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Ackerman excited about Promise Academies

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 5, 2010 06:33 PM

One of the options in the Renaissance Schools process is the so-called Promise Academy, which will be a "turnaround" school under the direct control of Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, or a team of staff in her office.

While that might seem like a contradiction in terms - how can it be "turnaround" if the same people running the District are running this school - it isn't, according to the way officials describe it.

A little background first: The four models for "turnaround" are charter conversion, contract schools, innovation schools, and Promise Academies. The first two involve outside turnaround teams, the second two, turnaround teams made up of District educators.

Innovation teams can be anyone in the District - a principal, team of teachers - who can show a track record of success at increasing student achievement, develop a plan, and sell itself to a School Advisory Council. The councils, which are being organized starting this month at all 14 "Renaissance Eligible" schools, get to recommend to the District which turnaround team would be best for their school.

But there will be just one Promise team, and that will be run by Ackerman. And since she is the same person who will be making the final decision on matching turnaround teams with schools, how will that work? Will she and her team also have to sell themselves to the community?

District spokesman Fernando Gallard said, in essence, yes - while cautioning that the intricacies of this relationship are still being developed.

"The offer will be made to a School Advisory Council if you want to become a Promise Academy," he said, "[but] when you do that is after they go through the evaluation and the evaluation says this school is not ready for either contract, charter, or Innovation." School review teams are conducting those evaluations this month.

At the same time, he added, the superintendent "has made it very clear that this is not going to be something forced upon the community. The District is going to have to sell it to the council." If the community doesn't choose to become a Promise Academy, "then it will continue to be an Empowerment School."

Ackerman said in an interview last week that she is very excited about the Promise Academy idea - that she in fact would love to become a turnaround principal.

Promise Academies, those are the ones that are actually going to be superintendent-led," she said. "Like the Chancellor's schools in New York or the Boston Pilot schools. This is my dream....I'm so happy.

"I'm going to be very hands-on. I wish I could be a principal in one of these schools," she said.

The superintendent also made it clear that in her vision, these schools will be like Empowerment Schools in that she will require a set of interventions, curricula and programs, not give the schools autonomy to try different approaches.

"There will be prescriptive strategies in these schools because I believe it's important until a school gets to the point where they are making consistent gains and seeing consistent achievement - that's when I think you give real autonomy," she said.

Promise Academies will have an extended school day and year, enrichment activities including a second language, an "instructional technology improvements," according to the District's presentation to the School Reform Commission.
Where they will be different from Empowerment Schools is that when she takes control of the school, Ackerman will have the power to replace the principal and staff, just like the other turnaround teams.
"The way she puts it, everyone has gotten this flexibility - the contract folks, the charter folks, and us. We're able to compete on an equal field," Gallard said.
The Promise Academies and the innovation schools may or may not have community partners, Gallard said, while the charter and contract schools will be required to have them.

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Comments (40)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 5, 2010 10:11 pm

This is the worst news yet.

Submitted by Tom Bishop (not verified) on February 6, 2010 9:31 am

Wonderful! We are getting our very own Potemkin village. This used to be a method of Stalin to show the utopian society he was supposedly creating with forced collectivization. Resources would be poured into one village which was then used to show the international media how egalitarian Soviet society was becoming. Meanwhile there was poverty and mass starvation in the rest of the country!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 6, 2010 2:59 pm

Brilliant! How true

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 6, 2010 2:59 pm

Brilliant! How true

Submitted by MsChips (not verified) on February 6, 2010 2:08 pm

so let me see if I've got this:

Ackerman & her sorority sisters will be actively running selected schools.

I know I'm missing something: Isn't her job to run ALL schools?

And what will this cost, or is this another secret like so much else?

If she can only work with a part of the district, can I work then with only selected students?

And can I hand pick who else I work with?

just wondering

Submitted by Tommy Tommerville (not verified) on February 6, 2010 7:28 pm

Funny you should mention her sorority sisters. I have always wondered just how many of them she has on SDP payroll? Why haven't any of the media outlets investigated this? Yeah, I know the answer.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 6, 2010 10:51 pm

I hope there will be accountability for these schools as well. Public schools often serve students with some of the greatest physical and emotional needs. No matter what baggage these students bring, public schools have to find a way to deal with it, unless an extremely serious incident occurs. Student behavior that completely and consistently disrupts the learning of other students is not considered a serious offense in the School District of Philadelphia. Will these "Promise Academies" be under the same constraints? I highly doubt it. If they keep all the same students and are somehow able to bring about dramatic gains in achievement then God Bless them. I would like there to be some accountability in that regards. Let us ensure that they are not just dumping their problem students on someone else.

Submitted by Paula (not verified) on February 9, 2010 9:07 am

It seems as if Ackerman should be working to improve all schools and not just working within one. This is not going to be good for the community. I wonder if the residents will really get the opportunity to say how they feel. online casino

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 9, 2010 9:15 pm

i want to know what all these alternative schools are going to do with problem students. kick them out to the public schools so they can remai the so called cream of the crop?until something other than suspenion is done for children who are causing a prolem nothing is going to change. children who have goals and want to do the right thing can go to any school and learnbut what about the ones who see no future for themselves whos parents tell them theyre nothing the neighbors say nothing good will ever come out of that family and the teachers say theyre stupid.i know teachers cant be everything to every child but a solution has to be found and passing the buckis not it.if vthe super cant help all the schools she is responsible for i dont have much faiyh in her promise school. i remember no child left behind

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 4, 2010 4:33 pm

If Promise Academy has a success rate like Mastery, it is not a bad thing. You people have had ample time to teach our children and you've done a poor job. They cannot get the help they need. They are graduating with as much knowledge as they had when they started school. More and more children are dropping out.
Mastery has found a way to turn the schools around with the same students many of you were teaching.
Promise has an excellent reputation in New York. They have turned the schools around. Our children deserve this opportunity. It's not about the teachers. You've already been educated and are out in the world earning a living. That's what we want for our children. Forgive me if I don't sympathize with you because of the poor job you have all been doing. It's time to try something new. If they kicked every disruptive kid out of school who didn't want to be there, I wouldn't have a problem with it. If your honest, you know you don't either. You need to step up your game and do better by our children.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 4, 2010 10:27 pm

Any child that is not learning has been cheated by the poor role models you and every other absent parent has provided. A willing student can learn in even the worse schools if he or she knows their parents have expectations to be met. Withit parents would never accept their children leaving high school the same way they entered it. If you have waited that long to find out that your kid is not learning then there is something wrong with the way you are living.

What have you done to get rid of disruptive children in our schools. We have tried and the administration refuses to even follow their own rules. It's your turn to do something. Parents that are on top of their children's education are seeing a difference. The problem is that so much time is wasted on gutless administration undermining discipline and quackfad fixes offered by 440. You think Promise Academies are so great, but ignore the fact that the same people who are starting them are denying educational resources for public schools in Philly. To compare Mastery to public schools is a lie. They do not take everyone the way public schools do. They also get rid of problem students early on while public schools are forced to keep them. Why don't you people step into teaching since you know how to do the job so much better than any current teacher.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 4, 2010 4:23 pm

"You People?"

What does that mean????

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 4, 2010 4:02 pm

"If your honest, you know you don't either. You need to step up your game and do better by our children."

That would be "YOU'RE." You would think you would proof-read something when trying to call out educated teachers. How about your name? Sounds like you have all the answers...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 5, 2010 11:10 am

You accused me of being an absent parent because of the poor performance you as teachers have been providing, or maybe you just didn't like my comment. Sometimes the truth stings and I know that. Your problem is you accused the wrong parent. I was fortunate enough for my kids to go to what is known as a Vanguard school (Penn Alexander to be exact) I actually took them out of a charter school. I saw what good teachers can do. I saw a principal there who knew how to deal with problem children. Most of these students are ahead of the game. I saw parents in number taking part there. I happened to be one of them. Get your facts straight when you go on the defense about what goes on. Penn Alexander is a public school just like the ones you teach in.
It's time for YOU to stop blaming everyone else for the poor job you've been doing. Maybe now that it has become competitive, you will do better. I'm not saying there aren't absentee parents. I'm asking that you do your part, that's all.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 5, 2010 2:53 pm

Teachers are professionals. They've earned their education proudly. Teachers are to teach, not be babysitters to SOME of the unruly and behavior problem children. Try teaching a lesson to 30 students when 29 are trying to learn something while 1 is jumpoing around and never listens to you. Then, those 29 students don't pay attention to what you are trying to teach them because they are too busy watching the misbehaved child. Try teaching in a Philadelphia classroom!!! By the way, when you have 30 students in your class and only 7 parents show up for Parent-Teacher Night, that is a sure sign that parents do not get involved enough in their childs life. True there are some parents who do care, but from my 12 years teaching experience, and its sad to say, the parents do not do their part.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on August 6, 2010 8:38 am

Not all the parents should be thrown together like this. Some should do more, but most parents are honestly doing all they can. Just like most teachers are. Somethings are beyond our control. That teacher talking about one child in her class should be reprimanded, maybe retrained, but do not use her mistake to jumble teachers together, either. She was speaking from frustration, I am guessing, but it was inappropriate that this was said around anyone else. Venting is necessary sometimes, but needs to be monitored.
I have read through all these posts and it seems like on the whole you are both saying the same things...
Kids will learn more in depth and more quickly if parents and teachers are working together.
Parents and administration like the blame the teachers
Teachers are dumped on and blamed for too much
We all need to watch what is said and where it is said.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 5, 2010 5:41 pm

You know nothing about me or my colleagues, but you seem to think giving birth has given you the right to make generalizations about teachers. How many years did you teach in Philadelphia. That's right, you never have and yet you know all about how lazy teachers are failing everyone.

You mention the principal at Penn Alexander making a difference. Unfortunately, too many Philly schools are saddled with vindictive dictators that want everyone else to do their work.I'm not blaming everyone else for a poor job. You don't even know what kind of job I've done, but that doesn't stop you from stereotyping teachers. Funny how you bristle when the same thing is done to you. I've done my part and then some. I'm tired of having to do too many parents' jobs and then listening to whiners like yourself preach about something you don't know. Your original post said kids were not learning anything, but your second post admits there are actually some good teachers in the Philly public schools. Make up your mind. Do all public schools get to the same perks as the Vanguard Schools? Why don't you do something about this administration that refuses to remove troublemakers from schools? Do you think that might have something to do with it?

There are plenty of good teachers, but few principals that appreciate them and even fewer that support them. Add to that caustic parents like yourself and you can see why Philly has trouble attracting certified teachers even in a recession. Many parents don' take part in their children's education. Some can't even be bothered to pick up their kids' report cards. I guess teachers are to blame for that too?

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on August 6, 2010 1:29 am

Penn Alexander is far from typical - it receives $1300/extra PER STUDENT per year from Penn as well as many other perks from Penn. It is a new building with a full "extra" program including strings, choral, etc. To go to Penn Alexander one has to live in a catchment with some of the highest housing prices in Philadelphia. If I could afford a $500,000, my children could also go to a good school. Unfortunately, I can't even afford a $170,000 (yes, I'm a teacher) so my children don't have the opportunities afforded your children.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 5, 2010 3:58 pm

I know you're right. I have friends who are teachers. One of my friends was physically attacked by a student. She had been a teacher for well over 30 years. I might add she is a brilliant woman. Just as smart as she is, is just as sweet as she is. She actually took early retirement. Another one of my friends told me he was threatened so often and the conditions were so bad, he changed schools. He's only got a couple of years left before he retires.
I am a grandmother. My daughter and her husband work so I take up the slack. I am at the meetings, the conferences, and anything else they need me to be at. I want to help any way I can. Whatever I can do, write letters, go to meetings, I am willing to do. I have two granddaughters in school. I want to make sure they are safe just as I want them to learn.
I was in one school seeing about my niece. She's a little mouthy, but not really a bad kid. I won't call the name of the school. I happen to over hear a couple of teachers talking. One of them actually said, "I don't care if the little b@#@#@# learn or not. I'm still going to be paid. I told my niece this in order to let her know it is her responsibility to get the best she can out of school. That means to shut her mouth and listen. Don't depend on anybody to care about whether or not you learn. She straightened up after that.
Those are the kinds of teachers we don't need in the schools. I'm 100% behind the good ones.
Many of us know beyond a shadow of a doubt, how important education is. I don't want you to think I'm down on all public school teachers. Just the ones who have given up. I believe when you do a job, you should do the best you can. If you can't, for whatever reasons, you should move on.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 6, 2010 12:37 am

I'm getting all of these nasty emails. This will be my last reply.

I didn't know I could do anything about removing children from classrooms. I certainly wouldn't have a problem trying. Where do I start? Can't teachers do something about principals who don't appreciate them? Just to clear one thing up, I am not a whiner. Your name calling is getting a bit tiring.
I try to do something when things aren't working out for my grandchildren. I don't sit there and just accept it. I think you read where I took them out of a charter school because they weren't getting what they needed. Don't waste your time being pissed off at me. It seems you have other worries, at least that's what I'm reading here.
You're tired of having to do parents jobs, you're tired of listening to whiners like me preach to you, principals don't appreciate and support teachers. This is the frustration I'm talking about. I never said teachers were lazy. That is your word. I said some had given up. I never said all of you were terrible, I didn't even imply that. If that were the case, I wouldn't be pleased with the teachers at Penn, which is a public school. It seems you purposely read what you wanted to read into my words and worked yourself up into a frenzy. My mind is made up. I said what I said. I meant what I said. It wasn't a direct attack on you. Even so, when I read the number of schools that are low achieving, that sets off an alarm. What do you suggest? Clearly whatever we are doing is not working. Why not try something new? My understanding is no one will lose their job. The problem I'm having with your reply is, I hear the frustration and that concerns me. Is this what the students hear as well?
I'm not asking you how many years you were a lab technician because that is not what you studied to be. If I messed up results that were yours, you would know it and have every right to speak about it. Why do you feel parents don't have the same rights? I'm not trying to start a war with you because neither of us would win. It would be a complete waste of time.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 6, 2010 12:25 pm

Do you think that the tone of your posts might have something to do with the "nasty emails" you have been getting? Don't dish it out if you can't take it. That said I will try to answer your questions sincerely. It's obvious you, too, are frustrated, as are we, by the state of our schools. Our problem are the negative generalizations about teachers for a school district that scapegoats us and parents that buy into that lie. Your posts were an attack on teachers and quite unfair. Nobody said you didn't have a right to speak out about your granchildren's education, but with that right comes a responsibility to pitch in. Too many parents complain. It never bothered me to have parents in the classroom because that cut down on the amount of crap some kids would try to pull behind my back. I work too damn hard to listen to a public that accepts whatever propaganda the district and government puts out there. Find out for youselves people!

1) There is little that teachers can do about vindictive principals, as opposed to clueless principals who just fail to appreciate our efforts. The PFT will protect you, but you have to be on the chopping block at that point. The day to day harassment (8-balling teachers, failing to give support be it supplies or backup for discipline, etc.) goes unchecked. You have to go to outside agencies and file a discrimination charge to get any attention. This district is notorious for passing information to the higher ups to principals you are complaining about. That betrayal of trust has destroyed any creditability of trust we use to have in this school district.

2) You did tell teachers to "do their part" which is why I made the reference to getting tired of doing parents' jobs. Too many children are coming to schools from households where the parents appease their children instead of disciplining them. I came to teach, not referee. I get tired of breaking up fights because there is no discipline at home, no firm discipline established at schools by the administration, no consequences for poor choices, etc.

3) If I were a lab tech. I would not have to deal with alot of the crap I have to deal with in public schools. It's bad business and eventually the company would go out of business. However, public schools are run by politicians and their pals, not teachers. Incompetent people in the business world would be replaced. in a business there is a certain level of materials that are acceptable. In public schools cannot "send back" any children that are not up to snuff. You work with what level they are on and try to elevate them to a higher level. Even the Marines don't have to take everyone that walks through their doors, but that is not the case with public schools. We get everyone and fewer and fewer supports for those children. Special Ed. is only extended to a few kids. Hardly anyone is tested any more. Don't get me started on non-English speaking children and how they get dumped into mainstream classrooms.

4) You refer to Penn-Alexander as a public school, but in reality it very different (charter schools are also public schools). As someone else on this board has pointed out they get "extras" that the public schools never see. Any magnet, charter, or for profit schools has "ways" of screening out problems children. Those children will then end up in public schools. Do you know how frustrating it is to have to bring in things from your home to make the classroom a little more bearable and then have kids break them? The administration does nothing to support you. That's the thanks we get. You truly don't know how much extra most teachers bring to their jobs.

5) Despite the urban myth, bad teachers have been fired. Unfortunately, so have some good ones. Some with tenure even. You think things are bad now just wait until Ackerman and her posse get their way. Filling the school district up with fly-by-nighters will eventually lead to a state of chaos and total collapse.

6) You and every other parent have to bring pressure on the administration to do what they are suppose to do. Don't accept whatever they tell you at face value. Go to the schools and see for yourself. How is it, even during the Depression, Philly schools had libraries, music and art? Is the current recession even worse then back then? Or is it because the powers that be have decided those things are no longer important when that money can be used to hired some more politically-connected flunkies with inflated salaries? First suggestion I'd make is to make sure everyone hired teaches at least once a week in some school. If you can't teach you have no right setting any sort of policy for the teaching community. Second suggestion, back to the old hierarchy: a supertintendent, principals and teachers. That's all it took to run a district back in the day, that's all you need now. Thirdly, why not teachers run a charter schools. How come it's always some fat cat that's never taught?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 6, 2010 12:09 pm

Look up "Snake Oil Salesman" and you have Ackerman and what is going on. It's amazing how some have such an easy time lying directly to people and the media. It's quite a quality she has there.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on August 6, 2010 12:58 pm

You have hit several nails with this swing. Nice.
There is too much being spent in 440 on 440. There is no doubt about that.
I wish we could get those suits into the classrooms - the real classrooms, not the ones shuffled around for a camera.
As for what I spend on my classroom each and every year? That is a scary number. I will never retire, because I spent the retierment monies on my classroom, children and their needs.
We just lost a principal who not only acted as a member of the teaching staff, he was one. He connected with the parents, staff and community strongly. He believed in collaboration to make it all work. He asked the teachers, acted on those conversations and we had a teacher run school, in reality. Youa re right aobut the difference it makes.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 6, 2010 1:22 pm

I can take it and have taken much worse. I think I've given as good as I've gotten. What I didn't like about the way you were communicating was the name calling. It is beneath you as a professional. That's why I don't engage in that level of conversation. It is at that point I stop because we are going nowhere and solving nothing.
When you work in healthcare, believe me whenever an issue comes up, it's never the person in charge who gets hit, it's always the supervisor below them. I have been in that position a number of times. I didn't even have a union to back me up.
If I mess up lawsuits are filed against the institution. They don't close down major hospitals so someone, maybe a few have to go. I don't get a second chance. I am out the door.
I know what pressure is, I know what unfair treatment is. We also had to end up going to EEOC and different agencies to get satisfaction, and at the same time protect our jobs. HR really never listens until you force them to.
I understand how fortunate we are to have children attend Penn Alexander, but at the same time I have a number of nieces and nephews attending neighborhood schools. I understand the difficulty of having some of these bad children in the classroom. I have no problem admitting I wouldn't want your job, nor do I believe I can do it. I don't have what it takes to deal with unruly kids.
I too have problems with parents who refuse to take responsibility for the way their children act. To be honest, many of us are afraid to even send our kids to school because of these children.
Parents should be in the schools helping in any way they can. It would not only help you, but the children as well. The problem I see is some of the parents are as bad or worse than the children. On the other side of it, some of them just don't know what to do or how to go about it. I remeber a time they would ask for volunteers. Do they do that anymore?

I go on websites to find out as much as I can about schools. I belong to one called Great Schools that lists every school in the country. I look up test scores and school ratings, what the parents think about the schools and what the children think. Very often those reports differ one from another because they are based on personal opinion. I go to community meetings that often involve different issues about schools. I try to keep up. I was thrilled when I heard Ozzie Wright would be the principal at West Philly. He just happened to be one of my martial arts instructors (a very long time ago).
I know there is a lack of supplies in schools, so I'm sure you have to bring your own things. Even at Penn there is a separate sheet for shared supplies. Every year I buy extra pencils, pens, liquid soap, paper towels printing paper, comp books, etc. I do it gladly. Although I am now on a fixed income, I always set aside money to do that.
The reason I have a difficult time understanding what is happening is because I went to school in a different era. Families didn't have much money but there was pride. Our parents didn't play with us and accepted no excuses. You came home, did your chores followed by homework. It was checked every night. Of course that was a time when teachers were allowed to discipline so the classrooms were controlled.
I will make a point of getting out there this year to some of the schools my nieces and nephews attend. Penn has parents to help out. I'll try this upcoming year to go where the need is. All we want is for things to work for our children and you as well. Last but not least, I don't want you to think for a moment that I don't respect teachers. I do. I've always said the inner city teachers deserve battle pay.

It's the same everywhere now, even in my profession. The workers and supervisors get fed up because of the BS and stop giving their best. I was taught to always do your best no matter what. I have personally heard some of the negativity sometimes in the schools, sometimes on the outside. That is my concern. Thank you for answering my questions. I just have one more. If these so called turnaround schools are so bad, why is Ackerman pushing them? I was looking at either Mastery (Lenfest Campus) or one of the Promise Academy's for my granddaughter who will be graduating going to high school.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 6, 2010 1:16 pm

Great Schools is seriously out of touch with reality. They listed 21 students at a school I was at so I pointed out that our class sizes have never been that low at any time. Their excuse was that the state had supplied them with the info. How would the state know how many children are in each classroom. A few years ago the schools were told to fudge the numbers in order to appease parents. Moving them around allowed the administration to pretend that everyone was at their limits. Aides that were suppose to be supplied to classrooms with too many students never appeared.

Ackerman does what she wants. I'd tell your granddaughter to go for Mastery before any Promise Acadmies. These academies are an unproven quantity at this point. Mastery has been around for a while, however. Charters make money for politicians. Money that is not spent on paying teachers a decent wage is more money that can used to bribe politicians with campaign contributions. How can a school district that has 13 charter schools under investigation because they could not monitor them justify making even more charter schools. They just don't care. Charters make money for those that run them while public schools don't.

The sad fact is that good principals have no real reason to stay in Philadelphia. Too often good principals will be moved after they "fix" their own schools. They should be able to enjoy the fruits of their labors and stay at the schools they have gotten in order. The revolving principal nonsense has to stop. Fire the lousy ones and cherish the good ones!

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on August 7, 2010 9:22 pm

They do not fudge the numbers. They get those class averages by dividing the number of students in the school by the number of adults with teaching certificates. This will include the prep teachers, librarians, if you are that lucky, special education teachers, reading specialists, everyone. Everyone. They use these numbers to level the classes, too. This way, the system can claim a reduced class size by sending in one of their teachers to be in the new psositon for empowerment schools - I do not remember the letters, sorry, but she will be a coach of sorts, to keep up with the new testing and whatnot.
Yes, on paper, this person will reduce our class sizes by one or two per class. Isn't that nice of them??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 7, 2010 11:17 pm

I guess our definitions of "fudging" vary. I do know that there were regular ed. classes at capacity (33) and because special ed. students were suppose to be part of the they were added on top. The administration's logic was that they were only there for part of the day (they went to the special ed. teacher part of the day) so they could not be counted as full time students in that particular class. This had nothing to do with prep teachers, etc. Sounds like they have various ways of skinning the cat.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 1, 2013 10:13 am
It has been 3 years since you wrote this post. Currently, I am a parent who has a son entering 9th grade. I need a little assistance. Earlier in June, I was told my son will be attending Saul. I then received a letter stating that it was discovered that there was no room for him to attend so his only other option is to attend Sayre. I went to 440 with my concerns. I politely told the District that they need to come up with something better for my son. My son does receive autistic supports and I felt he was being dumped for this. I then received a letter the first week of this August, informing me that he can attend West Philly High. I just accepted the notion that this is what he would have to do. Orientation was last week and I found that West is a Promise Academy while attending this. I didn't particularly care for the attitudes of the incoming 9th graders that were there but, I know everything isn't perfect. I went out got the uniforms for him. We were all set. Friday, I received his bus schedule. Well, last night when we came home, I received a letter in the mail saying that there is room for him to attend Saul. So, now it looks as if he can go here. The problem for me is the District is screwed up, playing this back and forth game. I am now frustrated. I need to know would he do better attending Saul or West Philly, which is a promise academy. He haven't received the bus schedule as of yet for Saul. Did your family member attend the promise academy like you said or did they do another kind of school. I'm not ever going to send my son to a charter. However, I would like to get some feedback from others. This situation has me worrying. I have to figure out what to do and how to weigh his options. Do I demand that they leave him alone and let him attend West, or do I now contact the District and ask where is the bus schedule for Saul?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 6, 2010 2:30 pm

I am almost in tears. I have been depending on what is recorded on Great Schools. Someone told me there is another website I can go to in order to get the same information. I'll check that out with one of the teachers at my church.
I know I'm asking a lot of questions, but is it considered legal for the schools to fudge numbers that way? It hurts all of us in the end.
Small class size is something every good parent wants. What I enjoyed most at Penn was the class they had before school started and after school for the children who needed help. I would ask if mine could attend even if it wasn't recommended for them. I know they had perks other public schools didn't have. Music and instruments were available. I only had to purchase the music books. In time naturally after knowing they could play, I purchased instruments for them.
I was so disappointed in the charter school they attended. I still don't trust them. My oldest granddaughter was in the 4th grade and the youngest in grade 2. My daughter suddenly realized the oldest was having trouble with math, yet she was getting high marks.
I took her to school once after a dental appointment. After taking her to her classroom something made me turn around. I saw the teacher impatiently close the door in her face leaving her out in the hall.
Luckily, my daughter and her husband lived in University City. She had already received a notice earlier about enrolling the kids there. The school hadn't been opened that long so they eagerly took them in. My granddaughter came up to speed with her math in less than six months.
My grandchildren as they say aren't street smart. They are sheltered. That's why I worry about the schools they attend.
I agree with what your saying as far as revolving doors and teachers pay. I am a firm believer that everyone should be paid according to the job they are doing. Your profession is what takes this country to higher and higher levels. We don't learn on our own. There is good and bad in everything. I applaud those of you who are dedicated to do the best job you can.
I'll look in on the website from time to time to see what I can do to help. I will be looking into some of the things you've told me.
How can we move Ackerman?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 6, 2010 5:16 pm

Your best resource is personal visits to classrooms. You can see what is really happening. I've found parents alot more sympathetic once they see what we have to deal with in our rooms. After witnessing two problem students that the principal deliberately put into my room to disrupt things one parent exclaimed, "How can you teach like this?" Ah, the same question I often ask myself. Keep the district on its toes and get parents to demand that Rendell and Nutter do something about Ackerman. Read about what she did out in San Francisco at Thurgood Marshall (on line) and you'll get an idea of what we are dealing with today.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on August 7, 2010 9:54 pm

What we need is those personal visits to come from Rendell, Nutter and Ms. Ackerman herself. Yes -- it is helpful for the parents to really know what is going on, but remember, our kids do tell them. They know more than you think they know. They just may not believe it all.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 7, 2010 10:45 am

I do get to see Rendell once in a while. I will have a discussion with him.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 7, 2010 11:21 am

I should have added I did read up on Ackerman In San Francisco. It appears rto me she is doing the same thing here. It also sounds as if she is a bit of a dictator. Has the infighting here started yet? If it hasn't I'm sure it will.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 7, 2010 1:38 pm

In fighting started yet? She's changed her administration three times now and she's only been here two years.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 7, 2010 7:48 pm

She is an absolute dictator! I don't know why the media doesn't try to interview all of the people that she fired or have quit because they can't work for her. If you dare disagree with her to her face you are gone. People are so fearful of her. Why is she allowed to treat the employees with such disrepect?? My principal has told me that she has fired people on the spot who have challenged her ideas. She is afraid of Ackerman herself and has said "I don't dare question her because I need my job". I thought we lived in a democratic society but not if you work for the PSD.

Submitted by teacher in the trenches (not verified) on August 7, 2010 9:44 pm

You are right. We are losing good people, but we are getting lots of new faces and jobs in 440. Isn't that a fair exchange? Is this not going to help our children?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 8, 2010 8:37 am

I haven't seen one thing that her admin. has done to help our kids. The only thing I see is people padding their pockets at the expense of our students. Some people thought Hitler was a good leader as well. If the public stood up and fought earlier all those people would not have died. You can not run anything with fear. She has to go!! Outrageous salary, dictatorship administration, anyone who doesn't agree with her gone and staff morale at an all time low. How can any of this be good for our kids??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 7, 2010 12:52 pm

What makes anyone think Rendell doesn't know what is going on? He had a lot to do with getting her here. He can read. He knows about her past. For whatever reason, it was deliberate.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 7, 2010 1:03 pm

The comments about Stalin made me think about one Hitler made to the Germans. Back in the 30s he promised them, "In ten years you won't even recognize your own cities". By 1944 he was right. I have a feeling that once Ackerman leaves we will be seeing the school district in that same way. The damage will have been done and she'll be long gone along with the corrupt politicians that put her in power.

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