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What do you think about the governor's SRC nominees?

By thenotebook on Jan 17, 2014 05:23 PM

Councilman Bill Green, pending confirmation by the State Senate, will be the next chair of the School Reform Commission, filling the seat left vacant by Pedro Ramos, who resigned in October. At Thursday's SRC meeting, Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky announced his own departure from the five-member panel as his term expires Saturday. Nominated to replace him is Farah Jimenez, the CEO of the People's Emergency Center. 

After Gov. Corbett made his two nominations, the Notebook gathered reactions to the selection of Green and Jimenez from various individuals and organizations in education. 

 

Susan Gobreski 
Executive director, Education Voters Pennsylvania

I think that Bill Green is a Philadelphian first and foremost and his focus on complaint process for this school year shows that he is interested in addressing the crisis that our students face.

Farah Jimenez has a reputation as someone being very community-focused. The health of schools and neighborhoods are utterly linked, so we expect that she will bring that lens to it.

Our hope is that the new SRC members are going to focus on proven reforms like developing leadership and investing in programs, not in trendy, unproven reforms. Our focus is going to be on working with them to support proven programs and move the District away from the silver bullets. Fixing the District is going to be hard work, and there is no silver bullet. We are hopeful that they are open-minded and have not made a commitment to a particular course of action.

 

Mayor Michael Nutter

Farah Jimenez is a smart, hard-working and truly caring person. I've known and admired her for many years, and her dedication and concern for children and our City will be a benefit for all of us, especially our children. My team and I look forward to working with her to ensure Philadelphia children receive the high-quality education they deserve. 

While I appreciate the hand that City Councilman Bill Green extended to me earlier today in his comments, I find his nomination quite frankly perplexing given his votes against some education funding measures and his published views on public education. As mayor, I have a duty to raise these concerns over his appointment. It is my hope that he will come to better understand the importance of District-managed schools and that he will stand up and truly support our schoolchildren and teachers.

 

Philadelphia School Partnership

Bill Green is an outstanding choice to chair the commission. He has a proven record of achievement on Philadelphia City Council, where he has championed the cause of public education as one of the fundamental drivers of the city’s economic development and prosperity. In five years on Council, Green also has been a thoughtful observer and analyst of School District fiscal matters. Farah Jimenez has successfully advocated for a wide range of community and civic issues over her distinguished career, most recently as the president and CEO of People’s Emergency Center and as a member of the Commonwealth’s Homeless Children’s Education Task Force. It is clear that she sees education reform as a collective responsibility and a critical component of community revitalization.

In selecting such an impressive pair, the governor has affirmed his commitment to the importance of improving outcomes for Philadelphia’s schoolchildren. We congratulate the nominees, applaud their willingness to serve, and pledge to work with them in this vital effort.

 

Helen Gym
Founder, Parents United for Public Education

Parents United for Public Education will seek to work with any and all appointees to the School Reform Commission. As parents, however, we have limited confidence in any appointment by Gov. Tom Corbett, who has made it a near-singular mission to defund and dismantle public education in Philadelphia as well as statewide. Moreover we believe the appointment of any new individuals to the commission does not change the fundamentally flawed nature of an entity which is ultimately beholden to politics over effective governance.
 
Gov. Corbett shows little interest in the actual conditions of Philadelphia schools or in the problematic ways the SRC is handling the business of governance. As a result, the SRC continues to fail to live up to its once-stated promise. It has failed the students of Philadelphia, the staff and families of the School District, and the city overall. It is time for an elected school board that represents the children of the District, their families, and the public interest.

 

Darrell Clarke
President, Philadelphia City Council

Inadequately funded schools are an issue across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, though no more acutely than right here in Philadelphia. The members of the School Reform Commission, no matter who they are or who appointed them, should acknowledge this fact and work on long-term, sustainable funding solutions for the School District of Philadelphia. I also hope that whoever the new chair of the School Reform Commission is has enough respect for Superintendent Hite and his team to grant them the autonomy to do what’s in the best interest of our schools and of Philadelphia’s students.

 

Donna Cooper
Executive director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth

My thought is that both candidates have strong resumes that indicate that they bring a lot of skills to the job. But I think that the real questions are their views on policies and their role in state and local government in funding and overseeing the District. The real challenge is, can they move from a policy position to leaders that unify people in the city that support changes that need to be made? The real challenge is increasing unity rather than creating divisiveness.

 

Kia Philpot Hinton 
Member, Action United

The appointment of Councilman Bill Green in no way is beneficial to the education landscape here in Philly. The appointment is, in fact, harmful to the families and students in Philadelphia and our city's democracy as a whole. Green's position on vouchers, expanding charter schools, and firing underperforming teachers further destabilizes our schools and does nothing to improve conditions for our most vulnerable students.

 

Jerry Jordan
President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has concerns about the governor's nominee for SRC chair, Councilman Bill Green, and is particularly troubled by his suggestion that our District's budget should be balanced on the backs of our city's educators.

At a time of unprecedented financial crisis, we hope that he has reconsidered his past support of vouchers and charter school expansion that would drive millions of dollars away from Philadelphia's public schools.

We need Bill Green and Farah Jimenez to represent and stand by the people of Philadelphia. We are calling on them to join us in the fight for the restoration of a funding formula that will provide our schools with the resources they need to give every child -- regardless of zip code -- a great education.
 

Comments (42)

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 18, 2014 12:27 am
I look forward to working with both Bill and Farah to improve our total school community and make every school a Great school governed and led by the highest ideals of democracy. I hope we will usher in a new era of honesty and forthrightfulness in the governance of our public schools. What we need most is positive, collaborative, collegial, and ultimately, democratic leadership and governance of all public schools. That is not only the best practice in school governance and leadership, it is the law of public education. My greatest hope is that someone will emerge as a leader who recognizes that the power of any leader is in their ability to bring people together with a collective vision, a common mission, and a collective commitment to task. It is time to end the adversarialism that is destroying our community and destroying the moral fabric of the School District. In my 40 years of service to Philadelphia's schoolchildren, and my extensive study of school governance and leadership, there is one principle that I have come to learn and believe in deeply -- Democracy is the sine qua non for Greatness in our public schools. If we cannot hold our hands out to each other and treat everyone with dignity and respect, act in good faith in everything we do, and stop playing our money and power games behind closed doors, there is little hope of us ever becoming a Great public school system and serving all children well -- of that I am sure. Our success will depend on the leadership ability of the SRC and DR. Hite to rebuild our community.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 18, 2014 12:51 am
Also may I please add -- Trust Formation is the most glaring need of the School District leadership. It is also the most important element of effective leadership. Basic Trust is the first thing that needs to be worked on, because sadly, it has been lost. That is the message we should all understand from this week's events and what was said at the last two SRC meetings.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 2:31 am
Ah, Rich, I wish I had your faith in the appointees, especially Green, whose stated opinions about school choice need to change. He was right in his radio interview that the former SRC wasted stimulus money on boutique experiments instead of building on proven improvements. But then he continues to demand "concessions" from school staff who have already offered to take a wage freeze, increase their health contributions and have been working without a contract since August. They have also had to "fill in" for missing staff like counselors and even nurses. Really, does he not get that there is no more blood to squeeze? I agree with Helen that the 12 year reform experiment has failed and we need to restore a locally elected school board, which I hope would have some real educators on it. Haven't we suffered enough from politicians and other non-educators trying to set education policy? The city needs to help solve the funding issue, but Jerry is right that we are still waiting for a dedicated state funding formula based on the needs of children. Not only the children but the entire future health of our city depend on having a viable, democratic school system that will continue to attract families to our town who will not flee once their offspring reach school age.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 18, 2014 8:11 am
I agree with everything you say. I am very disheartened that he has chosen, as his first act of leadership to threaten imposed concessions. What we need to do most is get away from leadership by "threat and intimidation" which is, in my experience and research, the worst form of leadership. Once, along the walls of the Auditorium at an SRC meeting during the last Ackerman days, we discussed a return to local control. We talked about the fact that a school board (the SRC) can be comprised of a mix of elected leaders who are elected and appointed. I pointed out that one possibility would be a school board where the general electorate would elect four members, the mayor would appoint 1, the governor 1, and city council could elect another. His answer was, "That would give everybody a sense of ownership." A reason for my comment above is that, to be a persuasive leader, you must "build relationships" with those you wish to persuade, and not "build walls" between us. Effective leaders understand that, abysmal leaders, do not. I hope to build a relationship with both Farah and Bill so that they listen to me. The comments above, and my comments here, are my first steps. There are no secrets in my leadership beliefs and my advocacy. There are no secrets in the way I operate. There is only openness, transparency, and above all -- honesty. That is what I expect of others.
Submitted by Ken Derstine on January 18, 2014 8:03 am
Rich, how many times must we go through this ritual of hoping a new appointee is different even when they have made it clear they are on board with the corporate attack on public education? We have gone through 12 years of successive SRC's and their Superintendent's and what has been the result? In his interview with 'Newsworks Tonight' Green says our current budget crisis is because of mistakes by the "previous SRC". While that is true up to a point, particularly with their going along with Ackerman's privatization agenda and the accompanying starvation of the public schools, this has been the fault of the agenda of the state takeover for the last twelve years. The School District has been treated like a colony by the state open for pillage and destruction. Nothing will change as long as that structure exists. As to having any hope in any of them, as the saying goes: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 18, 2014 9:11 am
The result of the corporate raid on public education, as you know, has created the biggest mess I have ever seen in my 40 years of service to the School District. Instead of creating an equitable system of ethical governance in the best interests of our children and our community, it has created a system where corporate interests scurry around behind closed doors to put their private interests above those of the "common good." You, as one of the most dedicated and well intentioned researchers and advocates, know the truth about the money games being played. The actions of PSP are designed to circumvent Democracy and the mandatory public processes of public school governance. Clear evidence of that was Monday night's discussion meeting. It is time for all concerned citizens to put an end to that stuff. The current budget crisis is a matter of choice by our governor and the republican driven General Assembly which seeks to destroy public education in Philadelphia, not improve public education. I ask mayor Nutter to stand up for our children and true public education. His new found appreciation of "district managed schools" is a step in the right direction, and I hope he has the courage to stand up for "public education" and move away from its dismantling by "private profit interests."
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 10:16 am
One thing is certain. The power must come from the bottom up, from the grassroots. Parents especially must unite behind their schools. Little by little they are realizing the hoax behind the "school choice" movement. The demonstration yesterday in front of Central was a clarion call. They were basically saying to their so called leader that he is not fooling them with his blatant attempt at electioneering. His cowardly sidestep only underscores his weak intentions regarding this city that he expects to vote against him. Suburban voters must also step up and demand their fair share. I am sure they are also tired of seeing their property taxes hiked every year to pay for the kind of education their children deserve. It does not help that the city gives $10 million to help build a new Comcast building while offering them a ten year tax abatement. They say it is about jobs, but where will Comcast get their workers if the city's children are not fully prepared to be hired? Above all, Philadelphians must must demand an end to the failed state takeover.
Submitted by tom-104 on January 18, 2014 10:42 am
The state is giving $30 million to Comcast for the new skyscraper. Remember how we had to beg for $45 million so the schools could open in September?
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 10:47 am
Thanks, Tom, I did not know about the state contribution to the new skyscraper. Yes, there is always money for big business, isn't there?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 11:16 am
If you don't like the $30 Million for the new skyscraper, then get your picket signs out and go protest it. Drive the construction jobs away and drive away all the new city wage tax revenue. I would love to see what the trades unions have to say about that.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 2:37 pm
Fair enough, but what about the ten year tax abatement on a multibillion dollar building? That means that the rest of us citizens have to make up the shortfall. That is not fair. And of course, what about the schools? How long will those workers hang around town if the schools implode from underfunding? I am seriously worried about Green's authoritarian attitude towards school workers. He will say it's for the sake of "blah blah blah quality education" but further cuts to their income and benefits will discourage many from sticking around, especially if they can find a better deal elsewhere. These policies do not go with a thriving city but a dying one.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on January 18, 2014 2:02 pm
There is no shortfall from the tax abatement. Without it, the tower will just not be built. Can't tax a property that doesn't exist. If you don't like it, go protest it. I think the 20,000 construction people who will get jobs from it might have a problem with your agenda, though.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 3:10 pm
The policy of tax abatements is of course an incentive to build in the city, but the city gets no benefit from the building if it is not taxed at some point. Basically the multi-billion dollar Comcast corporation is getting a form of welfare to build here. It looks good on the resumes of the promoters of this project and puts more cash in corporate wallets. But other than temporary construction jobs, and future employment for a bunch of well educated out-of-towners, how does that help the school system?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 3:40 pm
First of all, the school district doesn't own this city. This city is owned by the residents. All decisions can't be made based on what is good for the school district and it's union. The tax abatement is to attract new construction and new residents. Without it, there will be no property taxes generated, ever, because the tower will not be built. With the abatement, property taxes will be collected after ten years for as long as it stands. The 20,000 construction jobs created will generate city wage tax immediately. That's new revenue. After it is completed, the new workers will be paying city wage tax. Those will be recurring revenues. It is a business decision. Would you prefer the tower doesn't get built? Do the math.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 5:01 pm
The city does not exist for corporations. It exists for the people in it. The reason most politicians do not pay attention to children is because they do not vote. I have no objection to businesses coming into town and creating jobs. That is all good. But the jobs need to benefit our town first. Many of the workers who will take their places in those office towers will not be from here. Other than their wage taxes, we will not get anything from them but noise, traffic and pollution, and then they go back to their bedroom communities. Good schools attract people who actually want to live here and work here and raise children here Good schools prepare our own children to work in those skyscrapers. They prepare future citizens who will vote for leaders of city and state. Without a viable school system, the city dies. That is how important it is. I think Comcast can afford to build their tower and pay their taxes just like every other citizen in Philadelphia. It is not our job to finance their profits. I am one of their customers and they have had to fix my bills because of adding too many packages I did not order.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 7:08 pm
I hope you can accept your concessions gracefully, because your distaste of private industry and how it operates is obvious. The management of a publicly traded corporation does not own the company. They work for it. In fact, most management owns only a small percentage of the stock. The company is owned by the shareholders. The management's job is to maximize profit for the shareholders. Comcast does business all over the country. They have no moral obligation to headquarter here or even have a presence here. It is more expensive to locate in Center City Philly (More expensive land, overpriced union labor, etc). They are a technology company that could just as easily locate in the burbs and relieve most of their employees of the city wage tax. The city has to provide incentives to them so the business decision makes sense economically. It is not the management's job to cater to the whims of a teachers' union.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 10:16 pm
You mistake me for a unionized teacher. I am not. I am a Philadelphian who wants to see my city survive and thrive. You on the other hand have obviously attended the Milton Friedman school of economics where profit is the first and only consideration and nothing else matters. And it is not only the shareholders who want some of that. The officers and board members who run the company of course want their handsome paychecks. I am not against private industry as you all it. I am against subsidizing it at the expense of a commodity worth more than any company stock, public education. I am against the walmartization of our schools and the attempt by unregulated industry to control everything and everyone. Comcast I am sure wants educated workers who can think critically and come up with new ideas. That does not happen in a vacuum. If they come here only to exploit us for bigger and better profits, who needs them?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 10:33 pm
Then back to square one. Get your pickets out and go protest city council to rescind the offer of a tax abatement. Comcast management can then fulfill its responsibility to its bosses, the shareholders, and go build outside the city with non union labor and give the new employees a 4% pay raise (no city wage tax). The 20,000 trades union jobs disappear, the wage taxes disappear and the future property taxes disappear. That should make you happy. I think the trades unions might have a problem with it, though. Congrats. Your agenda will cost the city tens of millions in lost revenue.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 11:18 pm
Please, you act as if Comcast is the only show in town. Companies should be bidding for land in Philly with all its access to transportation, unlimited workers, and other attractions. Comcast did not ask to build here on a whim. It is cheaper in some other states. My agenda would ensure that future generations of Philadelphians are prepared to tackle any kind of industry or career, and can make smart judgments about life and politics.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 1:33 am
But they aren't jobs coming here because people like you are waiting to milk to death any private business that comes in here 10 different ways. Philly IS a tax and regulatory hellhole. Comcast has enough negotiating power to push back a little bit. But they still contribute immensely. the fact that it philly still a beautiful place inspite of its terrible interest group ridden government is testament to the greatness that could be.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 20, 2014 7:26 am
Our remarks is seems are getting skinnier and skinnier. You seem to think in terms of either/or instead of both/and. We should be able to attract good businesses AND support a viable school system which benefits business in the long run. Sacrificing one for the other is a myopic way to think and go. You said yourself that corporations are motivated solely by profit. That is myopic and unconstructive. They should be thinking of supporting a city that produces both employees and customers. If it cuts down on the profit in the short term, so what? Any national corporation the size of Comcast can easily absorb that. Please do not paint them as victims because they are not.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 8:35 am
The School District is only given 55% of property tax (with a few nickel and dime taxes like liquor by the drink). The City gov't takes all of the wage taxes, business taxes, etc. That is ONE of the problems. The City needs to change always diminishing property taxes by giving out business deals. The latest change in property tax funding will benefit big business while homeowners (and renters) will pay the majority of the tax. If the City gave even 10% of the wage tax to the Schools along with 60% of the property taxes, it would be helpful. (Even the proposal to give only 50% of the sales tax perpetual extension to schools is a slap in the face of education.)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 12:02 pm
The city has other expenses than the school district. The SDP is getting enough. Time for some belt tightening at the SDP.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 20, 2014 1:28 pm
They have cut most programs to the bone, including school nurses. Remember a child died last fall because there was no one on duty to recognize that her condtion was life-threatening. The best way to cut expenses is to stop charter schools from draining money from the district. Teachers are already working with no raises under the old contract. They are buying their own supplies. This is not education.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 5:59 pm
If this goes on much longer there will be one word per line. The PFT needs to make concessions. We are in tough economic times. They are not immune to that. We have millions of people out of work and not paying taxes. The PFT will have to take a cut for a few years and then when things get better the cuts can be slowly restored. I think the plan is for 2017 to start pay raises again after the cuts. That's not far away.
Submitted by Morrie Peters (not verified) on January 22, 2014 3:12 am
Morons support themselves...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 22, 2014 11:18 am
What do you think we have been doing for the last few years. None of the bonus money ever made it into our classrooms outside of the Smartboards. That was three years ago. Why don't you tell Hite to ease up on the bonuses for his pals and unauthorized hiring?
Submitted by tom-104 on January 18, 2014 2:48 pm
As if wage cuts and more cuts in programs are not going to drive people away! http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-phillydeals/Philly-school-finance...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 11:25 am
I see where you are going but I'm no the fence. Long term the justification is more jobs and more tax revenue with no guarantee it will be used for schools (if the district even exists in the next five years).
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on January 18, 2014 2:06 pm
The $30 Million from the state is for the expansion of the SEPTA concourse. That is a public works project.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 18, 2014 9:52 am
This is one of the best commentaries I have ever read. It is about yesterday's failure of Governor Corbett to show up at Central: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140119_Just_call_him_Gov__Chicken.ht... It is a must read. Thank you very much Ronnie.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 10:43 am
And check out her message board divided between school advocates and irrational trolls.
Submitted by Elena (not verified) on February 8, 2014 10:03 pm
The rate of this bond is fixed by state governments according to there legislation, which is why they can defer from state to state. The very last thing you need is a slow bail bondsman. The fee serves aas their remuneration for their services.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 7:13 pm
This reminds me of the XL pipeline scenario where 2 opposing sides are drawn depiciting jobs vs. failure. Please @@ is that what this is really about, and why am I not surprised to see someone attempting to cause friction between unions?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 11:24 pm
Somebody voted for Corbett. Somebody not named me. But you better believe I showed up to vote. Wearing a shirt that identified what I stand for. When everyone uses their right to vote especially in the Primaries we will get the leaders we need and deserve.Demand that thus manufactured school crisis ends but do it where it counts inthe voting booth this May.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 5:35 pm
A lot of people voted for Corbett. That's how he got elected and will get re-elected!!
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 19, 2014 11:25 am
They don't want to sit Green and little Faye next to each other or the puppet strings might get tangled up and neither will know what to say.
Submitted by HS teach (not verified) on January 20, 2014 12:47 pm
I would have no problem with the appointees if they would stop speaking in code ("I am for school choice"), and openly defend what they really stand for: segregation, political patronage and profiteering.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 20, 2014 3:00 pm
You are correct but profiteering, I would submit, should be first in the sequence. Nutter has marked his territory and he doesn't like Billy Green joining in for the money grab. I'm sure Kenny, "I gots mines" Gamble," isn't thrilled either.
Submitted by Morrie Peters (not verified) on January 22, 2014 3:00 am
Good one, Joe...Dwight, Darrel, Green, Rizzo, Gamble, Archie, Mixmaster and Lisa-Lis, AHW and Ralph Roberts laugh at you and collect their "I got mineses" money...
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 22, 2014 9:55 am
I'm sure you're right.........................as of now.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 22, 2014 9:37 am
The PEOPLE have to fight back in a big, unified, unrelenting way. Talk and putzing around in circles, waxing theological and psychological, is all mindless bullshit for the very most part when dealing with these semi primates. History has always taught us that power gives up nothing without up close and personal pressure, and until the people change their strategy, the cretins will continue to snicker and slither all the way to the bank.

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