Philadelphia School District dissolves in the face of crisis, literally

Philadelphia’s public schools have been hammered by state budget cuts, so the District is stepping down from responsibility for managing the schools. What does that mean for the actual schools?

“Philadelphia public schools is not the School District,” Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen told a handful of reporters at yesterday’s press conference laying out the five-year plan proposed to the School Reform Commission. “There’s a redefinition, and we’ll get to that later.”

He got to it: talk about “modernization,” “right-sizing,” “entrepreneurialism” and “competition.”

Forty schools would close next year, and six additional schools would be closed every year thereafter until 2017. Closing just eight schools this year prompted an uproar.

Anyhow, the remaining schools would get chopped up into “achievement networks” where public or private groups compete to manage about 25 schools, and the central office would be chopped down to a skeleton crew of about 200. District HQ has already eliminated about half of the 1,100-plus positions that existed in 2010.

The money quote by Kudsen:

“There are other people out there who do these things, if not better, then at least less expensively.”

This seems to now be the theme song for public education in cities like Philadelphia: other people do these things maybe not better, but cheaper.

Let the games begin.

Read: Philadelphia School District announces its dissolution | Philadelphia City Paper | 04/24/2012.