COUNCILMEMBER HELEN GYM STATEMENT ON PHILADELPHIA’S NEXT SUPERINTENDENT

In Council News, Helen Gym, News by PHL Council

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PHILADELPHIA — Today, Councilmember Helen Gym (At Large) released the following statement on the selection of Dr. Tony B. Watlington, Sr. as the next Superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia:

“Dr. Tony B. Watlington Sr. is the first Superintendent selected by a local school board since Dr. David Hornbeck in the 1990s. It would be my hope that the School Board entered this with the intent and goal of reflecting the voice, vision and goals of the students, staff and families who make our public schools possible. Of the finalists, there was no question that Superintendent Watlington was the best choice for our District. I look forward to sitting down with Superintendent Watlington in the coming weeks to discuss a vision for our school system that truly puts our children and families first.

“At this moment, though, greater than a crisis of resources, we have a crisis of faith in our public school system. The District is projecting the largest enrollment drop we have seen in years — and we need a superintendent who will work tirelessly to prove those projections wrong. Teachers are not only leaving this system but the profession. And we have far too many young people who are disengaged or have felt pushed out of schools — particularly in neighborhoods hardest hit by poverty, gun violence, the pandemic, and disinvestment. This cannot continue.

“Elevating our school staff and ensuring that every child has a full time teacher in front of them on the first day of class in August must be a top priority. Re-engaging our youth, bringing back students whose families have chosen cyber charters or other options, is equally necessary. We have yet to see a coordinated, focused strategy of re-engagement from the District.

“Finally, the mission of the School District — and fixing many of its myriad issues — is far greater than any one Superintendent. More than ever, the mission of the School District and the City, of a Superintendent and a Mayor, must be fused. Together, we can build out a vision that re-engages students, inspires educators, builds the teacher and staff pipeline, restores trust with parents and families, and improves the academic and in-school experiences of every child. We need a common mission to rescue our young people and provide them with schools and places of opportunity that are more vibrant, more present, more supportive and exciting than ever before. I look forward to being a partner in that task.”

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