A Private Sector Perspective on City Schools: Outcomes over Intentions

On May 22, Central Philadelphia Development Corporation hosted a roundtable discussion with Mark Gleason, Executive Director of the Philadelphia School Partnership. This followed a presentation in April by Dr William Hite, Superintendent of Philadelphia Schools and his CFO Uri Monson.

PSP invests in public, public charter, and private schools throughout Philadelphia, providing financial support for the improvement of schools that serve low-income students; training teachers and principals; and disseminating quality information so all families can make informed decisions regarding their children’s education. Since 2011, PSP has invested $65 million in 66 schools, leading to more than 26,000 students having access to better educational opportunities.

In his presentation, Gleason called for more private sector leadership in setting high expectations for our schools and suggested we should remain agnostic in the debate between public, charter and parochial schools, rating highly instead, any school that produces quality results. He argued that a more evidence-based approach to the spending of new funds is key to improving Philadelphia schools. Individual schools, particularly their principals, need more autonomy and responsibility for their school’s budget management. There should be more emphasis on the professional development of educators.  Teachers should be held more accountable for their own attendance; and resources should be aimed towards those schools that are succeeding and ones which families choose.  He also added that while it is important to fund the school district, we should be careful to do it in a way that doesn’t further impact the competitiveness of Philadelphia as a place for business and a place to live. He therefore supported efforts that focus on growing the tax base, rather than just raising rates on diminished base.

 To download Mark’s full presentation [PDF 3 MB], click here.