Dr. Watlington’s 100-Day Plan

Priorities, Pace, and What Comes After


Leo Bender

Dr. Watlington’s 100 day plan sits atop his 5 priorities for The School District of Philadelphia

Phatamarha Noel, Staff Editor

Following Dr. Tony Watlington’s appointment as the new superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, the former head of the Rowan-Salisbury School System in North Carolina shared a list of five priorities for his first 100 days. These priorities will affect students, parents, staff, and teachers in major ways and because they have this potential, there has been a debate over his listening and learning strategy and what he needs to focus on first. 

Dr. Watlington’s 5 Priorities:

1. Reviewing and evaluating the well-being of students and staff by looking at schools and entire communities and allowing students to access more wellness activities. 

2. Building trust with the community and everyone involved in the school and the school’s children. This includes stakeholders, parents, administration, etc…

3. Evaluating teaching and learning regarding the goals and how/if they’ve been met during the pandemic. 

4. Evaluating leadership to ensure things are running smoothly. 

5. Evaluating financing and operations to make sure everything is up to Board Policy standards.

See the district’s detailed page of these priorities at https://www.philasd.org/100days/.

FLC’s Reactions

Journae Barnes is an 11th-grade Vocal Music Major at FLC. Laila Warrick is an 11th-grade College Prep Major at FLC. Louis Fantini is an English and Social Studies teacher at FLC. We asked them about Watlington’s plan.

When asked about Watlington’s priorities, Fantini mentioned one really big issue–staffing.

“We know that one of the best indicators for students’ success is how much…individualized attention they receive which means smaller class sizes, hiring more classroom aides and reading specialists and planning staff and all these things that we know translate to better schools and better outcomes for kids,” Fantini said.

Barnes focused more on mental health.

“Most students have trouble adjusting or maintaining their mental health,” Barnes said. “Creating a safe space for ALL students would be beneficial. Attending high school is something students have to mentally prepare for, and if they lack motivation due to mental health, that will negatively affect their academic performance.”

Watlington has included student well-being in his 5 priorities.

When it comes to Watlington’s listening campaign, Warrick isn’t a fan. 

We’re two years into the pandemic,” she said. “There is no point in wasting time waiting when we know how bad things can get. It’s best to get ahead of the problem and enforce policies that have worked before.”

However, Barnes sees some value in seeking feedback.

“I would suggest that Dr. Watlington observes and pays close attention,” she said. “That includes listening and learning. How could he possibly help without any knowledge on what needs adjustment?”

Fantini argued for both listening and action.

“I think the best approach would be kind of both,” he said. “I mean, especially here at FLC–we have a particularly clear idea of that when we think about when our building was closed down due to asbestos… It’s important to listen when you’re new to a school district and a city and to hear what the priorities are to the people that are there…[but] I think that everyone would agree that all buildings should be safe and clean. Right? That is something that immediate action should be taken.”

The 100-day plan started in June and is drawing to a close in September. 

“There is no more to listen to,” said Warrick. “Just action to do.” 

Fantini wants to focus less on the pace of the 100-day plan and more on what comes next.

“If we execute this 100-day plan to perfection,” he said, “that will be the easiest part. Because what comes after that is actually allocating the resources and actually solving these incredibly complex problems.”