Jan 17, 2022

An Allentown School Primer

While Morning Call readers learned yesterday that Allentown School superintendent Russ Mayo would not be seeking another contract, molovinsky readers already knew that since early last week. However, today's post is a lesson in recent history. Before Mayo, the superintendent was John Zahorchak. The board that hired him thought very highly of themselves for that choice. Zahorchak was former Secretary of Education under Rendell. What the board didn't realize was that while the Rendell administration was a case study in cronyism, it was not concerned with expertise. Zahorchak came to town and turned the school system inside out, and upside down. He instituted every new concept ever written in the education magazines. Among one bad move after another, he transfered Allen High's very effective principal to desk job on Penn Street. In wake of the mess, the board was then glad to hire Mayo, who was familiar with the system before the chaotic changes.

Allentown School System has been suffering from the same problems which affect all urban systems with high poverty rates.  Why the board thinks that a new superintendent will change the parameters of that reality escapes me.  The district just announced that there will be another year with no tax increase, which would be considered welcome news in most communities.

Now some older history;  Shown above is Dorothy Taliaferro, as pictured in the 1920 Allentown High School yearbook.  Dorothy was a vocal supporter for woman suffrage, and hoped to become a doctor. She was the first black girl to graduate from Allentown.  Although Dorothy did not fulfill that career ambition,  she had two younger brothers who did become physicians.  The family lived at 450 Union Street, which was later demolished in one of Allentown's misguided urban renew projects.

Thanks to Dan Doyle for loan of the 1920 Comus.  

reprinted from 2016

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