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Arlene Ackerman to Head Philadelphia Schools

Teachers College, Columbia University announced today that Arlene Ackerman, Christian A. Johnson Professor of Outstanding Educational Practice, is leaving the College to become Superintendent of Schools for the City of Philadelphia.

Ackerman, who has served as the top schools officer in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., joined the Teachers College faculty in Fall 2006, succeeding Thomas A. Sobol, the former New York State Commissioner of Education. She has been working on a redesign of the College's Urban Education Leaders Program (UELP).

In 2005, under Ackerman's leadership, San Francisco was one of five finalists for the 2005 Broad Prize for Urban Education, given annually to "the best urban districts in the nation." She has chaired the Council of Great City Schools, a coalition of the nation's 65 largest urban school districts, serving 37 million students, and co-chaired the College Board's Writing Commission. She was named Superintendent of the Year for 2004-05 by the National Association of Black School Educators.

"We're delighted for Arlene, and very glad that she will have the opportunity to do this important work," said TC President Susan Fuhrman. "Her demonstrated track record in some of the most challenging school systems in the country, together with her outspoken advocacy for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, make her an ideal person to run the public schools of Philadelphia."

Ackerman, for her part, said that she was sorry to leave Teachers College but hopes to remain connected to the institution. In a letter to departmental colleagues, she praised Fuhrman and other members of the College's senior leadership as "genuinely motivated to partner with urban school districts in different ways.

"This decision came after prayerful consideration and a painstaking deliberation process with my family this weekend. The truth is, I have missed my passion -- the on-the-ground battle for our children who attend urban public schools. I believe I still have more to give in this important fight for social justice.

"With that said, I want each of you to know that I sincerely respect the work you do to advance the success of our public and private schools. I am also hopeful that I may stay involved with UELP as a future Practicing Superintendent in Residence as well as offering the Philadelphia district as a possible internship site for the next cohort."

Teachers College will initiate a national search for Ackerman's successor.

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