Where Do We Go From Here?

Testimony of  Kristin Luebbert to the Board of Education, October 7, 2021

Good Evening, my name is Kristin Luebbert, a Philadelphia teacher and resident, a member of Racial Justice Organizing and the PFT. 

What do we need in a new Superintendent? Well, first of all, we do not need any Eli Broad-trained carpet-bagging careerists who do not know or understand our students, our schools, and our communities. 

Here are some basic qualifications for the type of person we do need to run this District:  We need a person who has demonstrated a commitment to the classroom, to urban education, and to Philadelphia.

What does that mean? It means 10 or more years experience as a fully-rostered classroom teacher–someone who has been actively teaching our students for those 10 years, NOT a person who stopped by the classroom for two or three years on their way to becoming a dean, or a coach, or a data specialist, or a college prof.  We need someone whose expertise is teaching K-12 children, NOT talking about those who do. We need someone who viscerally–not tangentially or metaphorically– understands what it means to teach in a school with substantial percentages of students with IEPs, English Language Learners, students with trauma and mental health concerns, impoverished students, and students who–for various reasons– do not want to be in school. We need a person (preferably a Philadelphian) who has lived that life and done that precious work.

And this ideal candidate should have then brought their deep teaching experience into a school administration position as a principal. A principal with a demonstrated capacity for being a true school leader: one who can balance the needs of students, families, school communities, and their staff without sacrificing collaboration or good will in the process. A principal who can listen and learn and seek the expertise of those who know a program or a subject-area better than they do–and after listening and learning can put that new knowledge into good use for the betterment of the entire school community. No petty tyrants need be considered; we need a principal who has demonstrated they can lead the complex institution that is a school with compassion and the realization that a true leader needs their people much more than the people need them.

And we–the Philadelphia School Community–expect and demand a public and transparent process in the choice of this new superintendent for Philadelphia.