May 2, 2014

William Allen's Color Change

When I graduated from William Allen in the mid 1960's, the school was lily white. Yesterday, the district attorney filed charges against two juveniles for ethnic intimidation, against a minority there, a white student. This is a story most bloggers would stay away from, especially one running for Harrisburg as a state representative. However, if Allentown is going to have success, beyond some new buildings being subsidized by state-wide taxpayers, it has to embrace it's diversity. The school district in the last fifteen years experienced significant white flight. It is now time, if somewhat overdue, to repackage the assets that Allen has to offer, and make the school attractive to students of all colors. The unfortunate bullying incident should be used as an instrument to begin that lesson plan. Like the school system, the communities of Lehigh Valley, and their elected representatives, have been reluctant to discuss real quality of life issues. While unspoken despair conquers one block after another, in one town after another, their representatives offer little more than a handshake and smile. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon cutting for what would have been called a new minority owned business years ago. Who is now the minority no longer matters. What does matter is a frank discussion and assessment of the problems facing our communities. If it's a major grocery store needed for downtown Allentown, or better public transportation for Slatington, it's time Harrisburg concentrates on quality of life issues.
UPDATE: ASD Press Release


Allentown School District’s IBEAM Academy
Receives “No Place for Hate” Distinction
Today, Friday, May 2, at 2:00 p.m. the students and faculty at the Allentown School District’s (ASD) IBEAM Academy will celebrate the school’s designation as No Place for Hate, having completed a year of anti-bias and anti-bullying programs. Jeremy Bannett, No Place for Hate Assistant Project Director, will attend the ceremony and present the school with its official designation banner. To earn this distinction, the school formed a No Place for Hate committee, adopted a resolution pledging to create a more inclusive school, and implemented a number of projects promoting respect for differences.



I can only assume that the above press release, issued only 3 hours before the event, is damage control. The IBEAM Academy, conducted at the Jackson School, is the districts alternative school, for students already identified as having discipline issues.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you saying Harrisburg should be involved in putting grocery stores in Allentown?

I'd say government has a dismal record of improving quality of life anywhere, and we'd all be much better off holding on to our tax dollars and deciding where WE want to spend our money.

michael molovinsky said...

@4:43, it is my intention to offer reality to the voters of the 183rd district. the state will take your tax dollars, and i would rather see them spend one million to induce a supermarket to center city, than one billion to enrich three private developers.

monkey momma said...

The conversation within the ASD must move beyond "bullying" and into safety. Students are simply not confident of their safety at school. And that certainly is a huge quality of life issue that impacts everyone in a community. While a handful of Allentown residents will certainly enjoy hockey, the majority of families must figure out ways to work around the dangers of their childrens' schools. It's outrageous.

Guy Williams said...

What we need at Allen more than ever are more teachers like Morton Sher.

Dreaming of Justice said...

If you cannot shop for groceries without taking three buses, how are you going to get the bags home? With kids in tow? Grocery store presence is a public health *measurable* because nutrition is linked to child health, and in fact actually adds to an environment of improved community health outcomes. Public Health also includes mental health and bullying, domestic violence and assaults are sadly commonplace in the news. Does any one seriously believe an arena is going to assist with community health outcomes? There already are dozens of clinics and hospitals and as a stand-alone component those will not make a difference except to serve as a sort of misery index. Grocery stores hire people, pay taxes, support our local agri-economy. BRAVO Mr. Molovinsky..you have now elevated the public discourse in a meaningful way.

Guy Williams said...

Didn't mean to imply that we now have a lot of bad teachers just that Mr. Sher was one of the most respected,unique, and the one that created the most civility among his students throughout his long career at allen

freddo said...

I remember Mr. Sher...he was a very good teacher at William Allen. Is Robert Fisher still there? He was also a good teacher, and the leadership he taught in his AP History class inspired me all the way up to law school and my current career as a Federal Employee.

Anonymous said...

If ya want the reason why there is no major chain grocery stores downtown ya just have to ask Aharts,all drug store chains,Kmart on 4th street how high there shrink numbers are.The 4th st Kmart has the highest shrink in there district.All the dollar stores are high also. Add that to the large parking lot required for a grocery store would be a zoo after hours as a magnet for all kinds of illegal hustles. Then theres the competition with the farmers market which by the way has its niche.

Anonymous said...

MM,

"Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon cutting for what would have been called a new minority owned business years ago."

Thanks for attending. It was an honor and a pleasure to have you. As a "minority" in Allentown, PA, I can assure you I was given zilch when it came to funding, assistance, etc when it came to my business. MM, you actually have seen me grow, literally, and create "something out of nothing." My plan is to continue to DO for the A-town community and be an example to all...

Alfonso Todd
The EPICENTER
www.epicenterus.com

Julian Kern said...

I have heard plenty of disturbing things going on in the Allentown schools and it's not just Allen. Had parents tell me their autistic children are being bullied and put down and this is teachers doing it to elementary students. I am trying to get the parents to speak up but I think they are scared. All Allentown schools need to show zero tolerance when it comes to bullying, uniform infractions, safety issues, etc. In my personal opinion I would rather have seen a grocery store put in center city then a hockey arena. Low income families who don't have transportation have to go shopping at corner stores and end up paying double or sometimes even trouble they would in a grocery store.

Dreaming of Justice said...

Anonymous at 11:53 PM

All stores can tag, or carry shoplift-prone items behind their counters. Tide can be tagged. Everyone has seen and is familiar with anti-theft gates. That is easily dealt with, versus the repercussions of a continuing lack of places to obtain wholesome groceries. The Farmer's Market is overpriced- damaged fruits, old vegetables, and over priced meats are typical. I tried shopping the Farmer's Market and I have visited every produce stall there: the products are inferior and overpriced. A grocer can patronize local farmers (Wegman's and Weiss does) and buy in enough bulk to offer superior selection and quality on a regular basis. Are you trying to claim that *because X store name failed once upon a time, the entire population of downtown does not deserve a grocery*?

Because it sure reads that way.

michael molovinsky said...

julian, a large chain supermarket would be the ultimate community benefit. besides the obvious benefit you mention, it would provide real jobs with real benefits and career training for center city residents. compare that with the millions that alan jennings will get to train people for non-existence jobs. jennings will never be able to train bankers for penn national, or physicians for lvhn sports medicine. unfortunately, a supermarket is too solution orientated for the bureaucrats who want to create new revenue streams for themselves. my father operated a meat market, allentown meat packing company, which closed in 1970. about 10 years ago, an older butcher working at the farmers market told me how his training at my fathers market, as a young man, provided him with a lifelong trade.

Julian Kern said...

@Michael....I totally agree. It's unfortunate that Mr. Mayor decided he wanted a hockey arena at 7th and Hamilton instead of something worthwhile that would do so much good for center city.

Anonymous said...

the supermarket business works on a 1% to 2% margine. they cannot survive in neighborhoods with high taxes, security costs, crime, etc. Allentown is seeing what every downtown neighborhood in the country has seen. Perhaps they can coax a 'low end' store like C-Town in South Bethlehem to give the Queen City a shot. But the attractivenss to businesses is really in the hands of the residents.

Dreaming of Justice said...

Anonymous at 11:21 PM:

Grocery chains routinely and successfully operate in urban areas all over the United States. Chains are useful in particular because they can support lower-performing locations and still make the business worthwhile.
Weiss has a sma. ller unit located at North Cedar Crest Boulevard and Walbert Road in South Whitehall. A store this size would be easier to fit into a smaller lot, and still offer parking. Other chains have had success in low income areas- Shop Rite is one example. A good marketing team will perform due diligence and tailor a grocery store to its clientele. Allentown has a 42% Latino population, up from 24% since 2000. Signage should be in both Spanish and English; customers need to feel welcomed and comfortable. The grocery should be located on a bus line, as well. There are lots of ways to make such a project work.

Anonymous said...

Really? Wouldn't a grocery store be the perfect place for foreigners to learn a little English? My grandparents leared English nearly 100 years ago by listening to the radio and struggling through the daily newspaper. I think they missed the English As A Second Language class.

Dreaming of Justice said...

Grocery chain marketers already have made decisions that are far better informed than your opinion and have used bi-lingual and tri-lingual signage with great success for years. Sorry if that somehow creates a deficit for you in some way.