Feb 21, 2011

White Charter School

Is school superintendent Zahorchak's new magnet school for academically gifted at 4th and Allen Streets a defacto charter school for whites? The more I read about Zahorchak's plans, the less impressed I am. Although the school planners acknowledge that the hispanic population suffers from a high mobility rate, they then ignore that reality with sweeping changes based on a stable population. When you remove the bad apples to the new detention center in the old Jackson School, then the gifted to the 4th and Allen, what do you call the remainder at Allen and Dieruff, the mediocre? Who will be the academic role models for the mediocre? I'm beginning to believe that we have a mediocre school board who doesn't have the gumption to rein in an obvious poor hire.

UPDATE: Comments from The Morning Call indicate that people are not happy with the Zahorchak plan
I agree with you 100%!! My daughter is also one of the students that would be moved to the new Collegiate High and she doesn't want to leave Dieruff either. Her friends are there. See what people like Dr. Z forget is that school is also about social things too. Now I know people are going to be all over me for that because "school is about learning" however, it is also about social issues too. My daughter helps out other students at Dieruff with tutoring. She has friends in her honors/gifted classes and friends who struggle in many classes. You see, it doesn't matter to her where they are academically, they are friends. She tells me she will drop every honors/gifted class she has and stay at Dieruff. Well isn't that great for us, her parents. Moving the students around is not going to solve the problems in ASD. Again it is the parents. How to fix that I have no idea but pulling kids away from their friends is not going to work. My daughter will graduate as a Dieruff Husky...just as both her parents did.

16 comments:

gary ledebur said...

Another "progressive liberal" complaint against rewarding achievement and punishing bad behavior. The Tribune of the People is going liberal and I may say, soft. First defending socialized nursing care, now homogeneous schools. I am not sure what "homogeneous" really means but as for me I want no part of anything with"homo" in the title. The next thing he will probably want the feds to fix the sewer pipes in the West End!

michael molovinsky said...

mr. ledebur is a long time admirer of zahorchak, and believes i should give his ideas an opportunity for results before i criticize. i'm actually becoming more disappointed in the school board which is defending his sweeping changes to justify their recent hiring choice. operating two additional buildings will cost us money we don't have. zahorchak has harvested programs from other communities which do not have have our set of students. i might note that there is increasing doubt among the teaching staff in regard to these plans, including a web site.

Anonymous said...

Where exactly is this school going at 4th and Allen? What building?

Also, isn't this the school board that is funding a special publicity agency?

michael molovinsky said...

i'm not sure which building it is. the agency is a small one person shop who handles the communications, i'm not bothered by that nominal expense.

Anonymous said...

Mike is the discontent with the teachers, or the teachers union?

If it's the union, I'm of a mind that Zahorchak may be on to something...

Anonymous said...

"We all need to recognize Zahorchak's vision for what it really is - a hard ploy for a job in Washington."

-------------------

What happens if this commentor at The Morning Call's article is correct with the estimation?

What if Zahorchak really IS just ANOTHER resume-building Bureaucrat who has come to Allentown to make a name for himself?

Nah --- could never happen. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Moving the top students does nothing to address the real problems that exist with the other students. There are many students at Allen who never show up for school. Or if they do show up for school, only stay for breakfast and lunch and then, leave and go home.
Empty seats can never be educated. The lack of parenting or parents is the source of most of the problems.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 1:04, i'm mistaken. the web site is a facebook page started by parents and students, but has already received over 1000 inputs.

gary ledebur said...

Being a superintendent is one of the most challenging jobs around -- angry parents, mean-spirited taxpayers, pain-in-the-ass union reps and kids who don't really appreciate a good education. Since everyone went to school, everyone is an expert on schools. Dr. Z is not angling for another job. I find it sad that instead of debating his proposals folks on this blog demean his motives. Perhaps this is why we need to improve public education in America.

Patrick McHenry said...

MM -

I fail to see how sending gifted students to a school at 4th and Allen is any kind of reward.

The building is in a high poverty area, and (to put it mildly)the area isn't considered one of the safest in the city.

Parents from the West End and East Side won't feel comfortable sending their children there, and gifted students from that area won't have an opportunity to escape for at least part of the day.

Not a very smart idea from a supposedly smart person, but one that you would expect from an outsider with no knowledge of the city. The School Board should know better, however, and should put a stop to this before too much money is wasted.

michael molovinsky said...

perhaps if the magnet school was located in the west end, it's mission as a white charter school would be too obvious for this new version of segregation

Chris Casey said...

The motto should be "ADministration over Education.: There is something to be said for having real achievers in a school for other kids to look up to and to try and compete with.
Why is it that everything I read about ASD is more about experimental programs than actually executing the base mission of educating the kids? Get back to the core mission and figure out how to do that with all the inner city social problems before coming up with pie in the sky proposals.

michael molovinsky said...

chris, i couldn't agree more. we are placing far too much emphasis on test scores and graduation rates. allentown has always provided quality education for any students motivated to avail themselves.

Monkey Momma said...

Well, personally speaking, I would rather my gifted kid/high achieving kid be seperated from the pack and given the attention he/she needs to excel. I am sick and tired of our schools (and that's ALL public schools) catering to the lowest common denominator. If ASD wants to give the gifted kids the attention and lessons they deserve, without the worry and stress of being exposed to the underachievers, then I applaud it.

As for the parents worried about their kids being seperated from friends, I can understand their concerns. But...I would remind them that kids are resilient and they can handle the change. Kids can deal with a change much better than parents. And they WILL meet friends, presumably friends with better values, since they are, by definition, in the high achieving group.

I don't know...I see a lot of merit to this proposal, but I understand that it's a difficult change to make for the families involved.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Monkey Momma. The 2 most important things we can do for our children is to give them our values and a good education. Since the US is getting further and further behind other countries in education, it is essential for our students to get the best education we can give them. Competition is more important now then ever. They also need discipline, something not given in public schools. Social interaction is something that will happen everywhere they go. There are always friends to be made and they will adapt quicker than older people do.
Stealth.

Anonymous said...

In answer to a question, the 4th and Allen building is a former KidsPeace school at the northwest corner. It would be renovated and expanded at a cost of at least $7 million. Part of the Parkway Shopping Center would be used for 1 year until the renovations are done.

The Superintendent actually had expected that the School Board would approve ALL of the curriculum changes, including the separate Collegiate School, at last night's meeting. Almost no one had access to the plans until a few days ago. The teachers received a copy a week ago and were told not to show anyone.

The plan was posted on the web 2 days before the meeting after everyone demanded to know what was happening.