork in the short term but losing jobs to the charters in the long term. The main issue of classroom behavior could be helped if the disadvantaged kids did get some of the resources their middle class peers get. If this point is propaganda, then it is propaganda in favor of neighborhood schools, made to help them, not hurt them.

From a "pin head" perspective, you take my comments as a personal "bashing", or perhaps it’s just defensive posturing (convenient for any noncritical audience). It's o.k., because it's not my job I'm trying to save. If your purpose is to discredit my comments, go for it: I'm not the one losing out, and obviously the kids (other than your own) are no concern of yours.

So did you give me a valid reason why Title I money is not really being used for the purpose it was granted for (in all schools where this is happening)? Seems there are those who are only concerned about what they can get out of the system, sending their kids to other schools while taking a paycheck from the ones they wouldn’t care to send their own kids to. This fact is certainly not propaganda against a specific school, is it?

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 30, 2012 5:13 pm

Thanks for the references. So my question is: With all the rule following and "allowables", how come the poor children aren't getting the enrichment they are supposed to be getting?

Who among the parent/guardians are reading and considering the SIP?

Again we rest on the discretion of the principal, again. Why aren't these SIPs readily available on the District's website too (understanding that personal/privacy data can be left out) as part of the school budget disclosures?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2012 5:34 pm

They're called LOOPHOLES. To hell with the kids. Plus, their families are generally in such disarray and dysfunction that they won't even notice let alone balk.

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on June 30, 2012 7:36 am

Ms. Cheng---Were/are you a teacher at the school? Have you been in that school for a long time?

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 30, 2012 7:03 am

I was a "super volunteer" parent. I had homeschooled my kids until we had a family crisis during which I had to deposit them in the neighborhood school. I was in the school every day for more than 2 years. I researched and helped write a grant proposal, made connections in the neighborhood (intergenerational gardening with the local senior center), started a Chess club, was at nearly every fundraiser as Secretary for our Home and School, so forth and so on.

I am still incredulous at what I found, though others who I speak with are not.

Submitted by Charles R. (not verified) on June 30, 2012 7:46 am

Horrible situation--sorry for your experience. I'm surprised the Principal et al got away with this.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 30, 2012 5:39 pm

Thank you for your kind sympathy. It was very discouraging, but I don't think of the principal as a criminal; He was just more focused on the running of the school than the children. When we consider Mr. Hite then, we wonder if he can do better than this. In the case of Title I grant money will he recognize that it would be better to target the poor children more directly because this will lead to better class behavior/school readiness and better class instruction for all? This would improve the level of "the seats" and simultaneously the quality of the instruction/school. In addition, it would improve the cost factor (allowing larger class size without compromising instruction) for the higher grade levels. I guess we shall see.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 29, 2012 7:44 pm

Also, thank you for your input. I wouldn't say that reporting that class size was increased and personnel laid off was saying a "bad" thing. What is bad is that per the article, the school board states that a good deal of this was caused by the loss of Federal Stimulus money, which was a grant. What that indicates is that Dr. Hite was not entirely honest in stating he/"we" had not used grant money to fund positions, only infrastructure. In addition he indicated or offered no regrets/"lessons learned" about having to increase class size (we were not told how much this had to be increased) and lay off personnel. Certainly I would want to have better foresight in planning to avoid this scenario as much as possible.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2012 7:57 pm

I keep hearing about charter school transparency, I guess we should follow the transparency of President Obama and the PFT.

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