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Former Philadelphia Superintendent Arlene Ackerman Wasn't Just Overpaid

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Moneymakers: Not Wall Street, Educators

$1.5 million dollars.  When you think of someone making that much money, one’s first guess is not usually an urban education superintendent.

These days, when we think about that much money we think about Wall Street and Corporate executives.

Not to sound cliché, but children are the future, and the benefit to providing our country’s young people with the best education to succeed in life is without a doubt priceless.

So what’s the problem?

The recent exit of Philadelphia’s superintendent, Arlene Ackerman, raises this exact question.

On the surface, Ackerman did a respectable job.  Like our President, Ackerman is a Harvard grad, and (presumably) made significant progress in schools in San Francisco and Washington, DC.

Amid these accomplishments came serious contradictory speculation and evidence about the credibility of the results from her 3 year tenure in Philadelphia.  As with all things, mistakes can and will be made.  But in this case it seems Ackerman knowingly and purposefully deceived the community into thinking that progress among students was made while at the same time reaping the personal benefits at the expense of the community’s children, and now, taxpayers to the tune of $905,000.

Under Ackerman’s guidance, test scores improved and the graduation rate increased, but allegations have arisen which suggest Ackerman took part in, and encouraged teacher-assisted cheating.  This is problematic for the Philadelphia school system because it means the problem Ackerman was hired to fix was not only not accomplished, but Philadelphians are the ones footing the bill for her to go away.

Additionally, Ackerman had caused grief for Mayor Michael Nutter this summer when, after he reneged on a no-new-taxes pledge specifically to raise money for a jeopardized kindergarten program, she found the necessary funds without immediately telling him.

Wall Street company’s employees were exposed for accepting bonuses amid economic recession that they were legally promised before the recession occurred, and America was outraged.

Where is the outrage at the almost 1 million dollar buyout for Ackerman’s resignation?

Ackerman’s departure is a reflection of her not having adequately or honestly performed her duties, duties which entail a lot more sustainable impact on future generations of Philadelphia’s children, than a Wall Street-type whose sole purpose is to make money.  The job of a school superintendent is to provide an environment that will give children the tools they need to succeed that will hopefully, have a positive impact on them for the rest of their lives.

Last year, local leaders such as NJ Governor Chris Christie began taking on labor unions in an effort to get their growing state budget deficit under control.  Despite the effort by Governor Chris Christie to compromise on benefits reform to help New Jersey as a state, to climb its way out of an economic hole, the teacher’s union there refused to budge.

Now, with the latest Arlene Ackerman departure, the issue of education funding arises again.  As superintendent Ackerman was making up to $365,000 a year.

Admittedly, the average public school teacher probably makes significantly less than the school superintendent.  The issue is this, that while improvement in schools still remains questionable at best, is it right or fair for the likes of Arlene Ackerman to walk away with over 1 million dollars with taxpayers footing the bill?

With the growing epidemic of teacher-assisted cheating allegations across the nation becoming more and more frequent, the public should take notice and question the amount of money educators are making without real positive improvement in our children’s’ performance.

Contact Alyssa Bonk at abonk08@gmail.com

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