Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Silence About Things That Matter

I feel like I've got to keep hammering the point that parents must speak out against the current test and data driven curriculum in the Allentown School District. The bad ideas approved by our school board have got to be derailed REAL soon because the decision makers are going way too far with their focus on improving PSSA test scores in order to obtain grant money. It seems like everything is tied to the dumb test- funding, student accountability, teacher accountability, standards, curriculum, student placement, tutoring, homework, even special events. Ten years is more than enough of this garbage that does not improve learning. In fact, it really hurts school children by squandering away their childhood, and squelching their creativity. It diminishes a child's love of learning. Damage has been done.

I sent an Email to 8 of the 9 Allentown School Board directors, thanking them for their service, and asking them to please make informed decisions about school curriculum. I provided a link to the blog post I wrote about the educational value of an art lesson. Only one school director, Andrew Weiss, had the courtesy to even acknowledge my Email. I have also contacted directors Joanne Jackson, Ce-Ce Gerlach and School Board President Bob Smith through Facebook, and all three told me that they would read my blog. Ce-Ce did post a comment at my blog, but I did not hear back from Bob Smith or Joanne Jackson, so I don't know if they even read my blog. The three I contacted through Facebook are my FB friends, but they don't comment on my posts, which are mostly about really important education issues. Why don't you guys want to talk?

ASD School Board Director David Zimmerman works at Lehigh Valley Hospital, and I did notice an LVH IP address at my blog's site meter minutes after I sent the Email to him. I noticed that he came back for another visit and spent some time reading my blog, searching "ASD." But he never even acknowledged receiving my Email. Neither did Debora Lamb or Scott Armstrong. The fact that they made the conscious decision to ignore a concerned parent/teacher worries me. I wonder how much they really care about the kids? The information I am providing for them at this blog would help them to make informed decisions. They should value my informed opinion, since teachers won't talk (they have been told that they would face disciplinary action if they spoke publicly against district policies and programs). I am currently subbing in the ASD, and I am a former ASD teacher (pre-NCLB) and as a concerned parent I have the right to speak out against bad ideas. But not one director is interested in engaging with me in a conversation about the real problems.

There are serious problems in the ASD, which get glossed over at the district website. There is much to talk about, yet I can't get a conversation going anywhere- not at this blog, not with local friends at Facebook, not through Email, not at my son's school, not with PTA, not with parents, not with teachers. Hardly any one wants to talk about the obvious and important stuff. Everyone just goes along to get along. And our children are paying the price, forced to sit quietly and do test prep most of the day, bored out of their minds, disengaged and unhappy at school. Teachers are held hostage to teaching test prep and following a rigid schedule. The curriculum SUCKS, it's based on flawed ideas, it does not meet the needs of students, and it's got to change! Teaching the test is wrong! Some test questions are meant to trick students. Why must students always read to find the main point? There could be more than one main point to a reading passage, depending on a child's point of view. Learning is not a competition with winners and losers. A school is not a business. Children are more than data points. Bring back art, music, library, gym and phys. ed! Demand EQUITY! Parents, start screaming! You can even OPT your child OUT of testing. It's your right! What could be more important than our children?

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King, Jr.


Mrs. Dottie said...

Correction-Bob Smith, the school board president DID respond on Facebook. He liked my comment: "After my experience with Bill at city council, I am not too optimistic about any public speaking in Allentown . They did not even make eye contact with us. Icy cold, callous and rude to us, because we had the nerve to stand up for ourselves. I don't need the stress, but maybe I will change my mind if no one else will do it. I am so fed up with the testing."

My comment was in response to a brave teacher friend, who has spoken at school board meetings. She was encouraging me to speak at a meeting.

I don't know if Bob read this blog post, but looks like he's reading Facebook. Bob, please comment! We need to start a dialogue on the important stuff.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Starting salary of ASD Superintendent Dr. Mayo: $170,000.00
Starting salary of an ASD Paraprofessional (aide)

Dr. Mayo will be making 15x the salary of a para. Paras work with children all day, must have at least 2 years of college. They work 7 hours per day. 15 para could help a lot of children. More teachers would help a lot of children. It's outrageous that a superintendent makes so much money, even gets a car and other perks. (although Mayo is not taking the car)

I think he should do the job for a lot less, considering the current fiscal state of our district. Teachers are working for free in the Chester Upland SD. Teaching is a calling. The suits don't get that. Administrators: Where is the REAL shared sacrifice? Who really needs to make that much money, when one in 4 children go to bed hungry in this country every night, and families scrape to get by.

Zahorchak was making 195k. And we are still paying his salary plus the buy out. By the way, where is Dr. Zero?