Phil Goldsmith has held senior positions in a broad spectrum of fields including law, journalism, government and banking. Most recently he served as the Managing Director of the City of Philadelphia and served as executive director of Fairmount Park and chief executive officer of the School District of Philadelphia. In the early 1980s, he was Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning. He was recently named one of Philadelphia's top "connectors" in a survey of 4,800 Philadelphians conducted by Leadership Inc. Earlier in his career, Phil was an award-winning journalist at the Philadelphia Inquirer as a reporter, and as an editorial writer he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is married, has two adult children and four grandchildren.
He is also a 1966 graduate of Penn State University and still proud of it.
PHILADELPHIA — When a National Rifle Association-sponsored task force recently unveiled a proposal to train select school personnel to carry firearms, it copied the “now you see it, now you don’t” shell game trick that carnies love to play. You know, it’s the game where the carnie has three or four shells and puts a peanut or some other object under one of the them and mixes them up so quickly that the contestants get so confused they can’t identify which shell contains the object. It is the same trick NRA leader Wayne LaPierre used after the carnage in Newtown, Conn., when 20 first graders and six school administrators were slaughtered by a barrage of bullets from an assault weapon. During his rant at his post-Sandy Hook massacre press conference, LaPierre’s solution was to put armed personnel in every school in the nation. While the NRA task force and LaPierre’s recommendations differ somewhat, the objective was the same: Take the public’s and lawmakers’ attention away from the real issues and focus instead on the wrong shell.
When I first became a grandfather, my daughter asked what I wanted my first grandson to call me. “Grandpa” made me feel too old, as did “Pops” and “Gramps.”
I finally settled on PhilPa in honor of JoePa — Joe Paterno — a role model for me. I graduated Penn State in June 1966, a few months before Paterno became the head coach, though he had already been an assistant there for 14 years. Virtually every fall Saturday since I have graduated, I have been glued to my radio or television listening or watching the Nittany Lions. When they win I am thrilled, moody when they lose.
ABOUT A MONTH after I became the interim chief executive officer of the School District of Philadelphia, in 2000, I was greeted with a damaging report by a subcommittee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives detailing rampant violence in the city’s schools. Violence is a serious problem that the district “attempts to downplay, if not conceal,” the report asserted. Now, a decade later, the Philadelphia Inquirer has placed a spotlight on the district once again in an updated and detailed encore, a multipart series on school violence. Reports of violence in the city’s schools aren’t new now, nor were they a decade ago. Three decades ago, a 1980 Philadelphia Evening Bulletin article proclaimed “student beatings are up 24 percent in Philadelphia.”