Gov. Corbett Taps William Harner as New Education Secretary

william-harner-0eb25d23c4ec5b46

william-harner-0eb25d23c4ec5b46

Governor Corbett confirmed yesterday what the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week — Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis is on his way out.

Tomalis will leave his post on May 31 to become Special Adviser to the Governor on Higher Education, per a press release from the governor’s office, making the same salary that he did in the cabinet. Tomalis has held the position since January 2011.

“Secretary Tomalis has worked hard to make Pennsylvania’s public education system benefit all of Pennsylvania’s students to ensure their success beyond graduation,’’ Corbett said.

Dr. William Harner, currently the superintendent of Cumberland Valley School District in Mechanicsburg, will take over for Tomalis pending Senate approval. Harner spent 20 years in the military and has garnered an impressive resume in education since then. He has served as a middle school principal, a superintendent and as the deputy chief executive officer of the School District of Philadelphia. Harner was also an administrator at a New Orleans school district designed to deal with underperforming schools, overseeing nine school buildings post-Katrina.

“From his days at West Point to his service at Cumberland Valley, Dr. Harner has shown himself as an effective problem solver able to unite all sides in a common goal of educational excellence,’’ Corbett said. “Those who have worked with him describe Dr. Harner as an accomplished student, born manager and decisive leader who can carry out our agenda of educational excellence in the face of any challenge.”

Harner attended and taught at West Point Academy and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

“I am truly honored that Governor Corbett has asked me to serve as the next Secretary of Education,” Harner said. “I look forward to working closely with the governor and members of the General Assembly as we strive to provide all Pennsylvania students with an exceptional education.”

Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn wasn’t so bullish on the appointment, however. Burn is just one of many democrats who are using the switch to attack the Governor’s oft-chided education record.

“Gov. Corbett’s budgets have ravaged Pennsylvania’s schools, forcing school districts to lay off teachers and cut vital programs and colleges to raise tuition,” Burn said in a statement after the announcement. “Gov. Corbett clearly does not prioritize education and his policies have hurt Pennsylvania. Gov. Corbett does not need new staffers, he needs new priorities and his recent budgets and policies have made it clear that his priorities have not changed. Gov. Corbett is still helping his donors at the expense of the middle class and Pennsylvania’s students.”

Corbett’s 2014 opponents are getting their shots in, too. Kathleen McGinty, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to take on Corbett in the 2014 governor’s race, questions the decision to keep Tomalis on at his six-figure salary.

“Gov. Tom Corbett drove the state from 7th to 49th in job creation and wants to push another 400 state employees out of their jobs with his latest budget proposal,” McGinty said. “But he surely fights for his friends! A cushy six-figure, unnecessary job for a pal whose one major accomplishment has been to slash nearly one billion dollars from state funding for education? We can’t afford Gov. Corbett’s pal and we can no longer afford a governor whose priorities are not with Pennsylvania’s kids and hardworking families.”

Harner will take a paycut and bring in $139,931 according to the Patriot-News, down from $156,000 at his current superintendent job.

May 16th, 2013 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Governor, Top Stories | 6 Comments

6 thoughts on “Gov. Corbett Taps William Harner as New Education Secretary”

  1. dChristine R says:

    William E. Harner is a graduate of The Eli Broad Superintendent Academy and will push the corporate education reform movement. (He will help rCorbett privatize education)

    If he is nominated, He will privatize public education especially in the urban/ poverty areas of PA. These superintendents are placed in districts by Eli broad and quickly make changes within-
    This is what is happening throughout the US (in Philadelphia, Allentown, New Jersey, Chicago,….)with all the school closings and a large decrease in school funding , especially for urban/ poor districts.

    Parents and educations are starting to protest

    For more info search:
    THE BROAD REPORT/Eli Broad Superintendent Academy/ William E. Harner
    ————– . . . . .
    Mr. Harner will push for the COMMON CORE STANDARDS to be implemented.
    Common Core Standard Curriculum is part of the RACE TO THE TOP program from Arne Duncan, which also includes standardize testing.
    For more info on the common core standards and the corporate take over of public education go to: http://www.examiner.com/article/making-common-sense-of-common-core
    ———
    Arne Duncan supports corporate Ed reform and he had a Eli Broad alumni write the Race to the Top rules.
    For more info google: Eli broad/ Arne Duncan/ Ed reform.
    ( Open – broad exposed- substance News)
    I will be writing the state representatives to voice my concerns. The newspapers and the MSM are not covering these topics but social media ands some Internet sites are.

    Public Education in urban areas needs to be reformed but not by corporations and testing
    companies, but by education scholars, principals, teachers, and parents. Poverty, violence, hunger, and unstable families needs to be addressed.

  2. Basile says:

    Comments from the PG Article:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/corbett-expected-to-name-new-education-secretary-687689/

    *Good riddance. Tomalis was just another political hack. He can enjoy his time as special adviser and continue to collect that tax payer check. Glad to see he is being replaced with an actual educator.
    *It’s not what you know, Cindy…but, who you know. Cannot wait (insert sarcasm)!!!
    *William harner was surrounded by controversy in South Carolina. Then controversy in Toledo. Now the controversy in Cumberland. Wonder if there will be any in his new position?
    *Hard to believe Pittsburgh seriously considered hiring this man back in 2005 (he was a finalist when we hired Mark Roosevelt as superintendent). Would he have insisted on living outside city limits and forced taxpayers to pay his kid’s private school tuition? How can he even pretend to support public education? I worry that we will see more of the same from Gov. Corbett’s blatantly anti-public education administration.
    *No way, this guy is a disaster. You might as well clone Corbett.
    *What way to get fired! A totally un-necessary useless position created just for you with benefits. I’m shocked he took the position without a wage increase though. It must be tough living on the paltry sum of $139,931. Just guess he’ll just have to make due with adding more bloat to the underfunded pension fund. Would anyone else like to know if his last act as Education Secretary was to create this job? Or was it to approve it? Oh my why is my skin feel like it is crawling? I think I need to take a shower just from reading this.
    *If people are unhappy with this appointment (Harner doesn’t sound like somebody who is committed to public education), then the solution is to vote Corbett out of office. Corbett strikes me as a person who disdains government, doesn’t believe in the efficacy of government to solve problems that confront the state in areas like education, health care, the environment. and so forth. It seems like state government for him is nothing more a vehicle to advance his particular brand of political ideology. In this respect, he’s probably no better than most politicians, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats.
    *I’m curious how Gov. Corbett found additional funds to keep Tomalis on as a special adviser. Was this a position that already existed or was it specially created for Tomalis? Besides, shouldn’t Tomalis’ work implementing the policy recommendations of the Postsecondary Advisory Commission be the Secretary of Education’s job anyway?

  3. Basile says:

    “Appointing a traditional public school superintendent to the highest educational position in the state is a strong indication that the voice of public education is finally being heard,” said Dan Castagna, West Mifflin Area superintendent.

    Current Education Secretary Ron Tomalis became the face of a state administration that in its first year did not make up for the loss of federal money, outraging superintendents and elected school board members across the state who were forced to furlough teachers and cut programs to balance their budgets. His salary, $139,931, will not change in his new role.

    “I found Mr. Tomalis to be arrogant and not to be an advocate for public education,” said James Giel, president of the boards of the Shaler Area School District and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. Mr. Giel said he recalled meeting with Mr. Tomalis two years ago at Hampton High School and “he didn’t get the plight of those of us in public education.”

    Linda Hippert, director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, said she hopes the change in the education secretary signals a change in the way the education department has interacted with public school officials in recent years.

    “Hopefully, having been a public school superintendent, he understands the challenges that are associated with educating all students and the importance of collaboration and listening and working together to make our public school work,” Mrs. Hippert said. “But I think how the new secretary operates will depend on the charge that is given to him.”
    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/corbett-expected-to-name-new-education-secretary-687689/#ixzz2TYkCiNpi

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is a lame duck -ABC-Basile

  4. Basile says:

    “Appointing a traditional public school superintendent to the highest educational position in the state is a strong indication that the voice of public education is finally being heard,” said Dan Castagna, West Mifflin Area superintendent.

    Current Education Secretary Ron Tomalis became the face of a state administration that in its first year did not make up for the loss of federal money, outraging superintendents and elected school board members across the state who were forced to furlough teachers and cut programs to balance their budgets.

    “I found Mr. Tomalis to be arrogant and not to be an advocate for public education,” said James Giel, president of the boards of the Shaler Area School District and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. Mr. Giel said he recalled meeting with Mr. Tomalis two years ago at Hampton High School and “he didn’t get the plight of those of us in public education.”

    Others said they hoped his nomination indicated a new direction for state education policy.

    Linda Hippert, director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, said she hopes the change in the education secretary signals a change in the way the education department has interacted with public school officials in recent years.

    “Hopefully, having been a public school superintendent, he understands the challenges that are associated with educating all students and the importance of collaboration and listening and working together to make our public school work,” Mrs. Hippert said. “But I think how the new secretary operates will depend on the charge that is given to him.”

    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/corbett-expected-to-name-new-education-secretary-687689/#ixzz2TYiRh3Px

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is a lame duck named Corbett-Basile

  5. Basile says:

    It was clear this was not a move that Tomalis wanted, but rather one forced upon him.

    “Internal politics involving Corbett’s Chief of Staff Steve Aichele and a few other key players in Corbett’s inner circle contributed to the decision, according to five sources familiar with the situation. Aichele did not return a call seeking comment.
    Another person close to the situation called the whole matter another example of the dysfunction within the front office of the administration that has now seen its fifth Cabinet officer depart since October. ”

    http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/05/latest_shake-up_in_corbett_adm.html#incart_river

  6. Basile says:

    I feel anyone can NOT be any worse than Tomalis. If I was a politician… say the governor… I would bring in doctors weekly and dentist monthly to any schools with poverty. The school would be the epicenter of the community! What about the budget? I would not want the affluent district to pay for this, just their fair share. It is downright discrimination and class warfare what many of these students in poverty are NOT getting in comparison to other school districts across the state. Just one example were my children went to school there was a smart board in every classroom and a laptop for just about every student. In the elementary school I teach, we have two workable smartboard and four laptops…maybe. How is this equitable education? I have hundreds of other comparisons.

    A budget is a moral document.-Martin Luther King

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