March 4, 2016 |
IN A BID to undo last month's devastating state Supreme Court ruling that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission has no power to suspend parts of the state school code, the SRC has asked the court to reconsider its decision. The SRC said in documents filed with the court Monday that the decision "invalidated an essential tool provided by the legislature to address the School District of Philadelphia's ongoing financial and educational crisis at a time when the district is struggling to carry out its constitutional obligation to provide a thorough and efficient education" to city public school students.
February 25, 2016
It's time to begin the hard work necessary to replace the Philadelphia School Reform Commission with a viable school board. The SRC's reason to exist was all but buried last week when the state Supreme Court ruled that the law that created its extraordinary powers nearly two decades ago was unconstitutional. Without the authority granted in the 1998 law allowing the state to take over the School District in 2001, the SRC won't be able to circumvent its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to assign staff and change work rules based on what it deems necessary.
February 20, 2016 |
Does the new reality handed him this week by the state Supreme Court trouble William R. Hite Jr.? "Absolutely, I'm worried about what it means," the Philadelphia school superintendent said Thursday night of a court ruling this week striking down some of the special powers the School Reform Commission has used in times of crisis. "A lot of the tools that the governing body had have been removed. " The decision could affect how teachers are assigned, how schools are closed, and, most significant, how charter schools might grow.
February 18, 2016 |
On the day that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission approved three new charter schools, the state Supreme Court issued a ruling Tuesday that could have grave implications for the cash-strapped district's finances and operations for years to come. The court ruled that the SRC had no legal power to suspend portions of the state charter law and school code. The ruling strips the commission of extraordinary powers it believed it had - and used. It was too soon to say exactly what the fallout for the school system would be - district lawyers offered no official comment - but early indications were ominous.
February 2, 2016 |
WHEN Superintendent William Hite announced that he had changed his mind about placing John Wister Elementary School into the "Renaissance" program and turning it over to Mastery Charter Schools, the school community rejoiced. He cited new data that showed the school had made significant growth. But at last week's meeting, School Reform Commissioner Sylvia Simms introduced an eleventh-hour resolution, approved by the SRC, to override Hite's decision. The resolution had not been posted before the meeting, and Chairwoman Marjorie Neff denied requests from members of the public to comment before the vote.
January 24, 2016 |
Sylvia Simms rarely speaks publicly at School Reform Commission meetings. But nearly five hours into a contentious session on Thursday night, the former Philadelphia School District bus aide dropped a bombshell, offering a walk-on resolution that altered the fate of a struggling Germantown public school. "I have pent-up emotions about the way the district has allowed many of our schools in low-income neighborhoods to fail our students and their families," Simms said. "Families are literally crying for alternatives, and they have shown us by their choices that they are not pleased by the way we are educating their children.
January 23, 2016 |
The School Reform Commission voted Thursday to begin the process of giving three struggling Philadelphia public schools to charter companies. Commissioners considered the fates of Jay Cooke, Samuel B. Huey, and John Wister Elementaries at a tense and raucous meeting attended by hundreds, with a long public session frequently interrupted by shouts, jeers, applause, and finger-pointing. Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. had initially proposed handing over all three schools, among the district's lowest performers, to charters, but changed his mind on Wister when recent school-performance data indicated some growth at the Germantown school.
December 22, 2015 |
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. referred to a recent education bill passed by the Pennsylvania Senate as a "recipe for disaster. " That phrase also describes the School Reform Commission's decision to extend Hite's contract by five years, with two years remaining on the original. In a statement, SRC Chair Marjorie Neff said it was the right time to lock in Hite for the long term, lauding him for demonstrating "strong leadership through an extraordinarily difficult time. " I wonder if she feels the same about losing scores of superb classroom teachers who left to work somewhere they feel valued and respected, or the many more who retired because they couldn't take the conditions and mistreatment in the School District of Philadelphia anymore.
December 19, 2015 |
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted Thursday night to lock in William R. Hite Jr. as superintendent for five more years. Hite, who is paid $300,000 a year, is now under contract through August 2022. The vote was 4-0, with Chair Marge Neff absent. He will receive raises only if Philadelphia School District teachers do, and at the same rate. Teachers have been without a contract since August 2013. The superintendent has generally earned plaudits - Mayor Nutter said Thursday that "stability and sound leadership is precisely what the district needs to move forward and continue to make improvements in the quality of education it provides to our city's children," and praised Hite's leadership.