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The School District of Philadelphia is aiming to develop more Black, Latinx and Asian education leaders. Photo: Adobe Stock.
The School District of Philadelphia is aiming to develop more Black, Latinx and Asian education leaders. Photo: Adobe Stock.

Philly School District partners with Temple, Penn for new program preparing diverse future education leaders

The new Pathway to Leadership Principal Preparation Program is set to begin in Summer 2022 and will aim to develop more Black, Latinx and Asian leaders.

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The School District of Philadelphia is partnering with Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania to launch a new leadership program for diverse aspiring school principals and education leaders.

Current Philly School District employees enrolled in the Pathway to Leadership Principal Preparation Program will receive traditional certification preparation classwork, coaching and mentoring, as well as a $25,000 scholarship to attend either universities. 

“School leaders are among the most important leaders in the entire city, and our District and students deserve a strong pipeline of qualified and well-trained individuals capable of leading our schools,” said Michael Farrell, Deputy Chief of Leadership Development for the School District of Philadelphia, in a statement. 

“This program is a pathway for aspiring leaders, building up the supports for those who are interested in moving into leadership,” he added. 

More specifically, the program aims to develop equity-centered leaders by diversifying the pipeline of individuals who are seeking roles as a principal within the Philly School District with a particular focus on Black males, as well as the Latinx and Asian leaders — three of the current and most historically underrepresented groups. 

The numbers for each of those groups pales in comparison to both the district’s student and city’s overall populations. 

Currently, 24% of the district’s 120,000 students are Black males, but only 13% of principals are Black males; 24% of students are Latino, but only 7% of principals are Latino; and 10% of students are Asian, while only 3% of principals are Asian, according to Ferrell. 

“We want the representation of these three groups to increase,” he noted.

Robin Cooper, Ed.D., president of the Teamsters Local 502 of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators (CASA), highlighted the importance of providing different pathways toward career advancement for individuals who have had no clear-cut path to advance.

“The Pathway to Leadership program appears to understand the need to recruit exceptional leaders from closely aligned fields such as climate managers moving into the direction of assistant principals and principals. CASA members, especially those who have traditionally not been represented at higher administrative opportunities, are enthusiastic that such a program was created with them in mind,” she said. 

Both Temple and Penn are excited to partner with the Philly School District to prepare the next generation of principals to lead the city’s schools and help remove barriers, and enable greater access and opportunities. 

The Philly School District has committed $3 million over the next three years to support this initiative, along with a pipeline of 75 diverse administrators. This will be done through retention and growth by helping talented staff attain the necessary training needs to reach certification-status to become school leaders.

According to a report by the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC), Philly has among the highest principal turnover rates in the state, with over 24% of principals in the city leaving their schools between the 2007-08 and 2015-16 school years. 

The Pathway to Leadership Principal Preparation Program, which will officially begin Summer 2022, is the District’s fourth program aimed at preparing and strengthening school leaders, and is the result of two successful pilot programs. Since the first pilot began in 2019, four principals have trained through Penn, and five aspiring principals have been trained through Temple. 

This program sets itself apart from the others due to the fact that it’s the only one that works with individuals for pre-certification, intended to provide school and educational leaders with the skills, support and coaching they need to enter the District’s highest-needs schools. 

The Philly School District’s Office of Leadership Development will accept candidate applications through March 1. For more details, click here

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