On November 8, Princeton AlumniCorps and the Princeton Club of Philadelphia collaborated to organize a panel discussion on education reform in Philadelphia. Katie Thaeder ’09 introduced the panel. The panel featured Dr. Leroy Nunery, the acting CEO and Superintendent of the Philadelphia school district; Marc Mannella, CEO of KIPP Philadelphia; Edward Mensah, Director of Steppingstone Scholars; Alyson Goodner ’00, founder of The School Collective; and Matt Troha, Principal of Mastery Turnaround School Thomas Campus. The panel was moderated by Rosalind Echols ’05, a high school teacher at the Science Leadership Academy.
Speaking from their experience as leaders and educators within the Philadelphia school system, the panelists identified key challenges and opportunities for reform within this historically under-achieving school district. Questions and topics addressed included: how can Philadelphia attract the best teachers and keep them? How can teachers from charter, public, and private schools collaborate to ensure that they are using the most innovative and effective learning techniques? How does the School District work most effectively with the Teachers Union? How do we provide a quality public education with limited funding that continues to be cut?
The overall message of the evening was that while the challenges facing the Philadelphia’s educational system are difficult, they are not insurmountable. As demonstrated by the panel, there are many dedicated educators and reformers who are committed to improving classrooms and making sure Philadelphia’s students are college-ready and are prepared for life in our new global system.
By Joseph Sengoba ’10, 2011-2012 Project 55 Fellow and Katherine Chatelaine, Project 55 Fellowship Program Assistant