Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Still Life- Grade 2

I sure miss teaching the little ones at Muhlenberg Elementary School. It's really sad that Allentown school children see a certified art teacher only once, sometimes twice a week for only 9 weeks of the school year. Art is essential to the school curriculum. Art is essential to being human. We must restore the arts to the ASD, and not just because it helps children do better on reading and math tests, but because art is an important subject area in itself. It brings joy to young children, and helps them become happy, creative, caring people.

Our cash- strapped school district just hired a new administrator, a public relations director, at a salary of 88k per year. This person has no background in education and does not work directly with children. Wouldn't this money be better spent on improving the lives of our students through meaningful programs like art, music, physical education, or library science? These programs make our district attractive to parents. If we restored our programs, then we would not need a spin doctor to make it appear that our district provides a quality education. School has become a test prep factory/worksheet distribution center. Worksheets end up in the garbage, art work gets framed and saved for a lifetime.

Parents, it's up to you to do something. I don't know how much longer I will stay committed to improving a district that continually cuts programs, and does not put well being of children first. My child, and all ASD children deserve better. Children are more than test scores and data points.

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.