Council set to approve Board of Education nominees

The Board of Education
School District of Philadelphia headquarters on N. Broad Street.
Metro file

City Council appears likely to confirm Mayor Jim Kenney’s two preferred candidates for the city’s Board of Education.

The nominees — Sarah-Ashley Andrews and Chau Wing Lam — answered several questions during a hearing Wednesday, and lawmakers are expected to take a final vote on their appointments this month.

Kenney picked the pair last month from a pool of eight candidates recommended by a panel of community leaders.

Andrews, who attended W.B. Saul High School in Roxborough, is a family therapist who founded the nonprofit Dare 2 Hope, a youth suicide prevention group.

Lam, a charter school parent, is an administrator with the Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders, an organization that works to develop effective principals. She previously worked in the superintendent’s office at the school district.

“Whereas I once lived below the federal poverty level, uncertain of my next home, relying on food stamps and not even daring to voice my dreams, my circumstances eventually did change,” Lam said during Wednesday’s virtual hearing.

Council Majority Leader Cherelle Parker credited Lam and Andrews for using their personal experiences to inform their work.

“There is no research that can be prioritized ahead of what you know because you lived it,” Parker said.

Anderson told Council members she plans to focus on equity, saying the quality of a child’s education should not depend on their neighborhood.

“There should be no bad school or good school in Philadelphia,” she said. “Every school should be the best school.”

Lam also stressed the importance of equity and said she looks forward to working with new Superintendent Tony Watlington Sr. as he transitions into the job.

Watlington, formerly the head of North Carolina’s Rowan-Salisbury School District, officially starts next Thursday. In April, he was named successor to William Hite, who has led the district for a decade.

Should they be confirmed, Andrews and Lam will bring the Board of Education up to its full complement of nine members.

They are set to replace Dr. Maria McColgan, who stepped down in May, and Angela McIver, who abruptly resigned last summer, citing the needs of her small business as a result of the pandemic.

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