September 18, 2023
Following the death of Dr. Constance Clayton, beloved former Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, PFT President Jerry Jordan issued the following statement:
PHILADELPHIA--"Dr. Constance Clayton was the best Superintendent I've ever known, and the students and staff of our school system and our city at-large are better for her service. Dr. Clayton at her core was an educator, a mentor, and one of the staunchest advocates for children that I've met.
"I was always struck by how Dr. Clayton ended every speech she delivered: 'Remember, the children come first.' She lived by those words, and her leadership was defined by that unwavering commitment. This credo was inextricably linked to every action she took as a superintendent.
"Dr. Clayton was admired and loved by the students of the District, and she is fondly remembered by school staff. Dr. Clayton had a well-earned reputation of listening to educators, being fair, and always thoughtful in her approach. I think of the example of the new standardized curriculum she ushered into the system--it was regaled by teachers, because it was effective, and it was thoughtfully selected with the children's best interests in mind.
"Further, I would be remiss not to mention a new era of labor peace that Dr. Clayton secured with District unions. In the years before her tenure, our union struck numerous times in order to achieve a fair collective bargaining agreement. But under Dr. Clayton's leadership, we were able to negotiate fair contracts without striking--and it was more than that. Dr. Clayton respected the union and our role in public education. Connie was a tough negotiator, but she was always fair.
"Dr. Clayton was one of the best. I am sorry to lose her, and my deepest condolences are with all those who knew and loved her. I am grateful for the time I've spent with her over the years, and I am grateful to Connie for her indefatigable spirit and all that she did for our beloved school district-- students, families, and staff alike. May she rest in peace."