Group Looks at Hiring Practices in Philadelphia

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A helpful new study from Research for Action, a Philadelphia-based non-profit, concludes that teacher recruitment efforts in the City of Brotherly Love are severely hindered by an extremely centralized selection process, codified in a variety of provisions in its collective bargaining agreement that are nothing short of irresponsible. By comparing Philly's practices and polices to other urban districts as well as to neighboring suburban districts, the report serves as a useful complement to the recent groundbreaking work by Jessica Levin and Meredith Quinn at The New Teacher Project and Edward Liu at the Harvard-based Project on the Next Generation of Teachers.

Among the most interesting findings is that a mere 16 percent of Philly schools interview and select teachers from a pool of eligible candidates (a process referred to as "site selection.") Why so few? According to the report, a provision in Philly's collective bargaining agreement states that two-thirds of a school's faculty must vote for "site selection"; however, the local school's union committee can (and apparently often do) vote not to hold a vote. As a result, many schools actually delegate the hiring process back to the district. This ought to be an issue that the CEO of Philly's schools, Paul Vallas, goes after with a vengeance.