The School District of Philadelphia is partnering with Penn and Temple University to launch a new program that aims to increase representation of Black, Latinx, and Asian principals.
The program, called Pathways to Leadership, will offer $25,000 grants to educators, who will use them to complete certification courses at Penn or Temple. These courses will prepare the educators for careers as principals in Philadelphia’s public schools. While the program is open to all, educators of color are strongly encouraged to participate.
Currently, only 13% of Philadelphia public school principals are Black men, although they make up 24% of the student body, KYW Newsradio reported. Similarly, only 7% of principals are Latinx, and 3% are Asian. Latinx and Asian students make up 24% and 10% of the student body, respectively.
The Associate Director of Penn Graduate School of Education’s School Leadership Program Jessica Richard told Penn GSE News that Pathways to Leadership sprung from a pilot initiative rolled out in 2019, which gave principal certifications to four district teachers in order to serve Philadelphia public schools in need.
The program aims to promote diversity among principals and assistant principals in the district and specifically targets existing educators within the school district.
"We have great leaders within our schools already and want to ensure that we have pathways for those individuals to pursue leadership opportunities," district superintendent William Hite told KYW Newsradio.
The Pathways to Leadership program comes just over a year after Penn announced its last major initiative intended to advance Philadelphia's public schools. In November 2020, the University pledged to contribute $100 million to the school district, the largest private contribution in the history of the school district, to remediate environmental hazards in school facilities.
The first cohort will begin its course in the summer of 2022, and those who choose to complete their training at GSE will receive an additional $15,000 from the University. These graduate students will also receive one-on-one mentorship with a principal from the school district and its Office of Leadership Development.