What education questions should we ask Philadelphia’s mayoral candidates?

Low-angle view of Philadelphia City Hall
Two candidates are running for mayor in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 7: Democrat Cherelle Parker and Republican David Oh. (Hisham Ibrahim / Getty Images)

In deep-blue Philadelphia, where registered Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans, it can feel like the mayoral race ended with Cherelle Parker’s primary win in May.

But voters do have a choice in the general election this November, and the winner will have the strongest degree of mayoral control over education in the city in decades. 

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 7, and the last day to vote early in person is Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Two candidates are running for mayor: Democrat Cherelle Parker, who is a former City Council member and former member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and Republican David Oh, an attorney who also used to be on the council.

The winner will have the power to appoint the city Board of Education’s nine members, who in turn appoint and evaluate the superintendent and monitor the district’s progress related to student achievement. 

The current board members’ terms will expire when Mayor Jim Kenney leaves office in January. Whoever steps into the role can opt to keep some, all, or none of the current members.

While Parker has not said whether she would consider replacing any of the current board members, Oh said on his campaign website he favors an elected school board where as many as five of the nine members could be elected by Philadelphians. 

The mayor also sets the policy tone and conversation around education in the city. During the lead-up to the primary election, Parker campaigned on a pledge for “year-round school” which, despite lacking details, was quickly picked up by Superintendent Tony Watlington and incorporated into his five-year strategic plan for the district.

We’re building a Chalkbeat voter guide for the election, and we want to know what’s on your mind. Let us know what questions  to ask the candidates, and issues to raise with them, using the form below:

If you are having trouble viewing this form, go here.

Carly Sitrin is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Philadelphia. Contact Carly at csitrin@chalkbeat.org.

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