Jul 21, 2015

The New Watchdog

ASD Made Secret Charter School Deal is the headline across the Morning Call. Above it, the paper's new Watchdog Report logo. This is at least the second time recently that the Call has referred to it's articles as Watchdog Reports. Quite a bark from a paper that clearly was a lapdog for the last three years. As I stated yesterday, the paper had to man-up, because the news was passing them by. But, in their haste, are they now making headlines out of nothing?

As some readers know, I keep the family's traditional butcher/baker hours. Also, as some readers know, I have back channels, especially with the school board. From the mail awaiting me early this morning, I can tell you that the school board is not happy with today's headline.

Last year, Abe Atiyeh pushed hard for an elementary art charter school in the former fitness center on Union Street, to fill one of his many buildings. I wrote, at that time, that he even used a public relation's firm to solicit parents, and voice support with the district. Although, the district rejected the application twice, such rejections are usually overturned on appeal to Harrisburg. Meanwhile, the district was formulating their own alternative high school, to both keep charter funds internal, and also be more relevant in today's school environment. The district was interested in the former bank call center, coincidentally owned by Atiyeh, which would give high school students intern access to the new offices on Hamilton Street.

In January, the district ended up approving the art charter school, before a Harrisburg appeal would have overturned their rejection anyway, and also leased the former call center.   At the time, Atiyeh also included a letter, pledging to not submit future charter school applications. To the district, that letter was not the essence of the lease deal, but the lap puppy, turned watchdog, sees it differently. Puppies are supposed to be paper trained, but here in Allentown, the puppy, in it's haste to train the paper, is making unnecessary noise.

10 comments:

Dreaming of Justice said...

The tail wags the dog, you know how it goes!

Anonymous said...

It's been said here before---
The collapse of the press in the Lehigh Valley is at least half the current story of civic and political collapse in the Lehigh Valley.

Anonymous said...

Mike, I have to say that when I read your comment, "...the school board is not happy with today's headline" my initial thought was that's a damn shame (major sarcasm alert).

From my perspective, they have not earned the trust that goes along with public support for decisions like this. Part of that is Pawlowski's fault, with his efforts to stack and control the school board. The other is the fact that, as Scott Armstrong has pointed out innumerable times, they are not well run financially, the administration has kept material information from the board, etc.

Sure the MC is years late to the party on what is going on in Allentown, and I think Kraus and Assad are bad jokes. But at this point, I'm willing to trade over-reporting for no-reporting.

And if the School Board doesn't like it, well that's too bad.

The Banker

michael molovinsky said...

banker@9:56, i don't disagree with your analysis. the point of my post was that the morning call was trying to sensationalize a situation where they (the paper) cobbled together several issues and came to a rather wrong conclusion, or they finally barked, but up the wrong tree. the charter art school would have prevailed in appeal. there is almost universal support for the alternative high school. atiyeh's pledge, for whatever it's worth, to not involve himself anymore in charter schools, can't be a bad thing. yet, the headline and story suggests that it was. hopefully, the paper will start to scrutinize things much more than in the past, but they shouldn't try now to catch up, by casting undue aspersions, that's the job of bloggers like myself.

Anonymous said...

Banker, the administration has not in my opinion kept information from the board. Frankly it would not be in their interest to do so. Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Sorry you would no believe what the administration keeps from the board. Let the Auditor General decide.

Anonymous said...

Scott apologize that I was incorrect in my reference to you. I read it somewhere and will have to go back and see where.

The Banker

michael molovinsky said...

@3:10, the fact that auditor general wants to conduct an investigation based on that article, certainly doesn't enhance my opinion of harrisburg.

Anonymous said...

3:10. the district is audited annually,there is no room for shenanigans. As well the board is composed of independent and diverse people. Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

The biggest question in my mind was why try to limit Charter Schools in the first place?

I mean, Charter Schools are so popular among taxpayer-parents that there are lotteries and waiting lists. Whose interests are served by limiting them -- other than maybe the forced-membership NEA's?