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District seeks public input on how to navigate dire straits

By the Notebook on Nov 19, 2013 10:04 AM

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

Where do we go from here?

That's the question that Philadelphia schools Superintendent William Hite put before the packed crowd gathered at District headquarters on Monday night for a School Reform Commission meeting on strategy, policy and priorities.

Like a college professor facilitating a philosophical discussion, Hite broke the crowd up into more than a dozen large, round tables and asked this overarching question of questions:

"What action should we take to get as many students as possible attending schools where at least 50 percent [of students] are reading and doing math at grade level?"

For the sake of the discussion, this was Hite's definition of a "good" school – one where at least half the students scored "proficient" or better on state standardized tests in reading and math.

By this definition, as Hite pointed out in a slideshow presentation, the vast majority of Philadelphia's schools (both traditional public schools and charter schools) aren't "good."

As a starting point for discussion, Hite offered four solutions that he applied to both traditional District and charter models:

  • Transform "bad" schools into "good."
  • Expand "good" schools.
  • Create "good" schools from scratch.
  • Close "bad" schools for good.

As Hite laid all four options on the table, he said that "80 to 90 percent of our efforts must go into improving our District schools. Period."

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Comments (6)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2013 11:50 am
Hite correctly defined the problem. However, my problem with Hite and the Governor is HOW they think they can solve the problem We need "high-performing principal in our schools!" We do not need 3 or 4 principals in any one school. Let the principal works with the teachers and let them take the teachers as contributing partners Just like Alexander the great said, "I am dying with the help of too many physicians," we need to SHED all these BIG MEN who receive exorbitant salaries. There are many teachers who are qualified and who will do what they are hired to do for a lot less
Submitted by Headstart Teacher (not verified) on November 19, 2013 12:38 pm
Cut the fat! get rid of the big salaried do nothings and hire more staff on the ground. Work with the union not against then to make Philadelphia a place where teachers want to stay. With all the turmoil and unrest no one who works for the district feels safe or valued anymore. It trickles down to students and families everyday. We all feel like cogs in an overgrown machine, easily replaceable and totally unappreciated. Stop making families make impossible choices - bring back neighborhood schools and fully fund them! There is no quick fix and money from Walton/Gates/Comcast, etc. comes with strings attached AND it is a bargain with the devil. Invest in teachers, students and families - put in the hard work, the time, the sacrifice and the emotional investment and it will be paid back ten fold. oh yeah, and STOP outsourcing Headstart. We are part of the schools and need to now play the role that kindergarten used to. Value people not statistics, numbers or stupid test results.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on November 19, 2013 12:18 pm
"Seeks input my ASS !" Don't let them play this game !! They're doing the bidding of Big Money, POINT BLANK. All you're doing to playing the fool by answering this nonsense, giving them credibility.
Submitted by anon (not verified) on November 19, 2013 11:34 pm
loaded question. hite already had his slideshow ready to point out that public schools are failing his criteria. if he really wanted "to get as many students as possible attending schools where at least 50 percent [of students] are reading and doing math at grade level", then he should close all the magnets & charters, send everyone back to their neighborhood school and devote additional teachers to those still lacking. that's not going to happen though. instead, he'll use his little slideshow to slime more public schools and try to justify the further closures that he's been ordered to make happen.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 20, 2013 4:43 am
Amen! Neighborhood high schools - other than in the Northeast - have been stripped of most students other than those who can't get into magnets and charters. Magnets won't take them - including any school with criteria - and then charters make admissions complicated. Once at the charter, they drop them if they don't "comply." So, what is a neighborhood high school to do? Now, with Keystones, if a student scores proficient after 10th grade, the magnets want them. The score follows the student. We get the students who are dumped for low scores and the charters / magnets get the students with the proficient scores. (This already started last year - we lost a couple of students with good scores and we've inherited a number of juniors with low scores.) Then, Hite can say "wow, look at those low scores! Shocking!"
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on November 20, 2013 1:58 pm
Overt Apartheid comes to Phila. and it masquerades as reform. As Alan Dershovitz likes to say, "This doesn't pass the Giggle Test." Creating unrest with our Power of Numbers is the only thing we have left and we should use it. If not now, then when?? Yes, Billy Hite is pathetic and likely the worst liar in the Free World.

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