Gov. Rendell wasted little time in naming a Republican powerbroker to replace Heidi Ramirez, who resigned last week from the Philadelphia School Reform Commission.
It is important to fill the position swiftly, but in confirming the nomination the legislature must make sure it is appointing the best person to move the troubled school system forward.
Rendell tapped David Girard-diCarlo, a former U.S. ambassador to Austria. The Cozen O’Connor lawyer is a former Blank Rome chairman. Rendell made the announcement Thursday after consulting with state Sen. Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware).
Ramirez’s sudden resignation fueled speculation that she was being forced out as part of a deal to end the budget stalemate in Harrisburg. But Rendell and Pileggi insist that politics had nothing to do with their choice.
While Girard-diCarlo has an impressive resume, his credentials are not comparable to Ramirez’s, the SRC’s sole academic, whose expertise in training educators at Temple University was useful in making policy decisions. An outspoken advocate on behalf of school children, Ramirez heads the Urban Education Collaboration at Temple. She was also the first Latina on the commission.
Her replacement should share her passion for children. Like Ramirez, he also must be willing to question Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, not to be confrontational but to make the best decisions for students.
Rendell also renominated Joseph Dworetzy, another Philadelphia lawyer, whose confirmation had stalled in the Senate. He would fill one of two vacancies created earlier this year. Robert Archie has filled the other seat.
It is important to get the SRC fully staffed to do its job, but care is more important than speed.