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Can Councilman Bill Green successfully be the chairman of the SRC?

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On January 17, 2014 Governor Tom Corbett announced that he was appointing City Councilman Bill Green IV to be the chairman of the School Reform Commission (SRC) a post that was vacated when Pedro Ramos resigned in October.

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Republican Corbett who was responsible for almost choking the district's budget to death did an about face by appointing a Democrat to the position. Although this may look like Corbett has finally lost what was left of his mind that’s not entirely the case.

Although Green is a Democrat his views on public education are similar to that of Corbett’s such as: the expansion of charter schools, the introduction of vouchers, making the school day longer without paying the teachers more for it, and firing teachers who don’t perform their jobs well.

Green doesn’t have allegiance towards the public school system because Green and his two children all went to private schools which may explain his position regarding charter schools as well as vouchers.

Corbett needed someone to be confrontational especially in Philadelphia where any of his confrontations might end up with getting hit in the face with a cheesesteak. Green is confrontational and isn’t afraid to use it. As a city councilman his in-your-face style of communication was refreshing. As the head of the SRC it might not be, but it also depends on what or who he is confronting.

A question that should be considered is who will Green be advocating for? Will it be the Republican Party or the people in Philadelphia aka the taxpayers?

He isn’t afraid to battle the PFT and even if it means imposing a new contract which as SRC chairman he is legally allowed to do. The state takeover provides for it. It’s a good bet that this will be one of his first goals once he enters the school administration building at 440 N. Broad St. PFT President Jerry Jordan may want to keep this in mind as he establishes a plan B. His current plan of dragging contract negotiations out may not be a great one once Green takes his seat.

When the news of Green’s appointment first leaked most people in Philly couldn’t believe it, but the truth of the matter is that Green, who is in his second term as a city council member, was lobbying for the position as far back as November 2013.

He’ll have to resign from city council and many people in this city thinks Green, who once wanted to run for mayor in 2015, is destroying his political career by taking on an unpaid job. This may be true, but not the way people think.

Depending on what Green does during his five year tenure and if he’ll be another stick of dynamite inserted into the school district’s buildings will depend on whether he has a political career after his time is up. If the soon-to-be former council member goes forth with what he’s wanted to do for awhile it will be the end of his political career in Philadelphia, but not his career in general.

Don’t be surprised if after his appointment term with the SRC is up Green will come out of the closet as a Republican.
Bill Green is also very calculating. He may not ever be able to become mayor and over the last couple of months it had appeared that the councilman had started to change his mind about the job as mayor, but he probably has bigger aspirations than sitting in the mayor’s chair. He’s a political social climber.

A question to ask and repeatedly ask is Bill Green really a Democrat or a Republican in Democrat clothing because his agendas so far have been that which is in line with the Republicans.

It also isn’t like Philly residents haven’t seen that one before. David Cohen was once considered a staunch Democrat. He had a long political career as one including working as Mayor Rendell’s Chief of Staff until 1997.

In 2002 Cohen became the Executive Vice President at Comcast. In 2010 he was considered to be one of the top Democrats in the state.

Without warning Cohen took of his Democrat clothing and exposed himself as a Republican by hosting fundraisers for Tom Corbett. In 2013 he endorsed Corbett’s run for re-election.

Mayor Nutter is unhappy with Green’s appointment and he should be. So should everyone else who is a supporter of public education. Are you listening Helen Gym?

Although Nutter hasn’t said as much he probably knows better than a lot of people who Green really is and what he’s capable of. What is obvious is that the working partnership between the city and the school district will be over once Green is appointed although right now Green is claiming he doesn’t want to tick off any of the political leaders because he’ll need their help.

Perhaps nobody except Mayor Nutter is willing to remember what Green did in 2008 as soon as he became a member of council. Perhaps people should remember and they should also wonder if anything has changed between Bill Green in 2008 and Bill Green in 2014.

In September of 2008, not even a year into his appointment as a city council member Green was sent down to Allentown to serve on city council for a month.

Why?

Because he stepped on too many toes both in council chambers and out of council chambers as well as alienated a lot of people. Green thought, due to his arrogance, that he would run the show, but when you’re a city council member especially a new member you have to learn how to play well with others which he didn’t. He took credit for ideas that weren’t his, Green failed to do his homework to understand what the real issues were and how they could best be solved. As if all that weren’t bad enough he showed little respect for the most important people; the ones who voted for him or who campaigned for him.

The Green that showed up for work was lacking in judgment and competence; skills that were essential to his job and he wasn’t willing to learn them because he thought he was the only one who didn’t need them.

So the question that should be considered is the Green that came back from Allentown was a changed man or did he just bide his time until he didn’t have big brother (City Council) keeping him in shackles? At the SRC there probably won’t be anyone to rein him in.

Mayor Nutter is right to be concerned. The PFT, parents with children attending the school district and public education advocacy groups should also be concerned. Green was a loose cannon in city council, but was controllable because he didn’t really have a position of authority except when it came down to his constituents. When he becomes the chairman of the SRC he will wield a lot of authority.

There aren’t a lot of people around who believe in Bill Green at this point. They think that the appointment is a bad idea. Bill Green might eventually become one of those people.

One large aspect of the job as chairman is to support the superintendent and to basically have his back. In city council it was easy to jump the line and conduct interviews with the press to help his political ambitions. The school district is a different matter entirely.

In the SRC Green will always fall behind Superintendent Hite which that’s not a position the city councilman is used to. Hite also has some credentials that Green will never have. Hite has a long history of employment in public education starting as a teacher while Green has absolutely none.

Green should also not underestimate Hite. His background in public education alone makes him a formidable opponent. This is especially true when it’s towards someone who has only been a politician for seven years and is still cutting his baby teeth.

This fact should make people question how this private school politician is going to help the school district other than continuing to dismantling it.

Another factor that should really be considered is that Green is a Philly politician now, but he has worked mostly trading options and futures, was a corporate lawyer and was president of VistaScape Security Systems.

Politicians in this town gleefully engage in the pay to play system and they do it to make money off the backs of the residents; they do it for their own self-pleasure with little regard for who gets hurt. Does anyone really want a Philly politician making policies or making changes that will affect people for years to come? That’s almost like giving a drug addict keys to the pharmacy.

There are also a couple of things that Green needs to know.

Writing a couple of papers about education reform when you have no background in education and reading a book of fiction by M. Knight Shyamalan is not going to transition into any type of workable policy. It certainly will not help you become a better or more knowledgeable SRC Chairman. Believing that it will and that through these writings or readings you will save the school district from itself thus becoming the caped crusader that you always wanted to be is fantasy.

Having hundreds of parents and advocacy groups screaming at you while the fourth estate roasts you over an open fire of scrutiny online, over the airwaves and in print is reality.

You may have a kindred soul already on the SRC board named Sylvia Simms – thank Mayor Nutter for that one-and perhaps she’ll align herself with you, but only if it’s in her best interest as well as the groups she has aligned herself with who may not be in your best interests.

Perhaps Corbett’s other appointee Farah Jimenez might be your sidekick and may again she may not be. Jimenez works helping disenfranchised people who aren’t a major concern or priority of the Republicans and isn’t a concern to you either.

Just as important is the fact that you rode on the backs of your family members who were known as great politicians all the way to City Hall, but as any child of a celebrity will tell you your family’s last name will only get you so far. Nobody will care what your family members did in office when you’re making bad decisions for the over 150,000 students in the school district and devastating the lives of so many more.

Any of this may not even matter to the people that matter most –those who work or attend school in the district because ready or not Green will be moving into his new offices in the administration building before this month is over.

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