Originally Posted by EastSideHBG
The typical Philadelphia response: "It's not our fault, someone else must be to blame! Someone else needs to come save us while we continue to toss money down the drain!" From someone who has a lot of room to talk because I have lived outside of the mighty metro of Philadelphia (and this is not meant to be sarcasm btw, the metro is a VERY important piece of the state as we all know), the state no longer has any interest in bailing the city out of its messes...and rightfully so. Besides the obvious arguments, the state has MANY messes on its hands right now.
State funding is one thing, but being expected to pick up the pieces time and time again for completely incompetent and inept city leadership for DECADES is another.
The state has run the PSD for over 10 years now. If anyone is to blame for the current mess, its the state.
The state cuts were roughly analogous to tying one of a boxer's arms behind his back and sending him out to get slaughtered.
Was there fat to cut? Sure. Was there some gross incompetence? Sure. Was there some well-intentioned but ultimately misguided (and costly) decision making? Most definitely. The cuts went beyond all of this. The district has essentially given up trying to reduce its deficit, because there really isn't anything else to cut.
This isn't the state trying to live frugally. It is an outright attack on the system.
Given the openly stated intent of the national GOP to cut education spending, I don't see how this is arguable.
Originally Posted by hammersklavier
I've heard it opined that the Philadelphia School District fails in part because it is too big--remember that most suburban school districts have smaller student bases and even geographic areas than the PSD.
I like the idea of splitting the PSD into about 4 or 5 separate districts, each separately administered.
You'll have some very good school districts with this method. You'll also have some absolutely horrendous ones. It would save half the city & finish the other half off completely.
The model that the district appears to be shifting into with small networks of schools is a bit less darwinistic but might accomplish much of the good you are looking to accomplish with the hope of minimizing the worst of it.
We'll see if they are able to pull it off.
Originally Posted by CentralGrad258
The size of the district is not the issue. It all comes back to demographics. Suburban school districts draw from wealthier demographics and have the real estate tax base to fund it. I went to Central, but my younger brother went to William Tennent out in Warminster and there were complaints about the school district there, just because it drew from a more middle, lower-middle class community then for example Council Rock. Not to excuse the administrative dysfunction of PSD, but there's really only so much they can do to fix a such a deeply ingrained issue.
Study after study shows that children from impoverished undereducated families don't do well in school. Go figure.
They come into Kindergarten with roughly half the vocabulary and basic pre-academic skills that their wealthier & whiter suburban peers come into Kindergarten with.
Why is it a surprise that the PSD doesn't do as well on standardized tests as, say, Council Rock? Study after study predicts this exact result.
Originally Posted by Cro Burnham
Has it ever been except for at a few select schools?
I'm a teacher. I worked in one of the worst schools in the city and I'm now lucky enough to work in one of the very best schools in the city, one of those few select schools you mention.
There is certainly dead wood in the district, but no teacher who gives a damn (which is the overwhelming majority of them) aims for anything other than providing a quality education to their students.
I know it is popular to shit on teachers right now, but the outside perception of what teachers in those struggling schools do is completely off the mark. Some of the most dedicated and talented teachers I've worked with in the past decade plus were and still are at that "bad" school. Most of them stay there specifically for the kids.
It's funny, I got a job at a prestigious school and, according to the type of accountability systems that some advocate, I went from being one of the worst teachers in the system to one of the best practically overnight.
But really it comes down to the fact that my current school handpicks who gets to be a student there, while my old school did not have that ability. When I came home after working at my old school, I was exhausted. When I come home now, I'm energized. At my new school, I have the time and energy to think creatively, to plan ahead at a high level. At my old school, I was too busy putting out fires to ever get to that point.
It isn't fair to expect the Comprehensive High Schools to compete with my school, we take their best and brightest and leave them with every challenging kid.
Don't even get me started on charters. People think charters are magical wonderlands of learning, but the emperor has no clothes. Charters take who they want, get rid of who they don't want, they get more money than district schools, and they have far less red tape (for better or worse) than district schools.
This isn't to say that all charters are frauds because they aren't. Some of them take advantage of the ability to be creative and develop high quality programs. However, there exists the potential for some absolutely egregious mismanagement of public funds. The examples of which that have gone public are only the tip of the iceberg. I know of others that are much worse, like the principal who hired her unqualified mother to run a daycare for the staff.
I'm rambling now, but the fundamental problem here is evident and it is unreasonable to expect the district to be able to solve it.
Something the district could do is marketing itself more effectively. Penn Alexander, for example, draws from the same teacher talent pool as every other elementary school in the city and uses mostly the same curriculum, but people have this idea that it is this amazing place that is totally worth paying a premium for a house within its catchment, not to mention camp outside in line to ensure their child gets a spot in a Kindergarten class. The key differences with those "bad" schools? The word Penn, some extra dough per kid, and the resulting perception among middle and upper middle class white parents that it is a good school. By the mere act of sending their relatively well off children to the school, these well-educated parents make Penn Alexander a "good" school. The district should copy this approach over & over again.
Build a new school. Give it some fancy affiliation with a prestigious city institution. Boom. Insta-success.