IF YOU READ the paper or listen to the news, you probably have some opinions about the issues facing the Philadelphia School District.
You know that Harrisburg's repeated slashing of education spending and its failure to come up with a fair and permanent funding formula continue to take a toll.
Adding to that problem are questionable district priorities, which have resulted in:
* More than 160 teacher vacancies, leaving at least 5,300 students without a full-time teacher this year.
* The substitute fill rate plummeting from 65 percent to below 40 percent after the School Reform Commission's vote to outsource jobs.
* Lack of support staff, including counselors and classroom aides, resulting in an increase in serious incidents in many schools.
* Fewer than eight certified school librarians in the entire district.
Also, the physical condition of the buildings themselves, along with the dearth of full-time nurses, has resulted in higher student absenteeism.
The school district, though, has a different take on the situation: The problem is that teachers and principals are in the wrong buildings, and that moving them is the solution.
Last month, Superintendent William Hite announced yet another "turnaround plan" for four more neighborhood schools, the main feature of that plan being the forced transfer of principals and teachers.
Hite has rejected critics' characterization of his plan as "destabilization," but recent history shows that it represents only the latest chapter in a pattern of destabilization for all four schools. Consider:
* S. Weir Mitchell in Kingsessing was a K-5 elementary until 2013. When the district closed two nearby schools, Mitchell incorporated those students and added seventh and eighth grades.
* The original Theodore Roosevelt Junior High (grades 7, 8 and, 9) in East Germantown became a middle school (grades 6, 7 and 8) in the late 1980s. The district slated it for closure in 2013 until community members protested losing it, along with nearby Germantown High and Fulton Elementary. The SRC made a last-minute decision to convert it to a K-8, but, with no resources provided for transition, the school's academic and behavioral troubles have risen.
* Most of the faculty at Munoz-Marin Elementary in Fairhill was appointed less than two years ago, after the district's plan to turn it over to a charter company was overwhelmingly rejected by parents. Unfortunately, the vote came after the deadline for teachers to reapply for their jobs; they had to transfer or risk being forced out and left with few alternatives.
* The saga of E.W. Rhodes in Allegheny leads one to wonder how much more turning around this school can survive. Rhodes Middle School became the all-girls middle/high Young Women's Leadership Academy at Rhodes in 2005, but when that failed to produce results, it reverted to the original co-ed middle school six years later. But in 2013, after the SRC voted to close nearby Whittier Elementary, Rhodes was converted to a K-8 elementary.
The district offers no data showing that moving teachers from one school to another improves learning. In fact, Hite cites stability and equity as guiding principles of his Action 3.0 Plan. How does replacing the principal and most of the teachers promote stability? How does cherrypicking some schools for extra funding and special programs further equity?
Imposing any plan whose essential feature is the severing of relationships between teachers and their students will only add to the trauma many of our students live with every day.
Lisa Haver is a retired teacher and co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.