First day of school for superintendent - Philadelphia News

September 4, 2008 3:16:27 PM PDT
Students returned to class for a new school year, the first school year in Philadelphia for superintendent, Dr. Arlene Ackerman.Arlene Ackerman, the new superintendent, a one-time classroom teacher, was with kids today and enjoying it at University High, where Mayor Nutter also stopped.

Ackerman says she is approaching her job with a sense of urgency, citing district staggering drop out numbers.

"We have 47-percent of our young who start the ninth grade who won't complete the twelfth grade, not in four, not in five, and not in six years, and to me that's totally unacceptable," Dr. Ackerman said.

Ackerman's plan is to beef up the resources for the district's poorest performing schools.

"What we've done in those 23 schools is put lots of targeted resources, more nursing, a substitute teacher because they can't get subs, we'll teachers coming in to helping other teachers," Dr. Ackerman said.

This afternoon, Ackerman took time to read to third graders. On this first day of school, parents say quality education is the number one issue for them, with a close number two being safety, concerns about possible dangerous schools: "Kids are not supposed to be bringing in weapons, but they manage to get them in, they find ways" Mel Brunson said.

Ackerman pledges there will be zero tolerance for violence in schools but wants parents to remember children model what they see.

"If they see violence in their neighborhoods, if they saw it in their homes, and it's tolerated, then they will repeat that," Dr. Ackerman said.

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