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Philly parents' long-anticipated date with Ackerman approaching

Arlene Ackerman has agreed to a February 4 date for a public forum/meeting with interested parents and community members sponsored by ACTION United.

In November, ACTION United repeatedly called District headquarters to get Ackerman to come to their annual Back to School rally. When no one responded and Ackerman was a "no-show," members of the group went to the District offices in person.

"We are here to understand why you ignored our invitation and to see if you actually will come meet with us," said William Browning, ACTION United's legislative director, at a Dec. 8 School Reform Commission meeting.

Surrounded by a roomful of people, Ackerman quickly agreed to have her offices schedule a mutually agreed-upon date. 

It remains to be seen how Ackerman will be received. After receiving lukewarm praise from some and outright disdain from others (i.e. the handling of the Asian students at South Philadelphia High School), Ackerman's recent controversy actually put her in "folk hero" status. 

Taking on the media and critics, Ackerman sat back at the same Dec. 8 SRC meeting that ACTION United attended and listened to glowing praise from many supporters, including Mayor Nutter, of her championing of minority contractors. Ackerman alleges that years of racial discrimination against minority and women owned businesses needed to be addressed and the awarding of a $7.5 million dollar no-bid contract to IBS Communications was a step in the right direction.

It will be interesting to see if support of Ackerman is still there and if parents won't return to common frustrations with school closures, the zero tolerance policy, crumbling infrastructure, and lack of teacher supports.

ACTION United parents held a spirited pre-rally planning meeting.

"Our main discussion tonight was making sure we asked Dr. Ackerman about establishing a system which would reduce the high teacher turnover rate and improve the experience level of the teachers who are in our neighborhood schools. We are confident that if some of our ideas are put into action, the academic achievement gap can be greatly reduced," Browning said.

The meeting will be at 1 p.m. Feb. 4 at 440 N. Broad St. Are you interested in attending? If so, what do you want to say to Superintendent Ackerman?

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