Last Thursday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman spoke at a “Save Our Schools” rally at the Philadelphia Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church at St. Matthew AME Church in West Philadelphia.
Philly’s schools are trying to fill a $629 million hole in the coming budget year, and Ackerman is looking for help from the city, the state, and the teachers union.
She spoke to the crowd of about 300, as she put it, “without notes, but from the heart.”
She offered this explanation of her motivation for managing the city’s schools: “Understand that I do this work because I care so deeply about our future, about our race, and about what happens to our young people.”
But what really struck me was that Ackerman seemed to want to talk mostly about herself – how she doesn’t recognize the image people paint of her in the media, how she got where she is because of her education and family, how she’s always taken on tough fights for kids.
By my count, she used the words I, me, my or mine 118 times in a speech of a little over ten minutes, about once every five and a half seconds. She finished by asking the crowd to “pray for me every day.”Maybe I’m being unfair. She did talk about judging the health of a community by the health of its children, and the need for adults to stand up for kids. Judge for yourself by listening to the audio above.