Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ackerman: Caught on camera?

Phila. schools chief Arlene Ackerman was caught on camera saying she wanted her "job for life" back today. Don't read into it, a spokeswoman explains.

Ackerman: Caught on camera?

Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman answered questions about the budget deficit during recent council hearings. (File )<br />
Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman answered questions about the budget deficit during recent council hearings. (File )

I think we’ll all agree that things at the Philadelphia School District are just a little...charged at the moment, with a $629 million budget gap and Mayor Nutter calling for much more scrutiny of the district.

Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman knows that, too.

Before today’s SRC meeting, a Fox 29 microphone and camera caught Ackerman talking to Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky, saying that she wanted her “job for life back...I want it back,” she said. 

Lest you read too much into that, district spokeswoman Shana Kemp says, here’s some context: Ackerman earlier in the day had answered questions about her last job, an endowed professorship at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.  You know, a job for life?

More coverage
Video: Ackerman talks about 'job for life'
Philly School Files: News from the SRC
One fix that should come out of this whole School District mess

“It was a joke,” Kemp said.  “I know it seems like a gotcha moment because there’s an open mic, but Dr. Ackerman was asked to come here, and she’s committed to this district.  By no means was she saying she wants to leave this job.”

The camera also caught Chairman Robert L. Archie asking Ackerman if she wanted to make opening remarks - she does at almost every SRC meeting, usually a poem or some inspirational message.

She told Archie she didn’t want to talk, and she told him how to frame it - say the meeting was starting late.  (It was, by about 40 minutes.)
Kemp said don’t read anything into that, either.

“She doesn’t always read something at the SRC meetings,” Kemp said.  “It was in the context of, go ahead and get this meeting started.”

About this blog

Inquirer reporter Kristen Graham writes the Philly School Files blog, where she covers education in Philadelphia, both in and out of the classroom.

During the school year, you’ll frequently find her hosting live chats about the district on

Please do pass along the scoop about what’s going on at your Philadelphia public school; Kristen welcomes tips, story ideas and witty banter.

Kristen Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
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