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More on Broad in Philadelphia

November 29, 2013

This article was published by Schools Matter, December 3, 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 on my blog: Who is Eli Broad and why is he trying to destroy public education?. In particular see the section "The Broad Superintendents Academy" for details related to Philadelphia. Also see my June 3, 2013 article The 2013-14 Doomsday Budget of the School District of Philadelphia: How Did It Come to This for historical perspective on the budget crisis in Philadelphia.

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 24, 2013 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. 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.

She is listed on the Broad Foundation Board of Directors in their 2009-2010 Annual Report (Page 25).

She is not listed on board in the 2011-2012 Annual Report. 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 Philadelphia's PA Representative 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.

On two occasions, this report states that trainees from the Broad Superintendent Academy were present during the interviews with Ackerman about the dispute.

Page 8

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 SRC Chairman 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.

 Page 18

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. Mayor Nutter is not mentioned in the report, but School Reform Commission 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.

Ackerman may have left town, but the five-year plan she launched April 22nd, 2009 when the SRC approved Ackerman's Imagine 2014 didn't skip a beat. It began modestly with the turnover of ten schools and, undisclosed to the public, prepared for the attempted privatization of much of the School District. Ackerman's conflict with Mayor Nutter took her out of the management of the privatization plan and she would not live to see the result of her work.

The Boston Consulting Group was brought into the District shortly after Ackerman left to continue Imagine 2014 and the District has been subjected to one of the world’s top corporate raider firms ever since. See Who’s Killing Philly public schools? and Who’s (still) killing Philly public schools? by Daniel Denvir.

Ackerman left behind many representatives from The Broad Foundation in administrative positions, and her successor William Hite, Broad Superintendent Class of 2005, who was appointed to carry out the BCG plans on June 29, 2012, ten months after Ackerman resigned.

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

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 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.

Also see Hardy takes lead on improving academics in schools | Philadelphia Tribune - November 21, 2013.

That Hardy started his career with Teach for America is significant. The founder and head of TFA at the time, Wendy Kopp (see the 2009/2010 Broad Annual Report Page 25) was on the Board of the Broad Foundation at the same time as Ackerman. I do not know of public 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, 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”.

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. William Hite was a graduate in 2005.

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 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.

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. (Read the comments.)

To see how his appointment as Santa Fe School Superintendent was viewed in Santa Fe, see August 24, 2012 article by a Santa Fe parent on the Parents Across America website.

Also see:

Surprises and Questions in New School Reforms
Philadelphia Public Record - April 15,2010 (Page 10, 11)
Proof that Ackerman chose a temporary infusion of funds from the Rendall administration and federal stimulus funds to expand charters rather than fund public schools (See page 9, 10, last two paragraphs)

Scathing report blasts Archie, Evans on King charter deal
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - September 22, 2011 

Ex-Chairman Archie and State Rep. Evans maneuvered over who would get MLK High contract, a report asserts
Philadelphia Inquirer - September 23, 2011 

Who Is Eli Broad and why is he trying to destroy public education?
Defend Public Education - February 28, 2013
(See the section "The Broad Superintendents Academy") 

440 N. "Broad" Street
Philadelphia Daily News - April 29, 2013 

Dwight Evans' Laughable Plea for School Funding
Chalk & Talk - June 17, 2013

Dwight Evans offers lessons in getting things done
Philadelphia Daily News - December 3, 2013 

Teachers Fleeing New Mexico Districts
@ The Chalk Face - December 12, 2013 

Opinion: Looking Closely At The Dangerous Legacy of Commissioner Chris Cerf
New Jersey Spotlight - February 14, 2014 

State presses criminal charges against 5 Philadelphia educators in cheating scandal
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - May 8, 2014 

An all-out celebration of AYP results
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - August 21, 2010 

In Philadelphia School cheating scandal, don't forget about Arlene Ackerman
Philadelphia Magazine - May 9, 2014 

Mark Gleason Turns 'Dump the Losers' Into a Pseudoscience
Defend Public Education -  December 16, 2014
Be sure to read the section "Corporate Education Reform and civil rights" which goes into the role of Anthony Williams and Dwight Evans in the state takeover in 2001.

In cash-strapped School District, a hidden treasure trove of books
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 17, 2015 

A lesson in free speech
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 19, 2015

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Ties between Williams' campaigns and charter school propoents run deep 
Philly Voice - March 20, 2015
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Tony Williams Is Finally Starting to Own School Choice
Philadelphia Magazine - March 25, 2015 
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Independent group backing Williams for Philly mayor starts $500,000 ad campaign
Philadelphia Newsworks - March 27, 2015
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AEI's Self-Analysis of Why CorpEd Is a Loser
Schools Matter - April 1, 2015
On the second AEI panel, BAEO founder Howard Fuller says, "“We (BAEO) wouldn’t exist without John Walton and this is one of the reasons I love that man." (1:55:45 in AEI video in this link)

Mayor hopeful Williams' hallmark law most widely used by his supporters
Philadelphia Inquirer - April 3, 2015 

Dwight Evans, coalition of African American leaders, endorse Kenney
Philadelphia Inquirer - April 6, 2015

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Dwight Evans: Philly's political phoenix
Philadelphia Daily News - April 13, 2015
Dwight Evans is also on the Board of BAEO and has sponsored the state takeover of the Philadelphia School District, promoted charters, and tax credits for private and sectarian schools. For his role in the dispute with Broad Superintendent Arlene Ackerman see More About Broad in Philadelphia.
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The 2013-14 "Doomsday Budget" of the School District of Philadelphia: How did it come to this? 
June 3, 2013 


Lawmakers consider bill to expand funding for private education tuition
abc27 News - April 16, 2015 
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Demonizing Teachers, Privatizing Schools: The Big Lies and Big Plans Behind the Atlanta School Cheating Scandal
The Black Agenda Report - April 22, 2015

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The Broad Academy Announces New Cohort of 10 Transformative Leaders in K 12 Public Education
Broad Foundation Press Release - May 15, 2015
Scott Gordan, Mastery Charter CEO in Philadelpia and Paul Kihn, outgoing deputy superindent of the School District of Philadelphia, were recipients.

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A sad reminder of what West Philly High almost was
Philadelphia Public School Notebook - February 19, 2016 
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Camera case could cost Philly schools $3.6 million, District says it will seek new trial
Philadelphia Inquirer - July 18, 2016
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Judge: Philly Schools 'scorched earth' legal tactics cost it millions
Philadelphia Inquirer - December 21, 2016