Mayor Cherelle Parker nominates 9 for Philly school board, a mix of new and returning faces

Parker said the nominees have an enthusiasm and zeal for student achievement, adding that she chose them because they put children first.

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker speaks at a podium

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker addressed the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce for the first time on Feb. 28, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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The new nominees for Philadelphia’s school board are a combination of veterans and new members.

Mayor Cherrelle Parker said as she considered who to nominate, she chose people who said children need to be put first.

“No ‘us versus them’ … A group that truly reflects what you hear when I constantly say we will be one Philly, a united city,” Parker said.

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Among the new people chosen is Crystal Cubbage, who said things can be improved in the city public schools. “Too much intellect, creativity and raw talent in my hometown goes unrealized,” Cubbage said.

Incumbent Sarah-Ashley Andrews said she wants to improve schools in all parts of the city. “I [want] every child to have access to equal education where a ZIP code or a brand name would no longer be factors in the quality of education that one would receive,” Adams said.

Cheryl Harper said she is a product of the school district and worked 30 years for them.  She wants to go “out into the community and talk about the things they are doing and help them improve,” she said. “We have lost part of a generation. We need to have excellent teachers and those who are respected and we need to recruit the best and brightest teachers… That is my goal.”

Whitney Jones talked about how he wants to improve the day-to-day experience for students and teachers. “Every child, every teacher deserves to show up everyday in an environment that is conducive to learning,” Jones said.

Incumbent Chau Wing Lam added that she “benefitted from a system of public education that led to the future where I am currently standing here, and I am deeply committed to working hard to make sure the system provides similar and greater opportunities to our kids, the city’s kids.”

“Every child deserves to be inspired to have their talents and passions cultivated, their dreams fueled and their paths guided,” Lam said.

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Wanda Novales, who once ran Pan American Academy Charter School, said she has high hopes for the district. “I have found that no matter the type of school or neighborhood, a student’s promise and parent’s hope is still the same, and it’s our duty to see it fulfilled.”

Joan Stern said she wanted to use her 50 years in finance to help the schools. “I want to also convey to all Philadelphians and all Pennsylvanians that public education is a public good, it needs to be paid for by all taxpayers, whether they have children in the system or not,” Stern said.

“Together we can be and will be bold like our mayor,” said Reginald Streater, a former school board head. “I, too, wholeheartedly agree that every child in Philadelphia deserves access to a world class education echoing the transformative impact it had on my life as a graduate of Germantown High School.”

Joyce Wilkerson, another veteran of many city and district positions, rounds out the field, saying board work is hard but “we have to preserve the district’s momentum and embrace change while also completing unfinished business.”

She said that includes the city’s facilities challenges, before- and after-school support and meaningful collaboration between the district and the city.

The nominees need approval from City Council and will likely be the subject of hearings in the near future.

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