Longtime education advocate calls for centering the public in the next superintendent hiring process
PHILADELPHIA — Today, Councilmember Helen Gym (At-Large), issued the following statement in response to the announcement that Superintendent William Hite’s contract will not be renewed at the end of this school year:
“The rough start to this school year demonstrates the underlying failures of the current administration to fulfill their basic roles — it’s clearly time for new leadership.
“Dr. Hite’s tenure was bookended by massive crises. While some were out of his control, the devastating closure of two dozen public schools and the loss of thousands of school staff drove me to seek public office to change the way we both envision and invest in our schools. And while our schools seem more fiscally stable, too much of the District’s surplus dollars came at the expense of tragic understaffing that has jeopardized basic school operations and immoral budgets that stripped our children not only of their basic education, but the very safety they deserve to feel in our schools.
“Let me be clear: the challenges facing our district are greater than any one person. We now have the opportunity to pick a leader that shares our transformative vision for public education and works to implement it in partnership with us all. The health and future of our city depends on the strength of our school system.
“Philadelphia’s children and families need a school leader who delivers on a quality education for all of our students and ends racial inequities that have deepened over the last two decades. This person must lead us in modernizing our public school buildings, inspiring a new generation of educators and mentors to staff our schools and end persistent staff vacancies, and providing necessary mental health and trauma supports. Above all, the next superintendent must prioritize rebuilding a public trust that has been broken over years of broken promises.
“Fulfilling the promise of local control requires a leader who is fundamentally accountable and deeply connected to in-school, on-the-ground operations. Communities of color, immigrant and special needs communities, and other vulnerable populations are consistently harmed when things go wrong at the school level. More than ever, we must have leaders who see our schools through the lens of the children and families who experience them. As the hiring process unfolds, I will work tirelessly to ensure that our communities’ needs, concerns, and demands shape the selection process for a leader who makes our schools safer, more responsive, and more equitable for years to come.”