Mayor Michael Nutter says the nomination of City Councilman Bill Green to chair the School Reform Commission is “quite frankly perplexing.” The mayor’s statement comes just hours after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett tapped Green to become SRC chairman, a position that’s been vacant since Pedro Ramos stepped down last October.
In a press release, Nutter questioned Green’s nomination “given his votes against some education funding measures and his published views on public education.”
But the mayor expressed support for the governor’s other nominee, People’s Emergency Center CEO Farah Jimenez, calling her a “smart, hard working and truly caring person.”
Corbett announced the nominations this morning at the center city offices of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. He’d planned to make the announcement at an awards presentation at Central High School, but said that it was moved to avoid the distarction of hundreds of protesters who showed up.
“With these two nominations I believe we are adding fresh talent and true dedication to the school reform commission as we move toward assuring every child in Philadelphia an education worthy of their talents and dreams,” Corbett said.
The nominations come at a time when the Republican governor is running for re-election and struggling to cope with a school funding crisis in the state’s largest city.
Green is a Democrat, but one who has expressed strong support for charter schools in past policy papers, though he says they need stronger oversight. Jimenez is a Republican who’s married to prominent Democratic lawyer David Hyman, and has long been involved in urban issues.
Green said he knows he’s in for a challenge, and thanked Corbett for the assignment.
“From my perspective, he doesn’t have a more important appointment in the state or city,” Green said, “and also I look forward to working with the mayor and his team. It is a great opportunity for the mayor and I to work on something together that we both believe strongly and passionately about.”
Green will vacate his Council seat to take the SRC post. The seat would likely be filled in a special election, which means the nominees for the Democratic and Republican parties would be chosen by party leaders.
Farah Jimenez moved to the West Philadelphia human services agency several years ago after running the Mount Airy USA community development corporation. She will replace outgoing SRC member Joseph Dworetzky. Both Green and Jimenez will face confirmation in the state Senate.
This story was reported as part of a partnership in covering Philadelphia schools with the Public School Notebook.