Parents Blast SRC for Ackerman Buyout
OK, so here’s the thing: the school year is right around the corner. Superintendent Arlene Ackerman is out. And parents are livid about it. Basically, the idea of a cordial relationship existing between parents and the SRC is out the window. Yesterday’s SRC action meeting validates that much.
Restless parents pack into the room, waiting to ostracize the commission for the near $1 million buyout of Ackerman. It’s clear that, in their eyes, she’s still their choice for superintendent. Throughout the meeting, audience members heckle the SRC, demanding its removal. Some parents voice desire to have an elected school board. “Out, out, out,” parents chant – a simple, yet direct message to the SRC.
The last portion of the meeting, dedicated to public speakers, serves as an SRC-bashing session.
Leon Williams stands before the commission and compares Ackerman’s buyout to a lynching. “This would never happen to a predominantly white school district,” he says. And the fact that Leroy Nunery, now acting superintendent, “ran off with her job,” doesn’t look right, he says. Nunery was also compared to Judas.
Nunery, sitting alongside the SRC members, doesn’t respond to the name calling. He was brought into the district just over a year ago, working directly under Ackerman. While his reign over the district is only temporary, as of now, it’s pretty clear that he’s interested in staying.
The news of Ackerman’s partially-anonymous buyout came Monday, and the parents at the SRC meeting obviously aren’t prepared to accept it anytime soon.
One supporter of the SRC comes in the form of Meighan Dorr, a former teacher at Simon Gratz High School, who says she’s running for mayor as an independent. At the first mention of supporting the commission, parents’ yells overrule her mic-amplified voice.
Activist Emmanuel Bussie, one of the prominent decriers of the SRC at the meeting questions the “shady” and “back-door” actions of the commission, saying Philadelphia needs to run Philadelphia schools.
But the commission seems unaffected throughout the meeting. The commissioners hardly – well, don’t – respond to the distressed parents, which only seems to add to the audience’s frustration. “I demand that all of them should be put into jail and be run out of town,” Sacaree Rhodes (above) says after the meeting.
The meeting left us with a number of questions. Among them: How the hell is the school district supposed to make progress when its leadership is so challenged? If parents and education officials want to move forward in fixing its laundry list of problems, this doesn’t seem to be a promising method. If anything, the meeting and the political nature of the situation only cloaks them with petty conflict.