Philadelphia superintendent unveils takeaways from 100-day 'listening and learning' tour

Superintendent Tony Watlington said one common theme was safety.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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Philadelphia's new school superintendent has unveiled the key takeaways from his just-completed 'listening and learning' tour.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia's new school superintendent has unveiled the key takeaways from his just-completed 'listening and learning' tour.

Dr. Tony Watlington spent his first 100 days on the job traveling to schools across the district and hearing from students, teachers and administrators.

In a news conference on Tuesday morning, he said one common theme was safety.

"Many of our children told me during our listening and learning tour that they are not doing well," Watlington said. "Some are afraid to go out in their neighborhoods and play, some are afraid on their way to and from school."

Watlington said restoring a sense of safety will be a top priority moving forward.

He also announced that five people with ties to Philadelphia have been named to leadership positions.

Together, he says they will focus on four areas: academics, facilities, communications and customer service.

Watlington said right now there is clearly a "crisis of confidence" in the district.

"I heard loud and clear that too many of our facilities are not conducive to learning. That was no surprise to me as I knew about the myriad of facility challenges that exist in the school district. Our community wants to partner with us to make decisions that will help us to get better," Watlington said.

He says some steps, including adding supervision for students before and after school, have already been taken.

Watlington says right now only 36% of students meet state standards in reading, and just 21% in math - statistics he called "unacceptable."

Watlington's transition team is scheduled to present its findings to the school board on Oct. 20, along with an action plan.

For a full report from the listening and learning tour, visit PhilaSD.org/100Days.