Feb 25, 2011

The Lesson Plan

The School Administration Building last night far exceeded the lawful occupancy in number of people permitted. One gifted student after another explained why they wanted to stay at either Allen or Dieruff High. They explained how important all the extracurricular activities are to their motivation to be a well rounded person. One parent after another explained how well pleased they were by their children's accomplishments in the current curriculum. Teacher after teacher explained how important Social Studies are to a diverse student population. Reason would assume that our school leaders would take such informed testimony to heart; I doubt it. I believe that this Superintendent and these Directors think they know best. I've seen this type of arrogance many times. Let's hope I'm wrong.

UPDATE: Although the Board will allow citizens the allusion of input through committee's, they approved Zahorchak's plan by 8 to 1. Morning Call reporter Steve Esack accepts the notion that the Board will reevaluate the whole plan, but must forward approval now for reasons of State compliance. I believe that they are only placating the ignorant masses, and will proceed as Zahorchak recommends. Although Bob Smith is quoted in the paper questioning the plan, the dissenting vote was cast by David Zimmerman.

UPDATE#2: Last evening the School Board declined to expand Roberto Clemente Charter School to include elementary grades. It was a close vote, 5 to 4. Clemente does a good job with their current 6th to 12th grade program. I currently do not have a position on the expansion proposal, but I do know that last evening only one speaker out of 45 concerned that important decision. Perhaps that issue should have been deferred to a less controversial meeting.

UPDATE#3: Morning Call article by Steve Esack on Clemente Vote


  1. MM -

    I have to say that I still have no idea what "the plan" is. Maybe I missed something, but I don't think it has been adequately presented to the public.

    It does seem like the "political elite" have been sold on the plan, since the Mayor, City Council, and the usual "business leaders" are listed as supporting the plan.

    The major issue to me is the cost. I know the district is facing an enormous shortfall because of overspending and an over-reliance on federal and state aid.

    On one hand I hear the Superintendent talking about cutting classes and teachers - something necessary to deal with the budget issues - while at the same time he seems to be spending any savings just as quickly.

    Am I the only one who is confused?

    Perhaps the district should deal with the budget issue before rushing something through and sticking taxpayers with the tab.

  2. last evening I got an education: after watching zahorchak's power point presentation, I realized that he is even more of a bureaucrat than I imagined. because of the "mobility rate" which they ignore, all these changes will not affect the graduation rate or test scores. one impressive student after another got up and pleaded not to change either the curriculum or the venues. as i spoke, i saw the usual "we know better" attitude in a majority of board members.

  3. Mike,

    The Superintendent is becoming part of the problem by cozying up to Pawlowski, council and local “business leaders”. He needs to understand this corrupt trinity is a responsible party in the serious decline of the district’s income demographic. This slide into massive poverty has been fueled by the continuous municipal mismanagement of the last two administrations.( Mike, before you start in on Heydt let me say that at least the books were balanced and the press held him to account.)
    The truth is that any plan Zahorchack puts forward is just more re-arranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic. City Hall is the vessel that is taking the school district down to the bottom with it. This is the real dynamic of Allentown School District. This is the super’s real problem. I not sure he gets it.
    Scott Armstrong

  4. there were two better candidates for superintendent who had large inter- city experience. this school board will not admit it made a bad choice and assert itself. several members buy zahorchak's educational google search approach hook, line and sinker.

  5. Molovinski has gone over to the dark side of government run nursing care and now supporting the socialistic big common high schools of John Dewey. All students should be equal. No elitism in Allentown. Do most parents who have dreams of their children going to a great college want them educated in building where fights and shake-downs occur with increasing frequency? Molovinski's answer to these parents, "Suck it up and be grateful." Most want choices and are moving out to Parkland. I wonder where Molovinski's kids were educaed? Again another "do-gooder" trying to save the underclass and preserving the status quo for the poor.

  6. dear traveler, i can accept a white charter school, but then let zahorchak say that's what it is. i can tell you that last evening there were hundreds of honor students (of all colors) who supported staying at dieruff and allen. they eloquently explained that the extra curricular activities (like band) contributed to their pride. enjoy LA

  7. Fellow Traveler -

    I can't speak for MM, but I think it's a bad idea to pull the achievers out of the high schools.

    Most of the gifted students are VERY involved with the extra-curricular activities at the High Schools. In many cases, they are the majority of those involved in such activities (plays, newspaper, etc).

    While I agree that I don't want my kids going to a school where "where fights and shake-downs occur with increasing frequency", I don't think the good kids should be the ones forced to leave.

    Get rid of the trouble-makers, gang-members, and anyone else who doesn't want to learn. Make the school safe for the vast majority of kids who do want to learn (gifted or non-gifted).

    Expect more from all the kids remaining and hold them all to higher standards. Challenge them. The same goes for the teachers.

    The real answer isn't all that difficult - or costly.

  8. My "R" LETTER
    "Get rid of the trouble-makers, gang-members, and anyone else who doesn't want to learn. Make the school safe for the vast majority of kids who do want to learn (gifted or non-gifted)."
    Comment by Patrick McHenry

    I agree get rid of those that do not want to learn by transferring them to the "other" school. Don't penalize those that are the "students of Allentown".
    Zahorchak just doesn't get it. Send him back to Harrisburg

  9. i can agree with patrick and the r letter, and support the detention center in the old jackson. but it's necessary for the honor students to remain at allen and dieruff as role models for the average students. likewise it helps the honor students in their social skills.

  10. Word is The Jackson school initiative is a failure. Poor planning and execution. Mayhem rules supreme. It has become a holding cell. Administrators will not reveal the results. It will be hidden. It is the Titanic with Palowski and now Zahorchak at the helm.

  11. In answer to a question, there are not many kids at Jackson yet. It is intended to be expanded in number of students. It is supposed to be temporary for each student, where students can earn the right to go back to regular schools.

    The Mayor and City Council probably were just asked to sign onto the idea of offering more apprenticeships and more college level classes. I doubt they signed onto all of the changes, or even knew what they were. A City Councilman spoke out against many of the changes last night as well as the Mayor's son.

  12. It is amazing just how many words Herr Superintendent can use without saying much.

    He refuses to provide information in advance, and then gets upset when he claims people mis-understand his top secret plans.

  13. anon 1:21, michael d'amore, council president, limited his comments to retaining social studies teachers. i do not recall the mayor's son speaking, and believe he is still quite young.

  14. Parent in AllentownFebruary 25, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    It's a shame Allentown didn't do something years ago, then parents like me who are stuck on this "Titanic" would not have to spend thousands sending our children to private schools. Does this new superintendent have the best idea? I don't know, but it sounds better than:
    "Let's all just get along and sing Kum By Yah and hope things get better, Oh, and by the way, did we mention we take no responsibility for the safety of your kids while in our care?"
    I honestly pity any kid that has to go to an ASD school.
    I just hope our new gov gets the school voucher bill passed.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Greetings: (deleted the last entry only because I had a serious spelling typo!)

    I need to go on record here in the blogosphere.

    I AM NOT in favor, at all, with the superintendent's plan. At a recent council meeting where the superintendent spoke, I was quite clear that I said "I disagree."

    And while I cannot speak for my colleagues, I am not sure that City Council is in tune with whatever the plan is, anyway.

    I have not seen anything but for a powerpoint that has a critical slide that is unreadable from afar.

    For personal reasons, I have not been updating my own blog lately, but I do not want to be included as someone who "approves" the plan. I do not.

    Further, I also worry that the Mayor is following along the superintendent's desires without thinking the issues through.

    Thank you, Michael for posting this.

    Best regards,

    Michael Donovan

  17. MM -

    Two points:

    1) On the Clemente school expansion, hadn't that been approved at a previous meeting? Did the school even know it would be coming up again for another vote?

    2) Regarding Michael Donovan's point, did Council actually vote on plan (as supporting or not supporting it)? If not, perhaps he or someone on council should inform the Morning Call reporter that the plan does NOT have the support of City Council and ask for a correction. The newspaper articles I've seen continue to mention that the plan has the support of Mayor, Council and local business leaders.

    P.S. - I hope Mr. Donovan is doing well and the "personal reasons" for not updating his blog are not health-related.

  18. there is an articles in saturday's morning call about the clemente vote. school director holly edinger did a flipflob, apparently against the guidelines imposed on such decisions. she stared at speaker's against zahorchak's plan with contempt (at least at me), she may well have taken her vindictiveness out on clemente. many readers may be surprised that i have direct knowledge of clemente, and will post about that later. i agree that some clarification concerning city council support of zahorchak's plan is in order.

  19. AS you guessed I am in LA. We just met with the incoming superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District. He assumes the position on Monday. He said he needs six to eight years to implement plans for improvement. He says that given the hostile reaction to education by vocal citizens he will lucky to be around three years. Blame the superintendent for all the problems if you will. Pretty soon we will only have political hacks willing to take these jobs. Improving failing schools takes time and patience. If we attack new superintendents in their first year, who is to blame for the problems. ASD, absent change, will continue to sink as a district. We may not all agree with change, and debate is healthy, but stop the knee jerk and uninformed criticisms and ad hominem attacks and pull together as a community to help our children. MM, thanks for keeping the debate going and keeping if fair, reasoned and positive!

  20. "Pretty soon we will have only have political hacks willing to take these jobs"


    How can I, or anyone else for that matter, be 100% certain that is not already the case NOW?


  21. "blah, blah, blah...pull together as a community to help our children."


    I can't help but feeling that
    Living in a City of Illusion

    Oh, why can't we let it be
    And see through
    The hole in this wall of confusion

    I just can't help but feeling
    I'm living in a City of Illusion

    Right between the eyes
    Oh, how
    Progressive loves their little surprises

    It all seems so logical now
    And it comes without warning
    'Cause Progressive likes their little surprises

    Continual Crisis

    Don't you know it's a waste of your day?
    Caught up in endless solutions

    That have no meaning
    Just another hunch
    Based upon jumping conclusions

    Caught up endless solutions
    Backed up against a wall of confusion
    Living in the City of Illusion


  22. Trying to straighten out the schools and to give a good education to the few that want to learn is a seemingly impossible task. The problems are many. It's like a war! First diplomacy is tried. When that fails, excuses are made. Then the blame starts. When the realization is that nothing works, the bombs start dropping and guns start blazing. War is said to be a failure of politics. That's where we are with the schools. When students grow up with no discipline, they become irresponsible adults who make bad decisions. Now the school leaders just want to "clean up the schools by moving people around and closing down the bad schools in the hopes that the problem goes away. It just moves to a different location, out of the way of those in charge of fixing things. "Out of sight, out of mind."
    You can bet the problem will re-emerge but much worse, albeit in a different place. The lesson to be learned is that your voting counts.
    I do appreciate being able to comment on this site. I don't always agree with M.M. on his points of view but M.M. has a level head. Thank you M.M.


Anonymous comments are not permitted. Comment by name or establish a pseudonym. Comments only represent the view of the commenter.