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Apr 1, 2011
Allentown School District
Last night the School Board approved Zahorchak's Pathways to Success, laying off 247 teachers. Before I begin my tirade, let me acknowledge a reality. Apparently, there will be less revenue from the state and federal governments this year. (although we always seem to end up with more than the initial offer) Assuming that, never the less, there is a substantial reduction, and the taxpayers can only tolerate so much increase, some layoffs were inevitable. Also, apparently teachers cannot be laid off for reasons of economy, only curriculum changes. So, I concede a program change, and some layoffs were necessary. That said, this school board and this superintendent could not have done it in a poorer fashion. The board hired the wrong person last year as superintendent. It was apparent from the first Z Letter indicating that everything was wrong and that he had all the answers. It was apparent from the 3000 idea's he threw against the wall. It was apparent from transferring the most effective principals to administrative jobs. To have made the best of their bad hiring decision, the board would have to first recognize it. Apparently, this board, or at least it's leadership, has too much self esteem for such a conclusion.
Although 247 teachers will be laid off, not one administrator will lose his/her job. To make matters more irrational, many of these administrative jobs did not exist before last year. Although Zahorchak's goal of higher test scores and graduation rate are admirable, he is gutting the elective programs, which were the unique aspect of the Allentown School District. If he doesn't succeed in his goals, which is very likely, his plan was the Pathway to Failure. He has demoralized the teaching staff, even before the layoffs. Allentown School District has dug itself a deeper hole, which wasn't easy to do. Zahorchak claims we need a change; I agree, we need a new board and a new superintendent.