Philadelphia mayor-elect Jim Kenney and Helen Gym, council woman-elect.
The city is run by a mayor who pushes a school reform agenda that focuses on closing neighborhood schools and opening the city to charters.
The head of the schools at one time was Paul Vallas.
The school district itself is in dire financial condition.
What once were school district jobs have been outsourced to private companies.
The relationship between the teachers union and the city and school administration couldn’t be worse. Teachers who were promised a contractual raise years ago have yet to see it in their paychecks.
I’m not talking about Chicago.
This describes my birthplace, Philadelphia.
On Tuesday a new mayor was elected and the leader of the community fight for public schools garnered the highest vote total in the election to the city council.
Democrat Jim Kenney will be the new mayor and Helen Gym was elected to the city council.
Otis Hackney, principal of South Philadelphia High School, which has been one of the city’s most beleaguered, was among well more than 100 people celebrating Gym’s election at a party at Fergie’s Pub in Center City on Tuesday night.
He is optimistic. Both Kenney and Gym “are such strong advocates for public schools who will add a voice and a vote to make sure the schools get the resources they need,” he said.
“We had the best candidate conceivable,” said attorney Irv Ackelsberg, a longtime activist and Gym’s campaign treasurer. He noted that the campaign was able to buck the party machine and mobilize the grass roots.
“I really believe this is the beginning of a new Philadelphia,” he said. “For parents, children and teachers of Philadelphia, this is a new day.”
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten joined Gym at the celebration. “There was no other place in the United States of America that I wanted to be tonight,” she said, than with a candidate “who has busted up the charter narrative and created a narrative that says public schools can work for all kids if you give it a chance.”
Gym said her campaign was built around “heart and passion and real values talked about every single day around kitchen tables and especially in the streets of this city. … You carried me to victory, and I am going to carry all of you into City Hall in January, and we’re going to show them that this is what democracy looks like.”