Sunday, November 4, 2012

Allentown School Board Directors Have Ignored My Letter

Portrait by a 4th grade ASD student
The majority of ASD school board directors, 5 out of 9, have chosen to ignore My Letter to Allentown School Board regarding the narrowing of curriculum in the ASD, and the board's shortsighted decision to cut programs. Two out of the four directors who even took the time to acknowledge my Email, replied with one sentence responses. Those two are Julie Ambrose and Andrew Weiss. Mr. Weiss said he'd look into the social studies integration, and Julie Ambrose (who is also an ASD mom) said "it's good to hear from a parent, cordially yours, Julie." The five who did not respond at all are David Zimmerman, Scott Armstrong, Ce-Ce Gerlach, Deborah Lamb, and Ellen Bishop.

 The fact that the ASD is robbing students of a well rounded education is a serious issue that directly impacts the well being of our children. Being "cordial" is nice, but it it won't really help improve our schools, neither will going along to get along. Standing on principle would help. Doing what's right by children would help. As a committed parent, teacher, and volunteer in the ASD, I find their responses to be unacceptable and lousy. In my opinion, the only two board members who should stay are President Bob Smith, and Joanne Jackson. The rest need to go, because they don't get it, they are uninformed about what is really going on in our schools, and their decisions are not in the best interest of school children.

Bob Smith said he voted against the social studies integration in 6th grade, and he voted to restore specials (related arts) in our elementary schools. He voted against the hiring of a new public relations administrator (no background in education) at a salary of 88k. Joanne Jackson voted against the PR position, voted against the integration of social studies, and voted for full restoration of specials. Joanne is an experienced veteran teacher, recently retired, so she gets it. Bob genuinely cares about the children, and he usually responds to my letters with more than a sentence. It does bother me that he ultimately voted to approve the cuts to specials at the elementary level, even after he spoke out against it. It was reported in our newspaper that Scott Armstrong believes that axing social studies is a "cost effective solution." He, and others who have ignored me, are not qualified to serve on a school board.

We need to do better. Parents, please get involved and write letters. All children deserve equal opportunities, and a school board that understands education issues. Social studies, art, music, physical education, library, and recess must be MANDATORY subjects in all public schools. Children are more than test scores and data points. The high stakes testing, data driven, developmentally inappropriate, untested and unreliable nonsense from the business world has no place in our public schools. Enough is enough. Let the teachers teach.

UPDATE: Heard back from Ce- Ce Gerlach, see comments.


Mrs. Dottie said...

I received an Email from the ASD. 3 administrators would like to meet with me regarding the integration of social studies with language arts in 6th grade. I will be meeting with them in December. Well, at least this is getting some attention. Still have not heard from Ce-Ce Gerlach, Scott Armstrong, David Zimmerman, Ellen Bishop, or Mrs. Lamb. They are ignoring me.

Cecilia Gerlach said...

I hear your frustration. During my first year on the board the budget did not include cutting of specials. Those cuts were made prior to my service on the board. As a member of the public with countless children that I have mentored in the district I was against those cuts. If this year's budget includes further cuts to the arts I will not support it. I also voted against hiring the Pr person. Since we are asking teachers to hang tough we should ask the same of the administrators.I did vote to integrate social studies with English but not because I feel that social studies is unimportant.I did so because the math scores in 6th grade need improvement and something needed to be done to allow students to have a chance to catch up and advance. This was a tough decision and one that had a direct impact on my God-daughter Juanita so believe me I did not make it lightly. -Ce-Ce Gerlach

Mrs. Dottie said...

Ce-Ce, thanks for responding here at my blog. I hope you will re-think the social studies integration after reading my blog, and the speech by Deb Brobst, a social studies teacher at Allen. Cutting socials studies to spend more time on math does not benefit children. Why is math more important? The only reason is because it is tested. And students will not be prepared for the Keystone Exams without in depth social studies. Hardly any social studies is taught in grades K-5. ASD has narrowed the curriculum too much. Our kids are being robbed, and this is educational malpractice.

The school board should be demanding full restoration of specials and social studies. Math scores will improve when kids are engaged in learning, with a full curriculum. Access to books is crucial for disadvantaged children, and ASD has cut library. It's outrageous that parents have to fight for these programs.

Bill Villa said...

Mrs. Dottie, why is Scott Armstrong ducking you?

Bill Villa said...

(almost forgot)

I know why David Zimmerman is ducking you.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Also: Test scores do not equate with real learning. The test and data driven programs are not working. In elementary school, most of the day is spent on reading and math. So why aren't kids improving, with all that time spent on reading and math? Maybe it's because of the way it's being taught, maybe the expectations are too high, maybe kids aren't retaining the knowledge after the test. Maybe the poverty rate is increasing, as the standards are getting more "rigorous." Test scores are unreliable, and inconsistent. My sons scores have never aligned with his report card grades. These scores should not be used to place students, or evaluate teachers. There is an over reliance on test score data and junk science called "value added." Please read Diane Ravitch's blog to learn about education reform, and why it's been a failure. We need a more humanistic approach to education, not a business model.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Good questions BV. I don't know, but it's obvious they have no business making decisions that impact the well being of our children. Armstrong even said that the decision to integrate social studies was "cost effective." We need a new school board, people who understand education reform, how children learn, and the effects of poverty on learning.

Bill Villa said...

Mrs. Dottie, I'd be interested in knowing what ASD Administrators think of ASD Board Member (for now) Scott Armstrong's blog comment about ASD students, please take this along w/ you ...

What's in store for the future:


My name be Eboneesha Li Herenandez, an African Hispanic Asiatic-American Girl who just got an award for being the bess speler in class. I got 67% on the speling test and 30 points being black, 5 points for not bringin drugs into class, 5 points for not bringin guns into class, and 5 points for not gettin pregnut during the cemester. It be hard to beat a score of 120%. White dude who sit nex to me is McGee from Ocala He got a 94% on the test but no extra points on acount of he have the same skin color as the opressirs of 150 years ago. Granny ax me to thank all Dimocrafts and Liberuls for suportin Afermative action. You be showin da way to tru eqwallity. I be gittin in medical skool nex an mabe I be yo doctor when Barrac take over da healtcare in dis cuntry

[Editor's Note: this vile comment appeared at Scott Armstrong's "Allentown Commentator" blog for several years. Angie and I asked Scott Armstrong, repeatedly, to delete it, and disown it. Armstrong always steadfastly refused. When he ran for ASD School Board recently, he made the "Allentown Commentator" blog disappear from public view. It may still be visible to "invited members," we don't know. We do know, however, that in its racist heyday one of The Allentown Commentator's regularly contributing commenters was current (for now) ASD Board member David Zimmerman].