I have very strong feelings about these dreadful changes, and about the fact that not one school board member stood on principle to vote against this immoral program that will harm Allentown's children. These underprivileged city kids deserve the same well rounded education as suburban kids. Dr. Z is not providing pathways, instead he's putting up roadblocks to success, because he is depriving these kids of the opportunity to discover their talents.
It is illegal to furlough teachers for economic reasons (Corbett is proposing a bill to change that) but it is legal to lay off teachers because of curriculum changes. I think this is how Dr. Z is justifying this massive and mean spirited removal of teachers. His plan seems rushed through, and not well thought out. Where is the evidence that all these changes will work?
It has been reported that 700 people attended last night's school board meeting. Students, teachers, and parents spoke passionately about the importance of the arts and physical education, and the bonds that have been formed between teachers and students. Those bonds will be broken when the teachers are gone. These are needy children, and they need their teachers. The school board members were not influenced by the audience, and seemed to have made up their minds ahead of time. What a sham. One school board member, Holly Edinger, was even joking about her experiences in gym class, and making light of the changes. She came off as a buffoon who obviously understands very little about education. These board members do not seem concerned about the children. Bob Smith did speak out to keep some art, music, and phys ed teachers, but then he ultimately voted for the plan. Was he just grandstanding for the crowd? And Julie Ambrose, whose son plays cello at Muhlenberg Elementary and participated in All City Orchestra with my son, said that this plan to cut specialists might be a good thing, since now it may free up classroom teachers to be more creative. I thought she would stand up for the music program she supports at school as a parent. If you were a real advocate for the arts, you would NOT have voted for a plan that eliminates the arts. What phonies. Maybe since they all voted to hire this overpaid snake oil salesman Dr. Z they don't want to look like they made the wrong choice, so they all approved his lousy plan, at the expense of the kids and teachers. I say vote them all out.
When Dr. Z spoke about his program I could not make sense of a word he was saying. But he does seem fond of the word "alignment" and other useless corporate ed reform jargon. To me he sounds like a master of BS, not an educator. Allentown residents believe that there needs to be change in the ASD, but the "Pathways to Success" program does not include the kind of change that will help inner city kids learn. These kids need MORE art, music, and phys ed. They can learn the basics better through the arts, and be more excited about school, more engaged. The arts help improve test scores and learning. The arts improve critical thinking skills. Why do we have to keep advocating for the arts? Phys. ed teaches important social skills, leadership, teamwork, and builds character. Health is an important subject for kids. The benefits of the arts, phys. ed and library are enormous, and there is a ton of research to prove it. Where is the evidence that Dr. Z's plan of narrowing the curriculum will improve graduation rates?
Shame on school board members. They are leading Allentown down a pathway to doom. This is a sad day because the leaders in our community are not putting children first. They should listen to the teachers who spend time with these needy kids every day. If I were on that school board I would have spoken out against this plan that will harm our children. The mayor and city council approved the hiring of Dr. Z. And now, city councilor Ray O'Connell, a former ASD principal and administrator has been hired as a consultant to oversee the staff lay offs. How crony cozy is this?
And he will be paid 18K to do a job that some overpaid ASD administrator could do. That money could be spent on programs for the kids, or to hire a paraprofessional for an entire year. What an insane waste of money, just like the PSSA Pep Rally and other expensive gimmicks. The administration has mismanaged funds and now the teachers must pay, and the neediest children must suffer. The meanness of it all has made me sick to my stomach.