Jul 4, 2012

Allentown School District Retrospective

One of the most amazing things about Allentown is that the population, despite the problems, has remained about the same since 1928. That was the year Allentown celebrated reaching 100,000. Today, we are about 106.000. Although the numbers stayed the same, the demographics have changed drastically. We are now officially a minority city. When I grew up, there was a saying, If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much. How's that for political correctness? Today, if you want to see a Pennsylvania Dutchman, you have to look at the picture on a bag of pretzels.

During my school years, a delinquent was a kid smoking a cigarette in the alley. Today, we have machete attacks, and parents beating someone else's kid in a classroom. In this environment, should we be concerned about math scores in Singapore? There is a disconnect between the discipline problems and the preoccupation for better scores on the standardized tests; Increasing civility is much more important. If we could get that math score up, will the public overlook the machete attack? We'll build a new school next to Jackson Elementary, move the students, and put the machete attackers in the old Jackson. Then, we'll take the real achievers and put them in an academy of excellence. Let's hope not too many parents insist that their child belongs in the academy. Let's hope that the prison school works out. We all agree that all the students are a precious commodity. What we really need is safe classrooms, conducive to learning. We need supervised streets, conducive for getting to and from school safely. Isn't it interesting that a child can leave Central Catholic at 4th and Chew, and be safer than a child leaving William Allen at 17th and Chew?

The photograph, from the late 1940's, shows a kindergarden class before Lehigh Parkway Elementary School was completed. One of the twin houses served both as the neighborhood school and church.

reprinted from December 2010

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