This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Despite vows and policy changes over the past several years designed to more equitably distribute experienced teachers among the city’s high-poverty and lower-poverty schools, the gap is growing wider, according to a report released by ACTION United.
The report, released in December, found that the District as a whole has seen a significant increase in teachers with less than three years experience – they now comprise nearly a third of all teachers – and that they are still more likely to be teaching in the highest-poverty schools.
Its analysis found that in 2008-09, 25 schools in the top quarter in terms of poverty were in the bottom quarter in the percentage of experienced teachers. And the gap grew in 2009-10 – more of the highest poverty-schools were likely to be in the bottom quarter in percentage of experienced teachers.
The group is calling for the District to change how it calculates individual school budgets by basing them on teachers’ actual salaries. Now, one average salary figure is used for all teachers, regardless of how much the teacher actually makes. The average salary method is standard practice nationally but masks the fact that the District is spending less money at schools with an inexperienced staff.
ACTION United says schools should be given the difference between the actual teacher costs in a school and the average to create additional teacher supports, including more mentors, coaches, and professional development.
After seeking a meeting with Superintendent Arlene Ackerman for more than a month to discuss the findings, the group made a public appeal at a December School Reform Commission meeting and got a commitment for a meeting on February 4.