|David Fehr Zimmerman|
The following is a letter to the school board from an ASD parent:
Before you vote on cutting the arts in the Allentown School District, I ask that you watch this TEDx talk by Brian Pertl.
Pertl is an ethnomusicologist, didjeridu player, and Dean of the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music.
I think you will understand my point once you have watched his talk.
Please find a way to keep the arts alive in ASD, from elementary school through high school.
You MUST find a way to do this. Our kids' futures are at stake.
Please save the arts in Allentown!
Thank you for your attention.
Here is the insensitive response from ASD Board Director David Fehr Zimmerman:
When we get our priorities straight and provide a balanced education to all students, given the horrendous financial constraints the school district is under, then maybe I will be more attuned to more realistic and genuine initiatives addressing deficient areas.
I will not support any arts or other special interest resolution until ALL students are provided an equal education. It is unconscionable to even introduce a resolution of this type when we are considering cutting all day kindergarten.
If you want to preserve "the arts" advocate that teachers reduce their salaries to accommodate those that may be furloughed, then we will all have some more breathing room.
My focus is on the fact that we are in DIRE financial condition. We may have to consider closing schools next year. People need to begin to understand this reality. All the research in the world is moot at this point in my opinion.
David Fehr Zimmerman
My Reaction: It is clear that Mr.Zimmerman does not understand this fact: according to both state and federal law, ASD children have a right to a quality public education. It is his job to make sure our children receive that quality education, regardless of the "DIRE" financial situation of our district. Children are the priority. Children should be his focus. He is robbing ASD children of a quality, well rounded education, in order to balance the budget, and that is what I find truly "unconscionable." Find the money to adequately fund vital ASD programs, by choosing other areas to cut that don't directly impact our children.
An "equal" education is one that includes core subject areas of art, music, physical education, and library, in accordance with state and federal law and our school district's mission statement. The arts are mandated by law as core subject areas essential to a quality education. The resolution to save the arts is not a "special interest" resolution. Related arts are essential. Zimmerman is misinformed. The arts have already been unfairly reduced. The school board should be finding ways to fully restore the arts and provide a full time certified librarian at each building. But Zimmerman dismisses educational research, so he does not know about the importance of access to books.
Zimmerman is only focused on the bottom line, and is not looking at the whole picture, and the whole child. Decisions about curriculum should be based on meeting needs of students through proven methods to increase academic achievement. What are his ideas, besides asking teachers to make more sacrifices? We must hold Zimmerman accountable, as an elected official, to do his job and find a way to provide a well rounded education for ASD kids, one which includes the arts, PE and library, just like the kids in more affluent suburban districts enjoy every day.
Full day Kindergarten and related arts go hand in hand. Zimmerman would know that if he didn't dismiss educational research in order to follow his own misguided, narrow views on education. The fact that he is a regular contributor to local blogs and forums that publish lies and misinformation, speaks to his poor judgment and low standards. He was even a regular contributor to the overtly racist Allentown Commentator online forum. He has continually ignored my polite and informative Emails on the value of the arts in education.
Ed White gave me permission to share his letter. Ed has been a committed parent and volunteer for many years. He has spoken at board meetings and rallies to save our schools. It's disgraceful that Zimmerman would respond to a parent in the way that he did. Don't vote for Zimmerman as ASD Board Director.