Thousands of education leaders and research scholars will converge on the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Friday to discuss strategies for education reform as part of the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) annual national conference.
The five-day conference will include a number of breakout sessions, during which attendees will explore ideas about how research data can inform education practices and policies.
Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), William Hite, will be a featured panelist in a Friday morning roundtable discussion entitled The Landscape of Education and Reform in Philadelphia. The session will focus on the causes and impacts of SDP's funding crisis, and possible solutions to it, as well as issues of governance, resource allocation and oversight.
SDP is facing a suite of issues including frayed labor negotiations between the Philadephia Federation of Teachers and the city's School Reform Commission, and an ever-increasing deficit.
NBC10's Monique Braxton spoke with SDP spokesman Fernando Gallard ahead of the conference. According to Gallard, the district is headed into the next fiscal year with a $29 million deficit, bringing the district's total shortfall for the next school year to more than $300 million.
"As we project our budget for next fiscal year, we're looking at a deficit of $320 million, if we are to run schools at a level that is gonna service our students and allow them to be successful in the classroom," Gallard said.
"We have made it really clear that the way our schools are now, the way they are being funded is completely insufficient."
Also participating in the Friday morning session are Executive Director of the Philadelphia School Partnership, Mark Gleason, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Student Union, Hiram Rivera, Executive Director of Research for Action, Kathleen M. Shaw, Chief Education Officer for the Office of the Public School Family and Child Advocate, Lori Shorr, and Editor of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Paul Socolar.
The AERA conference is the largest annual gathering of scholars in the field of education research.