May 7, 2015

Courting The Allentown Teachers

Back in my fathers day, students gave the teacher an apple to get in their good graces. In current Allentown, the teachers are courted by the school board candidates, who hope to get into the good graces and recommendation of their teacher's union. One teacher forwarded me this email from Charlie Thiel, which was sent through official school channels.
To All Teachers in the Allentown School District, Thank you for all that you do to change the lives of our students. By creating an attitude of lifelong learning for our students, you are profoundly impacting their lives. I am sure there are some days (perhaps more than you would like to admit) that you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Rest assured that you are changing the lives of young people every day. Do you remember the first time you helped a student have a revelation, where the lightbulb went on? Maybe they finally learned to tie their shoes, or they were able to solve an algebraic problem, or even understand Shakespeare…or you provided a snack when they had not eaten for the last day. The needs of our students are great. But our teachers are greater! Thank you for heeding the calling on your life and choosing the Allentown School District and our students. Happy Teachers Appreciation Week!
Charlie Thiel      School Board Director

 The image below by candidate Mark Smith appears on facebook
Once upon a time, school board candidates appealed to the public and parents, for an opportunity to speak for them on how the school district should be run. Now, it appears that some candidates are appealing directly to the teachers, who are already well represented by their strong union.

ADDENDUM: Mark Smith feels that this post mischaracterized his intent. His reply is contained within the comment section.

ADDENDUM 2: I'm closing comments on this post. Please direct any additional comments on the school board election to the newer school board post,  Allentown School Directors In Dark


Anonymous said...

taxpayers need to understand that if these people win the teachers union will be on both sides of the bargaining table. They will be determining their own compensation and adjusting tax rates accordingly.

Anonymous said...

I heard that the salary of the teachers union president is paid by tax payers. I guess we can expect more of that kind of stuff very shortly if the voters fall for the happy talk of these candidates

Anonymous said...

With anoter edited out news weekend fast approaching we have yet another sexaul assult that ASD actors failed to report because of the bad publicity that may affect the downtown arena development in a negative way¿ The henious crims against humanity and dispairity across The board is reprehencible¿

patent pending

Anonymous said...


Cases such as the one you refer to are handled according to strict protocols. It is unfortunate to see accusations made so causally.

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

concerning comment @7:00, i normally do not host comments between readers, but because armstrong is a school board member, his input on this unfortunate incident is relevant.

Mark Smith said...

Let me be very clear. I am not courting anyone group in particular. If you would have spent time researching your profile of me, you would have seen that I was one that did not take any money from the teacher's union like several other candidates did. I sponsored that gathering to get a better understanding of the environment that 'on the ground" teachers deal with everyday. I do not want to be part of a "Slate" or take money from anyone who expects something in return. Including the teachers union. I have spent my life developing my on thoughts and opinions of which I will apply to this very important position in our commumity. I really don't need anyone's help with that. I want to understand the whole picture so that decisions made will be made with ALL the information. If I can not be elected by a consensus of our community, it will be tough to solve problems. I do not represent or want to be represent anyone faction of political influence except the children of our city. So, I ask you kindly, please do not project your contrived opinions of me. It only confuses those who look to you for their thoughts. You are more than welcome to speak with me and find out exactly where I stand on any issue. Whether you agree with me or not, you will get an honest answer.
Mark Smith

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I ever met Mr. Smith, or was his teacher in ASD, but he IS correct in believing actual classroom teachers are a valuable resource in understanding the 'nuts and bolts' of the job.

A child's classroom teacher is not, and should NEVER be, a parent's enemy, or adversary. Over 33 years in ASD, I never had one colleague who didn't treasure a partnership with a parent.

Seems to me, an 'Open House' invitation by Mr. Smith was a worthy effort. Who better to describe classroom challenges than someone who actually manages one on a daily basis?

I left the profession with a firm conviction, based on direct experience, student performance is highly determined by class size. This is GREATLY important in urban school districts, like ASD. Districts with students lacking support at home.

I no longer live in Allentown, so can't cast my vote for Mr. Smith, but want to encourage him to thoroughly analyze the benefit of smaller classes. By this, I don't necessarily mean hiring more teaching professionals. The advantages I see can also come from simply improving the student-to-adult ratio to provide more direct contact. That can be done with lower paid aides and volunteers.

When I left ASD almost a decade ago, too large class rosters were becoming a true detriment to the process. I'm afraid not much has changed.

Perhaps Mr. Smith can provide his own thoughts on this issue. Even a summary of his Open House experience. I believe that event was held last night.

Fred Windish

michael molovinsky said...

fred@3:53, it was my intention not to reply to mark's explanation, but your comment compels me now otherwise. my issue is with mark's timing, one week before the primary. if he were already elected, (essentially the primary is the election) i would have no problem with him wanting to educate himself about the teacher's perspectives, but the timing suggests a solicitation of their support.

mark, i do not believe that my piece is contrived. were you offered a place on the slate, or a contribution from the teacher's union that you declined? i have yet made recommendations for or against any candidate. although i have made some observations in this post, i still consider both you and charlie attractive candidates for the board.

Mark Smith said...

I appreciate your frankness and response. I had not been offered a place on the slate, but was offered $500 from the union if I filled out the paperwork. The "slate" was chosen before I announced, so I'm not sure if I would have been invited. But, I would not have accepted for reasons I expressed earlier. 58 years of formal education and life experiences including 14 years of coaching at Allen and running two real estate companies is what I am running on. As for my reason to want to speak with teachers, I want to know as much as I can about the situation as I am new to this process and the in and out workings of our public school system.

Anonymous said...

I can understand and appreciate your interpretation, Michael.

More importantly, please allow me to mention, Mr. Smith is not listed as one of the 'anointed' by the Mayor candidates. That's key. I find the Mayor's intervention in this election to not only be inappropriate, but nauseating.

To any Allentown voter undecided about who would make a responsible School Board member, I suggest they consider the Mayor's meddling here. That should be seen as a strike against any candidate who accepted such an endorsement. Allentown has enough 'puppets' in office already.

Fred Windish