Six Leaders Who Need to Step Up
The City Council prez talks frequently about how dire the current fiscal crisis is—even though he, more than any other city official, is in a position to help solve it. With the state legislature having rebuffed his cigarette-tax plan for raising more dough, he needs to look at other funding options—soda tax, real estate taxes, government cost savings—to help right the financial ship. Failure isn’t an option here, Mr. President.
As the leader of the most important institution in the city, Penn’s president needs to get more involved in the conversation—and use the resources of her mighty university to help educate more kids. The highly successful Penn Alexander School is a model of a university-supported grade school, but it was launched under Gutmann’s predecessor, Judy Rodin. Where’s Gutmann’s PA?
After keeping his distance from the schools in his first five years in office, the Mayor has become more engaged, taking some politically tough stances to raise more revenue. But he could still do more to persuade a skeptical public that the dollars won’t be wasted, and to lead from behind in a statewide coalition of districts that have been shafted by state budget cuts.
David L. Cohen
The Comcast exec, political insider and über-fund-raiser—one of the mightiest Democrats in the state—unexpectedly threw his support behind Corbett’s reelection. Has that earned him nothing when it comes to treatment of city schools? Cohen is said to be working behind the scenes, but his influential voice needs to be louder and more public.
The newly nominated SRC chairman is whip-smart, innovative and exacting, all qualities the district badly needs. But the ex-Councilman also manages to piss off half the room almost as soon as he opens his mouth, and his reform-oriented take on public education will have parent activists primed to pounce. Green needs to learn diplomacy.
The business community
Business execs complain loudly about Philly’s undereducated workforce, so why have most done next to nothing to try to repair the schools? The list of AWOL CEOs is too long to tally here, but they—and Chamber president Rob Wonderling—must threaten and cajole the powers-that-be to start turning things around.