Jun 24, 2011

Hardball on Penn Street

When I addressed the School Board at the end of March, I already knew that they made a mistake last spring hiring Zahorchak. I asked them if they were capable of moving beyond that poor choice, or would they circle the wagons and blindly endorse his endless ideas, in order to justify their previous decision. Today's Morning Call headlines the tension between the Administration and the teacher's union leader. Although I read the story three times, beyond the headline and bold print, it says very little. We know that the Superintendent attempted to intimidate the union leader. Nobody wants to comment, and the School Board postponed the vote approving the layoffs and budget. There is also tension between some School Board members and the Administration, and between two camps in the school board. A few members realize that they were elected to represent the parents and students, not just support the Superintendent. Intimidation has also been used against those board members who question Zahorchak's tactics, and his Pathway to Success plan.

Penn Street is where the Administration Building is located.


gary ledebur said...

This is a meaningless and irresponsible post. We get it MM, you do not like Dr. Z. I know you like to criticize folks in power but try to have some substance when you do.

Anonymous said...

Some transparency, please.

michael molovinsky said...

on the contrary gary, you do like Dr. Z and defend him in meaningless ways. For instance, please use the link and go to the morning call article. By the way, it's the headline across the front page. I believe there's more meat in my one paragraph. please return, and comment on the newspaper article.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the guy is doing what he was hired to do.

Haven't you ever heard the expression "If everyone likes you your probably not doing your job."

gary ledebur said...

OK, I read the article. It was moderately informative but you are right -- not a lot of substance. The reporter, like many today, wanted to create a controversy between the union head and the super. This should not have been hard to do in this time of severe cuts.

There are two kinds of superintendents that I have known. The first is content to manage the store and live nicely to retirement. Bill Stoutenberg (spell?) was one of these. Perhaps Diane Scott, a friend of mine was one as well. Dr. Z is of the other kind, a reformer. He wants to move an educational agenda in order to improve outcomes for students. You can disagree with his agenda and not attack the man.

I have not defended Dr. Z in meaningless ways. In fact I have criticized his hiring of administrators while at the same time laying off teachers. He is not perfect but he is your superintendent and deserves honest criticism not general attacks.

michael molovinsky said...

gary, to my knowledge the extent of the "attacks" against zahorchak have been limited to this single blog and some newspaper stories, to which I have linked. In a city of 110,000 plus, he should feel lucky that his plans have received such little scrutiny. discussions on this blog have included school board members, plus current and former teachers. most consider the "criticism" here to be of substance, not personal.

ironpigpen said...

I will never forget finding "BOYCOTT GLAZIER's FURNITURE" signs one not-so-pleasant Sunday morning...

...I also believe Dr. Z is nothing more than a Progressive Liberal hack working his way up the ladder to Washington, D.C.

I say the kids will continue to get dumber and dumber, as they have been for quite some time now. How much money has gone down the Rat Hole already?

And, as is always the case with the Bulldozer, I am willing to put my money where my mouth is --- Any takers and how much will you be in for?

Anonymous said...
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michael molovinsky said...

anon 10:10, although your identity is obvious, i will leave your link stand on this particular post.

Anonymous said...

Pathways to success seems like a good plan. Change is needed. It fits with the direction the economy is heading. Students need skills to earn a living. We cannot send all students to what, in many cases, is a university system that perpetuates immaturity and extended adolescence. Too many get caught in the trap. They need to learn skills to make a living not to end up in a drug and alcohol rehab post graduation.

That being said the problem is that it is in Allentown.

Why Allentown? The culture and the poverty. Frankly it is atrocious and no school district can ever have enough money without massive government aid to deal with the issue. Get creative people. Look at what you are dealing with honestly and directly not treat it as you think it should be. Treat it as it is.

Success might be achieved if the class size were under 10 students per teacher, at least in the middle school, and no more than 20-25 in either elementary and high school. 75% of the teachers should be certified in special education and versed in the realities of youth culture and the urban environment. All teachers should have mentoring skills to take over for so many of the parents who are totally apathetic or are not educated themselves and cannot help their children in their educational efforts.

Additionally all teachers, administrators and staff would need to be committed to a high moral ground and willing to call each other on their actions when they see breaches of this code, before bad behavior is able to occur. Sorry but kids repeat what they see their role models do not what they say. If "teach" is out sexing her students when the time comes for them to teach they will do the same.

The school district would need a highly trained and educated security force who did not pose as a bunch of thugs who act like they belong to the same gangs as many of the students. Again to act as role models and moral mentors not the high fivin' fools they seem to often be.

You would also need a school district where there was a discipline based strict code of conduct applied rigorously and equitably to all students. ASD is pitifully incapable of enforcing the existing code of conduct and administration appears fearful of student retaliation if they do. Essentially there is no code of conduct in ASD and they absolutely refuse to admit their inability to do anything about it.

Student support staff needs to be replaced from the top down. They have failed. Their mistakes are hidden and/or glossed over. Teachers are threatened for doing the right thing. It is a crime. You cannot institute an anti bullying program in a school system that is administered by bullies.

You would also need an administration and a union that are mature enough to rise above their pathetically petty differences and realize they are destroying the very thing they harp on being committed to, the students and teaching.

In essence students, teachers and administrators need to be aligned to make Pathways work. Today that is far from happening. It is a shame but is only the fault of the short sightedness of all parties involved.

We will see how it all unfolds in less than 90 days.

BTW - I would never let the author of the educational blog referred to in an earlier post teach my kids. That would be a travesty.


Anonymous said...
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Wise Man from the West End said...

One of the central issues with many of these posts as well as with the MCall is the perception that this Pathways to Success is in any way a plan. It is a deliberate furlouging of teachers to make budget nothing more. The number of furloughs and those who are being furloughed has changed WEEKLY almost DAILY for the principals in the buildings as well as the teachers. If this plan were really a new curriculum or a true change, then Dr. Z would already know how many teachers he would need to implement it. Instead, the number of teachers has changed constantly indicating that he doesn't really care how many teachers he gets, as long as he makes budget.

At this point, I wish the school board would stand up for this community and realize the abject failure of this policy and the vision/direction of the last year. There is no plan which is evidenced by no one being able to articulate said plan nor anyone able to comprehend the financial/labor necessities of said plan.

This plan was passed in MARCH, how come we still have no clue who will be teaching this fall, nor what they will be teaching.

PS- I am not an Allentown teacher nor do I have kids in the school. I am simply a city taxpayer.

michael molovinsky said...

west end, i'm afraid it's the worst of both worlds. teachers are being laid off, and the curriculum is changing. which is the chicken and egg is debatable. i do not believe it is in anyway a pathway to success

Wise Man From the West End said...


May I ask a question which I am afraid you will probably not be able to answer directly?

Is a MAJORITY or CLOSE to a majority of the board members getting towards open opposition to Zahorchak or will it continue to be a minority?

michael molovinsky said...

wise man, a small minority might be most descript. the school board election, come november, is therefore important. allentown of late has no checks and balances anywhere; i.e., allentown city council has NEVER voted down a pawlowski measure in his 6 years as mayor.

Anonymous said...

June 25, 2011 11:55 AM

You make many good points that are factual and have history to back it up. The biggest problem is the liberal PC teachers and their unions. Get the government and the liberals out of education and things just might improve. We should all know by now that politics trumps education and what is best for the students. Many parents don't even have a clue to what is best for society. Entitlements and entertainment are a much bigger priority than education, to too many voters.

Anonymous said...


June 27, 2011 10:33 AM

Entitlements and entertainment are a much bigger priority than education, to too many voters.

Doesn't seem as though voters have had anything to say about it.
I wouldn't ever cast a vote for Pulpudski and his ilk, but I read many comments saying "you voted for him and this is what you get".
Is this an argument about representational government?
Even people that voted for the mayor have every right to speak out when their elected ****
acts in a manner that is contrary to what they feel that they voted for.
Also, In addition to parents not knowing what is "good" for society, many administrators, politicians, and bloggers have no clue either.
Trash the schools and enter the third world.