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Former Philadelphia Public Schools Superintendent, Arlene Ackerman, Dies At 66

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(Dr. Arlene Ackerman, when she ran the Philadelphia school district.  File photo by Mike DeNardo)

(Dr. Arlene Ackerman, when she ran the Philadelphia school district. File photo by Mike DeNardo)

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By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) – Former Philadelphia schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who left abruptly a year and a half ago after clashing with local officials, has died, according to her son. She was 66.

Anthony Antognoli said his mother died at about 5 a.m. Saturday of pancreatic cancer in Albuquerque, N.M., where she lived. He said she hadn’t been ill long and “it was too short a battle.”

Superintendent William Hite released this statement on the passing of Arlene Ackerman:

“On behalf of The School District of Philadelphia, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Dr. Arlene Ackerman and all who loved her. Dr. Ackerman devoted her life to children and public education, and in doing so, encouraged countless other individuals to commit their lives to teaching, learning and leading. For that, we are grateful. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues.”

Mayor Nutter says Dr. Ackerman’s legacy will be her dedication to the children of Philadlephia.

“She put it all out there. I think that every day Dr. Arlene Ackerman was trying to figure out how to get the public energized aboutchildren and trying to do things that were in the best interests of children. And that’s what people should remember.”

Ackerman took over the nation’s eighth-largest school district in 2008 and was credited with continuing a rise in test scores and lowering class sizes in primary grades. But critics derided her $348,000 salary, called her “Queen Arlene” and said her style was polarizing and autocratic.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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