Back to Class with No Contract for Line Mountain School District Teachers

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TREVORTON — It’s back to class for some students in Northumberland County. Teachers in the Line Mountain School District are back on the job Monday. They hit the picket lines on September 16th, a week after school started. There is still no contract for the teachers, but Monday was the deadline for educators to be […]

Bethlehem NAACP Talks Student Walkouts, Education

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

Esther Lee led the discussion

Against the backdrop of a student walkout in Allentown, Bethlehem’s NAACP hosted a forum devoted to educational inequality on September 29 at Town Hall. About 35 people, most of them black or Hispanic, attended. This racial disparity was noted by outspoken moderator and NAACP President Esther Lee. “That’s not my fault,” she said to laughter. “People hear the word NAACP and … .”

Wearing her ever present church hat, Lee peppered panelists and even audience members with questions about the walkout, the absence of diversity among teachers and the educational gap between white and minority students.

Student Walkout

“It starts in the home,” said Rev. Melvin Tatem

Though opposed to the walkout, Lee stated that “[w]e would not have that situation in Allentown if those young people thought they were being treated fairly.” Mayor Bob Donchez, who spent 35 years as a teacher in Allentown, called education “one of the great equalizers,” but what sets Bethlehem apart from Allentown is that it is an area school district that includes suburbs like Hanover Township. Many years ago, Allentown passed on an opportunity to create an area school district.that could have included Salisbury, Donchez observed.

Panelists like Lehigh University’s Dr. James Peterson insisted there would have been no walkout at all if school board members just listened to student grievances at a crowded and contentious meeting just a few days before the student strike. He said students have many legitimate grievances, like old textbooks and far fewer teachers than just a few years ago.

Chief Mark DiLuzio calls himself “the last teacher”

But Rev. Melvin Tatem, Pastor at Grace Deliverance Baptist Church had a completely different view.

“It starts in the home,” the cleric observed, speaking in a soft voice that grew louder as he continued. “If we don’t do our job, everything else falls down. … If you don’t respect your parents, you won’t respect the police.” He want on to speak of three generations in just one family being in jail.

Chief Mark DiLuzio, sitting right next to Tatem, called himself the “last teacher” that a young person sees before being sent to the prison system. Both Chief DiLuzio and Mayor Donchez also decried the poverty in Allentown and elsewhere within the Lehigh Valley. DiLuzio asked how, in a country as blessed as the United States, the poverty rate could go up three per cent in just eight years. Donchez decried a “permanent underclass” with “very limited skills.”

Educational Disparity   

Mayor Bob Donchez (L) and Dr. James Peterson (R)

Dr. Joseph Roy, Superintendent of the Bethlehem Area School District, not only agreed that there is disparity, but told the audience it starts early. A gap in reading and math proficiency among white, Latino and black students starts in the fourth grade, and widens as students get older.That’s why he believes all-day kindergarten is so important. “We have to start young and get kids on a successful track early,” he stressed.

But all-day kindergartens and teachers cost money in a “Don’t tax me” society that is increasingly unwilling to pay the price.

“We’ve lost respect for the public good,” observed Roy.”We don;t have money for roads and bridges,” he said, referring to our crumbling infrastructure.

Mayor Donchez blamed extremists on both sides of the ideological divide to whom “compromise” is a dirty word. “We can certainly do better,”: he observed.

Minority Teacher Shortage 

Both Dr. Roy and Dr. Peterson agreed with Lee’s observation that “the majority of teachers are white while the majority of students are not.” But Dr. Peterson explained that there’s “no pipeline” to crate minority teachers. He stated more needs to be done to make “teaching a profession to which students aspire.”

Peterson, who directs the African Studies program at Lehigh, noted that one reason so few high schools offer African American studies is because so few teachers are qualified in that area.

Panelists participating in this forum included Mayor Bob Donchez, Police Chief Mark DiLuzio, BASD Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy, African American Studies Professor Dr. James Peterson, Bethlehem YWCA Executive Director Stephanie Hnatiw and Randi Blauth from the American Association of University Women.

Opinions Online About to Heat Up

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

Opinions Online is a regular Saturday feature on this blog. It gives you an opportunity to weigh in on any topic. The instructions are on my left sidebar. You can also call Opinions Online at 385-325-2564 with your comment. I thought people might have lost interest, but a few entries on Friday proved otherwise.

Things are going to heat up this weekend, as municipal races get closer. I already have comments from readers in two municipalities – Bushkill and South Whitehall Tps – that I don’t regularly cover. These are the kind of comments I envisioned when I started this forum.

This is your chance to weigh in on any race or anything else that might be bothering you. Had a bad experience dealing with some local official? A good one? Tell us about it.

Fed Ed’s Picks In Allentown Races

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

Allentown Mayor Edwin “Fed Ed” Pawlowski, aka Public Official #3, should be regarded by any candidate in this election as a pariah. But despite a federal investigation and mounting evidence that he was the ringleader of a scheme to deprive citizens of their right to honest services, he has arrogantly continued to inject himself in local races.

Last week, in the middle of a student walkout in Allentown, Pawlowski instructed fellow Democrats to work against popular school board President Bob Smith. In 2010, Bob Smith seriously injured himself when he wrapped his arms around a suicide jumper as she hurled herself off a roof. He broke her fall with his own body.

Christian that he is, Pawlowski told Democrats that Smith is no longer “right in the head.”  This is typical of the way he speaks about others behind their backs, something I’m sure the feds have learned from reviewing hours of recorded conversations.

Later in the week, from his Facebook page, Fed Ed plugged the City Council candidacies of Candida Affa and Jeff Glazier. He also is backing Mary Ellen Koval for Controller and Audrey Mathison for the school board. He backed these candidates in the primary, too, along with Charlie Thiel and Elizabeth Martinez in the school board races.

People backed by Pawlowski have became his rubber stamps. That’s why voters should think before pulling the lever for anyone he supports. In the school board race, Scott Armstrong and Bob Smith have stood up to Pawlowski so long and so often that they deserve election for that reason alone. On City Council, you’ll never find a better watchdog of finances than Lou Hershman. And Roger MacLean, the City’s former police chief, has first hand experience dealing with Pawlowski’s betrayal of the public trust, which started in his police department. Finally, Steven Ramos would be an actual controller, unlike the rubber stamp wasting space in that office now.

Are the people of Allentown finally awake? Will they continue to allow bluebloods like J.B. Reilly or Sy Traub to rob them to give to the rich?

Stay tuned. Election’s just one month away. If you don’t register now, it’s too late.

Joe Thomas Seeks Holy Grail of Pizza

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

Like a Knight of the Round Table, Joe Thomas is on a noble quest. It’s one that should last years and take him on many adventures. He seeks the perfect pizza. Thus far, his tour has taken him to Nicolosi’s (P-burg), Quality Pizza (Easton), New York Style Stomboli Pizza (N. 17th, A-town) and Mivajo’s (Nazareth). You can follow the Joe Thomas Pizza Tour on Facebook.

I wish Joe Thomas lots of luck on his journey, but hope it’s one that will never end. There are so many great Italian restaurants here in the Lehigh Valley, and I love them all. Pizza Joe (Nazareth) is my favorite, followed by Rosanna’s (Bethlehem) and Antonio’s (25th St Shopping Center).

A friend tells me Pizza D’Oro (Easton) is also very good.

Emil Giordano Poised to Win Seat in Superior Court

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

I’m used to seeing Emil Giordano on baseball fields and basketball courts during the hot days of summer, but he’s MIA. He’s instead been all over the state picking up the support he’ll need to win a seat as one of the state’s fifteen Superior Court judges. In fact, if you haven’t done so, I’d recommend that you look at his Facebook page just to see all the great places and people in what really is a magnificent state.

This pic says it all. Who but Judge Giordano would not only let someone photobomb a campaign pic, but would also then load it onto his page?

A man with a sense of humor. A man who, despite working hard, is still willing to laugh at himself. That is Giordano. He is one Republican who will get my vote this election cycle. I suspect he will win big in Northampton County and throughout the state. He will lose Philly. That is where his opponent, Alice Dubow, is based. But he will win everywhere else and should win the race.

Collegiate band festival hits high note

Posted by 69News:.

The weekend hit a crescendo Sunday  for thousands of musicians, performers, and spectators at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown.

Almost two dozen bands from all over the region came together for the  Collegiate Marching Band Festival, featuring more than 23 college and university bands from all over the Northeast.

“I can’t even describe what it means to me, it so much fun,” said Brittany Frankel, feature baton twirler at University of Delaware.

The bands are not competing against one another.

“It’s a non- competitive event,” said John Villella, organizer.  “It’s just a pure exhibition. It’s just a fun day where all these students from all these bands get to come together and see each other perform.”

The students are also performing for the thousands of people in the crowds which includes band enthusiasts, friends, parents and grandparents.

“Just to feel that energy in the crowd is like nothing I have ever felt before,” said Derrick Dillman, University of Delaware trumpet player.

With more than five thousand people in the stands and more than a dozen bands at the event every year, organizers say this festival helps boost the local economy.

“We hope that we are promoting the Allentown spirit and the chance for local businesses to pick up some business as well,” said Villella.

However, for the participants, the only business on their mind is to dazzle the crowd, and make sure the festival ends on a high note.

Police investigating attempted murder-suicide in West Penn Township

Posted by 69News:.

Police are investigating a double shooting that occurred overnight in a quiet West Penn Township community.

According to police, the incident occurred around 9 p.m. Saturday at a residence in the 600 block of Arrow Road.

Crews on scene say when police and emergency medical personnel responded to the home, they found a husband and wife suffering from gunshot wounds.

Officials say the couple were treated on scene and transported to a landing zone along Dairy Road, just east of Route 309, where they were flown to area hospitals.

West Penn Township Police say the incident is being investigated as an apparent attempted murder-suicide between the married couple that lived in the home.

Lehigh Valley Hospital confirms that the woman involved in the shooting was treated and discharged Sunday. There is currently no word on the husband’s condition.

The identities of those involved remain unknown and police say the shooting is pending investigation.

Assisting on scene were Tamaqua Police, Rush Township Police, New Ringgold Ambulance, Tamaqua Ambulance and Lehighton ALS.

Elderly Woman Killed Crossing the Street in Scranton

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SCRANTON —  An elderly woman was killed when she crossed the street and was hit by a car in downtown Scranton Sunday afternoon. According to officers, a Dodge Challenger was turning onto Lackawanna Avenue in front of the Mall at Steamtown when the driver hit Loretta Kempinski, 82, of Scranton, as she was crossing the […]

Police Investigate Possible Kidnapping in Hazleton

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HAZLETON — We now know police are investigating a possible kidnapping that touched off a standoff here in Hazleton. State Police said officers in the city responded to the home on South Pine Street after the victim, Edward Braskey, 39, of Hazle Township, texted 9-1-1, saying they were abducted. So far no charges have been […]