The Philadelphia Board of Education is getting new leadership for the first time since returning to local control four years ago.
Board members Reginald Streeter and Mallory Fix-Lopez were elected Thursday night to one-year terms as president and vice president of the board.
They replace Joyce Wilkerson and Leticia Egea-Hinton, who have led the board since it took over as the state’s School Reform Commission (SRC) in April 2018. Both have decided not to run for re-election and will remain council members.
Philadelphia has the only school board in the state that is appointed rather than elected.
Wilkerson served on the SRC and as chairman brought the district back under city control after 17 years of state control. She said it was an honor to serve, but it was time for her and Egeo-Hinton to step down from their leadership roles.
“I think I was the right person to get us to this point,” said Wilkerson, who nominated Streeter. “I don’t think I’m the man to lead us forward.”
“We believe it is time for a new generation of leaders to bring their passion for improving public education, their professionalism and collaborative leadership spirit to effectively advance our work.”
The board unanimously elected Streeter, 39, while Fix-Lopez, 38, won a 7-2 vote over fellow board member Lisa Salley.
“I am deeply grateful, honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as president of the Philadelphia Board of Education,” Streeter said.
Streeter was appointed to the board in 2021 and is the only male member. He graduated from the city’s public schools, Lida High School and Germantown High School, neither of which are still open. He attended Temple University for his undergraduate and law degrees.
As a public school student, he said, he was exposed to many of the issues facing students in the area, including gun violence and homelessness.
Streeter practices law at Berger Montague and has two children who attend the city’s public schools.
On Thursday night, he reiterated what he has said in the past: that education is not only a civil right, but a human right.
Streeter said as board president, he will ensure the district continues to invest in its teachers, improve finances and work more closely with state and city officials to achieve better outcomes for students.
Fix-Lopez has served on the board since 2018 and, like Streeter, is a public school parent.
She also previously taught social studies and English as a second language in the district. She currently teaches at the Community College of Philadelphia and at the University of Pennsylvania.
Both Streeter and Fix-Lopez praised new Superintendent Tony Watlington, who replaced William Hite in June, and said he is the right person to lead the district.
This article first appeared on WHY.org.