Philadelphia School Superintendent Dr. William Hite addresses the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation at the Union League. Photo by Darryll Murphy.
Notebook comments by APPS members Lisa Haver and Rich Miglore to Superintendent Hite’s speech.
There are many many things the district still needs to do to provide every child with a first rate instructional program that meets all of their needs. A prime example is that the district educates thousands of children who suffer from Dyslexia. Yet the district does not provide those students with certified reading specialists. Nor do charter schools.
If we really care about those children, we would provide them with certified reading specialists in every school. School Librarians, too. Dyslexic children need the services of a highly qualified certified professional to learn to overcome their disability. And please, do not even begin to say that sticking them on a computer program neets their needs. That notion is — purely ridiculous.
There are also many things the district could do to save costs and provide more money to direct services to children. Every month advocates read the resolutions list and wonder why the district wastes so much money on outside contracts with suspect organizations which provide no worthwhile services to the district, nor its children.
The money and legal costs the district wastes on its failed and suspect renaissance school program is astounding and misplaced. The primary concern raised at the recent Pa. School Board’s Association “Education Summit” was the outlandish cost of charter schools. They explained that their districts could provide the very same thing for less than one quarter of the costs of their charter schools.
The costs the district expends on legal fees to outside counsel is also horrendous and is unnecessary.
If we just efficiently minded those costs, there would be millions more dollars which could and should be appropriated to children. We have few early childhood “early intervention” programs for children who are on the “autism spectrum.” Early intervention programs are crucial for those children. They should begin at age 2 and school district early intervention programs should be provided for them at age 3.
Mayor Kenney should be “on top of that.” So should Dr. Hite.
Dr. Hite knows I speak from the heart.
Another massive misappropriation of district funds is the Renaissance program. The renewals of two Aspira schools and two Universal schools have been put on hold for months now, without explanation. We know that members of the SRC have taken part in private negotiations with Aspria representatives. Why? The SRC’s Charter School Office unequivocally recommended non-renewal for these schools. What is going on with the Universal renewals–are they also in negotiations with them? Hite and the SRC has a responsibility to explain why they have, in effect, rejected their own reports.
The renewal of three Mastery Renaissance schools has also been postponed. Why? A quick look at the data for two of these schools shows that they have not succeeded in making them anything close to “high-quality”.
Part of Hite’s job is to let people know that public education should be supported. Fine. But someone needs to ask him some hard questions, including how he justifies continuing to turn over neighborhood schools to charters when the district’s own data shows that this very expensive program is not working.