This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
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Has Pennsylvania been coming through on its constitutional requirement to provide all children with a "thorough and efficient" education? In a recent interview at WHYY studios, Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite said, flatly, "No."
"Unfortunately, we’re left with a situation where we’re trying to only spend what we have," said Hite, "and that provides resources that are inadequate and insufficient in order to educate children."
The right to high-quality education
In the extended interview above, Hite, having now finished his second school year at the District’s helm, expounds on a variety of issues facing Philadelphia schools.
"Regardless of where children live in this city, they have a right to a high-quality education," he said, "and poverty shouldn’t influence that. Whether they are learning English shouldn’t influence that. If they have an IEP should not influence that."
The District needs $66 million just to provide students next year with this year’s admittedly "insufficient" resource levels. On top of this, Hite says he needs $224 million to begin implementing his vision for districtwide growth.
Hite argues that taxpayers should trust his leadership team’s ability to use those funds to bolster student achievement.
"We know what works. We know it from evidence," he said. "We’ve done the research on these things that have worked on populations that we serve. And we’re just saying, ‘Let’s do what works.’"