Mar 2, 2011

Defending A Bad Decision



The Allentown School Board made a bad choice in their hire of Gerard Zahorchak as School Superintendent. Although he sounded good on paper, two other candidates had the large inter- city experience we needed. The Board probably felt that as former State Director of Education, Zahorchak would have the fast track on grants. In reality he was just a political appointee by Rendell from the small Johnstown School District. In five months time he has lost the confidence of the district teachers. First he reassigned the most effective principals in Allentown. Then he proposed eliminating the most relevant courses. Although yesterday's teacher vote to reject the salary reductions was not surprising, their distrust of him was telling. Although last Wednesday's Board meeting suspended Zahorchak's plans for the honor student academy, the district proceeds spending $millions renovating the building. The School Board must assert itself against the grandiose plans which are not applicable to our local situation. We have a transient population. Radical curriculum changes mean little if the students move away during the course of instruction. But, before they will do so, they must stop being defensive about a previous poor decision.

12 comments:

gary ledebur said...

Teachers voting to reject their salary reductions? I guess in a Molovinsky administration folks would vote for reducing their own salaries. Just exactly how would the Tribune of the People balance the district budget? Don't just say cut waste, fraud and the central office. That won't get even close.

michael molovinsky said...

i'm not surprised at the suggestion or rejection of the salary cut. i'm surprised at the attitude expressed openly by the teachers at both the board meeting and after the vote yesterday toward zahorchak. he doesn't impress them.

Anonymous said...

Any time a job is protected for life with a corrupt union that swaps the tax payers money back and forth with the government so they can stay in power, that system will fail under it's own weight. The tax payers are fed up with the corruption of unions and the government, mainly the Democrats. Privatization is the only way to to solve the problems with the public schools. Competition solves many problems, cost, quality, corruption and greed. To accept that premise is to care about our children more than we care about ourselves. That's where our values come in. Do we have good values or not? Judging by what I see on TV in Wisconsin and the union protesters, I'd say not! The whole state is on the brink of financial collapse and the union members just want more. Obama is siding with the corrupt unions! Is there any doubt that he and the Democrats are bought and paid for by the unions with our tax money?

michael molovinsky said...

wisconsin and the unions is a macro question, zahorchak and the teachers is micro. for now, our schools and teachers remain, and he should not have fostered such alienation after only five months, most on school policy, not wages.

gary ledebur said...

"...fostered widespread alienation." There is no evidence of this. MM's personal observation of some teachers who don't want their salaries cut does not justify this hyperbole.

Sometimes I think MM just needs a foil for his blog.

As to teachers' unions, yes many have gone too far with work rules. Yes, it is too hard to terminate bad teachers. Nevertheless, without the right to bargain collectively, teachers would be paid at about the same level as child care workers which would be a national disgrace and harmful to children. The United States could have saved $700 billion by eliminating the bush tax cuts to the top 2% of Americans. No let's blame the third grade teacher at Muhlenberg elementary for the deficit and recession.

Patrick McHenry said...

Gary -

I'll keep it to ASD.

The fact that so many of our Allentown SCHOOLS are failing and the high drop-out rate are the only things that are a disgrace - not what the teachers are paid.

If money was the solution, there wouldn't be a problem.

michael molovinsky said...

gary, i place my remarks on comments made by teachers, at both the board meeting and in the press. there's no shortage of "foils" in allentown

patrick, i believe that the system provides a quality education for those with any motivation. when you're dealing with a high mobility rate (school term, not mine) you shortchange the good students by reworking the curriculum for better test scores. zahorchak wanted to do away with the social science courses such as home economics. these courses teach parenting skills. have you seen how many young mothers are at allen? what would be the point of improving the test score average if a significant amount of the students don't get the training they really need while in the schools?

gary ledebur said...

OMG! Molovinsky speaks out for Home Economics? What are your smoking Tribune?

Anonymous said...

The teachers I have talked to would be very happy to give up a wage increase if it minimized the number of layoffs. However, right now, there is a complete lack of trust.

A deal is needed ASAP that sets a specific maximum number of layoffs of existing full-time teachers in return for giving up the increase.

Anonymous said...

One can understand these sentiments.

One could also construct a scenario that placed this individual in this position through a rather complex well thought out plan.

If one did, it would need to include the governor, the search firm hired as a consultant, local foundations, non-profits, their leaders as well as the operational queen pin - the past superintendent.

It would have to be a well orchestrated dance that kind of pushes the limit of conspiracy theory.

Sounds a little paranoid. That is until you start to look at the candidates competing against the superintendent.

More diligent research would indicate all the other characters had some significant flaws.

Not on the surface, but just below, where it would take some work to find, but not that much.

Did the search firm know about these?

The revelations of these hidden issues did more to solidify the decision for the choice of the current hiree than anything else.

Perhaps this was their design.

Insiders say there is as much pay for play here as there is in the city. Perhaps like the city the school district is influenced as much by non-educators than the current administration and board.

The board is simply the gate keeper. The centurions so to speak. Many with convenient ties to the movers and shakers of the community who have a vested interested in the school district for their own purposes.

Not necessarily in the best interests of the students or the tax payers but do they care?

Yes Michael transients do have their utility.

Here is a trail to follow. You can start with the new principle at 126 N 17th St. and work backward.

Another carefully orchestrated coup by the powers at be.

Anonymous said...

The schools are a disaster, not just here but everywhere. Especially in the inner cities. Drastic problems need a drastic solution or the proverbial can will be kicked even further down the road than it already is. Public education needs to be totally privatized! Competition has to be in education like all all other businesses. Nothing else will work. The "brains" in government can think of all kinds of complicated rules and restrictions to put into law, like IRS regulations and tax laws but they won't tackle education. The reason is obvious. It doesn't help the Democrats to get elected.

Anonymous said...

What good does privatization do? As Mike has pointed out, there is a 40% mobility rate in the two high schools. There are many students who never show up for school.In a private school, a lot of these students were be thrown out of school. Where would then then go?? Naturally, back to the public school.The lack of parents and parenting trumps all efforts and monies being spent in ASD