Arlene Ackerman to Join Teachers College as Christian A. Johnson Professor in Fall 2006
San Francisco Superintendent Has Raised Test Scores among Minorities; Is Chair of Council of Great City Schools
Will Direct Inquiry Program for Public School Leaders; will succeed Thomas Sobol
Arlene Ackerman, currently Superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District and formerly Superintendent of Washington, D.C., Public Schools, will join Teachers College's Education Leadership faculty as the Christian A. Johnson Professor of Outstanding Educational Practice, effective September 2006. She will direct the Inquiry Program, the College's largest doctoral program for public-school leaders, and the Superintendents Work Conference. Dr. Ackerman, who holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, will succeed Thomas Sobol, the eminent former New York State Commissioner of Education, who has held the endowed appointment since 1995.
Dr. Ackerman is nationally recognized for her successful school leadership. This fall, 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."
Dr. Ackerman is the 2005-06 elected chair of the Council of Great City Schools, a coalition of the nation's 65 largest urban school districts, serving 37 million students. She also co-chairs the College Board's Writing Commission and works closely with the Broad Foundation's Urban Superintendents Academy. She was named Superintendent of the Year for 2004-05 by the National Association of Black School Educators.
In spring 2005, California announced that for the second year in a row, San Francisco has the highest student achievement of any urban school system in California. Under Dr. Ackerman and the "Excellence for All" plan she initiated five years ago, test scores for San Francisco's African-American, Latino and English Language Learner students have improved. Under-performing schools have benefited from targeted interventions and additional resources via her STARS (Student and Teachers Achieving Results) initiative, and through the Weighted Student Formula, a fiscal allocation methodology she implemented to provide equity in the distribution of funds to all schools based on student characteristics. Test scores also rose in the District of Columbia during her superintendency.
The Professorship--endowed by a $2 million grant from the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation--has been established to bring outstanding practitioners of national reputation to Teachers College to serve as faculty members. In announcing its creation 10 years ago, TC President Arthur Levine said that the role of the Johnson professor is to "bridge the gap between the research conducted at this major academic institution and those who work in the important, day-to-day life of American education."
Echoing that theme, Darlyne Bailey, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, called Ackerman "exceptionally well qualified to develop and lead courses of study for public school practitioners," adding "We are thrilled that she is coming to work with us at Teachers College. She has had exceptional experience as a successful practicing urban superintendent and, before that, as a principal. Her focus -- on improving achievement in low-performing schools and on closing achievement gaps -- meshes beautifully with priorities of the College, the Education Leadership Program, and the recently launched Campaign for Educational Equity."
Levine and Bailey also had high praise for Sobol, who is widely recognized for his leadership and his contributions to discussions of national education policy. At TC, he is revered for his inspired teaching and respected for his innovative thinking on the education of future school leaders.
"Tom is someone who commands respect, inspires affection, and whose wisdom and experience cannot be replaced," Bailey said. "We thank him for his many years of service and expect that he will continue to remain closely involved in the life of the College."
Published Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2005