SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - The search for the next head of Philadelphia schools has narrowed to three men and the first of the three candidates vying for the job is in town Monday. John Davis arrived with experience in the big, urban school districts of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, where he is the Chief of Schools.
If he wins the top job here, he’ll run a bigger school district, but face similar issues, including limited resources.
"People think providing the basics, that’s enough. It’s not enough. It’s not enough for any of you. You should have a well-rounded education. As a city and educators, we’re going to have to keep fighting for that," Davis explained.
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Davis is one of three finalists for superintendent in the 115,000 student School District of Philadelphia.
All three candidates visit this week with Davis starting his day fielding questions from parents and talking about making tough calls on school staffing.
"You have to own the decision and explain it and then work very hard to make it right," Davis stated.
The School Board reports Davis’ experience in "richly diverse" city schools, increasing graduation rates and improving reading and math scores were the items that made him a finalist.
The father of two sons and a daughter also met with students at the Dobbins Technical School on Lehigh Avenue.
"For me, the most pressing issue is what are the opportunities for you all? Can you read and write and do math at a high level when you get into college, so when you see something challenging, you have the confidence to go after it," Davis remarked.
Davis spoke of his two sons who graduated from D.C. public schools. He was aware of an on-going state legal battle claiming poorer districts are underfunded and said he would find the best talent in the city.
"There’s talent in Philadelphia. It’s not always about attracting someone somewhere else. It’s about finding the best teachers," he added.