Green, Hite challenge teachers union to alter work rules

DAVID SWANSON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Hite: No time for status quo.
DAVID SWANSON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Hite: No time for status quo.
Posted: February 20, 2014

PHILADELPHIA schools Superintendent William Hite threw down a challenge to the teachers union yesterday, saying he's run out of patience with the rules governing how employees are assigned to public schools.

Hite hopes to speed up contract negotiations with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers now that former at-large City Councilman Bill Green is chairman of the School Reform Commission. Family Court Judge Kevin Dougherty administered the oath of office to both Green and new SRC Commissioner Farah Jimenez yesterday afternoon.

"Because we're approaching the second school year, we don't have time to continue with the status quo and the status quo for how we assign staff to schools," Hite said.

"We're . . . beginning to make those decisions for next year. The action plan we've been talking about over the last several days - it's much harder to implement, in fact, if we're operating with the current rules and structures. Part of that is gaining more flexibility, and that's what we've proposed to the PFT."

Hite and Green are calling for a shift in resources from nonperforming schools, or to close schools with a pattern of academic failure, whether public or charter.

"The first order of business is to get the environment and work rules we need in order to have the application of resources in a school to make a difference," Green said.

"The priority is to execute Action Plan 2.0 using data and evidence instead of anecdotal stories and other things, and that will be our biggest challenge - to prioritize our resources to make that plan come to fruition.

"We don't fix the School District of Philadelphia. We fix one school at a time. I know that Dr. Hite is out of patience and will be guided by his timetable."

Hite said a financial update is expected at tomorrow's SRC meeting.

Council President Darrell Clarke, who holds the power to call a special election to fill Green's at-large seat, declined to say yesterday whether he would do so.

Speculation is swirling that the Democratic ward leaders may nominate state Rep. Ed Neilson to fill Green's shoes.


On Twitter: @RuffTuffDH

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