http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-schools-zahorchak-resign20110818,0,4757608.story Can you guess which comment is mine?
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: