|Allentown School Board Directors|
All board members should be focused on the big picture of making sure ASD students receive a quality education, as mandated by the constitution. Instead, divisive and arrogant board directors Scott Armstrong and David Zimmerman use their positions of authority to grandstand about politics, bully teachers, parents, students and fellow board members while offering no reasonable ideas. I have written about them here and here and here. And it's very disturbing that ineffective directors Lamb, Bishop, and Zimmerman were recently re-elected to serve on the board. Allentown is headed in the same direction as Philadelphia and Chicago, where schools are being closed, resulting in destabilized neighborhoods where children's safety is at risk. The following commentary on the situation in Philadelphia is exactly how I feel about the outrageous "curtailment plan" recently approved by a majority of Allentown School Board Directors:
PHILADELPHIA: the school decimation budget through the eyes of a Temple student:
"These cuts should not be understood as a simple response to the current economic climate or lack of public funding in Philly or PA. These cuts should be understood as crimes committed against young people and workers; they should be understood as forms of structural violence in that these decisions will create incredible social harm in young people’s life choices and eliminate their access to community, recreation, mental and physical health services, mentors, creative outlets, higher education, employment and a meaningful culture of learning – in the one of the most impoverished, incarcerated, racist cities in the US – our nation’s birthplace nonetheless." Read more:
Allentown schools have also been decimated by deep cuts to teachers, including cuts to vital programs and services for children.
Art, music, physical education, and library are mandated as core subject areas under the Federal No Child Left Behind Act, and also under PA state law, and these programs should never be cut or reduced. Allentown SD plans to eliminate 132 teaching positions. Over the past 3 years nearly 400 positions have been eliminated. Related arts will be nearly eliminated. The curtailment plan will narrow the curriculum to mainly test prep, robbing children of their right to a quality education, robbing children of equal opportunities to discover their talents. It will put children in an unsafe learning environment where their needs can not be met. Classes will be over crowded. It will be less than bare bones. It will be educational malpractice, child abuse, and a violation of educational ethics. Would you want your child to be educated in this harmful environment? Parents will have no choice but to protect their children by leaving ASD. This is a quote from an ASD teacher working on the front lines of this impending disaster:
"132 more cuts -- more than 1/4 of our staff over three years. Our school balance WILL shift away from safe. Our education program WILL become so basic that it will not be able to sustain itself.
I believe that certain board members truly do not know how devastating an impact this will have on our students and this city. I also believe those that don't should not have a voice in an education forum and must be removed.
Out last round if cuts was absorbable to a point. This one is not."
The school board directors who approved the harmful "curtailment" plan are Ellen Bishop, Debora Lamb, David Zimmerman, Scott Armstrong, Andrew Weiss, and even board president Robert Smith Jr. Smith voted "yes" after he got what he wanted- restoration of full day kindergarten. But related arts and full day kindergarten should go hand in hand. If you are going to restore full day K, you must also fully restore related arts! What a mess.
I believe that there is no hope for the ASD unless the six unqualified board members are removed, along with superintendent Dr. Mayo and other top administrators. Let the teachers run the district! Hold the Mayo accountable! He has no ideas, and has continued with Dr. Zahorchak's crackpot plans and failed business model. This is SHAMEFUL AND DISGRACEFUL. This is an OUTRAGE. These people are not leading, and they do not understand that their short sighted decisions will have huge negative consequences. These cuts will never heal. The cuts are a disservice to children and community, and an injustice. These people must be called out by name, and held accountable. Only the worst kind of criminals would rob children.
UPDATE 6/22: ASD has found some money to keep 5 art teachers at the elementary schools, and 5 phys ed teachers. Hmmm, I wonder where else can they find some money? So this is good news for our kids, but we must demand FULL restoration of specialists at all grade levels. Note that Scott Armstrong and David Zimmerman voted against using the money to keep teachers, calling it "irresponsible." Demand removal of these immoral cretins from our school board! There should be no debate, the money MUST be used to restore teachers! Bizarro world Allentown! Demand accountability from Mayo and school board! Our kids deserve same opportunities as kids from neighboring suburban districts.