School District of Philadelphia
440 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
A Call to Action
Since taking the helm as Superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia (SDP), I have met people in every corner of the city with a common stake in our city's education system. I have visited more than 50 schools, and met countless students, teachers, administrators, and parents. I have addressed groups throughout our community, including neighborhood associations, clergy, business leaders, aspiring educators, city officials and philanthropists.
Mostly, I have listened to their concerns - and yours - and thoughtfully considered questions regarding the District's prospects for providing high-quality academic programs in every school, attracting and retaining top-notch talent, ensuring long-term financial sustainability, and cultivating a sense of excellence at all levels. In addition, I have reviewed many plans that have been developed for our District, along with our data on college readiness, current academic performance and graduation rates, which are up this year. (For a full list of the sources used in preparing this plan, please see Exhibit 1.)
This document is a reflection of what I have learned, in consultation with my team, after spending these first three months listening to, conversing with, and learning from our staff and stakeholders. Throughout these conversations, two key themes have consistently emerged: We must do more to prepare our students for the world beyond our school doors, and we must position the District for fiscal survivability.
In the pages that follow, you will see a clear articulation of the two Goals that will anchor our work and the ambitious metrics by which we will measure our progress towards graduating students prepared for success in college and careers. These Goals encompass the most important actions and investments for the District, as envisioned by the entire SDP leadership team. This is an introduction to what will be an ongoing process to continually refine and improve on our strategy by actively and systematically engaging school leaders, teachers, District leaders and staff alongside families and our partners.
This evidence-based Action Plan is our call to action, our means of creating our own luck, as we take ownership of the District and do whatever it takes to ensure that our students are successful.
This will not be the final statement on how I will operate throughout my time as Superintendent, nor should you expect a dazzling array of ideas with no plan for action. Given the challenging reality of the District's finances, this document intends to signal our priorities in light of what evidence and research tell us will provide the best return on the public's investment. As we pursue thoughtful, thorough implementation, it is my intention that everyone will see something within these pages that strikes a chord.
For teachers, the center of our enterprise, this plan outlines not only high expectations, but high degrees of support as we strive to make the craft of teaching more professional.
For principals and school leadership teams, we strive to help in focusing your time and energy around the right work at the right time.
For District leaders, we hope to reinforce our belief in the importance of your work and its connection to the classroom.
For all employees, this plan acknowledges the value of your contributions particularly in a setting that increasingly relies on you to create the capacity to do what we have to do.
For students, this plan is driven by our complete confidence that you can and will succeed, and our appreciation of our first responsibility: provide an education setting that enables you to do so.
And for all Philadelphia residents and families (and those thinking about raising families in the city), I want you to know that we are dedicated to serving you far better even in the midst of these tough times, and being good stewards of public money. Your children are the reason why we do what we do.
Dr. William Hite, Superintendent