"Teachers did not seem happy Tuesday as they filed in and out of Trexler. Most had stern faces while waving off media. Those who spoke expressed anger and frustration at Zahorchak. They accused him of spending wildly on new administrators and gimmicks like Monday's virtual PSSA pep rally, which cost at least $20,000 in equipment and man-hours but did not work properly because computer equipment could not continuously stream the rally from Raub Middle School to all other district schools."
This is unbelievable. That money could have been used to hire 2 paraprofessionals (grossly underpaid teacher's aides) for an entire year, to help in overcrowded Kindergarten classrooms. Now that would really improve learning. High stakes testing and test prep is not teaching, and does not improve learning.
ASD must focus on meeting the needs of Kindergarten students. It is crucial to reach these children at a young age so they stay in school, graduate, and become productive citizens. Many ASD children are unprepared for school, lacking proper nutrition, social skills, basic cognitive skills, and listening skills. They are extremely needy. I have seen 5 year olds curse, punch and bother other students, run around classrooms throwing dangerous objects, even jumping on tables. This is reality. Some parents are not doing their part. Teachers need help so they can teach the majority, remove extremely disruptive students, and keep kids safe.
Costly gimmicks and rewards to bribe students will not work to improve schools. Learning is the reward. Even if test scores improve, AYP (Annual yearly progress measured by PSSA test) is not a true indicator of overall student progress. Don't be fooled by appearances, or the latest jargon from the corporate ed. reform movement. These are not evidence based approaches to improving learning. I have been in several classrooms across the district and believe it is important that citizens know what is really going on. I challenge school board members, city councilors, and business leaders to spend a day as a "guest teacher" in a Kindergarten class of 25-28. Maybe then they will understand the daily challenges teachers face while being forced to meet unrealistic goals, to comply with a "standards aligned system" mandated by politicians who demand "accountability"' (code word used when clueless people outside the classroom want to tell professional educators what to do inside their classrooms). It's putting politics before the needs of students. It's a scary Orwellian "one size fits all" approach that is not working. It's harming our kids. Parents can fight it.
Support ASD teachers. Demand recess for all elementary students, and NO cuts in arts programs and MORE electives for high school students. Let the teachers teach what they are trained to teach, and how they are trained to teach.