Green’s new mission: Saving Philly’s schools?

     Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Green (Nathaniel Hamilton/NewsWorks Photo, file)

    Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Green (Nathaniel Hamilton/NewsWorks Photo, file)

    As Pennsylvania’s Republican Gov. Tom Corbett considers candidates to head the board that governs the troubled Philadelphia school system, there’s a surprise pick among the candidates — Democratic City Councilman Bill Green.

    Green represents the third generation in a Philadelphia political dynasty. His grandfather was a U.S. congressman and Democratic Party chairman. His father was mayor. Now Green, serving his second term in Council, is looking for a new route to public service.

    Several sources confirm Green is prepared to resign his Council seat if Corbett will name him chairman of the five-member School Reform Commission. (The Daily News’ Chris Brennan first identified Green and the other candidates named below in a piece Friday.) Green has been outspoken on public education issues and generally favors school choice and the expansion of charter schools.

    In a 2011 policy paper, Green proposed that Philadelphia adopt a Louisiana governance model in which a special state agency, called the Recovery School District of Louisiana, took over troubled schools while the public school districts managed those that are making the grade. Many of the recovery schools became operated as charter schools, and all have more flexible hiring practices and work rules than traditionally run public schools.

    Green also proposes that the state Department of Education take over the authority to grant, expand and close charter schools to “avoid the inherent conflict interest local school districts face when determining charter applications (in the sense that the more charters granted, the fewer students attending district schools).”

    You can read the policy paper here.

    Corbett’s spokesman Jay Pagni declined to confirm the names of any potential appointees or characterize the state of the search.

    “The governor is looking for an individual that possesses strong leadership skills, the ability to work in a bipartisan fashion and able to implement strong reforms,” Pagni said.

    Others in the mix

    Green is a Democrat whose views on education seem compatible with the governor’s. Other candidates said to be under consideration also have Democratic connections:

    • Al Mezzaroba was once an acolyte of former state Sen. Vince Fumo of Philadelphia. He served as Democratic City Council President Anna Verna’s chief of staff and later as president of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Mezzaroba is close to Pat Deon, a powerful Bucks County Republican who chairs the SEPTA board.

    • Farah Jimenez is a Philadelphia Republican deeply involved in urban issues. She’s CEO of the People’s Emergency Center, a respected social services agency in West Philadelphia, and is married to David Hyman, a Democrat and politically active attorney.

    • Keith Leaphart is a physician and businessman who once formed an exploratory committee for a Democratic congressional campaign.

    Mezzaroba and Jimenez declined comment. Leaphart did not return a phone call and email.

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