The Philadelphia Board of Education elected new officers Thursday, installing Reginald Streater as president and Mallory Fix-Lopez as vice president during its annual reorganization meeting.
The two replace Joyce Wilkerson and Leticia Egea-Hinton, who have led the board since it took over from the School Reform Commission in April 2018. Wilkerson and Egea-Hinton will remain members of the board.
The board unanimously chose Streater, 39, while Fix-Lopez, 38, won by a 7-2 vote over Lisa Salley.
In announcing that she would not stand for re-election as board president and was instead nominating Streater, Wilkerson said, “I believe I was the right person to get us to this point, but I don’t think I’m the right person to take us forward.” She has led the board since it took over the governance of the district when it was returned to local control in 2018. Before that, Wilkerson had led the School Reform Commission, the body that ran the district under state control.
She said Streater was the right person, adding that he has a “unique and valuable perspective” as a graduate of Philadelphia schools — he went to Leeds Middle School and Germantown High School, both of which have since been closed — and as a parent of two children in the district. He has consistently advocated for students, Wilkerson said, and demonstrated his commitment to the board’s goals and guardrails, which sets achievement benchmarks and deadlines for reaching them.
The leadership transition represents a generational change.
Streater is an associate at the Philadelphia law firm Berger Montague, where he specializes in employment litigation. A graduate of Temple University and Temple Law School, he became a board member in February 2021. He also served as vice president of the Greater Philadelphia ACLU chapter and as a clerk/intern for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. He has often said that he believes education is “not only a civil right, but a human right.”
In a short speech after his election, Streater said he was deeply honored, and credited his experience in district schools as the springboard to leadership.
Streater, the only man on the nine-member board, said he would focus on creating safe and welcoming schools and educating the “whole child.” He said he opposes lowering standards even if students face barriers.
He also thanked his family and Wilkerson, calling her his mentor.
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He said the district needs to continue to invest in teachers, get its financial house in order, and work more closely with the city and state while focusing on its own ambitious objectives such as doubling the percentage of students reading on grade level.
In her remarks, Fix-Lopez said the district was moving in the right direction. She is the parent of two small children, one at Childs Elementary, and has taught English as a Second Language at Temple, the University of Pennsylvania, and Community College of Philadelphia. Earlier she also taught social studies and English as a second language in the district. “I have devoted my career to public education in Philadelphia,” she said.
She and her husband also own and operate a restaurant in the Point Breeze section of Southwest Philadelphia.
Both Streater and Fix-Lopez praised Superintendent Tony Watlington, who was hired by this board and took office in June, as the right leader for the district.
Dale Mezzacappa is a senior writer for Chalkbeat Philadelphia, where she covers K-12 schools and early childhood education in Philadelphia. Contact Dale at email@example.com.