Apr 24, 2011

Zimmerman Speaks Out

In retrospect and not as a rationalization, during that meeting my attention was more focused on the prospect of furloughing 249 teachers than what I thought to be "routine" personnel issues.It was the administration's fault this was not addressed. I trusted them and they simply violated that trust.They can apologize all they want but it does not change the fact they still achieved their purpose, sneaking their appointment into the position.
There are certain issues that I feel, if not addressed, will make the whole attempt at a redesign of the curriculum an exercise in futility.They need to be identified and discussed in the open to adequately resolve them. I will commit to that and will use this blog as a sounding board if OK,d by MM.As a point of information, I understand the Safety Task Force will now be a closed meeting with a select group of people. Apparently the last meeting was cancelled due to the overt vociferousness of a concerned parent. That person, I was told, was my wife. I fully support her efforts to discern the truth about the violence occurring in WAHS. To me a change in the structure of this meeting appears to be a direct violation of the sunshine law.
The administrators in charge of student services, from the top down, either have to get honest with the people of Allentown and learn to deal with them or find other positions.I will refer this to the solicitor for the school district and if not satisfied, the Secretary of Education and or the State Attorney General.
David Fehr Zimmerman
Board Member ASD
At Mr. Zimmerman's convenience, this blog will glad to host his views on issues which may impede the success of any curriculum redesign.
UPDATE: I have closed comments here, please place comments at School District Front Burner


  1. Thanks to both Mr. Zimmerman and Michael Molovinsky for keeping a spotlite on this important topic.
    A great shame that our government continually seeks to obfuscate issues that should be completely accessable to the public.

  2. the following comment was received from retired ASD teacher, but did not publish for some unknown reason

    Retired ASD teacher here.

    Mr. Zimmerman -

    Thank you for your willingness to closely scrutinize the formation of the new program of studies. This ia a MAJOR change of practice that could lead to disastrous consequences if not fully analyzed and understood BEFORE September.

    It is clear to me, serious class size increases are possible. Remember, certain types of classes are required by law to be held in smaller numbers. Those restricted settings must NOT be factored in when computing a new teacher-to-student ratio.

    I would insist the aministration presents a fully developed, typical schedule for each subject, given a new, much smaller faculty. This can be done using the present year enrollment numbers. It was stated at the South Mountain
    meeting, we pretty much need to wait till September to see what impact there is. That's TOO LATE to find out!

    The current teaching load conditions can easily be modified using lower staff numbers that will be in effect next year. You might discover there are several situations that are about to become untenable. There is still time to work through some of that, provided you've seen specific models laid out in greater detail, NOW. I suspect this was not done prior to passage.

    These are difficult times, for sure. My fear is, other areas with less direct supervisory contact with kids are being preserved at the expense of student/teacher relationships that really are more critical to the district's mission.

  3. The safety task-force was a sub committee of the school board,and to close this meeting would be a violation of the sunshine law.This has always been a public meeting and should stay that way.

  4. The William Allen building project is way over budget,nobody cares,or writes about this.600,00 of taxpayer money was added to the contingency funds,but nobody knows about that.I VOTED AGAINST THIS ITEM,THE FUNDS ARE BEING TAKEN FROM MONEY THAT WAS TO BE USED FOR An east Side MIDDLE SCHOOL.we CAN DEBATE IF WE CAN AFFORD THIS NOW,BUT THE east Side DOES NOT HAVE A MIDDLE SCHOOL.When this was being pitched,the east side was promised a middle school.That was a lie,now the money is being used for a bottomless pit west end project.The East side does not get the school,or truth,but millions go to a mismanaged project that is sucking up your tax dollars,but the reporter leaves before you ever get these stories.

  5. note of clarification; both mr. zimmerman and mr. smith are members of the school board.

  6. To Mr. Smith and Mr. Zimmerman -

    The issues you cite (Allen safety, Allen cost overruns, Marin hiring decision, etc) are legitimate and need to be publicized. My apologies to Mr. Molovinsky, but speaking out on a blog isn't sufficient.

    I would suggest a joint press conference to air your concerns and take them directly to all members of the press (and the public).

    The people of Allentown elected you (and will continue to elect you) to be our representatives and speak out on our behalf. While the Administration and their allies on the board might use different tactics to slip items by or keep you "contained" during regular meetings, they should know that you can't be silenced and that there is a cost to such tactics.

    P.S. - The Marin appointment should be rescinded and re-voted (separately) by the board.

  7. P.S. - The Marin appointment should be rescinded and re-voted (separately) by the board.

    April 25, 2011 7:06 AM

    Absolutely! So disappointed in Bob Smith! Wont' vote for him again.

  8. Regarding Marin: First of all, she now knows how she "earned" her new job speaks volumes about personal integrity. How is she going to relate to teachers and students when her own integrity has been questioned?

  9. anon 7:06, of course zimmerman and smith can speak out to the morning call. excuse me for bringing this up again, but my issue with miorelli (morning call editor) is that save for this blog, the issue(s) would still not be known. he justified deleting credit to this blog by saying that all stories start somewhere. the person who tipped me off about marin only did so because he/she trusts me to keep confidentiality, and also to pursue the issue. likewise, people like zimmerman and smith are comfortable here because they also know that i engage the issues, and that they will have more than one opportunity to express themselves, in their own words.

    anon 7:24, comments that "i won't vote for zimmerman or smith again" are absurd. who will you vote for, people who never admit making a mistake or refuse to comment?

  10. MM -

    Anon 7:06 here.

    I didn't mean to imply that your issue with the Morning Call would stop Smith or Zimmerman from contacting the Morning Call.

    I meant that Smith and Zimmerman have to go beyond talking on a blog where they feel "comfortable". They need to reach out to the press - newspaper, TV, etc. (and bloggers) - and take their case to the people through as many media sources as possible. That's the only way things change.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  11. anon 11:44, i assure you that both zimmerman and smith are comfortable with the press, and most likely the press will reach out to them after reading this blog. actually, where the decisions are made is at the school board meetings. i can tell you that hundreds of parents, teachers and students were somewhat ignored there the last couple months. i believe that zimmerman and smith are a minority in their dissent.

  12. MM, if Zimmerman and Smith are such "dissenters," how come Dr. Z's radical curriculum changes passed unanimously? i.e., w/ the endorsement of both Zimmerman and Smith. And BTW, I'm not Bill Villa so please don't muzzle & delete this comment....

  13. anon 12:16, with a couple of exceptions, i do not muzzle& delete comments. you are correct about zimmerman's and smith's vote. i put them above the other board members in that they're willing to discuss and even regret their votes. you may have me confused with some other blog. i do not beat the drum for or against particular people. zimmerman maned up about being snookered about marin. he's upset about discipline at william allen. smith agrees that meetings should be completely open. nothing more, or nothing less is implied about the gentlemen

  14. MM - Anon 11:44 again

    With all due respect, expecting reporters to read (and follow-up on) a blog post is not the best way to go. It certainly won't make WFMZ. I can't imagine that picking something off a blog is a reporter's favorite way to go anyway.

    The best thing they can do is hold a press conference and give it a fresh spin to all the local media they can get there.

    They need to reach as many of the people as they can, and common sense would tell me that the more media outlets they include, the better the chance of reaching the most people.

    I think a press conference would generate a lot of interest among the local media, as I can't remember any time members of the school board have dared to challenge ANY administration in Allentown.

  15. Retired ASD teacher here.

    Unlike in nature, weeds don't grow well when exposed to sunshine.

    There is no doubt, this ASD administration requires much more oversight. Hopefully, Messrs. Zimmerman and Smith can bring additional information to light before it's too late.

  16. "with a couple of exceptions, i do not muzzle& delete comments." -Molovinsky

    Villa being an exception. So much for "Honest Discussions" here.

  17. Joyce Marin was voted in by the broad and didn't slip in under the wire! Having a written agenda and broad notes in plain site and in English for board members to read and be able to vote on in a rational and educated fashion isn't what I call sneaking someone into a publicly advertised position. It is my understanding that a superintendent needs at least 5 votes to move an agenda forward so voting Marin in must have been what at least 5 other board members wanted. At least 5 other broad members were able to read 18 whole pages of notes to be able to make an educated and reliable vote to help the superintendent make rational appointments. Perhaps the board members (Zimmerman) who weren't able to do their required paperwork should be in question and maybe their appointed position should be in question and rescinded and re-voted on. I have know Joyce Marin for over 13 years and I know for a fact that her integrity is sound and intact. She was voted into this position because at least 5 other board members and the Allentown School District decided that her credentials, past experience and work history would benefit the Superintendents Pathways to Success program and be beneficial to the teachers and students of Allentown. Marin earned her new job with the integrity and with a vote of confidence from her peers. She was voted in people and there was nothing covert or sneaky about it! No cloak and dagger here mister!

  18. anon 11:18, having attended many meetings (although not school board) i don't at all assume the other members read and made an "educated and reliable vote". in face of all the teacher layoffs, i suspect just the opposite. never the less, thanks for your comment.

  19. Teacher Unions are very powerful and any layoff's made did not come easy.

    No one (including Joyce Marin) wants the Allentown School District to be deficient in anyway but it is what it is.

    Google or look at the School Districts website to find out more about the Pathways to Success program. Our children need our help to succeed in the real world and teacher layoff's are not the only answer but it is a start to revamp a failing school system (40% of our children are failing to graduate from Allentown's schools). The Superintendent of ASD and his administrators need your support and help not your criticism.

    Pathways to Success Primer

    "Pathways to Success is the framework that provides every student in the Allentown School District (ASD) with an individualized academic plan that leads to graduation and success in post-secondary education or a job paying a family-sustaining wage. This approach is based on ASD’s belief that all students can learn and succeed with the support and nurturance of family, educators and the community. Curriculum is aligned to core standards beginning at the pre-school level and continuing through elementary, middle and high school. Every student is expected to experience a year or more of growth, progressing toward grade-level proficiency and beyond. When needed, students will receive extra academic support, leading to continuous achievement..."

    This problem is enormous! Changes need to be made in our schools and your help and support is of paramount importance to our children's success in life.

  20. You can bet on it that the changes being made are not going to stop with a few teacher layoffs...The ASD is under scrutiny and changes have to happen in order to save our children. Revamping a failing school system is the only way for growth and renewal.

    "People" will be required to do their homework, to do their reading (all 18 pages of it and more) and to do their jobs well in order to be part of the renewing Pathways of Success.

    And I am not assuming anything!

  21. again, your point of view is welcome, but don't assume that opposition to zahorchak's plans are based on not being informed. this blog has repeatedly questioned whether a plan which ignores the transient rate, and sacrifices the unique electives of the system, is worth while. i have heard numerous students and teachers ask the same question.

  22. 40% of our children fail to graduate from Allentown Schools...what question does that bring to mind? Don't you think there's something rotten in the state of Denmark?!

  23. "They" will be revamping the schools not killing them. They will be keeping what works and rethinking what doesn't work.

    And just for the record, Marin will do an excellent job for the school district. You can count on it!

    So, I am going to be stepping off of this soapbox for now and start preparing for my loved ones to come home.

    Thank you for your time and for hosting this blog Michael.

  24. Yeah $84,000 buys a lot of love and commitment to the "children of Allentown".

    This an oft used phrase which really refers to the speakers prurient self interest.

  25. MM:

    Interesting comments.

    As much as I hear ASD administration dismisses blogs as a viable form of communication, it appears they have used yours in an attempt to promote their agenda.

    Finally some dialog as surreptitious as it may be, overpaid I am sure.

  26. No, I wrote the comments and I am not in the ASD administration but I do research to back up what I comment about. Most of what I wrote you can find on the ASD website. Also the salaries that administrators make are determined by the board and voted on by the board this is policy. This I also found on that website. Get over it boys.

  27. I am an Emmaus resident and a concerned neighbor of Allentown. Allentown's borders are very close to us and what happens in Allentown will eventual effect us due to our proximity. Children who are not educated well and who do not graduate end up in gangs and the gangs come into to this area to commit crimes and robberies. I am very concerned about what happens in the ASD so much so that I read the newspaper and do research to validate what I read. I was lucky enough to have good parents, to grow up in a great neighbor and I have a higher degree. I believe that the kids in Allentown should at the very least have a chance at a good education.

  28. Info gleaned from ASD's website - Go there and read it for yourselves because there is more info there than included in this post:


    To provide programs of education and other supporting services, consistent with the needs and resources of the community, teaching positions and positions for other professional employees shall be established by the Board.

    The need for creating teaching positions and positions for other professional employees shall be determined by the Board in accordance with these guidelines. A recommendation for a new or additional professional position will include:

    1. A job description clearly descriptive of the duties for which the position was created
    2. A title that conforms with the appropriate certificate if such certification is required.

    3. Supporting data and other rationale incidental to the recommendation for the position.

    In the exercise of its authority to create new positions, the Board shall give primary consideration to the number of students enrolled, the special needs of the students, the operational needs of the district, and the financial resources of the district. The Board expects that the Superintendent shall be responsible for recommending new or additional professional positions. The Board reserves for itself the final determination as to the number and kind of professional positions deemed necessary for the effective operation of the schools.
    The Board may, through its chief administrator, seek the advice of its administrative staff in creating a new position or increasing the number of employees in existing positions.


    The Board places substantial responsibility for the educational program and effective operation of the schools with the professional staff employed by the district.
    The Board, by a majority vote of all members, shall approve the employment, set the compensation, and establish the term of employment for each professional staff member employed by the district.
    No member of the Board shall vote for the election of any close relative of that Board member to any employment position in the district. For purposes of this policy, a close relative shall include a parent, sibling, child, spouse, grandparent, grandchild, niece/nephew, in-law, or any relative living in the immediate household.
    No employee shall be elected, assigned, or reassigned to a position which requires that employee to supervise or evaluate, or be supervised or evaluated by, any close relative directly related to her/him. Should a promotion place an employee in a position in conflict with the foregoing, the employee to be supervised shall be transferred to another position for which s/he is qualified and which does not diminish her/his employment status.
    Nothing in this policy shall affect the employment status of any person presently employed by the Board. Exceptions to this policy may be approved at the sole discretion of the Board.
    Approval shall normally be given to those candidates for employment recommended by the Superintendent.
    The district shall use the Standard Application for Teaching Positions but may establish and implement other application requirements.
    No candidate shall be employed until such candidate has complied with the mandatory background check requirements for criminal history and child abuse and the district has evaluated the results of that screening process.

  29. Andddd, it is very upsetting to me to see that you are always harping on Marin and her salary! It's great that a smart, intelligent, highly qualified lady can earn a professional business wage in this valley. I have worked in this valley too and I know how hard it is to achieve "near" equality in the work place.

    Check out what some of the men make in the district and in this valley and then tell me what you think!

  30. "This an oft used phrase which really refers..."

    I think the word "oft" is jocular of often. I think that may be of Germanic origin or related to German oft (as described in Wikipedia). Perhaps someone is very Pennsylvania dutch and very old fashioned.

    Pennsylvania Dutch is defined as follows: "The descendants of the original German settlers in Pennsylvania."

    Maybe that's your major problem with $84,000.00!

    Old fashioned and perhaps set in your ways?

    Hummm, that's a thought!

  31. 3:53

    Yeah it is the fault of those damn dutchies again! If it were not for them all would be fine. We should have hate a dutchie day.

  32. As a teacher at WAHS, I welcome Mr Zimmerman's attempt to understand the safety issues at the high school.
    There are many assaults on teachers which bring about minimum consequences to students. Very few suspensions, needed approval by the district office, and failure to follow most points of the code of conduct have led to chaos in the high school.
    Until there is discipline and control in the high school, test scores will not go up.

  33. Hate is not the word I was thinking of. Old fashioned and not very willing to except change and possibly even chauvinistic but that's only some of the older generation...the younger generation is transitioning well. Hate is not a good word at all.

    I am sorry for all of the typos in my comments. I am a terrible typist. I have a lot to say but typing isn't my forte.

    Mr. Zimmerman, I am sorry that you feel blindsided and some how cheated over the vote for Marin. I wasn't involved in the board meetings but it is hard for me to understand how you didn't know about the new position and the hiring because it takes months of planning and procedures to hire someone into a school district position. And the school board is involved in every step of the process. The timing of the new hire wasn't perfect thats for sure. These are difficult times. Working towards a common goal sounds like a great plan to me. That's doable, right?! Good neighbors and neighborhoods are hard to find so please do your best. Thank you for all that you have accomplished and the good that you do.

    Peace and Love!

  34. Retired ASD teacher here.

    Every and ANY hire of the school district is listed on the board's agenda of proposals with the salary amount CLEARLY posted with the new employee's name. A salary amount of that size would be VERY outstanding, even to someone who casually pages through.

    I'm thinking the justification given by Zahorchak was deceptive, especially given his propensity for loading up on an already bloated administrative support staff.