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Activists Unhappy With Plan To Scale Back Promise Academy Schools

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The school district is scaling back Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s controversial Promise Academies while the schools chief says she wants to stay on the job.

Continued budget pressures are causing the district to trim back expansion of Promise Academy schools from eleven to three this fall, and drop Saturday classes for all of them. Activists including Pamela Williams angrily told the School Reform Commission that children were being shortchanged.

“If you take the Promise Academies from the 154,000 students that we educate, 85 percent of them are African-American, then it’s a disgrace.”

After the meeting, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman addressed rumors of buyout talks by telling reporters she wanted to stay but needed the support of the people who hired her. Commissioner Johnny Irizarry wouldn’t comment.

“I can’t answer that right now.”

(DeNardo:) “How about you personally? Does she have your support?”

“I can’t answer that right now.”

The SRC later released a one-line statement saying it remains committed to working with Ackerman as stated under her contract.

Meanwhile, the head of the teacher’s union wants Arlene Ackerman to leave.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan is using his strongest words yet, saying “it’s time for new leadership at the school district.”

“The superintendent is not collaborative,” Jordan said. “We’re not going to reopen our contract with someone who has indicated to the members of the PFT her total disdain and disrespect for the educators in this city.”

Jordan lists several examples, including her threat to recommend that the SRC cancel union contracts, and previous statements that Promise Academy teachers could not be laid off.

“She wanted to give them a favor. My members are unhappy about it. I’m unhappy about it. Therefore, we cannot work with the superintendent.”

The district is counting on $75-million in givebacks from its five unions. The PFT is the largest.

Reported by Mike DeNardo and Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060

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  • Dan

    Ackerman has run the district into the ground. That is well understood. But what really gets me is the comment from Pamela Williams. Does it really matter that 85% of the students who will be affected by the cutting back of the number promise academies are African-American? I thought teachers educate ALL children no matter what race they are.

    Why doesn’t city council and the school distric get together to put more accountability on the parents? If parents were more involved in their child’s education, then the student would do better in school. For the most part, schools are looked at as a babysitting service. Parents drop them off at school and you do see or hear from them. But, if their child is not doing well or not graduating, then the parents come banging on the door saying the school is not doing their job.

    I am a teacher in the city and my wife is a nurse. We make time and get involved in our chidren’s education. It’s one part of being a parent. To me, those parents who refuse to be involved in their chidren’s education should be repremanded. I would put it under the category of “neglect”. Report them to DHS. Take away any services and suport they are getting. If you are not going to be involved in you child’s education, then don’t have them. Maybe if more responsibility and accountability can from home, the district would not need “promise academies”. Thus saving money.

    • kate

      Dan you are absolutely right–
      educators shouldn’t be concerned about the race of the children
      schools should be equal acrossed the city for ALL students
      promise academies? promise of what to be given everything and not have to work for it?
      there isn’t bad schools but uncaring students, and parents
      parents must be involved for their children to succeed
      parents should place the blame of failure on themselves first
      not easy working and parenting but it has been done before and will continue to be done.
      and finally i salute any teacher in the city today your job is far from easy with the total disrespect from the students and parents alike. and to the parents who care and have a hands on position with their student children keep up the good work. when they are grown and on their own such as mine you will step back and say I am proud as well you should be.

    • Hater

      Great post. I can’t believe that Pamela dude played the race card. You shouldn’t need a special “academy” for basic education.

  • John Pecoraio

    Why wouldn’t the SRC support her???? They are partners in CRIME. Until we have an ELECTED School Board, we will continue to just have a group who rubber stamps everything the Superintendent says and does.

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