Friday, August 19, 2011

Zahorchak Resigns as ASD Superintendent!

Read the partial story here:

What steams me is that the new acting super, Russ Mayo, will continue with Dr. Z's experimental "Pathways to Success" curriculum overhaul, and Z will be kept on board, but in a different position. Z will still receive his outrageous 195k salary, benefits, PLUS a 55k contract buy out "gift" when he leaves in one year. So, he'll be pulling the strings from behind the curtains. And the only reason given for his resignation is financial: the district just cannot afford his high salary for the next three years. Really? This raises some questions since the district has been hiring more and more high paid administrators, while laying off over one hundred teachers. I think Dr. Z was not forthcoming about the actual cost of putting his experiments in place. Maybe he underestimated the cost of implementing such massive changes. Maybe he's just not qualified for the job.

I believe there needs to be an investigation. Something doesn't smell right. There seems to be some behind the scenes shenanigans going on. And the school board is a disgrace. They have not represented the citizens who elected them. There was a public outcry against Z's policies yet the duped school board directors all approved, and still approve of Dr. Z's corporate reform programs/teacher bashing. I've written extensively here about why I believe his ideas are wrong, here's a snippet:

Tying teacher evaluation to unreliable test scores will be disastrous. Data driven policies, more testing (but value-added BS), standards aligned systems, too much focus on college readiness, shuffling principals around, massive teacher layoffs, cutting arts programs, cutting phys ed and library, all wrong, all based on flawed research, not evidence based or educationally sound practices, all espoused by Dr.Z. All approved by a clueless school board. And what is really behind these bad reform policies? $$$$ These are the policies a district must adopt in order to get million$ in school improvement grants (SIG). And the ASD needs money. South Mountain Middle School just became the recipient of a 1 million dollar SIG. But they must agree to comply with Obama's education policies. (see above, starting with teacher evaluation process, a Bill Gates idea). It's bad for kids. It's bad for teachers. Obama's policies are like NCLB on steroids. More test and punish, more standardization, winners and losers, higher stakes since bogus test scores will be tied to teacher performance, firing principals, forcing teachers to re-apply for jobs. This will lead to more cheating on tests. And it will cheat our kids out of a well rounded education.

I must digress a bit here because my blood is boiling over the fact that after 10 years of failed test and data driven nonsense dictated by non-educators, we are still testing. Children are not data points! Finally, there is a movement going on across the country. (But so much damage has already been done) You can go to the OPT OUT OF THE STATE TEST: the National Movement (Facebook page). Parents, you have the ultimate power over your child's education. You can opt your child out of testing. That would really mess up their precious data. It's an act of civil disobedience. Enough is enough with the testing and failed NCLB policies. Test scores are unreliable, don't measure real learning. They serve only to make politicians look good and to show what we already know-that low student achievement is the result of poverty. Stand up for teachers and public schools. Remember, a school is not a business. Don't let the monsters force their immoral corporate values on our public schools. Stop this experiment on poor children! Let the teachers teach.

What a mess our school district
has become. I blame the school board. And where is the "alignment" that Dr. Z always speaks of? Remember, alignment is the essence of great teaching (he says) . So then why doesn't that apply to administrators too? And the drop out rate of top administrators is now even higher than the drop out rate of students at Allen High. This is unacceptable!

Dr. Z is not a leader. He is a corporate ed reform flunky, a bureaucrat who does not understand the root cause of low student achievement in Allentown: POVERTY. It's the poverty, stupid! Your corporate jargon may fool duped school board members, the mayor, city council, and business leaders, but it doesn't fool real educators. You know, the people who actually interact with students? The people who are qualified to write curriculum. The people you hold hostage to your dumb, expensive ideas. You'd save a lot of money if you'd just ask that person in front of the class room how the children are doing.

Photos: Dr Z., ASD School Board Directors

UPDATE 8/21: See comment section at this post for more information on reasons for Z's departure. There is a report in today's newspaper:

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Z puts securing grant money before needs of students. Student/community needs should dictate policy, not the other way around. What a disservice to our kids. Wish more people would get informed. You are right, we should not vote for these current school directors. Just think about the money the district could save if it ditched high stakes testing too! And the position awarded to Joyce Marin should be given to a teacher, who would do a better job at half the salary. Too much waste. What is appalling as well is the fact that many city council members are also educators, and they have given their approval to Dr. Z.

Anonymous said...

BRAVO! GREAT POST! YOU'RE "ALIGNED" WITH A BULLS-EYE, YOU'VE SHOT IT OUT! I'M FORWARDING THIS TO EVERONE I KNOW.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Hi, thanks for commenting. I do not like the conditions attached to the SIG grants. And it labels schools as either winners or losers. Bad for kids and teachers.
RE: Joyce Marin. Only educators are qualified to run school programs for children. Joyce has an MBA, she's not an educator. More business model nonsense. RE: city council- well they are just a joke! They are more concerned about grandstanding on dumb issues. I don't know what could be more important than our children, but most people are not like me.

Mrs. Dottie said...

THANKS!

Mrs. Dottie said...

An anonymous commenter left this comment at the newspaper article. Good questions:

"So are they going to also hire an assistant? From this article Zahorchak "also created 16 administrative positions." Lots of administrators and fewer teachers and he is still making big bucks without the responsibilities. Wonderful! What exactly were the other perks in his contract? How is this saving any money? I hope someone actually writes an article that explains what is really happening."

Anonymous said...

School board members ignored teachers, parents, and students when there was a public outcry against new program of studies. They are to blame.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Yes, they approved it all, and still support Z's experiments on children. Bob Smith even said that Joyce Marin was qualified for the job! We need educators on the school board. These people are duped by Z's business edu speak (Standards Aligned System rigor, resiliency, value-added data, teacher accountability, concentric circles, data walls,) It all sounds so professional, but it's actually a bunch of BS. It's what teachers have been doing all along, but now it's all about data, data, data. Everything must be measurable so the politicians look good. Testing and standardization is BIG business. The federal grant money is coming from Bill Gates.

Mrs. Dottie said...

There is a new article in today's paper offering some more information about Z's departure. Apparently he ruled with an iron fist, and did not like criticism. He wanted to do too much too fast. He lied to principals telling them he would not remove them, when he knew that was a condition of getting school improvement grants.

What amazes me is that school board directors, and city councilman Ray O'Connell support Z's experimental ideas. They believe that focusing on college readiness is going to fix generational poverty. That proves that they do not have an understanding of poverty as root cause. To fix poverty there must be living wage jobs for poor people, and social programs for children, more early childhood interventions. In other words, focus on who the kids are right now, not what you want them to be. Not all kids are college material. I would think that an educator with experience in urban schools would get it.

Parents want stability at their schools. They don't care about all the business world jargon and edu speak. Dr. Z did not relate to the parents. Now there will be even more chaos for ASD families. More on this later.

Also, I will be writing a post about the new before school programs, and why it's such a bad idea and a waste of money. We gotta get rid of these school board directors. They know nothing about educating urban children.

Anonymous said...

Angie, I think there was a lot going on behind closed doors, and hopefully more information will become available. School is about to start and the before school program needs 200 volunteers. This will be a mess, and I bet the teachers will have to supervise. And what a waste of money!!

Mrs. Dottie said...

Hi anon 9:50 thanks for commenting. It is so unrealistic and incredibly nervy to expect people to volunteer considering the state of our economy. And on top of this, Marin was hired at twice the salary of a teacher, as 247 teachers got their pink slips. And as I have said before, she does not have a background in education. Joyce may be a nice lady who cares about community, but only experienced educators should run educational programs. Also, it is extremely difficult to get parents to volunteer in the ASD. The administrators think that they are creating some kind of new opportunity for the community to get involved. Well, we have always had PTA , and breakfast at school. Voluntary programs are not a good idea. Mandatory breakfast in classroom will ensure that all kids are fed, and teachers could supervise. It's a simple and much less costly solution that improves student achievement. Research shows it works, and some teachers in the ASD are already doing this. I will write about this soon.