Sunday, April 21, 2013

Time for Rallies, Petitions, and Protests to Save ASD

photo by Ed Pawlowski
It's time for rallies, petitions, protests, and standing up for equal opportunities for ASD students.  Acts of civil disobedience, like student walkouts are being organized as well. I would love to see a teacher walkout! I am encouraging parents to take action. So much damage has already been done to our kids since related arts have been reduced. These cuts don't heal. 

Nationally, there have been several student walkouts protesting cuts to education. There have been boycotts of high stakes state testing too, and parents are exercising their right to opt out of useless testing. Recently, there was a huge student walkout in Newark, NJ. 

Budgets are about priorities. Students must be the priority, and parents must hold the state accountable for equitable funding, but they must also hold the ASD administration and school board accountable. The ASD administration, with school board approval, has implemented curriculum changes that are not in best interest of students. I want teachers to teach to the students, not to the test. I want teachers to have autonomy in the classroom. And I want a return to developmentally appropriate practices. I cannot believe what has happened to Kindergarten and primary grades. Young children learn through play, the arts, and hands on activities-not worksheets or testing. 

Students must have full related arts taught by certified specialists. All schools must have recess and a full time librarian. Parents are NOT happy. Parents want a well rounded education with full arts and humanities.

 Cuts to vital programs and teachers will result in unsafe class sizes, where educational needs of all children cannot be met. ASD children will be denied the opportunities that children attending neighboring Parkland SD enjoy every day. This is more than an injustice, and a disservice to students and community- it is educational malpractice, and child abuse.

Photo is of the Save Our Schools Rally at Cedar Beach Park, organized by the AEA (Allentown teacher's union). Around 200 people attended. Speakers included Ed Pawlowski (mayor of Allentown), Ray O'Connell, and Julio Guridy (Allentown City Council) State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, State Rep. Dan McNeill, school board directors Joanne Jackson and Ce-Ce Gerlach, teacher Deb Brobst, parent and ASD Foundation board member Ed White, Debbie Tretter from the AEA, and several other great speakers. It was nice to reconnect and see the dedicated ASD art teachers and many fellow teacher activists! Hopefully more parents will attend the next rally. Maybe it should be held downtown where most families reside, since many may not have transportation to the west end.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Treasures….should not be measured. This is very special student work that I will always treasure. 8th grade students used hand made paper to create books of original poetry. Students also wrote original poems in response to works of art at the Allentown Art Museum. These original art books were created during a special artist residency program with local poet Marilyn Hazelton, local artist Liz Magno, and me- the art teacher. A true integration of art/ language arts/ and art history. This is the kind of meaningful, collaborative teaching that we have lost, due to high stakes testing, data driven assessments, and cuts to ASD art programs. ASD Superintendent Dr. Mayo has told parents "don't treasure what you can't measure." What a horrible thing to say to a parent. Art work has human value that cannot and should not be quantified by data driven assessments. Parents cherish what their children create at school. It's the projects and performances that live on in our school memories, not the tests and worksheets. Stop killing joy for learning. Stop dehumanizing education.

Our children only get one chance for a quality education. Any educator or school board director who agrees to deny children artistic experiences, while saving test prep, should be booted from their position of educational leadership. Parents must demand accountability, and better leadership from our school district and school board. If you truly value the arts, DON"T APPROVE CUTS TO THE ARTS! Cut the test prep and high stakes testing which has not, and will not improve learning. By the way, many of the students who participated in this lesson were labeled as special ed, learning support, emotional support, and English Language Learners. All students were successful.