New School CEO On the Job

June 2, 2008 10:56:55 AM PDT
Today is the first day on the job for Philadelphia public schools new CEO. Arlene Ackerman is wasting no time getting down to business. Ackerman, a one-time teacher, seemed right at home with students and teachers today. But she is less comfortable with certain aspects of the central administration, especially how it deals with people.

Ackerman says in the short time she's been here she has found out it is hard to get things done.

The 61-year old career educator and grandmother hit the ground running as she toured Fox Chase Academics school in Northeast Philadelphia Monday morning.

One student took her pulse.

She is taking the pulse of the entire district.

"I think the most important job for me is to make sure that we organize the school system and focus all of our priorities so that we are better supporting our schools," Ackerman said.

Ackerman has signaled that she is not entirely pleased with what she sees. One of her first priorities: make the system more customer-friendly. Ackerman was reportedly astounded when she arrived at headquarters, apparently unannounced, asked an employee a question and was told, quote: "that's not my job."

Ackerman says her job will be to tackle the administration's bureaucracy, get a handle of the district's finances, and focus on schools.

Also on the agenda Monday, touring another school in Overbrook, and attending a news conference with the mayor and other officials to call for more education funding.