The School District of Philadelphia starts the academic year with a new superintendent, Dr. Tony Watlington, who was selected from his North Carolina district after a long search for candidates from a pool of over 400 educators nationwide. Over the summer, he’s engaged in a “listening and learning” tour, vowing to hear what teachers, students and community members want and expect from their new leader.
Some of his lofty goals, like addressing the wellbeing of students and staff and accurately gauging learning achievements, come at a difficult time in the city. After more than two years of the stresses and chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic, many young people are struggling – especially in a city like ours, with rampant gun violence and so many families living below the federal poverty line. For students and teachers in the district, a strong school year may be more important than ever. This hour, we’ll talk with Watlington about his community engagement, outlook for the school year, and how he plans to overcome some of these huge challenges.