Last school year, taxpayers gave Philadelphia School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman $65,000 (in addition to her salary of $325,000, which could be close to $500,000 next year). But nobody knows why.
Perhaps Ackerman was awarded for her typically stellar performance:
- When violent attacks against Asian American students occurred at South Philadelphia High School, Ackerman waited six days to publicly respond and another two days to visit the school. She responded harshly to frightened students and allowed the district to claim deflated violence statistics.
- In her own commentary on the common violence in Philadelphia schools, Ackerman glossed over the security measures, neglected to mention any meaningful change in discipline, and urged personal reflection and societal change–calling the failure to protect kids “everyone’s problem.” She later defined violence as a “public health threat” and asked citizens to take action, presumably to keep the problem from “taking up too much of her time.”
- As the San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent, she spent $45,625 of California taxpayers’ money on extravagant meals, hotels, and airfare. Despite this, she was named the Christian A. Johnson Professor of Outstanding Educational Practice in 2006.
- Ackerman crippled the authority of the principal of Germantown High School when she allowed an out-of-line senior to graduate with her classmates. A student who had been tardy 40 times during the year, missed all but one graduation practice and had been duly warned of the consequences. The principal forbade her from graduating with her class, but the Superintendent unbelievably vetoed the principal’s just decision.
The Philadelphia Inquirer requested the reason Ackerman received the $65,000 bonus, only to be met with opposition from the school district. Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records, however, has ruled that the district must soon appeal or release the record. Aaron Proctor comments, “Why the School District attempted to hide this information and block it from being released further implicates them in thievery and other dishonesty.”