Pedro Ramos' farewell

Pedro Ramos was appointed by Gov. Corbett in late 2011 to the School Reform Commission. He is stepping down, citing "unexpected and serious family circumstances."

Pedro Ramos said the things you'd expect a gubernatorial pick to tell Gov. Corbett in his formal resignation letter: it was a privilege to serve, thank you for the opportunity, etc.

But Ramos - who stunned education watchers on Monday when he gave up his seat and the chairmanship of the SRC - also made a few comments about funding.

"As I switch from the role of a public official to that of a private citizen," Ramos wrote in his resignation letter, dated Oct. 21, "I look forward to continuing to support and advocate for a public education system where all adults insist upon a safe, high-quality seat for every child. Dr. Hite and the SRC have that commitment and should have the collaborative support of the commonwealth and the city to deliver on that standard. That support entails financial support, as well as a system and a culture of adult accountability and adult accommodation to the needs of students." (Emphasis mine.)

The state's contribution to the Philadelphia School District is a big issue, of course - and one that Ramos and the SRC have taken considerable heat about. Many feel that the SRC has not yelled loudly enough about the state's cuts to education over the last few years, which have affected Philadelphia disproportionately. But the SRC - created by the state takeover law, comprised by a majority of gubernatorial seats - is a political body as well as the district's governing body, and it's not exactly likely that you'd find its members railing against Harrisburg, then expecting to be rewarded with a giant pile of new money. The governor and the Legislature clearly stated their desire for reforms in the district, and the $45 million released by Harrisburg earlier this month came because politicians were pleased with the steps already taken - mostly, suspending some parts of the public school code to bypass seniority in some personnel moves.

But still. The letter acknowledged that Harrisburg has a responsibility to fund Philadelphia schools.

Ramos went on to say that "while schools have suffered from the financial realities of an unprecedented and prolonged economic recession, I remain optimistic that all our leaders will continue to work together for the benefit of all the commonwealth's school children, including Philadelphia's children."

Ramos resigned, he said, because of "unexpected and serious family circumstances" that cropped up in recent weeks. Those family matters made "the level of daily time and attention" he spent on his SRC duties impossible, he said.

Ramos also summarized what he saw as the SRC's biggest moves during his tenure: reducing spending to actual revenue levels, closing schools, recruiting "an exceptionally talented leader" in William R. Hite Jr., achieving a contract with one of its blue-collar unions, 32BJ Local 1201, with millions in givebacks, closing some low-performing charter schools, and reestablishing ties to the philanthropic community, among other things.