This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Gov. Tom Corbett nominated Philadelphia attorney and longtime education activist Pedro Ramos to the School Reform Commission on June 16. If confirmed, Ramos, a Democrat, will assume the seat vacated by Republican David Girard-diCarlo, who resigned in February.
Two other vacancies opened when Chair Robert Archie and Commissioner Johnny Irizarry, appointees of Mayor Nutter, stepped down on September 19.
Ramos would serve until 2014. A confirmation vote by the state Senate is expected in October.
Meanwhile, there has been a growing debate about whether the SRC has outlived its usefulness.
A group of Pennsylvania Senate Democrats is pushing for legislation to replace the SRC with a nine-member elected board. Earlier, in May, state Rep. Louise Bishop introduced a bill in the Assembly to abolish the SRC. One month later, state Rep. Angel Cruz proposed a referendum for voters to decide if the SRC should be replaced with an elected school board.
Ramos said there is value in having state oversight because it "has resulted in increased funding, some additional flexibility and willingness to try different things in the School District that weren’t tried before."
A 1983 graduate of Central High School, Ramos served on the Board of Education from 1995 to 2001. As board president during his last two years, he oversaw that body up to its dissolution in favor of the SRC.
He said part of what’s essential to the SRC’s ability to function well is a need for candor, especially around the issue of budgets. "I think when it comes to District finances, you need to be very transparent," Ramos said.