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She also had to work with the School Reform Commission (SRC) an entity created in 2001

by the state to essentiality take  control of the district from the citizens of Philadelphia

under the guise of fiscal and educational accountability. Under the SRC some

“progress” was made vis a vis standardized test scores during Ackerman’s tenure . . .



Mismanaging Education in Philadelphia

Business as Usual

By Junious Ricardo Stanton


A good friend of mine asked me if I was going to write anything about Philadelphia School Superintendent  Arlene Ackerman’s ouster and buyout? I told him I didn’t know the behind the scenes players, the movers or the political dynamics of what happened to comment knowledgeably on it. But the more we discussed it and several other Philadelphia related issues, the clearer the situation became; irrespective of not knowing who was in the room, who approved the deals or who put up the private sector money to sweeten the buy out package for Ackerman. The one thing that is crystal clear in all of this is, educating the children of Philadelphia was not the motivating factor.

Education in the United States is big business. That’s all you need to know to discern the real motives behind Ackerman’s ouster. The Philadelphia School District funnels billions of dollars of revenue in the form of procurement and purchases, contracts, building construction, rents, leases and salaries. It’s not about educating children especially in a system that is poor, predominately black and brown. 

The latest census figures for Philadelphia reveal the city has 1,517,550 people, 590,071 households with 352,272 families. Of these 44% are African-American, 39% Euro-American, 12.5% Hispanic/Latino, 5.4% Asian, 4.7 other, 3.2 mixed and less than one percent Native American and Pacific Islander. The per capita income for the city was $16,509. 22.9% of the population and 18.4% of families were below the poverty line. 31.3% of those under the age of 18 and 16.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line. While according to census data the city has attracted 8,456 new residents, over the past ten years Philadelphia also lost 81,810 whites.  In all probability the whites who exited had a higher per capita income than many of the black and brown residents who remained.

Looking at these census figures, we can clearly discern Philadelphia is not a city with a lot of wealthy residents. This means the ruling elites, the business moguls, the financial elites and power brokers feel no compunction ripping the people off time and again to fatten their own wallets. In fact they feel it is their appointed duty to fleece the sheep and dog you out. The balance of power remains just as it did when the city was founded centuries ago with white males calling the shots, setting the economic and social policy agendas  to the detriment of all other groups. 

William Penn may have been kinder to the indigenous inhabitants of the land than his European colonial contemporaries, but in the end he still took their land.  This tradition continues unabated today. Whites or their surrogates, determine how much money will be spent, who gets the contracts, and the overall quality of education in this city. 

Blacks have risen to administrative positions within the system; we are principals, assistant principals, superintendents, deputy superintendents and mayors. Nevertheless the vortex of power, the economic power and opinion shaping ability still remains in the hands of white males. The proof of this pudding is the fact that Philadelphia has had three African-American mayors yet the overall economic climate for black businesses remained abysmal during their tenure. 

Much of that is our fault because we think the white man’s ice is colder, his water is wetter and his stuff don’t stink so we habitually spend our money outside of our own community like the brainwashed automatons we have been condition to be. We don’t pool our resources, form banks, credit unions or venture capital pools so we have no money for commercial loans, economic development or land acquisition in the neighborhoods where we reside. Our so called “leadership” and brightest minds don’t advocate for these things because their focus is exocentric rather than ethnocentric. As a result we are totally dependent upon the largess of others. If we don’t look like them we are going to get the short end of the stick.

So when an Arlene Ackerman or anyone else comes into Philadelphia and challenges the status quo, questions the way things are done or dares to be fair and inclusive in the way the economic pie is divided, contracts are let, services procured and policies are set, the good ol boy network leaps into action to derail them to make sure there are no real changes in the way business is done!  Occasionally when pressured, the local elites will toss a few crumbs our way, but most times they merely rig the game or reconfigure it, so they still come out on top. For example when Blacks pushed for affirmative action and open access to resources in the 1970s, white male elites responded by declaring white women were “minorities” and gave them the contracts and access! And this was at a time when whites outnumbered people of color.

Ackerman had her problems many imposed externally that she could not control, like a serious disinterest in learning within the Black community, the bogus No Child Let Behind policy put into effect by the Bu$h administration without providing school districts the funds to accomplish the goal and the drastic political shift to the right with its focus on the privatization of education.  She also had to work with the School Reform Commission (SRC) an entity created in 2001 by the state to essentiality take control of the district from the citizens of Philadelphia under the guise of fiscal and educational accountability. Under the SRC some “progress” was made vis a vis standardized test scores during Ackerman’s tenure but many questioned the quality of the education the children were receiving.  As far as budget deficits go, the district, the state, and the city have lengthy histories of running deficits, that’s part of the game they play. So why is this an issue for Ackerman now?

At the same time though, Ackerman turned off many of the rank and file educators who saw the system becoming increasingly dysfunctional under her watch. Many veteran teachers retired rather than continue working under her. She proved disloyal to people who tried to help her, who watched her back which further isolated her and made her easier prey for the jackals who wanted to retake control of the system.  

Then on cue, the media  mind control apparatus stepped up their attacks on her. The newspapers demonized her for any and everything she did. If you look up anything about her on the Internet, you’ll see the spin doctors in the corporate media put all the blame for the systems failings on her, they questioned her integrity but totally ignored the real issue, that in this country, education is a propaganda process and a multi-billion dollar enterprise that have nothing to do with cultivating the latent talents of black and brown children. 

The crux of the issue was contracts and money, not student safety or success. When was the first or last time for that matter, a white newspaper questioned why a white firm got a major contract in Philadelphia for anything? Yet when a Black person in a leadership position tries to be inclusive it becomes an issue.  So now that Ackerman has been shown the door and given a golden parachute, the Philadelphia elites, the movers and shakers and their Negro surrogates will go through a sham search process to “find” someone to take the reins of the school district to ensure business goes on as usual.

*   *   *   *   *

Dr. Arlene C. Ackerman, Superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia since June 2008, has spent her entire career as a fearless advocate for children and is a national expert in raising student achievement and closing the achievement gap in large, urban school districts. Dr. Ackerman brings nearly 40 years of expertise as a career educator to Philadelphia and has an extraordinary breadth of knowledge and experience as a successful urban superintendent. Dr. Ackerman has led school reform movements in San Francisco, Washington D.C., Seattle, and now Philadelphia. . . .  Dr. Ackerman’s other work experiences include classroom teacher at both the elementary and middle school levels; principal at the middle school level; Director, Upward Bound Program for first generation college-bound students; Director, Basic Skills Academy for At-Risk High School Youth; Assistant Superintendent for Special Services, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Academic Achievement, and Deputy Superintendent/Chief Academic Officer. . . .

Dr. Ackerman holds a Doctorate and Master’s Degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, a Master’s Degree in Education Administration and Policy from Washington University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Harris Stowe State College.—Philadelphia Schoools

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Ackerman blames Nutter, union, and politics for her ouster—August 25, 201—By Jeff Gammage and Troy Graham—In her first public comment since quitting as city school superintendent, Arlene C. Ackerman blamed Mayor Nutter, the teachers' union, and other political forces for her removal, and said her troubles began when she refused to overrule parents in favor of a politically connected contractor.

"There are people who wanted me to stay," she told Education Week, which quoted Ackerman on its website Wednesday. "But if your boss does not want to work with you, and they're willing to pay you a million to step aside - that's how much they don't want to work with you - then what can you do?" Ackerman's forced resignation sparked a wild session of the School Reform Commission on Wednesday, as a pro-Ackerman crowd of more than 100 booed and shouted. Speakers accused the board of "lynching" Ackerman.

The SRC members made no statement and answered no questions about paying Ackerman a $905,000 buyout, with $500,000 coming from the district and $405,000 from anonymous donors. Efforts to contact Ackerman were unsuccessful. She has not responded to repeated requests for comment since her buyout was announced Monday. Her attorney also could not be reached. Speaking to Education Week, she did not address criticism by union heads, government leaders, teachers, and students who have described a superintendency crippled by poor decisions and political missteps, topped by an inability to compromise and a management style that many took for arrogance. She did shed new light on two incidents that helped speed her undoing.

In June, confronted with a disastrous $629 million budget gap, Ackerman warned parents that full-day kindergarten faced elimination. The mayor and other city leaders prepared to storm Harrisburg to win new money. But at the last minute, Ackerman announced that she had her own plan to save kindergarten - undercutting Nutter's strategy with state legislators. In the interview, Ackerman said the mayor had asked her to put all-day kindergarten on the chopping block because he wanted to use the potential loss of the program as a bargaining chip with city and state officials.—Philly

posted 29 August 2011

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Obama's America and the New Jim Crow

By Michelle Alexander


There are more African Americans under correctional control today--in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas, like Chicago, have been labeled felons for life. These men are part of a growing undercaste, not class, caste—a group of people who are permanently relegated, by law, to an inferior second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits—much as their grandparents and great-grandparents once were during the Jim Crow era.Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

/Michelle_Alexander Part II Democracy Now (Video)

Michelle Alexander Speaks At Riverside Church /  part 2 of 4  / part 3 of 4  / part 4 of 4

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

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#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


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#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans. The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection.

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The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story

of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

By Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer

American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today—generate these simple but revolutionary ideas: (The economy is not an efficient machine. It’s an effective garden that need tending. Freedom is responsibility. Government should be about the big what and the little how. True self interest is mutual interest.

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