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Hite discusses Philly schools blueprint on radio show

by thenotebook on Jan 08 2013 Posted in Latest news

This morning on Radio Times, Superintendent William Hite discussed his newly released blueprint (version 1.0) for the Philadelphia School District. Since being made public this weekend, his ambitious vision of how to turn around a foundering district has been met with mixed reactions.

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Comments (11)

Submitted by Joe White (not verified) on Tue, 01/08/2013 - 12:45.

The greatest strength to this situation is how high-profile it is.

Hopefully that will help. The Philadelphia School System has very real problems.
Plagued by the same economic environment as the rest of the country, but the school system has had to face the expensive costs of extortion.

I do think Philadelphia is positioned to improve our school system and, as a parent and a real estate agent, I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Tue, 01/08/2013 - 13:02.

Marty Moss-Coane facilitated a wonderful show with Dr. Hite. There were numerous comments from listeners as well. I highly recommend listening to the program. Go to http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/08/2013 - 18:54.

Funny, but he never used the word poverty or talked about funding inequality or privatization. Marty did not press him on these elephants in the room.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Tue, 01/08/2013 - 19:58.

She's usually pretty good at asking tough questions, but neither she nor many callers pressed her on the issue of socioeconomic status.

Submitted by tom-104 on Tue, 01/08/2013 - 19:02.

Dr. Hite said in the Radio Times interview that there will be no moratorium on school closings because of "fiscal realities". No surprise.

It is unfortunate that PCAPs has centered their call for a moratorium on school closings. The moratorium should be on authorizing new charters. The SRC found $138 million for charter expansion last spring despite the deficit.

Under Vallas and Ackerman there was an escalating policy of starving public schools to build up charters. Public schools became intolerable for many parents due to this and parents started putting their children in charters. This is why there are so many "empty seats".

Once these 37 schools are closed, parents from these schools, who will be faced with having their children travel long distances to school, will be bombarded with charter school options (some new charters being housed in the buildings that just closed). This will only accelerate the cycle of closing public schools. Those that cannot get into charter schools will be left to fend for themselves.

This is all about undermining union contracts and state civil rights and environmental regulations. Once they have broken the unions the living standards of public school employees will be lowered. Until now, charter schools have had to pay a competitive wage to attract teachers. Once the living standards of public school employees have have been lowered, charter schools will be free to lower the living standards of their employees.

In Strategy 3, Section G and H of Hite's Action Plan, it says:
"G. Become a top-quality charter school authorizer.  
Become a top-quality authorizer of high-performing charter schools. Improve the transparency and consistency of our work with the Charter sector in Philadelphia.  Strategically manage charter growth and performance in support of dramatically improving student outcomes, and ensuring the District's financial stability...
H. Collaborate with other school operators.  Actively collaborate with all Philadelphia school operators, through the Great Schools Compact and other relevant venues, to provide the best possible experience for Philadelphia families, share successful practice, and benefit from shared operational economies of scale."

This is a boondoogle for the corporate reformers and banks. It is a brave new world for everyone else!

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Tue, 01/08/2013 - 20:08.

Tom,

A moratorium on school closings is unrealistic. Dr. Hite mentioned Shaw Middle School which has a capacity for 1000 students but has less than 200. That is ridiculous. It makes more sense to close the middle schools and convert other schools to K-8. This allows the District to shed capacity and maintain neighborhood schools. I also think that K-8 is better anyway. It means fewer transitions for kids, especially children with special needs.

As far as salaries go, charter schools will find it increasingly hard to keep good teachers if they don't pay well. Some charters don't pay that well to begin with, others pay more competitive salaries. The best teachers will be able to go to districts where the pay is already better than it is in Philadelphia. Charters may like not having senior teachers because they are more expensive, but eventually, it will come back to bite them. Once charters have been around long enough and there are enough teachers who are former charter school teachers, I wouldn't be surprised to see many charter school teachers push for a union. The workload at a Mastery CS is too much. Eventually, there will be pushback at Mastery schools. There has been pushback at KIPP schools and some are unionized now.

EGS

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/08/2013 - 23:48.

There are no unionized KIPP schools. One KIPP school in NYC started the unionizing process about 3-4 years ago but the teachers then changed their mind either before it was finalized or right after. Not sure of the exact details but the teachers are not currently in the union.

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Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Wed, 01/09/2013 - 00:59.

There is some sort of union agreement at a Baltimore KIPP school: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-03-16/news/bs-md-ci-kipp-union-agr...

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