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Philly parents' long-anticipated date with Ackerman approaching

By Deborah Russell... on Jan 24, 2011 01:22 PM

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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Comments (6)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 26, 2011 8:53 pm

It would be nice if she could schedule a meeting after 5. If it is necessary for teachers to be available for report card conferences after school, then wouldn't it be expected that the superintendent would also be available. Guess her bonus isn't big enough

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on February 2, 2011 3:44 pm

Meetings after five would make her listen to parents. I am not sure that is truly the goal. This way, the parents can feel better that a meeting was held - it looks good on paper and she does not actually have to have the meeting.
Sneaky, isn't it??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 2, 2011 12:09 pm

Meetings after 5 would also be vastly easier for working parents to attend!

Submitted by Maurice Jones (not verified) on February 2, 2011 1:43 pm

My main question to Dr. Ackerman would be to inquire about her plans to address some of the poor people skills that some of the district's middle management administrators have. I have been more than happy about the quality of teachers at my child's school, but absolutely discouraged by the lack of "personality" and friendliness in which some district reps act toward teachers, and parents when visiting my son's school. (in my experience).

One of the main issues holding back The Philadelphia School district is a lack of parent participation, and the almost distain in which some administrators act toward parents. (even with the mantra "parents are our partners") Which came first the "chicken or the egg"? Does it really matter if this is what is holding back our district? There needs to be q greater customer service mentality taught to educators. They have the skill sets to teach, but not the management, and customer service mentality which will attract your end user, (parents - students).

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on February 2, 2011 3:50 pm

I agree with some of your points. That lack of people skills you are looking at many of us see as lack of respect. It is directed at teachers, students, parents and others not in the same level of administration as the presenters.
We agree that this lack of respect puts up barriers to a lot of things.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 2, 2011 5:51 pm

Ackerman has developed an admin team that specializes in arrogance, nepotism, and rudeness. They refuse to hire qualified individuals and they refuse to listen to the needs of the public. Holding a meeting at 1pm is just one more glaring example of her refusal to meet with parents in a manner than demonstrates a genuine interest in the people of Philadelphia. She makes too much money and does nothing to earn it. No one is fooled by the Prosthetic "Doctor" and her phony 'growth' in numbers on standardized tests.

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