Feb 17, 2014

Rumble In The School District

Scott Armstrong, the school director everyone loves to hate, was fouled this morning in a Morning Call ViewPoint, by teacher's union president Debbie Tretter. The paper's editor bent his own rules in allowing Tretter to make personal attacks based on emotionalism, as opposed to facts. It is disappointing when any elected official, let alone a school board director, denigrates those who are less fortunate and votes against housing opportunities. Saying that Armstrong denigrates poor people is simply untrue, and throwing mud against the wall, hoping that some of it sticks. Armstrong voted against bestowing a tax free status upon the Phoenix Mill, in a proposal of turning that commercial space into apartments. There was no claim that the Phoenix Mill would be affordable, on the contrary, it was presented as loft apartments, which would attract very few, if any children. He was joined in that vote by four other school directors, two of whom (Joanne Bauer and CeCe Gerlach) are known as very pro teacher. I believe that it's inappropriate for Tretter to be attacking an elected member of the school board with innuendo, and inconsistent of the newspaper to facilitate it.

UPDATE: The editor defended Tretter's attack on Armstrong by saying that it's "Her opinion."  I have in the past been prevented, by the same editor, from even writing that someone used "propaganda techniques." I was told that such an accusation constitutes a personal attack, which is against their policy. I was to restrict myself to only refuting facts.  It appears that Ms. Tretter was given more more freedom with her opinion.  The editor told me that each piece is evaluated on a case by case basis. He apparently means a person by person basis.  At best, the paper applies it's standards selectively, in an inconsistent manner.


Anonymous said...


Tretter defends the status with the same tired arguments that got us into this situation.

As to her argument about Armstrong and charter schools, she's also dead wrong. As a taxpayer, I would hope that Armstrong's (and the whole Board's) commitment is to getting students the best education at the most reasonable cost. I could care less if that education comes from charter or traditional schools.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your kind words. I posted the following on the comment section of the op-ed. See the link below.

The fact that Ms Tretter, president of the Allentown Teachers’ union feels the need to vilify me indicates I am taking stands that she feels are counter to her association’s best interests. That would be the labor union that handles collective bargaining agreements for the teachers of the ASD. This labor unit poses as a defender of public education but its actions are purely selfish. One example; last year they stood with their union brothers against privatizing the state stores even though the district stood to gain millions in badly needed funding.
Ms Tretter’s slander that I “denigrat[e] those who are less fortunate” was unworthy of the Morning Call’s opinion page. It was a cheap insult and a clear attempt to bully on her part. I will not be intimidated.
Expect many ugly comments directed at me to follow this. That is the standard tactic of bullies and the standard operating procedure of Ms Tretter’s labor union.


monkey momma said...

Does Ms. Tretter believe that ALL housing projects should receive a YES vote? Phoenix Mill was sold as a place for young, hip urbanites who don't have children. Now it's a "housing opportunity?"

I love that the title of her opinion piece includes the phrase "work together," yet she doesn't even finish sentence one before she trashes Armstrong.

Tretter's entire piece focuses on problems faced by ASD employees, with their pension crisis and skyrocketing healthcare costs. Where is her focus on the STUDENTS? Where is the focus on test scores, graduation rates, literacy, etc?? We will never solve ASD's problems until we realize that the union's priority's are secondary to the student's education.

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised the Morning Call would stoke the fire in this way. EVERYTHING is Liberal to them. Tretter staunchly supports the Liberal line as a good NEA soldier always does.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of her statements were misleading and in some cases factually wrong.

I believe the statement about ACT 120 was wrong. I didn't do anything but push the pension costs out. Yes it avoided a "spike" by increasing costs later.

It was not an article the MC should have published. It was a personal attack with little basis.

If we don't move from the pure defined benefit pensions the ASD will only have to keep cutting staff.

It just wants the status quo and for the state to keep the benies flowing.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Act 120 did quite a few things, like reduce the pension multiplier back, extend eligibility before vesting, and shift more risk to the employee. Problem is, these changes effect new hires. Most of you won't be satisfied until more skin is taken from current employees.

Anonymous said...

Who are "most of you" --- the ones whose tax monies fund the schools in the first place?

Anonymous said...

This is not about Ms. Tretter attacking Mr. Armstrong but Mayor Edward Pawloski attacking Mr. Armstrong, using Ms. Tretter as a pawn. The teachers union has lost it usefulness and through a whole stream of unintended consequences and denial only serves to undermine the education process in Allentown. It is not about the students, it is about salaries and pensions. Ms. Tretters salary, paid by ASD, is a waste of money. She DOES NOT teach at all. Why do the tax payers support a teacher who does not teach nor directly or indirectly support the benefit of the students? Also! The project in questions was a POS anyway. Not thought out at all and would have only added to the blight inevitable downtown now that the developers are really starting to be struck by the reality of how depressed the surrounding environs are. Wonder what would have happened this month if the arena were operational? Magically snow plows would appear?

Guy Williams said...

Clearly the MC is wrong on this issue as stated above. Just came back from a mini vacation at two redeveloped commercial/entertainment districts in Ybor City {Tampa} and Winter Park {Orlando}.What stood out was the abundance of low cost city owned parking lots that compliment the developments.Apparently the surface lots are still a funding source for city schools.