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Mayoral Candidates Share Education Plans at Forum Hosted by Elevate 215 and Community College of Philadelphia

“The Education Interview” Asked Candidates Details About How to Accomplish their Key Education Goals if Elected in areas like Creating More Modern Facilities, Safety, and Quality Schools


On Monday, April 24th, the Community College of Philadelphia and Elevate 215 hosted a mayoral forum that asked leading mayoral candidates to discuss their education plans. The event, called “The Education Interview: How Can Our Next Mayor Move Education Forward?,” provided candidates with opportunities to speak individually with a panel of education leaders to provide more depth in key areas of their education plans from Kindergarten to postsecondary education and career pathways.

“We view civic engagement as an essential part of our college’s mission,” shared Dr. Donald Guy Generals, President of the Community College of Philadelphia shared in his opening remarks. “And we were so happy to host this discussion to provide an opportunity for candidates to share more about how they plan to give Philadelphia children the best opportunity to succeed beyond their K-12 school experience.”

The three interviewers included: Dr. Stacy E. Holland, Executive Director, Elevate 215; Aliya Catanch-Bradley, Principal, School District of Philadelphia’s Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School; and, Dr. Seth Jacobson, Executive Director, Octavius Catto Scholarship at the Community College of Philadelphia.

“Children are our greatest asset” Stacy Holland, Executive Director of Elevate 215, shared with the audience as lead facilitator. “It is our responsibility to make sure children have what they need all the way up to young adulthood. That means our institutions have to work. We don’t get to give up on them.”

Candidates were then interviewed one at a time, for 15 to 20 minutes each. A full clip of each candidate’s interview is below, with a quote about their vision for education:

When I take a step back and look at our system, there are a number of things that don’t make sense to me, and my vision is to correct those things that don’t make sense... It starts out from a vision that we want to go from really struggling in our education outcomes to having high performing results, and then you convert that into a vision for facilities and academic curriculum, and you have to go present it to the communities.
Jeff Brown
What does [my vision] mean for the next decade [in Philadelphia] and for me I think it’s very clear about what this is going to look like. First of all, I’m going to see a growing Philadelphia—I want to see more children in all of our school systems, more families staying here… Second, I’ve made it very clear I believe in building a modern school system… and I also believe this is a city that needs to value the outcomes of young people.
Helen Gym
My vision for the school district is to have a high-quality education for every child school system… My vision for five-ten years for the school district is to have every school with a nurse, with a social worker. Every school with a quality education so we have much better educational attainment than 30% reading at grade level at 3rd grade. That we have true opportunity from all of our schools, whether they be traditional public or charter, that our whole school system is improving.
Rebecca Rhynhart
First, as your next Mayor, I recognize that the role of a leader is to listen to smarter people who really know what the issues are, and be open to them. My vision would be that 10, 20 years from now… we create schools that give every child a great opportunity for a quality education in a quality building, but also the opportunity for a great job. Not a low-paying job, but a great job.
Allan Domb
I will be focused on the creation of quality seats for all students, with quality instruction, along with 21st century modern buildings... and with the Commonwealth Court’s decision… now is the time to think big, to have a vision that people would traditionally think of as outsized.
Cherelle Parker
If we look out 10 years, we are going to have to start with a plan that is based in reality, but is aspirational... I think we can look at the modern buildings, the opportunities, and the pathways to meaningful jobs that young people really want to do... and then throw in there the creative arts economy.
David Oh

Prior to the Education interview, Elevate 215 released a report titled, “Move Schools Forward,” that included the results of a survey of more than 400 Philadelphia families with children in schools of all types – public (including charter schools), private, and parochial – that shows parents increasingly are uniting to demand high-quality instruction and safe schools as basic rights that should be provided to all Philadelphia students.

“It is important for you to vote,” Stacy Holland noted in closing the event. “This is your moment. It’s really critical that we actually have a voice in this election. We hope you learned something a little deeper than what has happened in prior forums, that was the purpose of today,” she continued. “And activate your power, not only for yourself but for your networks. Our children are waiting on us, and it’s up to us to make sure that they actually have what they need and deserve.”