From Ken Derstine in Philadelphia:
November 29, 2013
By Ken Derstine
November 29, 2013
By Ken Derstine
“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” – Mark Twain
Further research into the Broad Foundation’s role in corporate education reform in Philadelphia
It is hard to believe that only a little over two years have passed since Arlene Ackerman was bought out of her contract on August 22nd, 2011. The changes in the Philadelphia School District have been so overwhelming and rapid that it seems the events happened a much longer time ago.
In the past I have written about the role The Broad Foundation is playing in corporate education reform in Philadelphia, in particular in my February 24, 2013 article, which was published at the time by Substance News in Chicago and is now on my blog, “Who is Eli Broad and why is he trying to destroy public education?. http://www.defendpubliceducation.net/ In particular see the section The Broad Superintendents Academy. Also see my June 3, 2013 article “ The 2013-14 “Doomsday Budget of the School District of Philadelphia: How Did It Come to This”” http://tinyurl.com/kh2d9nw
In the light of the passage of time and recent developments, I have done a reexamination of the influence of the Broad Foundation in corporate education reform in Philadelphia. My February 24th article went into some of this but did not include the detail I give below, plus at the end of this article I detail a new development.
In the February 24th article I detail that Arlene Ackerman joined the board of the Broad Foundation on March 19, 2009 while she was Superintendent in Philadelphia. http://tinyurl.com/89sfrzv Prior to this on March 15, 2007 she was appointed the first Superintendent in Residence of the Broad Superintendents Academy. This article, Dr. Arlene Ackerman Intersects the Worlds of Teachers College and the Broad Institute, details her role at the Broad Superintendents Academy. It says,
Enter Arlene Ackerman, the Christian A. Johnson Professor of Outstanding Educational Practice, Organization and Leadership at Teachers College (TC), Columbia University, who has just been appointed the first Broad Superintendent in Residence. Based in L.A., the position—a first for the Broad Foundation—will give Dr. Ackerman a highly visible role in directing, mentoring and serving as executive coach in one of the nation’s largest urban school systems. She will be in charge of advising an initial cohort of 14 aspiring superintendents, each of whom will be given a faculty mentor, and guiding them in areas related to governance, infrastructure, leadership. She will continue her work at Columbia and use both positions to reinforce common goals.
Ackerman was appointed Superintendent in Philadelphia on February 19, 2008. She had previously been Superintendent of San Francisco schools where she resigned on September 6, 2005 when the School Board voted unanimously to invoke the “compatibility clause” in her contract, and bought out her contract for $375,000. http://tinyurl.com/m23j75q
She is listed on the Broad Foundation Board of Directors in their 2009-2010 Annual Report (http://tinyurl.com/6w5sps2
She is not listed on board in the 2011-2012 Annual Report. (Sidenote: Ed Rendell is listed on The Broad Prize Selection Jury in this report. Page 55 http://tinyurl.com/9wqv9um ) However, I want to make it clear, and the reason I did this latest research, there is evidence that Ackerman was deeply involved with The Broad Foundation during her whole time in Philadelphia whether or not she was on the board of the Broad Foundation in 2011-2012.
When she got into the dispute with Mayor Nutter and Dwight Evans over which charter management company would be given management of Martin Luther King High School, Mayor Nutter had Joan Markman, his Chief Integrity Officer, do an investigation whose findings were published in the 26 page document Fact Finding Report to Mayor Michael A. Nutter Concerning Charter Operator Selection Process At Martin Luther King High School, September 21, 2011.
(If you have never read this, it is very interesting and important reading. If you have, two years later these events seem even more significant and it’s worth a reread.)
On two occasions, this report states that trainees from the Broad Superintendent Academy were present during the interviews with Ackerman about the dispute.
Evans then attempted to convince Ackerman to reject the vote of the SAC (the parent organization at MLK) in communications in the days before the March 16, 2011, SRC meeting at which the SRC was scheduled to vote. In at least one telephone call from Evans, she refused to do so. Her refusal was witnessed not only by members of her staff, but at least one visiting fellow of the Broad Superintendent Academy who was shadowing Ackerman during the week of March 14, 2011, and who was present in Ackerman’s office as she argued with Evans in a telephone conversation the day before the SRC vote.
Page 13 (This takes place in the evening, after the March 16th, SRC meeting which approved Mosaica for the management of Martin Luther King High School, which angered Dwight Evans.)
The meeting (between Evans and Porter of Mosaica) appears to have lasted for 20-30 minutes. Porter (John Porter, President of Mosaica Turnaround Partners whom Ackerman was backing for management of Martin Luther King High School) - who said he was “in shock” and whom Nunery described to us as “shaking” — left the building and got into a taxi. Nunery went upstairs to Ackerman’s office, where Ackerman was debriefing a second Broad Superintendent Academy fellow who was shadowing her for the week. Witnesses who were present at that time, including the Broad Academy fellow, recalled Nunery entering visibly shaken and saying he had just attended a meeting that was like a scene from “The Godfather”.
After Porter was pressured by Evans to withdraw Mosaica from management of MLK at this March 16th meeting, Porter met with Ackerman that evening. There were later differing explanations (see the report) from Archie and Ackerman about what caused Porter to withdraw Mosaica from management of MLK the next day even though it had just been approved by the SRC the day before. Once again, however, this dispute shows the deep involvement with The Broad Foundation that Ackerman brought to Philadelphia.
Both Ackerman and Porter told us that after Porter left in a taxi and Ackerman learned from Nunery about the Evans meeting, she contacted Porter. Nunery, Ackerman, and Porter described Ackerman as distressed to learn that Evans tried to pressure Porter and Mosaica away from MLK. Ackerman had known Porter from when she was an instructor and he was a fellow in the Broad Academy program several years before. She and Porter then met at the Marriot Hotel restaurant to discuss what had transpired at the meeting with Evans. The two discussed the difficulties Mosaica might face operating MLK in the face of Evan’s hostility…
In this research I have focused on the report written for the Mayor about the dispute over MLK. These events took place on March 16th, 2011. Nutter is not mentioned in the report, but SRC Chairman Robert Archie, who was appointed by Nutter, was very involved and the report makes it clear that Archie intervened to support Evans against Porter and Ackerman.
Nutter apparently made a decision in late June that Ackerman must go when Ackerman got into a public dispute with him over full day kindergarten announcing she was moving funds to finance full day kindergarten from federal Title I programs even as Nutter was lobbying Harrisburg for funding. She was given an infamous $905,000 buy-out of her contract on August 22, 2011.
Note: The report to Mayor Nutter about the March 16th dispute over MLK was released September 21st, a month after Ackerman had resigned.
Since the Boston Consulting Group was brought into the District shortly after Ackerman left, the District has been subjected to one of the world’s top corporate raider firms. (See “Who’s Killing Philly public schools?” http://tinyurl.com/o23eamd ) and “Who’s (still) killing Philly public schools?” http://tinyurl.com/k994xhp by Daniel Denvir.
Ackerman may have left, but she left behind many representatives from The Broad Foundation in administrative positions, including her successor William Hite, Broad Superintendent Class of 2005 http://tinyurl.com/l74njlh, who was appointed to carry out the BCG plans on June 29, 2012.
Recently, William Hite appointed David Hardy as Chief Academics Support Officer in the School District. His background from the Philadelphia Daily News, November 8, 2013 http://articles.philly.com/2013-11-08/news/43827137_1_hardy-brooklyn-universal-companies
Hardy previously worked for the New Jersey Department of Education as head of a regional education office that aimed to turn around underperforming schools in Burlington and Camden counties.
Before being hired for that position in August 2012, Hardy had been principal of the Achievement First http://tinyurl.com/mgs3a8t East New York Charter School in Brooklyn since its September 2009 founding.
Previously, he worked as a principal-in-residence at another Achievement First school in Brooklyn. Hardy was also a Teach for America volunteer in 2003 for Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida.
That Hardy started his career with Teach for America is significant. I do not know of documentation about the number of TFA teachers in Philadelphia, but TFA has been deeply involved in Philadelphia since 2008. In an article on my blog, “Starved Schools Taken Off of Life Support” http://tinyurl.com/kkk8yxf, I wrote this about H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News and his support of TFA:
In 2009, H.F. Lenfest’s Lenfest Foundation announced a $10 million matching grant to expand Teach for America in Philadelphia over ten years. TFA said it was “the largest grant offer a regional Teach for America program has ever received”. http://tinyurl.com/pg8wr8w
For information about the origins of NJ’s Regional Achievement Centers, of which Camden is one of seven and which Harding headed until he was brought to the Philadelphia School District by Hite in mid-November, 2013, see this article from the Jersey Jazzman blog:
Eli Broad Buys News Jersey’s Schools (June 5, 2012)
Note: NJ Education Commissioner Chris Cerf is a graduate of the Broad Superintendent Academy Class of 2004. He was previously president and chief operating officer of Edison Schools.
For a graphic view of how Cerf has employed the Broad Foundation’s business methods of “creative destruction” whose basic tenet is to starve the public schools as the method of making charter schools appealing to parents, see this documentary from Princeton Community Television about the destructive impact that Cerf and the Christie administration have had in Trenton, New Jersey.
Getting back to David Harding, look at this July 30, 2013 article by Jersey Jazzman:
Hardy is not mentioned in the article, but look at the comments to the article! He has quite a reputation in NYC and New Jersey! (Check out the comment with the NY Daily News link to “10-year-old autistic boy, Brandon Strong, punished for behavior caused by his condition” http://tinyurl.com/l7z4dmv that shows Hardy is clueless about the needs of Special Education students which is also mentioned in the comments to the Jersey Jazzman article.)
Finally, Ackerman went to Santa Fe, New Mexico after leaving Philadelphia where she became a national spokeswoman for school vouchers and charter schools until her passing in February 2013. http://tinyurl.com/k8q4wh9
She brought with her to Santa Fe Joel Boyd who had overseen the Promise Academies Ackerman had set up in Philadelphia in 2008 as part of her Imagine 2014 plan.
http://www.sfreporter.com/santafe/article-6887-starting-over.html (Read the comments.)
To see how his appointment as Santa Fe School Superintendent was viewed in Santa Fe, see this August 24, 2012 article by a Santa Fe parent on the Parents Across America website.
If any links are defective, this article can be found at: