Sep 25, 2015

Armstrong On Demonstration At School Board

A lesson in anger and fraud was on display at tonight’s school board meeting. District students, offered free food if they showed up, were then riled up by an adult charlatan protest leader and directed to focus their energy and anger on the supposed injustices perpetrated by the Allentown School District, its board, and superintendent. This, they proceeded to do with great dispatch, banging on the Administration building’s picture windows and chanting very loudly. It was real sound and fury. The press and police were there in force. The leader of this group, who was clearly hoping to make a name for himself, was allowed to address the board. He used the opportunity to make thinly veiled threats and present himself as a great leader. I heard this from the hall as I was unwilling to be part of his audience. He is an opportunist, but the opportunity was created by Mayor Ed Pawlowski and his agents who discredited the district as part of their campaign to gain control of the board. With the FBI’s focus on the mayor, that plans seems to be in jeopardy, but the damage has been done to the district and yes, to the city itself. This protest is bad news for who, in the suburbs, will watch this and say, yes, let’s move our family to Allentown. Well done, Ed Pawlowski and all those who participated in his scheme to selfishly besmirch the ASD. Tonight was the first fruit of that effort.
                                   Scott Armstrong

ADDENDUM: The above first person account of the last night's school board meeting is by Scott Armstrong,  current board member and candidate for reelection in November.  Accounts of the meeting by the Express Times ,  WFMZ and The Morning Call paint a rather raucous event.  Protest organizer and charter school teacher, Michael Frassetto, would better serve students by encouraging them to go early, and stay late, rather than participate in his scheduled walkout.  It appears as if teacher union leader Debra Tretter could have separated her lack of contract grievance more from the other protest.  Likewise, former board member Holly Edinger appeared to put a political agenda ahead of the student's best interests.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being a steadying force, Scott.

School Board candidates that had been running under Chicago Eddy's "Citizens for a New Allentown" banner should hang their heads in shame and withdraw from the race. We certainly don't need any tainted Pawlowski leftovers.

By the way, where do the commissars of the forced-membership NEA/AEA stand on all this?

Finally, can this dimwitted pied piper (I'll join you in not rewarding him by mentioning his name) trying to lead kids out of school be prosecuted for a "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" type of offense? If not, is his behavior violating any of the terms of the teachers' contract with the school district in which he is employed?

I'm sure the vast majority of Allentown's net taxpayers are glad you're on the board to help see us through this. Good work, sir.

Anonymous said...

@5:33

I forgot to sign my name to my previous post concerning Scott Armstrong.

Jeffrey Anthony

Anonymous said...

It's not in Allentown's heart to riot, but they were making a point. This City is still not used to people NOT following the status quo, so when something like this happens they are unprepared. ASD has been bad for YEARS and the ones truly paying the price are the students and their futures. New Charter schools, new city infrastructure, and teens are still fodder for the prison system or the welfare line. As much as people may want to point the blame at everything and everyone else, I am unsure what they THOUGHT would eventually happen? It's been a "powder keg" situation for years now....

- Alfonso Todd

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Former director Holly Edinger's comments were bizarre at best. Isn't it great so many kids show up at a school board meeting. really? Even if they were brought down under false pretenses and manipulated to a near riot by someone whose motives are very suspect?
What we saw last night was a lesson of how individuals can be turned into a mob. Is there a good side to that Holly?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Alfonso,

So fill the kids heads with lies and light the fuse? Is that justified? Do you think anyone on that board doesn't care about the children or doesn't understand the value of education. Do you think the superintendent or any of the administrators aren't in Allentown because they care and want to make a difference right here. Same goes for the teachers. All of them could have an easier work life and better pay in any of the surrounding districts.
You are correct, the ASD is in trouble and has "been bad" for years. Do you think a new superintendent, administrators, and/or teachers will be able to correct the main cause of the district's problem; of blighted blocks and neighborhoods. This ever increasing concentration of poverty is beyond the ASD's ability to control or effect.
Blaming the ASD for falling test scores and rising drop out rates is like telling a person with cancer it is there fault they aren't getting better.
Sorry to be so blunt, but the time for facile big picture thinking and attempts at justifications will lead not to improvement but the exact opposite. Who wants to play a part in that?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

A city out of control.

A school district out of control.

The Lehigh Valley is not well.

doug_b said...

I suffered attending Allentown 'Government' schools in the 50's and 60's. I was fortunate to escape to college in the 11th grade. IMO we should get the government out of education, and give the parents vouchers.

If you do the math Allentown spends $15,000 per student / per year. You could send them to Penn State for less money.

Anonymous said...

We are in a National upheaval that has been descending upon Allentown and our nearby communities for a number of years now.....Last night was just another symptom of a much larger problem. Bob, Scott, and Mike are the only voices of sanity left that we have on the School Board, and must be retained...Just my personal opinion. Take it for what it's worth.
"The Old Allentown Curmudgeon" (Paul J. Fiske)

Anonymous said...

Using terms like manipulation, mob, and suspect motives are NOT helping the cause. The reality is there IS something wrong with the system and while people are decrying the actiosn of a few, no one is focusing on WHY they were actually there. They DO deserve better. Perhaps the message was not in an articulate form or political based way many would have preferred but the fact still remains there is an issue with ASD. If there was something actually being done to improve the situation, then there would have been no wind in their sails. He has a reason to do this and "popularity" and "opportunity" seems to be a stretch. There is no money in protesting, in fact he is putting his career and livelihood at risk. It's a clear case of people making other people uncomfortable by not following the status quo. Pawlowski was not even an issue. I moved here 10 years ago during the "good times" and ASD was still troubled. Let's not demean the leadership or the young people taking a stand for their futures just because you don't agree with their tactics.

- Alfonso Todd

michael molovinsky said...

Alfonso@7:57 and 9:50, i very respectfully disagree with you. i have seen larger systems like philadelphia throw out the baby with the bath water numerous times, to little or no result. worse result is take overs by harrisburg, as if they know what they're doing. i also have issues with mr. frassetto. i believe that he was let go by the only local charter school i have use for, roberto clemente. too many of these other charter schools are profit motivated, or worse, like segregation. none of this is to say that there is no room for improvement, but when you have school students calling for the superintendent's resignation, you clearly have kids rallied up about something they know very little about. i don't know what frassetto is, but he's not an educator.

Anonymous said...

Alfonzo,

You wrote, "Using terms like manipulation, mob, and suspect motives are NOT helping the cause."
What cause are you referring to? The ugly one last night? In that case I have no interest in helping that "cause". If you are referring to the larger issue of what is wrong with public education in general, and Allentown specifically, I have been on the front lines of that fight for years. Last night's actions did nothing to further positive action on that, in fact it did a real disservice to the district, the superintendent, the administrators, and the teachers. The students who participated are also victims. They were fed blatant lies and told to act on them; these lies they parroted back to the press for all to see. Hense they now look foolish.
What kind of a person, a teacher no less would engage such tactics and use the young in such a way? Would you disagree it would be a person of suspects motives?

Scott Armstrong

LVCI said...

When people shout and get in each others faces little will be accomplished. The whole is only as good as a sum of it's parts This applies to students as well.. We have to delve deeper into those parts.

Why is it some students do very well and others do not? I believe the difference lies in those who accept what they are given and make the most of it (even it not under ideal conditions)..

Urban schools bear greater burdens then outlaying districts. These social need programs go far beyond the primary mission (to educate). All these cost lots of money that could be otherwise put to better use. Compounding this often more then not the tax base is weak Every major city like Detroit, Philadelphia, New York and a whole host of others are facing similar if not the same problems. ASD is not alone.

So what's the solution?
The first is to separate those who have a sincere interest and are willing to work with the district. Outside agitators who are not directly either students or teachers affected should have no place at the table.

The second is to stand firm by publicly explaining and defending the administrations positions as frequently as possible. Social media is a great place to start. All too many times these big mouths use these means to get attention. We need to see ASD representatives speak out a lot more. Don't let these pied pipers get away with this w/o an immediate and appropriate response. Fight fire with fire.

KUDOS to Scott Armstrong who has always been forthcoming and using social media. Others should follow his example.

Charlie Sch said...

In response to a comment above, the Mayor and Mr. Armstrong are definitely not allied, and never have been.

Anonymous said...

The 'teacher' leading the students in protest is making a mistake. Look, most of these students are just interested in having fun, creating an uproar under the protection of numbers and anonymity. It won't take much to set them off. If this 'adult' openly incites students to act out inappropriately, he needs to be disciplined.

I expect there WILL be some sort of walkout from school. If the action can be held to 20-25 students and kept from growing rapidly in number, the school will get through the day just fine. Students demanding less study halls IS a legitimate concern. As a former ASD teacher, I get that. On other matters, the malcontents need to be more specific, clearly define actual problems, and hopefully suggest a few solutions for discussion. Just shouting accusations won't accomplish much.

Once again, Scott Armstrong displays leadership in facing this situation head-on. I no longer live in ASD, but would certainly vote to return Scott to the Board, if I could. Nothing better than an upfront public official.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

To blame poverty or zoning is to deflect. What causes poverty or zoning differences? Well some might say discrimination and classism. And we come full circle. Chicken and the egg?

Frankly, in a system where those in power are more likely to be white and non-residents, I might suggest that there are deeper reasons than poverty at work.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:03, addressing your statement about white and non-residents. when a mr. frassetto or others claim that the district "doesn't do enough for it's minority students," and the minority students are the majority of students in the system, it damns the entire teaching staff. all the teachers I have known in the system are dedicated to both their profession and their students. furthermore, the union leader should be offended by such accusations, they reflect more on her members than the administration.

Anonymous said...

@6:17

You make an excellent point about the forced-membership union, Mr. Molovinsky.

If there were a group demanding that we offer merit pay to our best teachers, the union hierarchy would be enraged, and Peoples' Commissar Tretter would be shrieking the loudest. But insult the entire body of our hard-working Education Professionals, and there is not so much as a peep from the labor bosses.

Perhaps the forced-membership AEA is only there to seize dues from paychecks...

Jeffrey Anthony

Anonymous said...

EXACTLY !

How many 'White,' racist, professionals would CHOOSE to teach in the Allentown School District? A district in which less than one third of students are White.

The charge of systemic racism in ASD is absurd. To make such a charge is lame, and reflects a lazy attempt to embarrass others by making a shocking charge against another's character. This is a strategy of misinformed, usually anonymous, troublemakers.

Without specific examples, this type of claimant is wasting energy and convincing fewer listeners every day. The effect of 'crying wolf' too often.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Mike,

For the sake of argument, let's play out what 6:03 and others are asking for; replace white administrators, teachers, and school directors with people of color. Will this address the ever increasing rate of poverty in the city? If anyone thinks it will please explain how. Will it improve test scores and lead to better graduation rates?Again if you think it will please explain how. And finally if anyone thinks it will address the PSER problem and end the drain on district's budget these obligatory payments impose please explain how.
I find the current focus on race very disheartening. I see it has counter productive to the goal of a truly color blind society. Are we so base that we would judge anyone by the color of their skin, what church they go to, or what language they speak?
Several years ago the principal of one of our elementary schools put forward a plan to train teachers to teach to each student individually based on their individual race, ethnicity, and/or religion. I found this appalling and said so at the meeting. This wasn't the American way I said, this is a nation united on ideals, values, and beliefs that transcend the superficiality of skin color. Many of the teachers in the chamber openly scoffed at these words, but I held firm. After the meeting several of them approached me personally and thanked me for speaking up.They couldn't do it publicly.The truth is people are afraid to touch this issue,it is a high wire act if you do and one best have nerves of steel.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10747220

Here's more on this topic.

Anonymous said...

Why do so many of us feel compelled to lionize teachers and their unions. These are people who at age 17 told their guidance counselors that they 'love kids' and were then directed into the education major at their favorite college. In college they were among fellow ed majors who historically carry the lowest grade point average of all majors at most colleges and universities. After very few years...usually upon receiving tenure....they no longer 'love kids.' Rather, they love money, benefits, holidays, sabbaticals, and as early a retirement as they can get. All while pulling down up to $100,000 annually. So let's stop the politically correct 'we love our teachers' nonsense, and see them for who they are: just another group of important people in our society, worthy of our respect, but no better nor worse than the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

@9:15

I'm about as cynical as they come, but I have to admit I've been -- and continue to be -- surprised by the quality of people in the teaching profession. I'm surprised because the number of highly dedicated individuals vs. mediocre ones seems far greater than other professions. I know, that's hardly scientific, and maybe I just know good teachers in good districts, but teaching is a profession in which I've seen very few bums and very many dedicated, gifted professionals who see teaching as their vocation -- not just their job.

Now, the commissars of the forced-membership union? They're a lower form of life, and give Professional Educators a (grossly undeserved) bad name. Just the fact alone that they bully teachers with the constant threat of firing if they don't pony-up the so-called "fair share" from each paycheck means they belong (and deserve to be) in Cuba or North Korea. And then that collection of malcontents' constant whining and complaining is what forms the distorted image of teachers your describe above. And that's grossly unfair to the vast majority of dedicated, hard-working Education Professionals.

Let's hope PA finally goes Right-to-Work so we can separate the wheat from the chaff...

Anonymous said...

Putz Parade

LVCI said...

The Morning Call (05/18/2014): Developer Abe Atiyeh helps charter schools open, reaps profits in return--
"The Medical Academy Charter School, at 330 Howertown Road in Catasauqua, paid Atiyeh $235,692 in its first year and $353,000 this year. The rent will rise to $363,590 next year"

The Morning Call (11/06/2014): "The Medical Academy Charter School in Catasauqua had the lowest grade of all schools in the Lehigh Valley with a 42.2."

And these are the ones behind targeting ASD !

When's the local media going to get off their butts and start doing their job reporting on all those behind this movement, their motivations and backgrounds?

michael molovinsky said...

@12:55, i'll tell you who is a putz, you are, and a harassing cyberstalker, because you have been sending anonymous insults to every post, for years. btw, i suppose that bill villa supports frassetto, i understand that his wife angie has publicly endorsed the "protest" on her facebook page.

michael molovinsky said...

lvci@1:23, i don't know about the "local media" but I will, early tomorrow morning.

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't the City's Mayor commented on this public development?

What will the City's Mayor do if/when this "protest" turns into an out and out riot?

Now that the City's Police Chief already has a new job in Texas, I will understand if he doesn't care what happens.