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Superintendent Hite Introduces New Action Plan To Turn Around Philadelphia Public Schools

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(credit: CBS) Pat Ciarrocchi
In addition to anchoring and reporting news for CBS 3, Pat Ciarro...
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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –“It’s bigger, it’s bolder and it’s meant to be aspirational in scope and urgent in nature.”

For Dr. William Hite, the goals are researched, proven and interconnected, at the top 100 percent of college or career readiness.

“To do that, we have to have 100 percent of students reading on grade level, by the time they’re eight. In order to do that, we need to make sure that every since student has the best teachers and the best principals, and in order to do that we need to make sure we get 100 percent of the money we need in order to do this work.”

The goals and strategies to achieve them are laid out across a 41 page action plan, version 2.o.

Hite began the 2013-2014 school year economically strapped, cutting staff and programs just to open the doors.

Now, the future turns on investments.

“Those opportunities exist at the city level, the state level and with our labor partners. With a contribution to benefits, that could be an investment that we then put back into the development of teachers. “

The Philadelphia Teachers Federation contract expired in August. Negotiations are on-going, but for Hite the biggest challenge is in seniority work rules.

“We know the value of the teacher is extremely important, but we need to have a lot more flexibility so that one factor, seniority, doesn’t make those decisions for us.”

Hite believes strong teachers can slow the migration of students from public to charter schools, where now work rules are less strict.

But still the paradigm needs to shift.

“This is not about returning to past numbers, past staffing, past programs and supports, this about focusing with fidelity on those things that we know work.”

In a statement the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers responded in part, “The PFT supports many of the aspirational goals of Superintendent Hite’s new Action Plan for schools. This is a vision, however, that cannot be realized without a significant increase–and change–in how our public schools are funded. Otherwise, we are asking educators to make bricks with straw. While we support the notion that all of our schools should have great teachers and principals, success is dependent on ensuring the resources are available to give the educators the support, tools and working conditions needed to teach their students. We look forward to seeing the district’s proposal for financing its new action plan.”

The finances are to be laid out on Thursday.

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