Interview With Armond James, Fattah’s November Challenger

Denise Clay
Philadelphia Public Record

When Gregory Naylor, former Chief of Staff to Congressman Chaka Fattah, pled guilty to a series of complicated financial transactions connected to the Congressman’s 2007 mayoral campaign, speculation began in earnest about Fattah’s future.

The game of “When will Chaka resign?” has been played in earnest, mostly by Republicans on Facebook (Yes, I mean you, John Featherman) and others who have been silently grousing about the Congressman for years.

On Monday, I spoke to someone who may have more of a say about Congressman Fattah’s future than all of the pundits combined: Armond James, his Republican opponent.

I interviewed James as part of a story on educators. The 2008 Temple University graduate is a computer science and history teacher at South Philadelphia HS’s Creative Learning Academy, a high school for kids who have either been thrown out or left every other school they’ve gone to.

Because I taught similar kids as a media-arts teacher in Southwest Philadelphia, that became our starting point. We talked a little bit about how he manages to reach a group of complicated kids.

“I spend the first week getting to know them,” he said. “We just talk. I ask them questions and get them to talk about who they are.”

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