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Ackerman continues media offensive

By the Notebook on Aug 25, 2011 04:05 PM

Departed superintendent Arlene Ackerman continued to speak out about the circumstances surrounding her exit, appearing Thursday morning on Philadelphia's WURD with Bill Anderson

In a lengthy interview that included call-ins from City Council members Jannie Blackwell and Wilson Goode, Jr., Ackerman reiterated her claim that she was directed, against her own judgment, to put full-day kindergarten on the budget chopping block. She also revealed that she had asked Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch to step down. (Full interview podcast.)

Later in the morning, Mayor Nutter responded to questions about Ackerman's comments. Nutter said that the state legislature removed funding for full-day kindergarten and he did not advocate using it as a political tool."The former superintendent can say whatever she wants to say. It’s America. She’s wrong," Nutter said.

District spokesperson Fernando Gallard issued a statement in response to Ackerman's comments:

“The School Reform Commission and Dr. Arlene Ackerman have a different view of facts and events that transpired at the School District of Philadelphia over the past three years. Dr. Ackerman and the School Reform Commission reached a mutual and amicable decision to part ways. The School Reform Commission and the School District are currently focused on the critical work before us in ensuring a successful opening of schools on September 6 and another productive academic year. Our decision not to respond to statements regarding the past does not indicate that we believe those statements to be accurate or factual, however, particularly with respect to the School District’s senior staff.”

The separation agreement between Ackerman and the District says that both parties agree not to make disparaging comments about each other.

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Comments (28)

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on August 25, 2011 5:45 pm

Arlene Ackerman is telling the parents of Phladelphia to take their children out of school to protest her $1 million dismissal. Just curious: Does anyone see the staggering ego involved in such a statement? She always claimed to put children first, but it's quite obvious that "Arlene First" has always been her guiding principle.

Submitted by tom-104 on August 25, 2011 6:12 pm

Today's news that Ackerman was on the radio calling for parents to take their children out of the public schools strengthens my theory that she came here to advance the privatization of public schools and to aid the right-wing forces that want to break the unions. This has been a stealth campaign she has engaged in for three years to setup the School District for this assault on the public schools.

In theory, the Promise Academies have many good aspects. However, in an era where chronically under funded urban schools are blamed for the consequences of the under funding, they become a wedge issue. The problem is poverty in the areas were low performing schools are located. That they need extra resources makes sense. That these resources should come from the shrinking budgets of already stressed public schools is a whole different issue. Did these Promise Academies lead to increased funding for the District to open them? Of course not! The objective has been to create the conditions for privatizing the schools. Ackerman has now confirmed this.

Looking back over the last few years I do not believe any of what we have seen has been due to incompetence. This is our local version of the shock and awe rightwing campaigns to drive down the living standards of the majority of the population in the interests of the elite few who own the corporations and banks. She has the same mentality as the Tea Party. This is our version of what has been going on in Wisconsin, California, and cities all over the country.

Infused in much of her campaign has been the use of race to create the maximum division, confusion, and disruption.
•The way she handled the racial situation at South Philadelphia High I now believe was deliberate.
•The way she brought in minority contractors in violation of due process and bidding was deliberately done to inflame racial divisions by exploiting past racial injustice in the bidding process.
•The way she undercut Mayor Nutter in using Title I funds to fund full day kindergarten was not the accident she portrayed it to be. The rightwing forces that she is fronting for are out to impose their agenda by whatever means necessary. Under cutting the city's Mayor by exploiting his own political wheeling and dealing is of part of the assault. The silence of Governor Corbett and the Legislature (the people who supposedly are supposed to be running the School District since the state take over) in the past few months is no accident since they agree with the privatization agenda.
•She has been orchestrating the cult that has taken over the SRC meetings with their black nationalist agenda as part of this campaign. The news media has reported she meets with them regularly and they use her talking points to drown out discussion at SRC meetings.

Ackerman has not gone away. The campaign she has been engaged in for the last few years to destroy public schools in Philadelphia has just entered a new phase.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2011 9:56 pm

Indeed! Unfortunately, students who are poor and minority will end up as collateral damage. Education as we know it is making a tumultuous shift and has been shifting right before our eyes for quite some time as PFT nitpicked insignificant issues. Just wait for the facilities master plan, which is a done deal, to be implemented. This era could be noted as the beginning of the end of public education.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2011 10:12 pm

Bingo----Nothing is accidental, especially Corbett's silence. It's time to fight back before we disappear.

Submitted by Ms. Chips (not verified) on August 25, 2011 10:02 pm

Hmmm...and I thought my take on this reign of terror was radical.

I do not disagree with your analysis of the effect. I do, however, wonder if this pirate is as in control as you seem to think. Her behavior has never seemed to be sufficiently deliberate for this, and certainly from the principals' meeting until today, has more than a touch of derangement or impairment to it.

Why do you think there has been no one presenting the very real failures of her tenure, such as

the precipitous drop of schools making AYP this year
the continued stagnation of high school achievement
attendance issues at her Promise schools
grading policies in the summer program
the cost of her personnel policies, that lays off & then rehires staff & teachers
laying off of certified teachers & hiring novices from TFA and the Phila. Teaching Fellows each year
hiring uncertified principals & other unqualified administrators
subsidizing salaries of out of town administrators by providing housing & rental cars
her Fumo like use of district resources for her personal benefit
improper, inflated contracting
her ties to Archie
the human rights investigation
IRS troubles
racial discrimination at SPHS

Her vocal acolytes have clearly drunk the Kool-Ade, but little publicly aired analysis suggests that there are no negatives at all.

Submitted by tom-104 on August 26, 2011 8:52 am

I am not saying she deliberately caused the various disruptive incidents that happened during her tenure. Your itemized list is very complete and it is an open question how much of these incidents were deliberate and how much were simple incompetence.

What I do believe, however, is that she is following what has been called the "shock and awe" tactic of the extreme right that is running the Republican Party and the Tea Party. This tactic is to exploit whatever problems and crisis come along, not to solve and fix the problem, but to exploit them for the desired goal, the attack on the living standards of the vast majority of the population for the corporate and banking elite, and in this case, the over a century old right to a public education.

Your item "her Fumo like use of district resources for her personal benefit" should especially be investigated. This has been another tactic of the extreme right, to act like a parasite and use the very resources of the victim of the attack to fund the attack. This video project, which has now become her YouTube website, is a case in point. Have taxpayers been paying for the production of these propaganda videos?

Ackerman, a day after she is terminated, goes on the radio and calls for parents to take their children out of public schools. In other words, for three years we have had the fox running the hen house. Her hostility to teachers is not a personality quirk, it is part of her ideology. I think we must proceed with the knowledge that this is what we are dealing with.

Submitted by Ms. Chips (not verified) on August 26, 2011 9:06 am


I think you are quite right. I simply thought that her & the SRC's marching orders were to dismantle the public schools. Your interpretation explains why out invisible governor & mostly silent state legislators are disengaged.

Her media blitz is clearly professionally orchestrated, even the lighting of the Youtube & TV appearances. Her eye movements & posture suggests some degree of impairment, and at least is a relief to the hurricane news.

Perhaps she will blow out to sea.

Submitted by JAG (not verified) on August 25, 2011 6:38 pm

She is so classy.

Submitted by Kevin (not verified) on August 25, 2011 7:20 pm

You couldn't get her in front of a microphone or camera when she was the Superintendent. Now she's looking for every opportunity blame everyone else.

A $629M deficit and thousands of jobs lost are her responsibility and no one else's.

Submitted by Kevin (not verified) on August 25, 2011 7:20 pm

You couldn't get her in front of a microphone or camera when she was the Superintendent. Now she's looking for every opportunity blame everyone else.

A $629M deficit and thousands of jobs lost are her responsibility and no one else's.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2011 7:35 pm

I believe the three communications staffers that "stepped down" ( are now running her PR show. You can also check out her sparkly new YouTube page:

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2011 9:08 pm

Dr. Ackerman obviously is feeling embarassed, angry and overwhelmed. To tell parents to pulll their children out of public schools and put them in Charter schools (at this late date) is irresponsible and selfish. Her behavior is reckless and if she isn't careful she is going to have a nervous breakdown. WHy wont she explain the 3000 layoffs and why in the midst of this mess she promotes her Special Assistant (making $75K) to a made-up position, Deputy of Teacher Effectiveness (now making $140K)...why??? What sense does that make? This district is TOP-HEAVY with administrators (Principals and Assistant Principals) who were laid offm and should have been. But they can't be laid off because of their contract? What a waste of money. So these administrators get shuffled around, all the while scratching their heads. But the people at the bottom, the worker-bees, get the AXE. NO rhyme. No reason. Dr. Ackerman has yet to mention that during her two day offensive, I guess it's not on her radar. She can't deal with the collateral damage as a result of her Promise Academy Master Plan. Will some of you reporters hurry and ask her "What was the real purpose in laying off so many folks over the summer? Only to call them back a week before school begins?" Since Arlene is full of truth-serum, then perhaps now she feels compelled to tell it all. Ask her the tough questions like, "What was the justification for all the Deputies and Regional Supe's keeping their positions in a shrinking district? Why were so many people from Central Office departments laid-off? What was the rationale?" A nice amount of the people who were laid off at CEntral Office were in positions that were PFT represented. The positions were later replaced by non-PFT positions. Dirty but clever. There was not reason to eliminate the Office of Teaching and Learning. Linda Chen (Dr. Ackerman's appointee) did nothing to enhance or improve the Core Curriculum, which is the real reason for the continued progress. The CC is aligned to the state standards and many teachers use it with fidelity and are able to effectively educate children. The media is so hypnotized with all egotistical bullsh*t right now, remember their is always a story behind the story. WHy is she suddenly so willing to talk to a media that has "dogged" her, stalked her and she repeatedly has refused to befriend. BUT the day after she agrees to a cool Mil, she has a Jesus moment and feels compelled to confess!! Stop the madness!!!! God please let her go spend time with her grandchildren, they are much more important than all this crap she is putting herself through. Go home Arlene, and read to your grandchildren.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 26, 2011 9:37 am

She's a foul mouthed, nasty, greedy animal. Arlene: Shut the Fu** up and get out of Pennsylvania and let us never hear from the Queen again! We have a lot of work to do to clean up your carnage.

You got your money, now be not our Albatross any longer.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 26, 2011 11:50 am

Yikes--If I had written that, I'd have been scolded by a numb nut who runs this blog.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 26, 2011 2:18 pm

Nunnery claiming that neither he nor Evans talked or threatened Porter, The Mosaica crook, to drop out of the King money, is laughable. Then, Porter just decided of his own volition to forego a 12 Million dollar contract that was his for the taking. You see, this is boldness beyond boldness to think that the in Phila.are THAT stupid. WHERE DO THEY FIND THESE OFFICIALS????

Submitted by tom-104 on August 28, 2011 8:48 am

Ackerman's interview on WURD can be heard at:

Everyone in the District should listen to this to be aware of what we are dealing with.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on August 28, 2011 9:24 am

Ackerman, once again, uses the media for her self serving purposes. She never accepts responsibility for anything. The sad part is the interviewers let her spew her versions of events. Ackerman won't even accept responsibility for the deficit - it is Masch's fault.

Ackerman's is spinning conspiracy theories - sad, sad so called "leader." She also claimed this is her first time dealing with politics - what a lie. She has long term memory loss - St. Louis, Washington, DC, San Francisco, ETC.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on August 28, 2011 9:19 am

Fatimah Ali is a cheerleader for Ackerman. She can't claim to be a journalist - she didn't do an interview. She trashed on anyone who questioned Ackerman and basically told her to file civil suits and write a book to "dish" her version of events.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on August 28, 2011 9:18 am

Wow - Ackerman's comments are full of PFT (Jerry Jordan in particular) and teacher bashing. I'd love to see Ackerman, the pied piper for for charters/vouchers, leading her parade. Wow... so much for her support of public education.

Submitted by tom-104 on August 28, 2011 9:34 am

There is so much in this interview that explains her tenure. Here are just two observations.

Her hostility to teachers is openly expressed. At one point she says low performing schools are that way because the teachers don't teach. This can only be said by someone who has not spent time in those schools. Low performing schools are that way because of poverty. That's not an excuse, it's a diagnosis. She goes on to expand this to attack the right of teachers to have a union, saying the PFT blocked her attempts to reform the district with union rules by objecting to the taking of funds from public schools for her Promise Academies. (See the comments of Diane Ravitch in this recent interview for more on this.: )

The other thing that stood out was she never mentioning Governor Corbett and the state budget which has so much to do with the fiscal crisis in Philadelphia. Instead she stirs the political pot seeking to divide the city along racial, gender, and economic lines. We have a shrinking source of funding both federally and from the state. Isn't it in the interest of the right-wing forces that want to privatize schools to divide the residents of this city and have us fighting over shrinking funding?

Submitted by tom-104 on August 28, 2011 9:50 am

Link correction. Sorry, the link for the interview which included Diane Ravitch is at:

Submitted by Teachwhocares on August 28, 2011 5:01 pm

Thank you for posting the link. I sat for 1 hour 13 minutes and 35 seconds listening intently to the interview. All I can say is this, those who live the longest will see the most. Again, thank you for the posting of the link.

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on August 28, 2011 12:04 pm

Another problem with the journalistic malpractice committed by Bill Anderson and Fatimah Ali is that they never challenged Ackerman's grossly misleading account of the PFT's role in the Promise Academies. After going on and on about the sanctity of her own contract, Ackerman suggested that the PFT simply didn't want the PA's. She ignores that both she and the SRC were trying to violate the PFT's contract in order to staff the PA's. Anderson and Ali are either woefully misinformed or knowingly complicit in Ackerman's childish lying campaign. I'm also wondering when Pamela Wilson became a go-to source for both the Inquirer and the Notebook. Is she really that knowledgable? If so, why do she and her fellow activists make so many threats and insane historical references, such as comparing Ackerman's lucrative buyout to a lynching?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 29, 2011 6:24 pm

Yes, very sad and embarrassing stuff.

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on August 29, 2011 7:56 am

Very few reporters are professional enough these days to challenge their interviewees. Look at Kristen Graham. Never did an ounce of research to verify anything Ackerman said. Karen Heller's article a day or two quoted Ackerman as accusing the mayor of forcing her to use all-day kindergarten as a bargaining chip and Heller proceeds on with her article as if this is true when it is clearly only Ackerman's accusation - and she does nothing but point fingers at everyone but herself, the Patron Saint of Innocent Children.

Submitted by Vicki (not verified) on August 29, 2011 3:01 pm

You are absolutely correct. However, Kristen Graham is very good at tweeting from the SRC meetings. Ha ha.

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on August 29, 2011 5:31 pm

Yep, she's a regular Tweetie Bird.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 30, 2011 8:13 am

It is a shame that there was not enough time for her foibles to force her to leave without a package. That money could have paid for quite a few teachers. This woman is an embarassment to educators nationwide. For $905,000 you would have thought they could have imposed a gag order.

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