I find this constant rush to judgment of Philadelphia School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, a leader who has demonstrated that she is willing to make doing business in Philadelphia more inclusive, very troubling ("Don't trust public officials? Why not?" Sunday).
With 44 percent of the city population being African American, 9 percent Latino, and 5 percent Asian, and with 80 percent of the students in the school district belonging in one of these ethnic groups, it would seem admirable to look for opportunities to make the dispersal of contracts more equitable. It was Ackerman who brought resolution to the 30-year desegregation case that several of her predecessors didn't touch. She continues to take on the hard issues, including the equitable treatment of minority contractors, specifically African Americans.
The Urban League has fought for 100 years to bring parity and power for African Americans all across this country. Yet, our research shows that in Philadelphia, the equality index is at 72 percent, meaning blacks are only 72 percent as well off as their white counterparts. It is ironic that such disparities persist more than 200 years after the Founding Fathers, right here in Philadelphia, created an invidious concept of measurement - three-fifths of a person - to define the value of the enslaved Africans and African Americans who were doing more than their share to build this nation.
Ackerman deserves the respect and the decency afforded others in leadership and power to make change.
Patricia A. Coulter
President & CEO
Urban League of Philadelphia