(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.)
There’s been a lot of talk about school equity in Philadelphia recently, but the conversation is missing half of the story.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was in Philadelphia this month calling for more equitable funding of Pennsylvania’s schools. According to Duncan, our state is dead last in terms of the inequality between wealthy and poor districts, and that’s hurting all Philadelphia schoolchildren.
When Superintendent William Hite was recently asked what a bumper sticker for his new plan for Philadelphia schools would read, he eloquently answered, “It’s all about equity.”
Hite’s recently released Action Plan 3.0 is a lengthy 59 page document, but there are a few encouraging themes throughout: stability, autonomy, and of course, school equity. After its release, headlines declared that Hite’s plan echoes Governor Wolf’s call for greater school equity, bolstering the current narrative that assumes equity for all Philadelphia students is achieved simply through changes in state funding, which Wolf proposed in his new budget.
But if you read Hite’s plan, he’s also talking about the need to make budget and management changes that would improve school equity within the District, not just between Philadelphia and the rest of the state.
And just how inequitable is the current Philadelphia school system? In the same way that wealthy districts like Lower Merion have far more resources than Philadelphia, schools with lower poverty rates in Philadelphia are able to outspend their peers in high poverty neighborhoods. Read more »