January 17, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter released the following statement on Governor Corbett’s proposed SRC appointments – Farah Jimenez and City Councilman Bill Green:
“Governor Corbett, today, has nominated two new members to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, including a proposed new Chair. For the first time, Governor Corbett will have hand-picked the majority of the team that he wants to govern the School District of Philadelphia.
My hope is that Governor Corbett will use this majority to push policies that will benefit the students of Philadelphia. But while I applaud one nominee, I am very concerned what the choice of Chair might be signaling in terms of policy, funding and the future of our District-managed schools.
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.
We all must hope that, should he be confirmed in this new responsibility, he will adopt the priorities that many of us have fought for:
· A new statewide student weighted funding formula that equitably brings full and fair funding to our children regardless of whether they go to a District-managed or charter school;
· A cigarette tax, with funding earmarked to the School District, yet to be passed in the General Assembly;
· A Sales Tax extension to be amended by the General Assembly to provide for a 50/50 split in funding between the School district and the City Pension Fund; and
· An aggressive and effective plan to turn around our lowest performing, District-managed neighborhood schools.
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 school children and teachers.
I’ve shared my concerns directly with Councilman Green regarding his policy proposals in support of vouchers, “charterizing” the whole School District and further cutting a district budget that is now woefully inadequate.
I am also deeply concerned, based on his past public statements and participation in School District Budget hearings, as to whether or not, as Chair, Councilman Green will be a strong and forceful advocate for increased educational funding in his requests to Governor Corbett, the General Assembly and Philadelphia City Council.
I can only hope with the significance of this proposed appointment that Councilman Green will find a way to adjust his views and take actions that are in the best interests of students, parents and teachers.
Governor Corbett has the right to nominate anyone he wants, but I have the duty as Mayor of this great City to raise these concerns about a leadership change that will affect the most important people in Philadelphia – our children and their future.
An appointment to the SRC is the most important appointment that either the Governor or I can make in Philadelphia. Educating children is a sacred trust and should be treated as such out of respect to the children, parents and taxpayers of Philadelphia.
My support, and the support of my Administration, for educating our children will not waiver or be affected by this leadership change because my team and I deeply care about educating our children and helping them develop their full potential. I am committed to working with the entire SRC in support of Dr. Hite’s leadership at the School District.
We will carefully monitor the actions of the Governor’s new team at the SRC to ensure that the interests of children are always being put first. With Governor Corbett’s new majority, he will put his unique mark on policy and funding, and he will have full responsibility and accountability for the financial and managerial operations and educational outcomes of the School District of Philadelphia.
I look forward to Gov Corbett’s leadership in that regard and await his guidance, partnership and plans for providing the resources and support our children need and deserve in order to receive a superior education in Philadelphia.”