Gov. Corbett has nominated former Philadelphia School Board President Pedro A. Ramos to the School Reform Commission today. The news comes as a dramatic hearing about potential new funding for the district takes place in City Council. (Our City Hall team reports here that a tentative deal to raise $53 million for the district through a property tax hike may be in place.)
Ramos, 46, would take the place of David Girard-diCarlo, a Republican, who resigned earlier this year. His appointment must be approved by the state Senate; he would serve until 2014.
He and his wife have two children, both of whom attended Philadelphia School District schools.
"Pedro Ramos has a strong and well-deserved reputation as a leader in Philadelphia's educational community, and he understands the many challenges facing our state's largest public school system," Corbett said in a news release. "I'm confident Pedro will bring the same level of determination and dedication to the School Reform Commission's important work."
Ramos, a Democrat, is an attorney and partner at the firm of Trujillo Rodriguez & Richards, LLC in Philadelphia. He's a former Managing Director and City Solicitor of the city. He served on the district's Board of Education for six years, from 1995 to 2001, spending two years as president.
"I appreciate the magnitude of the challenges facing the district, the enormous potential of every child, and the anxieties and aspirations of parents and taxpayers," Ramos said in the statement.
In an interview, Ramos said that although he's been out of government life for the last four years, he wanted to help the district because it's at such a critical juncture.
Now was a good time to return, Ramos said, because his children are older. They were 1 and 4 when he got on the school board. They’re now 16 and 19. His 16-year-old will be a senior at Masterman, one of the district’s prestigious magnet schools, in the fall.
“I think it’s a combination of the opportunity to be a part of a partnership among the state, the city and the school district and that I think I can make a big difference,” he said.
He acknowledged that the district has changed greatly in his absence and that there will be a “learning curve” as he rejoins the board. “But I have experience and knowledge that make the learning curve less steep,” he said.
Ramos said he has a good relationship with Mayor Nutter and had talked briefly with Nutter’s education adviser, Lori Shorr, about the position.
Most recently, Ramos was the lead attorney representing the district in its response to a U.S. Department of Justice complaint filed against the district in response to racially-motivated attacks on Asian students at South Philadelphia High in 2009.
As a board member, Ramos helped negotiate the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' contract in 2000. He was also one of the city's negotiatiors with the office of former Governors Ridge and Schweiker on school funding.