Saturday, July 6, 2013

Children Must Not Feel Pain of Budget Cuts

My son and honor student at the Trexler MS Science Fair
I have contacted members of the Allentown School District board and advised them on what to do with the $9.6 million in state aid: My advice is to do what is morally right by students, and use the money to reinstate teachers. Arrogant and divisive board member Scott Armstrong is dead wrong when he says that we all must make sacrifices. Children should never have to "share the pain" of budget cuts. 

The community has spoken, Brave parents have made passionate pleas at several packed board meetings. We have rallied, and we have written letters. Some of us have been very active and dedicated to this cause since the first round of cuts to related arts 2 years ago. I have met with Dr. Belardi ( salary $132.5K) and other top administrators to discuss my concerns about the harmful narrowing of curricula. The Muhlenberg PTA met with Dr. Mayo (salary $170K) and presented a resolution to restore the arts and he told me "don't treasure what can't be measured." Appalling!

 The majority of board members, and many administrators have ignored parents. ASD school board director David Zimmerman said that teachers are the "lowest priority" in our school district budget. Board member Scott Armstrong said that given rising pension and other employee costs, he does not support restoring any teaching positions and would put the entire $9.6 million in state aid toward restoring reserves and reducing the tax hike. They must immediately be removed from our school board. 

There should be no debate. Providing a quality education to our children, as mandated by the state's constitution, is top priority, and ASD cannot fulfill the state's obligation without teachers. Robbing children of their education in order to reduce taxes is criminal. And only the worst criminals rob children. There should not be a two tiered public education system where urban students sit in overcrowded test prep factories, while other kids enjoy the arts and a safe, rich learning environment. Armstrong and ZImmerman are promoting inequality! They should both "share the pain" of being booted off the board and publicly shamed for their cruelty to children.

Parents, it's time to get angry, be a badass, and take back our schools! There is strength in numbers! Write letters. Speak up, speak loud, and speak often.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dear ASD Board: Use $9.6 Million in State Aid to Reinstate Teachers

Student work ASD

 Dear Allentown School Board Director:

I am writing to you as a concerned parent. I am concerned about my child's future and the future of our school district. All ASD students must be provided with a quality public education, as mandated by the state constitution. Students must be your top priority, regardless of the dire financial situation of ASD. There should be no debate about priorities.

Please make sure the $9.6 million in state aid is used to reinstate teachers. My suggestion is to start at the elementary level to bring back librarians. Full restoration of related arts in middle school, and at all grade levels is of utmost importance as well. Middle school children should not be forced to sit for an additional period of reading and math test prep while parents are told this is "enrichment." I have had enough, and will not stand for the implementation of anymore schemes to improve test scores while the curriculum is narrowed.

Please end data driven instruction, high stakes testing, and other highly flawed methods that do not improve academic achievement, and diminish a child's joy for learning. The ASD administration's business model approach to education does not motivate or engage children. Children are not data points, they are human beings. ASD students need year round art, music, social studies, physical education, and library taught by certified teachers. ASD students deserve the same well rounded education as children from neighboring suburban districts. Anything less is an injustice and disservice to children and community.  Please do what is morally right by children and reinstate the teachers to our schools. Thank you for your service.

Angie Villa