Monday, March 5, 2012

My Question For Dr. Mayo, ASD Superintendent

Allentown School District Superintendent Dr. Mayo will be the special guest at the Muhlenberg Elementary School PTA meeting on March 13th: "A Conversation on Related Arts." It's an opportunity for parents to ask questions and share our thoughts on the value of related arts, which have been drastically slashed from the elementary school curriculum. I submitted the following question, and I will be attending the meeting. (Note-questions must be submitted ahead of time).

Doctor Mayo: the special classes of art, music, physical education, and library have always been essential to a well-rounded elementary school curriculum in the ASD-- like they still are in the Parkland School District. My question is a two-parter, first, what was your thinking in agreeing to cutting back these essential special classes so drastically … and second, what is your plan and what is your timetable for fully restoring art, music, physical education, and library to all ASD elementary schools?


UPDATE: Please read the comments to find out about the meeting. Comment #5 is my post meeting comment.


Angie Villa

Certified Art Teacher

Former ASD Art Teacher


Note: The Parkland SD is a neighboring suburban, wealthier school district.


6 comments:

Mrs. Dottie said...

Parents, you are being lied to about the importance of tests scores in your child’s public schools. It is not the teachers who are lying, they are forced to use the tests by school leaders, particularly at the state and federal levels. The truth is, the best of these tests do not predict how children will do in college or in life. They do not even predict very well how they will do in classes a couple of years from now. They are best at predicting how they will do on other useless tests in the future. There real purpose is to enrich testing companies like Pearson, which not only make money from the tests, but also from remedial materials tied directly to the tests.

Meanwhile, the tests and test prep are stealing valuable time from instruction that really counts. Problem solving, higher level thinking, creative thinking, art, music, PE, and vocational classes have all been diminished by the emphasis on worthless testing in a few select areas of the curriculum. What I don’t understand is why do parents like you stand for this travesty. Your children’s future is being stolen by billionaires and everyone just watches.

If you are looking for a way to stop the corporate takeover of your local schools, join 4300 parents and educators in sending a letter to the President calling for a reduction or elimination of federally mandated testing, restructuring of the Department of Education, and firing the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. http://dumpduncan.org
By Robert Valiant at DumpDuncan

Mrs. Dottie said...

Parents and educators across the nation have finally begun to say enough is enough with the privatization of our public schools being pushed by the U.S. Department of Education. Charter schools, vouchers, mandated school closures and teacher firing as a result of required high-stakes testing have pushed us too far. Parents are organizing across the country to provide information on the “reform” efforts and to support opting their children out of testing. Petitions are being circulated to stop VAM evaluation of teachers, to stop school closures and the insertion of charter schools, and to fire Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education.

I am sending this memo to alert you to what is coming and to invite you to join the growing movement to take back our public schools. You can join us at http://dumpduncan.org/ or at Facebook groups of the following organizations:

Parents Across America: http://www.facebook.com/groups/ParentsAcrossAmerica/

Save Our Schools: America: http://www.facebook.com/groups/166264760082381/

Teachers Letters to Obama: http://www.facebook.com/groups/166264760082381/

Opt Out of the State Test: National: http://www.facebook.com/groups/unitedoptout/

Dump Duncan: http://www.facebook.com/groups/dumpduncan/

Bob Valiant, Ed.D.
Kennewick, WA
Dump Duncan Administrator

Mrs. Dottie said...

Are your children being shoved into doubles reading and math while being denied exploratory classes? Has your child's school become a test-prep factory while schools across town offer art, music, even world languages? Are you just going to take it or stand up and shout, "We want our local schools back, President Obama." If you are ready to stand up for your children's future go to http://dumpduncan.org/ and sign the Letter to Obama.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Additional Question for Dr. Mayo:

According to the ASD website, 80% of ASD students are low income or living in poverty. Studies confirm that impoverished children, who have little access to books at home, depend on the school library for their primary exposure to books. Access to books is a key factor in improving reading skills. My question is< what was your thinking in agreeing to cutting back library class taught by certified librarians?

And I have three pages of references to educational studies that support my position.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Post meeting comment:

50 or so concerned parents attended the meeting. Some spoke passionately about how their children, (as young's 6) are losing interest in school. Mayo did not offer any ideas or plans to restore related arts to ASD children. There are no plans to determine whether or not the classroom teachers are integrating the arts into their lessons, although parents were told that arts would be integrated.

I would think that with 41 years of experience in education, Mayo would have some creative ideas on how to restore related arts, but he doesn't. He claims his hands are tied, he had no good news to share. 22 more positions will be cut, and full day Kindergarten cut. He predicts we will have to wait five more years for any restoration of specialists. He sounds and looks more like a beaurocrat than an educator.

It is not likely that Mayo is going to be a champion of the arts in education. It was disturbing to hear him say that the arts can't be measured by PSSA scores, and that there's no metric for the arts. Well, that's because creativity and exploration is not so easy to measure. There is no standard for exploration. He even said to me later "if it can't be measured it can't be treasured." He seems more interested in test scores and pleasing the legislators than advocating for equal opportunities for ASD children. I wanted to scream CHILDREN ARE MORE THAN TEST SCORES!!!! He does not see the academic value in the arts. I sent him an Email about the specifics of an art lesson, and how art reinforces other subject areas, boosts student achievement, but he did not even acknowledge receiving it.

We can write to legislators, the governor, and local officials, but I believe the only way to return the arts to our schools is for parents to OPT their children OUT of PSSA testing. If 6% of students at a school don't take the test, then the data is not valid. This is happening all across the country. We must save our schools, and opting out is the only way. Got to UnitedOptOut.com.

Bill Villa said...

During the meeting w/ Dr. Mayo, I referenced President Obama's landmark May 2011 report, "Reinvesting in Arts Education."

"Doctor" Mayo never heard of it.

After the meeting, I emailed it to Dr. Mayo and relevant Muhlenberg Elementary School people, the Principal, Assistant Principal, PTA Board Members, etc.

FYI: I will be following up w/ Dr. Mayo (as many times as it takes) to make sure he has read (and understands) the report, and to hopefully transform Dr. Mayo into the arts advocate (and fundraiser) we need right now in an ASD Superintendent.

Dr. Mayo (for now) strikes me as a "go along to get along" milquetoast empty suit. Poor guy. His hands are tied. No hope. No good news. And although the arts are something to be enjoyed "in your childhood," ASD elementary school kids are shit outta luck for at least 5 years. That's how long Mayo has given himself to fill in the gaping hole left in the curriculum by chain saw cuts to art, music, library, and phys ed. Oh, and Dr. Mayo doesn't wanna ruffle any legislator feathers regarding petitioning Governor Corbett to reverse his draconian cuts to education. Mayo made a point of pusillanimously whimpering, "Don't tell Corbett I sent you," if we were to apply some very appropriate pressure to Governor Corbett. I guess Mayo doesn't wanna jeopardize the table scraps Corbett's allocating to education that lifer bureaucrats like Mayo compliantly lap up. The guy's useless. Dr. Mayo is the bland Pepto Bismol prescribed by our totally clueless ASD School Board after the acid reflux of Dr. Zahorchak. Q. How come our local legislators can dream up highly creative KOZ and NIZ plans and raise $160 million for an arena but can't figure out how to re-hire 26 arts teachers?

Stay tuned ...