How Trauma Overwhelms Philly Schoolkids

Photo illustration | Alyse Moyer. Photos | Shutterstock.com

Photo illustration | Alyse Moyer. Photos | Shutterstock.com

During the 18 years he was a counselor at Barratt Middle School in South Philadelphia, Steven Hymans became accustomed to seeing students arrive for classes traumatized beyond their years.

“There were so many homicides in the neighborhood,” Hymans said recently. “In my 18 years at the middle school, I saw a lot of trauma, a lot of neglect. I did so much grief counseling while I was there.” Read more »

3 Ways William Hite’s Action Plan 3.0 Could Revitalize Philadelphia Schools

Supt. William Hite spoke to reporters, unveiling "Action Plan 3.0."

Superintendent  William Hite spoke to reporters while unveiling “Action Plan 3.0.”

After two years spent slashing programs, closing schools, and laying off thousands of workers, Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite on Wednesday declared a victory of sorts.

The work of stabilizing the district is largely complete, he told reporters during a morning press conference — Philadelphia schools will end the fiscal year with a balanced budget. Now it’s time to turn to the work of actually improving schools and rebuilding public education in the city. Read more »

Hite: District to Share “Opt Out” Info on Testing

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

The Philadelphia School District is preparing to share information with parents on how to opt their children out of standardized tests, Superintendent William Hite said Thursday night at a meeting of the School Reform Commission.

The announcement came several weeks after teachers at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences were threatened with discipline for helping students and their families there opt out of the tests. A reported 17 percent of the school’s students had opted out of testing.

Kelly Collings, a teacher at Feltonville, said in an email Thursday night that an “investigatory conference” scheduled at the school for late January had been canceled because of an administrator’s illness — and never rescheduled. “There has been no communication whatsoever from the district to the teachers since the original memo was issued on January 21,” she said.
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ThinkFest: William Hite on the State of Philly Schools and America’s “Dirty Little Secret”

thinkfest-2014-schools-william-hite-940x540

People who ask if money spent on Philly education is being wasted don’t ask the same question about richer suburban school districts, Philly School Superintendent William Hite said Friday during an appearance on the ThinkFest Main Stage.

Hite referenced the Lower Merion school district, which spends $10,000 more per pupil than Philadelphia, before mentioning a discussion he recently had with M. Night Shyamalan, the director and author of a book about education reform.

“I’m quoting him: ‘You know, I’m going to share a dirty little secret: America is racist,'” Hite said.

“There’s no one else that’s reduced its workforce by the amount that we’ve reduced, there’s no one else that’s closed the schools that we’ve closed — not even on a percentage basis,” Hite added. “If we’re going to talk about waste in Philadelphia, let’s talk about waste everywhere else.”

Three other takeaways:
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ThinkFest Preview: William Hite on Moving Philadelphia’s Schools Forward

School District of Philadelphia superintendent William Hite and Philadelphia magazine deputy editor Patrick Kerkstra.

School District of Philadelphia superintendent William Hite and Philadelphia magazine deputy editor Patrick Kerkstra.

He’s got the toughest job in Philadelphia, and more experience managing crises than FEMA. But Philadelphia schools superintendent William Hite didn’t move to the city two years ago to manage the district’s decline. When not extinguishing fires, Hite is working on a plan to drag urban education into the modern age. His goals are extraordinarily ambitious: 100 percent of kids reading at grade level by the 8th grade; 100 percent of students graduating, prepared for college or career.

But how? How to give schools autonomy, while ensuring they meet high standards? How to attract and retain the best teachers and principals amid labor strife and constrained resources? How can the district win the high-stakes match of three-dimensional chess with City Hall and Harrisburg? Above all, how can the district move forward? At ThinkFest, Hite will wrangle with these and other incisive questions posed by Philadelphia magazine’s Patrick Kerkstra.

Join us on November 14th at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business for a day of the city’s smartest people sharing their biggest ideas. Read all of our ThinkFest 2014 previews here, and watch the livestream, starting at 9 a.m. on Friday November 14th.

A California Ruling Is More Bad News For Philly Teachers

Philadelphia school district Superintendent William Hite, left, accompanied by Gov. Tom Corbett, speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia school district Superintendent William Hite, left, accompanied by Gov. Tom Corbett, speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Being a Philadelphia school district teacher is not an easy job. And this past week it just got harder. Not only because of yesterday’s decision by the School Reform Commission to terminate the district’s agreement with the teachers union and require teachers to now pay in for their health insurance. It’s also because of a ruling in California.

Per Breitbart last Friday:

In what will be a devastating blow to California public employee unions, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein ruled in the Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy of the City of Stockton that pensions managed by the California Public Employee Retirement System, known as CalPERS, can be cut in bankruptcy “like any other garden variety” unsecured debt. He rejected the unions’ argument that the world’s largest pension fund is an “arm of the state” and that public employee pensions are protected by federal and state laws.

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Anger Follows Cancellation of School Funding Vote

School District of Philadelphia

If you are involved in Philadelphia Public Schools — an administrator, a teacher, a parent, a city official trying to find funding — you are most likely angry this morning. Thursday’s decision by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to cancel a vote on a cigarette tax that would help fund city schools has left the community reeling.

School may not open on time. And activists are planning protests.

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Philly Schools Pass Placeholder Budget

William Hite, Superintendent of Philadelphia Schools, in the Pennsylvania Capitol meeting with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and state legislators seeking funds for Philadelphia Schools during state budget talks Sunday, June 29, 2014, in Harrisburg, Pa. AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

William Hite, Superintendent of Philadelphia Schools, in the Pennsylvania Capitol meeting with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and state legislators seeking funds for Philadelphia Schools during state budget talks Sunday, June 29, 2014, in Harrisburg, Pa. AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission is now playing a high-stakes game of chicken with the state.

Newsworks reports:

By unanimous vote, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission passed a budget Monday night that includes a $93 million placeholder for money that it hopes comes through if a political logjam in Harrisburg breaks.

Short of that, district leaders say they’d have to choose between laying off 1,300 employees, or shortening the school year.

The district can still avoid the bulk of these cuts if lawmakers in Harrisburg find a way to agree on a few key issues, chiefly, allowing Philadelphia to create a new $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes sold within city limits.

The Pennsylvania Senate did pass the cigarette bill on Monday but there’s apparently no current plans to bring it forward in the House.

Read more »

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