Ears on the SRC – November 15, 2016

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by Diane Payne
November 29, 2016

Joyce Wilkerson made her first appearance after being sworn in by Mayor Kenney and appointed Chair by Governor Wolf.

Wilkerson, currently an administrator at Temple University, has a long history of public service; she served as Chief of Staff for Mayor John Street. We are hopeful that she will steer this commission toward more transparency, accountability, and democratic values. We also hope that she will actively engage with those advocating for stronger public education.

Superintendent’s Remarks
Dr. Hite’s addressed the following topics: Priority Schools; the reintroduction of the school TV station; gratitude for Office Depot’s support of Student and Teacher of the Month; announcing the first Middle College High School at Parkway Center City; and the ongoing support of the Cole and Heidi Hamels Foundation for W B Saul High School.

 Few Answers to Concerns about Priority Schools
At October’s SRC meeting, APPS member Diane Payne asked Dr. Hite about his plan to designate eleven struggling schools “Priority Schools”, thus targeting them for some type of turnaround: You stated in the October 10, 2016 Public School Notebook article that these schools were not performing “despite investments we have made” in them. What are the specific investments you made to support these struggling schools? And please define merging, managing on a contractual basis, and restarting with significant staff shifts?

Dr. Hite responded that those questions would be answered at the November SRC meeting when he would give a full presentation about these schools, but no answers were provided by Dr. Hite at this meeting. Payne again pressed Hite to identify the resources provided to those schools. His one example was a new dental lab at Kensington Health Sciences Academy. He didn’t explain how a dental lab would raise test scores in Math or Reading for all or most of the school’s students.

It is important that the public understand the district’s failure to make the necessary investments into these struggling neighborhood schools. We read these types of statements by Dr. Hite in the press, but often there is no perspective from the teachers and students trying to teach and learn under the “Doomsday Budget” passed by the SRC year after year.

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