This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Response to March 26 post, “District budget, if funded, would add $130 million directly to schools,” by Dale Mezzacappa.
When the District administration starts telling you that you are empowered, it’s time to start worrying. I taught in one of former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s “Empowerment” schools, which meant that you were empowered to do exactly what they told you, and that more clipboard people came around to inspect your walls.
Now principals are “empowered” to have more autonomy in their budgeting. This is Superintendent William Hite’s way of saying that he would no longer be responsible for what schools don’t have – the principals will.
The District would further abdicate its responsibility for adequately funding schools, and it would set up more schools for failure. For all of Hite’s repeating of the word “equity,” this budget will only exacerbate the inequity in the District.
The proposed budget does not include recommendations to “restore counselors and nurses.” It says “counseling support” and “nursing services.” Hite’s plan is to outsource as many union positions as possible through his “partnership” strategy. We don’t need school libraries; we’ll just “partner” with the Free Library or a volunteer organization.
During the budget process, union members, principals, students, and parents need to go to the SRC and tell them it is their responsibility to make sure each school has what it needs.
The writer is a retired teacher and a founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.