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

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

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.

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