May 9, 2011

Layoffs Approved

May 8, 2011, Allentown, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has approved Allentown School District’s 2011-2012 education program. Submitted to PDE on April 1, 2011, the program outlines refinements from kindergarten through high school course offerings to “alter or curtail” the district’s education program.

At the secondary level, ASD’s revised program of studies is directly aligned with the Pathways to Success framework adopted by the district for the 2011-2012 school year, which provides every student with more structured academic plans that lead to projected higher numbers of graduates with more success in post-secondary education or at jobs paying with higher self-sustaining wages. In order to accomplish this, the 2011-2012 program of studies is designed to increase opportunities for dual enrollment and advanced placement, to encourage more students to take technology studies, and removes some courses and modifies others to eliminate redundancy. Class sizes are planned to be 25 students at the elementary level and 30 at the secondary level. PDE reviewed programming for early childhood and elementary education, general academic secondary education, special education, English language acquisition and student support programs.

“With this approval to change the educational program and the approval of the Allentown School District Board of School Directors, you will continue to be in compliance with the educational mandates of the Public School Code of 1949, as amended, and Chapter 4 of 22 Pa. Code as long as you comply with the requirements of Chapters 4.21, 4.22, and 4.23 to provide planned instruction in those areas,” affirmed Stephen Fisher, Acting Director of the Office of Elementary/Secondary Education School Services Unit at the Pennsylvania Department of Education in a letter to the district dated May 5, 2011.

The above is a news bulletin from the Allentown School District. I added the Z Letter Banner, and also highlighted the layoff justification.


Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Keep in mind, the class size numbers (25-30) are specious. ASD teachers have struggled with sizes ABOVE those amounts for almost a decade. The small number computation uses fuzzy math, made possible by the addition of restricted special education numbers.

By the end of next school year, we'll have a better picture of zahorchak's grand design. Then, he can explain away most troubling issues by reminding us everything is still new and we just need to be patient.

Buckle up, ASD teachers.

gary ledebur said...

Research on large school systems indicates it takes three to five years before the effects of an improved instructional plan show benefits. It is a fact that in the US the average superintendent's tenure is three years. Because we lack the patience to see reforms come to fruition and demand immediate improvement, we get very little. I am sad to say that in Allentown this will be the case. We have only ourselves to blame.

gary ledebur said...

MM: I have done some research on the ASD grant situation. By way of background I have never been a fan of soft money to fund programs and services. The money eventually goes away but it is hard to drop the programs. When I have failed to go after grants, which I often did intentionally, I was roundly criticized for "costing the district, city or state money." It is hard to not go after "free money."

That being said Dr. Z got himself into a tough situation by applying for what he thought was a lot on "free money" that turned out to be a little "free money." By that time he was well into the process. He would have been criticized by many for not getting funds to hire staff. By spending some local funds he is getting 7.8 million dollars in federal funds for four years. Is it worth the trade-off? Probably not, but it is a hard call to make in this economy when teachers are being laid off. Many would complain when Philadelphia got the federal money, which it would, at the expense of Allentown.

Anonymous said...

"English Language Acquistion"

Gotta love the professional Wordsmithers...

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

gary, you bring up a good point. Superintendents, principals, etc. often move around every few years.
I suppose it's the corporate mantra. Come on board, make some noise, then go elsewhere before you need to be held accountable.

There was nothing wrong with the way ASD teachers and other employees went about their jobs. As always, they could have used greater support.

The problems ASD teachers confront, and the dismal performance results that follow, have very little to do with scheduling and course offerings. I'm afraid this will become clear in the next year, or two. Then, we'll all welcome ANOTHER superintendent, and repeat the process once again.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Mr. Zimmerman has been rather silent of late. He raised several red flags a few weeks ago.

Are there any new developments, additional information?

An update will be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Retired Teacher:

Recently I visited one of the schools. The principal was not in at the time.

It was during lunch and a student volunteered to take me on a tour.

Since my visit I received an anonymous communication the principal requested the video tapes of my visit.

I will be talking to Dr. Z to discuss this matter shortly. I will comment further on issues of concern after this conversation.

David Fehr Zimmerman

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Thank you, Mr. Zimmerman. It's a familiar old adage, but still holds true . . . Knowledge is Power.