Former Philadelphia schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman dies of cancer at age 66 in NM

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Former Philadelphia schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who left abruptly a year and a half ago after clashing with local officials, has died, according to her son. She was 66.

Anthony Antognoli says his mother died at about 5 a.m. Saturday of pancreatic cancer in Albuquerque, N.M., where she lived. He says she hadn't been ill long and "it was too short a battle."

Superintendent William Hite Jr. says Ackerman "devoted her life to children and public education" and encouraged countless others to do so.

Ackerman took over the nation's eighth-largest school district in 2008 and was credited with continuing a rise in test scores and shrinking class sizes in primary grades. But critics derided her $348,000 salary, called her "Queen Arlene" and said her style was polarizing and autocratic.