The School District of Philadelphia
440 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130
Telephone: (215) 400-4170 Fax: (215) 400-4171
For Additional Information Contact:
William R. Miller IV (215) 772-9325

February 19, 2008

The Philadelphia School Reform Comission Selects New CEO

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) today announced its selection of Dr. Arlene Ackerman as the next CEO of the School District of Philadelphia. Dr. Ackerman comes to Philadelphia with more than 30 years of experience in urban education.

In announcing its selection, SRC Chairwoman Sandra Dungee Glenn said, "The Commission is pleased to welcome Dr. Arlene Ackerman to lead the School District of Philadelphia. Her passion for children in urban schools, as well as her track record and priorities of putting resources back into the classrooms fits with the goals the Commission has established for our students. Dr. Ackerman's proven record of raising student achievement and building effective partnerships with diverse communities makes her an excellent fit for Philadelphia. We are confident she will continue her academic accomplishments with Philadelphia's students."

Dr. Ackerman said, "I am honored and humbled that the SRC, the Governor and the Mayor believe I can make a contribution to students in Philadelphia. I am coming back to active leadership because I have missed my passion - the on the ground battle for our children who attend urban public schools. I believe I still have more to give in this important fight for social justice."

Dr. Ackerman currently serves as director of the Urban Education Leaders Program at Teachers College of Columbia University where she also sits as the Chairperson of the Superintendents and Scholars Symposium. The Urban Leaders Education Program is the College's largest doctoral program for public-school leaders. She joined Teachers College's Education Leadership faculty as the Christian A. Johnson Professor of Outstanding Educational Practice in 2006. She also serves as Superintendent in Residence of The Broad Center based in Los Angeles, California where she facilitates and directs the Broad Superintendents Academy, a ten month executive management program designed to prepare CEOs and senior executives from business, government and education backgrounds to lead urban public school systems.

Prior to 2006, Dr. Ackerman served as Superintendent of both the San Francisco Unified School District and the District of Columbia Public Schools. During her tenure in San Francisco, the city's public schools with, 62,000 students and 117 schools, attained five consecutive years of improved achievement for all groups of students while also holding the distinction as the highest performing large urban school district in the state of California during the last two years of her superintendency.

Jill Wynn, Board member, San Francisco Unified School District and School Board President from 2001 - 2002, said, "Your choice of Dr. Ackerman as CEO is great for Philadelphia and great for public education. She is an outstanding superintendent. Any initiative that was started in San Francisco under Arlene's tenure is still in place today. With Arlene back in public education, the children of America are the winners."

Hydra Mendoza, Educational Liaison to Mayor Gavin Newsom and the mother of two children in the San Francisco Unified Public Schools, said, "More than anything else, Arlene Ackerman is committed to children. As a mother, in addition to my professional capacity with Mayor Newsome, I know Arlene is committed to children. She is a top-notch experienced superintendent. With her experience she knows how to educate a child and educating children is where her heart is."

Governor Edward G. Rendell said, "Dr. Ackerman is nationally recognized for her successes in the school districts she has led, including positioning San Francisco as a finalist for the 2005 Broad Prize for Urban Education presented annually to the best urban school district in the country. I look forward to working with her to ensure that Philadelphia's students thrive under her leadership."

Dr. Ackerman received her doctorate in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Urban Superintendents Program. She holds a Master of Arts in Education from Harvard University, a Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Policy from Washington University, St. Louis, MO and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Harris Stowe Teachers College.

Mayor Michael A. Nutter lauded the appointment of Dr. Ackerman. He said, "Philadelphia must place as its number one priority the education of our young people and ensure that they have sustainable options for future employment and success. We share an urgency for closing the achievement gap and ensuring that our schools have the resources they need to adequately teach our students. I look forward to partnering with her on these endeavors to guarantee that all of our students prosper."

Commissioner James Gallagher, Ph.D. said, "Dr. Ackerman's experience leading urban school districts and her commitment to continuing Philadelphia's diverse provider model will present our students with the best options for successful outcomes."

Commissioner Denise McGregor Armbrister added, "I am grateful to my colleagues for their diligence during the search process, to our advisory committee members for their commitment to this task, and to the many parents, teachers, administrators, students and citizens who participated in our town meetings last fall. I believe Dr. Ackerman is the best person to continue the successful reforms of the past six years."

Michael Casserly, Executive Director, Council of the Great City Schools added, "Arlene Ackerman is one of the finest superintendents in the nation and a superb catch for Philadelphia. She knows leadership; she knows instruction; and she knows community engagement. In short, Arlene Ackerman is the real deal and an outstanding educator who will keep Philadelphia's gains moving upward.

As superintendent in San Francisco, 86% of the district's underperforming schools made continued progress after Dr. Ackerman introduced a program to target additional resources and create a new equitable funding formula for those schools. All ethnicities and all groups of students including special education, gifted and English Language Learners (ELL) demonstrated gains on state mandated exams, and all students consistently scored above the state and national averages in reading and in math.

Dr. Ackerman developed consistent dialogue with teachers through the establishment of monthly round tables and listening sessions at schools and empowered school communities in having authentic roles in site decision-making by providing ongoing training for site council governance teams. She also created the Office of Parent Affairs which was dedicated to supporting the authentic engagement of parents at every school as well as the central office.

Sherrie Rosenberg, PTA President during part of Dr. Ackerman's tenure said, "Arlene's main concern was always the children. Every decision that she made was made first and foremost based upon its impact on the students. She worked hard for inclusion, particularly with parents, and had a good working relationship with us. I wish her well in Philadelphia."

Dr. Ackerman said, "I look forward to working with our students, parents, staff and educators and the entire Philadelphia community. We all share the common goal of wanting a quality education that yields positive achievement results for all of our students."

The School District of Philadelphia is the eighth largest school system in the country with approximately 173,000 students in more than 270 schools.

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