It stands to reason it if he is paid $250,000 to run the Maryland schools, then he will be paid more in Philadelphia. Will we hear that he is such a leader and such a savior that he must be lured here with a lavish package? The school district appears to want him to exercise his need to give Prince George's County 120 days' notice in order to get his severance there. Is this an indication of how far they will go in order to get him to Philadelphia?
I've written before about the need to encourage kids to understand and celebrate the free-enterprise system that is the centerpiece of our way of life. I've also written that many school districts, including Philadelphia, are not encouraging this fundamental position. This is a real-world lesson in capitalism.
Wouldn't the negotiations with Hite be a great lesson for kids in September? Couldn't teachers talk about how his skills are in such demand that he is able to get the school district to wait for him and give him a huge salary (much more than the mayor of Philadelphia) and a boatload of perks?
Won't teachers say to students, "See, kids, Dr. Hite got a great education, and he is a one-percenter living the American dream?" Or will all this capitalism be an inconvenient truth that must be spun and then ignored?
Maybe Ackerman — she of the $905,000 payout, unemployment claims and Marie Antoinette charm — can be his consultant. Who better than Ackerman to show him how to fire up a crowd against fat-cat representatives in Harrisburg who are the true enemies of the poor and won't fund the schools properly in order to give them a fair shot. It's quite a talent to live extremely large and yet stoke the crowd against those tired of paying for the follies of people like Arlene Ackerman.
In addition to the lessons learned broadly for kids about Hite's success, shouldn't his merit selection encourage teachers to advocate for merit pay? Isn't the lesson of his hiring that he will be handsomely rewarded for how well he performed in Maryland and how well he bonded with stakeholders here in Philadelphia?
There is no starting salary series of steps for superintendents or union of supers saying that compensation be based almost solely on seniority. Hite will certainly be judged on how well students perform, and the key performance measure will be how well students perform on standardized tests. Shouldn't this model for the leader of the school district be the model for his subordinates — the teachers in the classrooms?
By the way, how does the still-undisclosed compensation package for Hite play out in the ongoing debate in Philadelphia over income inequality? The salary range for starting teachers in the Philadelphia public schools is in the low to mid-forties. Hite's still-undisclosed salary and perks will be well north of $300,000 per year.
In this age of austerity and cutbacks, does that seem to be at least slightly jolting? Or is Hite like the heads of companies like Comcast, Wawa, the Eagles or a thousand other lesser-known Philadelphia companies, in which someone of almost singular talent and skill has risen to the top on merit and should be paid whatever the market will bear?
Now figuring the market for someone who is being asked to come in and clean up the Ackerman mess would be a fascinating study for bright students in the Philadelphia high schools. They might ask why the system always seems to go outside the internal talent pool to hire another superintendent who must learn Philadelphia. They might ask, after the bitterness over Ackerman, why there is not more transparency in the compensation package being offered Hite. They might ask why those who are so critical of executive compensation in the private sector don't have the same problems with compensation in the public sector.
So Dr. Hite, welcome to Philadelphia. Negotiate hard and get what you think you deserve. It's a great lesson for the kids and their teachers. While history is an important school subject, just please do not repeat the history of your predecessor.
Teacher-turned-talk show host Dom Giordano is heard on WPHT radio (1210 AM). Contact Dom at www.domgiordano.com.