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Corbett dodges protesters to name Green SRC chair

By the Notebook on Jan 17, 2014 07:44 PM

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

On a frigid January morning nearly halfway through a school year marked by draconian cuts to services and staff, Gov. Corbett -- plagued by a low approval rating and an impending November election -- braved the eastbound lanes of the Turnpike to make his first gubernatorial appearance at a Philadelphia traditional public school.

At least that's the way it was written up in the playbook.

Instead, in a last-minute audible, Corbett changed the event's venue to his office at the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and changed the news narrative to his nomination of two new School Reform Commission members who he said would bring the city "fresh talent and true dedication."

Corbett selected Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Green to chair the SRC and Farah Jimenez, leader of West Philadelphia's People's Emergency Center,  to replace outgoing Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky.

Green will fill the spot left vacant when Pedro Ramos resigned in October.

Of Green, Corbett told reporters that "he has a long history of public involvement, holding fast to the idea that public involvement, public service is an honorable calling. ... It must always be for doing what's best for the people."

Of Jimenez, Corbett said, "like Bill, she has a notable history of public service and personal accomplishment, ranging from a law degree from Penn to a career devoted to lifting people out of poverty. Clearly, Farah is a woman with a talent for confronting complex problems and finding ways to help people affected by them."

Green called the appointment "an opportunity to do something for the city of Philadelphia that can have us approach two million citizens again in 40 or 50 years."

Before assuming the SRC posts, Green and Jimenez will need the approval of the Pennsylvania Senate.


Although he didn't want to discuss specifics until conferencing with Superintendent William Hite, Green confirmed that his tenure as SRC chair would reflect the philosophy of the education-related position papers he's published in recent years. In those, he imagines a Philadelphia's system of public education that's much more friendly to charter schools and much less so to teachers' unions.

Asked his opinion of the SRC's power to impose contract terms on the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, who have been working under an expired contract since Aug. 31, Green said:

"The SRC has broad powers to do what it needs to do ... and it should use all of the powers that it has to ensure that it's doing the best it can for the city's children. ... We have some great schools and teachers in Philadelphia. We have some poor-performing teachers and schools in Philadelphia. We should have none of them."

Farah Jimenez, works with a population of homeless women – 60 percent of whom, she says, have incomplete educations. She said there's "nothing more important to combat homelessness than creating great schools."

Her respect for Hite, she says, "sealed the deal" for her accepting the unpaid, often emotionally draining post, "despite all the thoughtful people in my life who thought it was the craziest notion I could ever undertake."

Reactions were mixed to Corbett's appointments.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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Comments (46)

Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on January 17, 2014 8:47 pm
Green will make an outstanding SRC chair. We should have a steady increase in the number of charter schools. The people have spoken. They want competition and choice. As for the unruly protestors at Central, they should have been turned back with tear gas and water cannon.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 8:18 pm
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 9:17 pm
How dare you make such a statement on the eve of MLK weekend. Tear gas & hoses...really. You need to fast forward back to 2014.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 12:10 pm
They were illegally blocking traffic in the middle of the afternoon. What right do they have to break the law and block the streets? None. That's not free speech. Go stand on the sidewalk and tout your union rhetoric.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 6:45 pm
no.....thats freedom of assembly. what they said...THAT'S free speech.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 7:32 pm
Freedom of assembly does not include blocking a state highway. That is illegal.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 8:38 pm
On any day, there are detours all over this city for construction. A three block demonstration of a few hundred people that lasts ten minutes did not inconvenience anybody. They just take another route. If there was any traffic, most of those people probably agreed with the demonstration. They had a police escort. If it was illegal why weren't they arrested? You just don't like what they were saying. It's called freedom of speech. If you don't like it move to North Korea!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 9:21 pm
There was nothing unruly about the protest. Move to North Korea if you don't like democracy!
Submitted by John Donne (not verified) on January 17, 2014 10:30 pm
Taxpayer lied on this blog about being a war hero.
Submitted by Philip Marlowe (not verified) on January 19, 2014 1:37 pm
Taxpayer used to be called a couple other names, just a troll with nothing better to do.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 6:33 pm
taxpayer a cave?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 21, 2014 1:44 am
Posted: Monday, January 20, 2014, 3:01 AM FOR THREE years, Philadelphia has asked for a hand from Gov. Corbett to provide enough money to adequately educate our kids, and to make their education more of a priority than he has shown in the past. On Friday, instead of a hand, he gave us the finger when he cancelled his first-ever visit to a Philadelphia public school. He was supposed to present awards honoring academic excellence to high-scoring students at Central High, but was scared off by a large group of parents protesting his measly support of education - and possibly a student body that was prepared to show their own unhappiness over the bare-bones daily existence that passes for education that the state has provided. Corbett claims that he didn't want to get caught up in "adult theatrics" of the protest. Despite being the governor from a very large state, he failed to anticipate that his no-show would create even bigger theatrics . . . so big that the news of a huge cheating scandal that has implicated 138 district educators was virtually ignored. In some ways, we may be lucky that Tom Corbett turned out to be governor. After all, he started out as a high-school teacher - teaching civics and history, if you can believe it - and we can only imagine the damage he would have done to the poor students at Pine Grove Area High School if he is so unaware of the place that public protest plays in the formation of our country, and routinely taught the kind of lesson that he taught on Friday: one that says that it's OK to run away from difficult situations and to shut out the people you govern if they don't agree with you. That may not be bullying at the Chris Christie level, but it's just as damaging. Corbett claimed on Friday that "this day shouldn't be about politics." And yet, he chose that day to nominate Councilman Bill Green to chair the School Reform Commission. Green has given some thought on issues related to education; he has issued papers calling for more charters, vouchers and for the district to "reinvent itself." But little in his background points to the kind of educational and management expertise that such a complicated - and financially damaged - distrtict would require. (That said, it's hard to think of anyone whose qualifications would fit the district's needs, except perhaps a trauma-unit physician.) But we echo Mayor Nutter's words that the choice is "perplexing." In fact, we'd go further and say that given the history of hostilities between Nutter and Green, - to say nothing of Nutter and City Council - the choice is another Corbett act that can't be completely absent of a "screw you" to the largest district in the state. But our real criticism remains on his actions toward Philadelphia students, especially those who, despite the lack of counselors, music, art and other resources, have continued to achieve at a high level. It wouldn't have killed Corbett to face some angry voices outside the school to acknowledge those students. We have little doubt that those kids are more mature and wiser than the guy who blew them off.
Submitted by Tom Mooney (not verified) on January 17, 2014 8:23 pm
He will be following in his father's footsteps: crushing unions and making sure that the middle class sinks lower into the abyss! On the up side, he will be a great pawn on Governor Corbett's chess board!
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 17, 2014 10:40 pm
Hey Tom--Glad to see you on this blog.. Yes, young Billy is bad news and as always an opportunist of the first order. Joe K.--L.S.S.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 17, 2014 10:03 pm
Were students stressed and threatened with loss of prom and privileges if they protested his presence? ...and was he ever really coming to Central???
Submitted by tom-104 on January 17, 2014 11:57 pm
The students were never threatened by the administration about their protest.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 11:48 am
I teach at Central. The kids were never threatened in any way by our administration, nor did the staff encourage the student protestors. The students who organized the protest did so on their own as concerned and engaged citizens (isn't that what we all want them to be?). The student protest was well organized and respectful, as the student representatives (of the protest) were hoping to have an honest, respectful discussion with the Governor about their concerns over the budget cuts. The Governor came to present our kids with an award for academic excellence only to then run away from those kids for showing a part of that very academic excellence (engaged citizenship) that he came to recognize? NOW, word among the students at the end of the day yesterday was that from this point on, any student who "cuts" a class will be referring to it as "pulling a Corbett", gee, what a great example was set.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on January 18, 2014 11:38 am
Your students are absolutely awesome and I support them 1,000%. So are their teachers and principal. The letter from your staff to the Governor was awesome, too. You all are heroes in my book. The way you all handled that situation is a Great example for us all and my praise is heartfelt.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 12:11 pm
Why aren't they protesting outside the White House? After all, the cuts were not from the state. The cuts were from the drying up of federal pass through money.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 1:20 pm
While I don't support the President's views on education everyone knew that infusion of money was not permanent. We need clarity in our thinking as to whom is responsible for what.
Submitted by tom-104 on January 18, 2014 2:21 pm
You know that all of the right-wing opposed the stimulus. It is really disingenuous for you to now claim that its end was the reason Corbett cut school funding. His cut went way beyond that and they were deliberately done most drastically to low income school districts ($300 million for Philadelphia which is what out deficit was this year).
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 3:31 pm
How is that disingenuous? Democrats wanted the stimulus. Democrats got the stimulus. The stimulus was spent. If you want more stimulus that your grandchildren will have to pay for, go talk to the Democrats to get it. The governor has nothing to do with it.
Submitted by HS teach (not verified) on January 19, 2014 8:50 am
You want our grandchildren pay only for "stimulus" for the rich: bank bailouts, bloated military contracts, major league stadiums, downtown towers, etc?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 10:36 am
Nonsense. Please provide some facts.
Submitted by HS teach (not verified) on January 19, 2014 11:11 am
You are willfully ignorant. All the facts are out there, if you want to know them.
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 2:17 am
Corbett's response to a demonstration by students and their supporters is proof positive that he is unfit to hold state office. Our constitution allows for such petitioning, even out loud petitioning of the government for redress of grievances. Any continued suggestions for the balkanization of our schools to please privatizers like the PSP is also unworthy of any leader of a board in charge of public education. Education must be universally accessible to all children and fully funded by the state and local governments. And any talk of eliminating school workers who are already stressed by having to do several jobs in overcrowded conditions with no support is morally reprehensible.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 1:34 pm
I could read Gloria's comments all day. She tells it exactly like it is in a beautiful, succint manner. Any interest in running for an *elected* school board once we get rid of this bunch?
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 2:33 pm
Thanks for the kind words, but I am not interested in serving in any kind of administrative position. I do my work directly with teachers and students. I read "The Peter Principle" and always manage to stay at just below my level of incompetence. 8-)
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 18, 2014 2:58 pm
Yes, I agree with your a point but at some point, when your strategy isn't working, it's time to change strategies. That's not controversial nor enlightened's common sense.
Submitted by Go-Eagles (not verified) on January 18, 2014 4:18 pm
I would suggest you read George Will's column about common core. He has some good lines in the article, particularly his last line that hits the nail on the head. Be careful what you wish for here.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 6:05 am
Portraying public schools as being solely responsible for failing students is simply inaccurate and disingenuous when coming from school, city, or state leaders that know better and are using that point as a ruse to mask their political agenda. School district administrators, parents, community members, and students all share in the responsibility when schools fail to meet expectations. If this current trend of blaming schools for lack of student achievement and teachers for the financial hardships continues this city will lose many of the great teachers currently working in Philadelphia schools and fail to recruit quality talent to fill future openings. This blame game must stop with everyone working together to do what's best for kids. Restore accountability to the district and set and maintain expectations for academics, behavior, and attendance. If the general public believes the political propaganda that teachers are solely to blame for the SDP shortcomings then I fear for how schools will function effectively without those teachers.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 18, 2014 9:43 am
You obviously are a good, smart person but one who didn't get the memo about the deliberate starving of Public Education in Philly for corporate profit. The kids in Philly are mere globs of protoplasm who happen to represent dollars and that's why the reform saviors are here in the first place. They don't give a rat's ass about the well being of the inner city population nor about their future. Do you really think the charter operators are worried about finances???? They're in on the hook up and know fully well that they're safe. The real schools are the ones targeted.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 3:00 pm
I may not have received the memo but I'm certainly not alone. Until the citizens of Philadelphia take action and demand that the SRC be replaced with an elected school board politicians and bureaucrats will continue to dismantle public education for no other reason that political or financial gain. Students will suffer the short-term consequences while the entire city will suffer over the coming decades.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 18, 2014 3:36 pm
I totally agree with you; I just wanted to clarify that their motives are deliberate not in any way, accidental which would give them more credence than they deserve. They're smart people but like Corbett himself, they just don't care and as the old Irish saying goes, "When you don't care, you have nothing to lose."
Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on January 18, 2014 3:01 pm
This is very insightful. Depending on the agenda, it is useful to portray schools and teachers as either failing black holes of incompetence or highly successful magically and all by themselves. It does not work that way. Schools are part of a community and reflect that community. They are also places where communities go to change. They are refuges for some of the hardest luck families. They are places where lives are saved. They are either appreciated and supported or denied and destroyed. This May, there will be hundreds of new teachers graduating from our local universities. Some will brave the odds and apply for work here. Most will probably look elsewhere. Many already come from out of town and will go back as well trained and qualified teachers. We should be doing all we can to keep the best of them here. So far, we are failing them and the potential they would bring to this city.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 1:47 pm
It's all Corbett and Harrisburg's fault. If Philly had Radnor's money the students would be doing as well as Radnor students. More money is the answer. Another billion should do it!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 18, 2014 1:14 pm
It's all about money. Give Philly another billion and the Philly students will do as well as Radnor's.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 19, 2014 1:17 pm
Look how smug young Billy looks and acts behind One Term Tom. Before he's even officially in the position, he's screaming about the PFT needing to make concessions. What a guy !!!!!!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 2:35 pm
Oh, concessions are a foregone conclusion. Can't pay what you don't have.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 9:06 pm
Funny how Hite had money for raises for his staff within a couple of months of his arrival. Not to mention all the new hires that he was required to get approval for before employing them, but somehow forgot. We didn't squandered millions on the dealermakers from out of town and won't be paying for your greed and stupidity. Unless you are willing to go and teach yourself you will find a way to pay. We're already at the bottom of the pay scale and refuse to take anything less.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 19, 2014 2:58 pm
Have another on me !!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 19, 2014 7:11 pm
I would like to believe that it is 'all Harrisburg and Corbett's fault' and that 'if we had the money Radnor has we would be ok'. Agreed...Harisburg and Corbett are LARGELY to blame for SEVERE budget cuts and obvious racism and discrimination, but money is not the answer...but it is a huge part of it. I worked in a N. Philadelphia school for 18 years and have seen poor child succeed academically because of one driving factor: THE PARENTS CARED AND KNEW HOW TO RAISE THEIR CHILDREN WITH A SENSE OF PURPOSE AND A RESPECT FOR EDUCATION. So the state can give us millions and millions of needed funding, but the family structure in most Philadelphia neighborhoods need to be fixed. It is the elephant in the room that no one wants to address. Where are the researchers who know of what I speak???? The research is out there! Money alone will not fix these problems. I am both a teacher and a mother and I KNOW which of the 2 has a bigger influence on the success of children...and its not the job I get paid for.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 20, 2014 10:00 am
It is indeed the elephant in the room. I, too, am a mother and an educator who believes that your first teacher is your parent. So many parents in this new generation either weren't taught that or just don't care. It doesn't take a rock scientist to know that children pay attention to how you act, what you say and how you feel about education. If the parent devalues education, then so will the child.
Submitted by Matt (not verified) on January 19, 2014 8:29 pm
Public schools aren't failing. Aside from being bled to death by "reformists," they are largely as successful as the environments in which they exist. In Philly, and throughout the nation, public schools appear to "fail" only where there are high concentrations of poverty. In homogeneous, more affluent areas (including everywhere throughout our tri-state area), there are "great" public schools where schools are only have to meet one need: to educate. In short, where schools are left with scarce resources and the charge of educating children of poverty who lack basic needs in their lives, those schools are labeled "bad" and "failures." And instead of thanking G-d for the work teachers do with and for these kids (I myself buy an average of 15 eyeglass frames for students each year), we are told some of us are good and some of us are not--which is true. But clearly the approach favored by reform-minded individuals such as Green, Rhee, Corbett and other unimaginative types is to throw the baby out with the bathwater, demonize us, our unions, and the idea of true public education--and justify the carving out of billions of public money for private profiteers all in the name of helping the children. If we are to really have an effective SRC, its chair needs to the child in The Emperor's New Clothes.
Submitted by Morrie Peters (not verified) on January 20, 2014 6:03 pm
An effective "SRC Chair" is an oxymoron...mutually exclusive...peace today...war tomorrow...then peace.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on January 21, 2014 12:22 pm
Corbett puts the DIC in dictator.

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