This is not to say that I am in full agreement with everything proposed within the plan or that I am sold on all of its arguments, but I am excited to say there is another viable option on the table for Superintendent Hite and the School Reform Commission to analyze before making any major decisions.
One major hesitation: I dislike how this report acts almost exclusively as a response to the plan put forth by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) a few months ago. While I agree it is a good framework of comparison, the BCG plan seems not to be under total consideration at this point and I would have liked this plan to simply be a strong community effort to come up with a solution - not a "we are better than they are" type of thing.
In recent meetings I have heard the criticism that we (the tax-paying public) should not invest consistently in a failing enterprise or one that is fiscally irresponsible. The argument goes that even if we had the extra money, that would not improve the school system.
One of my favorite parts of this report is the demand of a true needs assessment across the school system. I think if people were to truly research what we need to do a good job in teaching, they would be surprised. Consistently I am baffled at the fact that I must scrounge for supplies like paper, pencils, books, computing equipment, etc. The fact that DonorsChoose recently partnered with Google to offer a discounted Chromebook is evidence that we have already gone overboard. Why should teachers have to organize and fundraise for computers themselves? These tools should be provided for them and they should be trained to use them.
I am sure I will have more to write as I re-read this document but I will leave you with a quote from one of the early superintendents of Philadelphia schools, James McAlister, who said, "a school system that is not costing a great deal these days is not worth a great deal." What he said in 1918 is still true almost 100 years later. I just wish we would put our money where our mouths are and give what we really need to educate our students.