Dr. Arlene Ackerman, is now the former “Superintendent and CEO of the nation’s eighth-largest school district”. She arrived in Philadelphia in June 2008 after gaining expereince as schools chief in San Francisco and Washington D.C. She also worked as a professor at Columbia University.
By late June or early July of this year, a decision had already been made that Arlene Ackerman would move on, Mayor Michael Nutter said at an afternoon news conference. He said he became involved to limit the amount of public money spent to buy Ackerman out.
Earlier this year Dr. Ackerman told Fox 29 that race and gender are behind calls for her to quit. “I believe if I were a different gender and I was a different color, there you have the race card, I said it, this would not be an issue,“ Ackerman told Fox 29’s Thomas Drayton. A local politician who wants Ackerman out denied the claim.
The curious thing to me about today’s announcement was the revelation that she will be paid $905,000 to walk away – “$405,000 of that coming from anonymous private donations.” When did this become legal? How is it possible for corporations, politicians, and wealthy individuals to anonymously and privately contribute $405,000, about 45% of the buyout, towards the ousting of the Superintendent of public schools? Will they also make recommendations for the new Superintendent?
Do they have contractual ties to the more than $2 billion budget? How will they benefit (in addition to the tax write-off) for their “contributions”. A few weeks ago the local papers were detailing who Ackerman had dinner with and how much her key lime pie cost. But $405,000 can remain anonymous?
Dr. Ackerman has received mixed reviews. Some have championed her cause and fervently believe she should have remained in power because of her commitment to the students and demonstrated results. There were three years of gains in test scores; a 29% decline in violent incidents; and 7% gains in the six-year graduation rates. Others said she was not cost conscious. The district has had to cut $629 million from its 2011-12 budget already. It must cut $35 million more. Others said she was losing a political fight with Mayor Nutter. Even today he declined to talk about what specifically Ackerman did wrong in his eyes.
Jay-Z said “Men lie, women lie, number’s don’t“. We should demand to know who’s wielding $405,000 of influence in the Philadelphia “Public” School system and the children and parents it is supposed to serve. Or change the name to what it actually represents.