Nov 10, 2011

Mayo Can't Add

I was disappointed when the new acting superintendent, Russ Mayo, said he planned on going forward with Zahorchak's Pathway to Success, but chalked it up to politeness for a departing associate. I assumed that Mayo would gradually undo his predecessor's damage. Yesterday's newsletter said that the current principal of Allen, Michael Rodriguez, was leaving for another district. I assumed that Keith Falko would now be returned; Does not 1 + 1 = 2? Have not the discipline problems at Allen been headlines in the newspaper? Was not Falko revered as a disciplinarian? In a previous post I wrote that Falko should be returned to Allen. Apparently, although boots on ground also had made the same suggestion, here's Mayo's answer
Keith Falko will continue to assist us at the district level with the ASD program of study, the Dual Enrollment effort, the high school graduation initiative grant, and with assisting the ASD middle and high school principals during this transition. “Keith’s experience in this district, his expertise, and general wisdom is invaluable to me personally,” commented Dr. Mayo. “I want his expertise influencing this district as a whole. I appreciate the interest many of the faculty and staff have in his returning to Allen as principal, but his influence district-wide is even more valuable to us.”
Fortunately, for the neighbors and parents of Allen, there is a new player in the game. On Tuesday, voters elected Scott Armstrong to the School Board. Like David Zimmerman, Scott lives in the Allen neighborhood and has first hand knowledge of conditions at the school. I believe that together they will provide some much needed tutoring to Mayo about how to restore civility to that neighborhood.
UPDATE: The above commentary was based on a news release issued yesterday by the Allentown School District. In today's Morning Call, reporter Steve Esack details the consequences of poor decisions by former Superintendent Zahorchak. In my opinion, nothing in the article suggests that we can expect much better from current acting superintendent Russ Mayo.
UPDATE 2: I've been informed that the school district has been audited personnel wise, in regard to the grant that removed the four principals from their original positions. Consequently, Falko cannot return to Allen. With Rodriguez's departure, the system now has lost 3 of the 4 principals that were doing a good job before Zahorchak chased that grant, without the School's Board's knowledge.


Anonymous said...

Way to go Scott! Have been a huge fan for more than a decade. He's straight forward and when he easily could have moved his children out of the city's schools into a safer environment, bowing to their wishes, he stayed! He is a committed and caring city resident. Has anyone followed the school bus stop safety issue saga in Fountain Hill? Very upsetting. Gunther interviewed a parent about what's happening there. Hope nothing like that is taking place in Allentown, but who knows?

Monkey Momma said...

Isn't the ASD receiving grants from the state that depend upon the removal of the past principal at Allen High?

michael molovinsky said...

monkey momma, YES, that could be a legalistic factor in mayo's announcement. my question then, is how much assistance will falko be giving the acting principal? btw, the district has put out a job offering for a new principal at allen. i will attempt to gain answers to these questions. i can tell you that whatever grant they received, it was not worth the headline in the paper describing the violence at allen. imagine being a prospective home buyer reading that!

Anonymous said...

It costs nothing and takes 10 minutes to understand what's happened at Allen. Park the car
at 2 p.m. on the opposite side of 17th and Linden and watch dismissal.

binzley said...

MM: Keep politics out of hiring decisions at ASD. It seems when the district hires folks you do not approve of, you rail at political interference. What you are doing with today's post is just as bad. A new superintendent must have the power and leeway to hire and assemble his team as he sees fit. Hold him accountable as to results. Don't play politics with the most important organization in Allentown.

Anonymous said...

come on Molovinsky give Mayo a year before you dump on him

michael molovinsky said...

gary, although armstrong was "elected" i meant nothing political about my comment. to me, the key advantage of armstrong is that he has lived within two blocks of allen for decades, had children attend, and known the issues first hand.

this blog is news and commentary on allentown. the current acting superintendent is not new to allentown school district or it's problems. i gave him ten minutes leeway, that's plenty.

Anonymous said...

Ten minutes were probably a bit generous, given the 'new' guy was not new to the school district.

When I come home at night after work and my house is completely engulfed by roaring flames licking the stars, I call the Fire Department immediately.

But, hey, one could just as easily dismiss me early as a crazy Conservative.

Monkey Momma said...

" imagine being a prospective home buyer reading that!"

Unfortunately, most of the folks moving here do not read the paper. Even before the headlines took a turn for the worse, and even before Dr. Z's rise and fall, anyone who cared about their children's education would have immediately ruled out ASD as a possible school district. Just look at graduation rates, SAT scores, college admissions, etc. On all levels, ASD fails. But, parents who move here largely ignore these things, along with the day's headlines. It's no wonder they are raising the most ignorant generation this country has ever seen. And we see the results of this ignorance in our schools. I am not surprised these schools are out of control. There isn't a person on earth who could overcome the social issues these schools face - the solution would have to come from each individual family, and I just don't see the will for that in the folks who live downtown, by and large.

michael molovinsky said...

monkey momma, in my mind, the most important thing in urban schools is a reasonably safe environment. motivated kids, and allen and dieruff have hundreds, could get a good education from good teachers. over the years, principals like falko, developed methods which made allen work. the school board accepted zahorchak's disruptive plans because otherwise they would had to face the reality that they made a bad hire. i hope they hire a new superintendent from within, someone familiar with the realities of allentown.

Anonymous said...


Could be, few current ASD employees are legally qualified to be elected superintendent. In any event, the next individual needs to have had proven success in a large urban district. They past two selections (Angello, Zahorchak) did not.

Although Falko is surely the most qualified and tested candidate possible for Allen, he might have no interest in returning. His current daily responsibilities are surely easier than cleaning Allen back up.

As for Mayo, the teachers can provide a good opinion of the value he has provided since coming here. I can tell you, he, too, has applied for positions elsewhere, even before the Zahorchak failure.

michael molovinsky said...

two of zahorchak's competitors for the job had large city experience. unfortunately, the board was impressed that zahorchak had been secretary of education in penna. in reality, he was just another rendell meritless political appointment. let's hope that the new board members perform better; i believe that they will.

Anonymous said...

ASD does not "fail on all levels." Fact is, students from disadvantaged households do not perform as well as students from advantaged households. Allentown has a very high child poverty rate. Test-driven education policies and business model jargon does not help poor students achieve. Zahorchak's ideas were not supported by research evidence, and school board should never have approved while ignoring public outcry. ASD now puts too much focus on "college readiness" instead of early childhood and meeting needs of all students.

Allen High needs a principal who has a stake in this community and experience in urban schools. We don't need someone from the business world, or another politician, we need an experienced educator.

"Momma", I chose to send my child to ASD schools, I care about my child's education, and I support my public community school. Education is a complex issue, and many people are misinformed by media pundits like Paul Carpenter. ASD needs more resources, and students need equal opportunities for a well rounded education in a safe environment. Cuts to curriculum and teachers should not have been approved by school board. I see the harmful consequences of the cuts.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see at least one person I voted for won. Congrats to Armstrong.
I for one, as an Allentown resident, will have my children home schooled on the computer before they ever go to an ASD school. The sooner the state allows the voucher system the better. Support SB1.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

First of all, the 2:04 pm post was mine. I have many years experience with ASD, Falko, etc.

Anonymous 7:14 provides some valid points. I suspect the poster is a current, or former ASD teacher. Kudos to he/she. We really need to listen to what our teachers say. It is they who occupy the front lines. Everyone else can only assume.

I viewed the infamous meeting at South Mountain Middle School wherein Zahorchak outlined his grand design. I believe it was last March. That was a very telling evening, for me.

It seemed clear to teachers present, Zahorchak was throwing theories at a dart board he never personally experienced. It was also obvious the administrators at floor level (many now employed elsewhere) were scrambling to sound relevant during yet another dog and pony show.

Members of the Board sounded clueless, and rightfully so, to the validity of what was being proposed. Afterall, they are NOT educators. Therein lies the real problem, I suppose.

Folks, you need to listen more carefully to your classroom teachers. They are key to this process.

Those at the front line, closest to the fire, always have the best view.

Anonymous said...

Doubt even you can predict the future, but Thursday we learned
AHS principal off to Bucks County.
Maybe he knows something we don't.

Anonymous said...

Time and time again,day after day i am slowly losing faith in our culture.As intelligent as we are as a society we are a failure in many ways.To govern,to provide health care,to educate and to rehabilitate criminals.On the other hand we can create toys for all,Cell phones,Ipads,Games,Sports,delicascies to eat,scams to invest in,schemes to lose weight and cons of all degrees.Like that old commercial with the native american and the tear in his eye,I wonder if Thomas Jefferson would also have one if he were alive today.

Gregg Heilman said...

With the PSU scandal I can never get over that the former ALLENTOWN SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS was never charged for not reporting the rapes of those boys at Central when it was an Elementary School. Using the same laws and logic being used at PSU she should have been charged. If she had reported the first rape the other four may not have had to happen. Only after the fourth victim's father went to the authorities was it discovered the other rapes had been covered up. A 5TH victim and family has now asked to join the Federal Law Suit. All this could have been prevented if the Superintendent had reported the first rape to Police. It sounds like criminal to me, ask the parents of the victims I am sure they would agree. She was actually given a bonus the following year for a job well done. I know Bob Smith voted against it he has always had our children's best interests first.

Anonymous said...

Right on, Monkey Momma!
"It's no wonder they are raising the most ignorant generation this country has ever seen. And we see the results of this ignorance in our schools."
How can we expect the present and next generation to improve when they don't know any better? Retired ASD Teacher is also right! The powers to be in the schools are not listening to the teachers and many of the parents have all but given up. The only solution is to get ALL of education out of the hands of the politicians and unions. The students MUST come first if we are to compete with other industrialized countries, ex: China. We are losing fast!

Anonymous said...

"Fact is, students from disadvantaged households do not perform as well as students from advantaged households. Allentown has a very high child poverty rate."

Why is this? We need to put the horse before the cart. In my humble opinion, politicians have been using the educational system to increase their grip on the people for the simple purpose of getting more votes. A good education is the best way to decrease poverty. Politics should be kept out and the best interests of the students should come first, then, good things will emerge!