Zachary Stalberg: Suspicion Surrounds Ackerman Buyout

09/02/2011 12:26 pm ET | Updated Nov 02, 2011

This piece comes to us courtesy of Education Nation's The Learning Curve blog. Zachary Stalberg, president and CEO of Philadelphia government watchdog group Committee of Seventy, writes.

Philadelphians of every hue and persuasion have found something to be angry about in the buyout deal for former Superintendent of Schools Arlene Ackerman.

For some, it's the roughly $1 million cost of the buyout.

For others, it's the way her bosses and the pols dealt with her on her way out the door. Or the way she dealt with them.

For still others, it's the idea of a whopping payday for a lightning rod of a superintendent, despite controversies in her three-year tenure ranging from the reliability of test scores to her handling of violence in the schools.

For the non-partisan, non-profit watchdog group, the Committee of Seventy, the issue has been the unusual and probably unprecedented dependence on anonymous private donors to help cover the cost of Dr. Ackerman's parachute.

We certainly were not alone.

In fact, the secrecy surrounding this particular farewell deal might have generated almost as much outrage as the million-dollar buyout itself. As one corporate leader said to me, "This is just the kind of thing that gives Philadelphia a corrupt image." He had just turned down a request to contribute 50,000 smackaroos.

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