Monday, May 12, 2008

Bennett's Views on Education and Crime

If I had nothing else nice to say about Democratic congressional candidate Sam Bennett, I'd have to admit she's very friendly. In the Hamilton Family Diner, where I met her, she seemed to know most of the waitresses by name as well as a few of the customers. She offered me two of her own pens when my own ran out of ink. I'd like to finish my posts about the Bennett interview with her comments on crime and education.

Education

Before I asked a question, Bennett explained to me that her "civic engagement" started in the Allentown school system. As she explains it, the local PTA was in danger of dissolving, so she volunteered her time even though she was making a two hour daily commute at the time.

According to Bennett, the dilapidated condition at William Allen High School created a "perception" about it being bad news even though "in many ways, Allentown School District is better than the others." Because the school district had no money to renovate, she helped form a nonprofit and enlisted the help of others to try and improve that "historic old building."

Question: Can a school district like Allentown EVER be successful under No Child Left Behind. As a congressperson, what changes would you propose? Can you please give your view on the specific educational needs of our local public schools, instead of just painting a broad picture of the public schools on the national level?

"The goals of NCLB are admirable. Every child has the right to a quality education. [Bennett repeated this statement several times over the three hours I met with her]. Our global competitiveness depends on this. The federal government must have a will to ensure the same amount of money is spent on each child. Whether you live in Allentown, East Penn or Alabama, the same amount of money should be spent on each child. That really hurts school district like Allentown."

Question: What will you do to ensure that ANY qualified student can receive advanced education using INTEREST-FREE loans?

"Any qualified student should be entitled to a loan. Nothing is more important. This should apply to advanced degrees as well. Robber baron Republicans are taking things that should be regulated, like student loans, and are turning them into profit opportunities for their cronies. Privatization. Charlie Dent has a terrible record on this. What could be a better investment than education? Students who become doctors or teachers should be able to pay off those loans with some form of public service."

Crime

Bennett also spoke about crime without any prompting from me. "Unless you take care of crime, you can do all the economic development you want and it won't matter." Later, when speaking about what's wrong with the country, she returned to what's wrong with Allentown. "It's the crime," she stated in a matter-of-fact style.

Question: What exactly are you "creative approaches" to fighting crime in our district?

"This is my hall mark. A congressional representative has a critical and collaborative role to play here. It is not an Allentown issue: it is a district issue. First, we need to fight for whatever is needed to increase the boots on the ground here at home. Second, we need healthy neighborhoods that have a proper balance of all ranges of incomes. My eighteen years at Properties of Merit has been a testament to that. It is a simple, strategic approach.

"I will fight for more resources that we need to solve this issue, from graffiti removal to more officers to increased education. Crime is a symptom and we need to cure the disease that causes it."

That does it, folks. Tomorrow, I'll post a summary with links to each blog generated by this revealing Bennett interview.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is so tiring to read about all of the killings and violence that have happened recently in Allentown and yet still have to try to think about the development of a "revitalization plan." I, for one, am discouraged with the news of the recent days and realize that all of the events add fuel to the fire for all of the nay-sayers, anti-Allentown bloggers, and just plain racist/vulgar/hateful individuals that exist in Lehigh Valley.
I can't deny that all of the killings with guns over drugs and gangs were, unnecessary, and unfortunately, more than likely done by US; and WE do need to take responsibility for our actions and do what NEEDS to be done. I guess the question is how ? I see blogs on other Mcall articles, that range from PriceRite to the recent Moravian college student and they all have comments that refer to "summer of love" violence, welfare, lazy people, hoodlums, etc and I guess if that is the perception people receive from US, we can't fight it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I say it's NOT too late to take to the streets and take back the neighborhoods. I don't mean Crime Watch, because that is why we have police, I mean to actively knock on doors in even the WORST neighborhoods and see what is needed;and I mean BEYOND money, welfare and housing. Most judgmental people don't realize that WE aren't animals and don't like being excluded from society either; and that's how MANY PR's and Blacks feel. This is not an excuse, but a fact. WE are talked about, negatively, in the media, in meetings, on TV, on the radio, and in these blogs, but no one talks to US. WE have committees and groups and organizations but they often times do not represent the TRUE commuity that is struggling due to lack of education, residents with past crime involvement, women with early and numerous infants without a means to support them, and the list goes on and on; so WHAT is the answer ? I say, let's GO TO THEM. We who complain should confront those who we complain about and see what's on THEIR minds so we can find a TRUE solution. It won't be easy, but it MUST be done. Allentown can't go forward until ALL of the the residents are represented and counted. Otherwise, it will continue its downward spiral. NO MORE MEETINGS, let's just DO IT ! Let's meet everyone where they are and see what the problem is and see what can be done to prevent a SUMMER OF VIOLENCE ! Because all of the festivals, block parties, meetings, forums, marches, and programs in the world can't stop the violence and criminal-minded ideas of THOSE who feels excluded and disenfranchised. Period.

Alfonso Todd

Bernie O'Hare said...

Alfonso,

It is easy to misconstrue a complaint abut Allentown's very real crime problem with being anti-Allentown. I don't deny the racial undercurrent in much of what i read at the reader forum, which blames crimes on "ricans" or "monrels. That's a disgusting oversimplification. But crime in Allentown is very real, and it has been ignored for far too long by the Pawlowski administration. For his first two years, he was paying no attention at all. He has emphaisized economic development as the solution to all of Allentown's woes and has called A-town's crime a "perception" instead of recognizing the reality. It can't be blamed entirely on Pawlowski, but he can't solve such a serious problem by pretending it does not exist until his third year in office or by slamming the MC for reporting the truth.

On crime, Bennett seems to have a better understanding than Pawlowski. Although I don't believe she has the depth needed to be a member of congress, she certainly has her fingers on Allentown's pulse. She has a more realistic approach to A-town than its own mayor.

Anonymous said...

Allentown is no more safe or dangerous than any other city of its size. If Ed Pawlowski had Super Powers, put on a red Cape and flew around the city singlehandedly fighting crime, you would probably criticize his technique, or complain he was violating criminals rights. The Post was about Sam Bennett, who you gave a backhanded compliment, and then you take another swipe at the Mayor. I'd hate to see you as our Mayor O'Hare. You would have panicked and passed out flak vests to all the residents long ago. I see Ed Pawlowski walking on Linden Street, while you drive through real fast on your way to see your bus stop buddies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 1:27,

Mayor Pawlowski has failed to keep three anti-crime promises made while running for the job. 1) He promised to increase the PD size, and it shrunk to its lowest level in decades. 2) He promised to use deputy sheriffs, but that was BS. 3) He promised community policing, but is only getting started on that now, and was so arrogant before LC that he killed the notion there.

The snark about the "bus stop buddies," another group ignored by Pawlowski, reveals you for what you are. You don't give a rat's ass about A-town's serious crime problem, in which 4 people are murdered in two weeks. You just want to run interference for Mayor Ed like a good little Dem committeeman. But you're too much of a chicken shit to ID yourself.

Baaaaa.

You posted this AM on the park bench post, and are posting again here. Pawlowski is not your mayor bc you live in Upper macungie and work near Q-town. According to my sitemeter, you are posting from the same IP and ISP that Chris Casey uses when he blogs and emails from his job. The IP is 71.175.192.# and your ISP is Verizon.

I thought Casey claimed he stays off the net between 6 AM and 4 PM.

It's sad to see how low you've fallen.

tinkerbell said...

i know everyone is talking about crime, but the nclb thing, in my opinion, is a bunch of crap.

i saw it in florida. that's partly why my husband and i moved back home, so when we had a child (which we now do), she would actually get an education.

kids get passed on through, so the school "appears" to be doing a good job.

plus, my sister is a teacher in md; last year was her first year. she saw the effects of the nclb.

for example, at her school, when the superintendent would visit the schools (which was like 2 times a year because the schools go by county, not district), there was no in-school suspension that day. god forbid he knew that there were out of control kids there and that every student wasnt getting straight a's.


maybe im being bold, but anyone who actually believes in ncld needs to take off the blindfold.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tinkerbell, I don't think you're being bold at all. Nearly every teacher who comments here, from Retired ASD to Mrs. Dottie to my nephew Eric, shares your view.

A.J. Cordi said...

NCLB is a bad program with good intentions.

A lot of time and money has been invested into it. It needs a lot of work.

Schools that need the assistance shouldn't be punished because of it - especially inner-city schools.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Tinkerbell is right. NCLB was intended to demonstrate this . . " Finally, we now have controls in place to FORCE inprovement upon public education. Based on the following numbers, we will now know if our product works, and we have been successful."

NCLB failed to realize we are not producing widgets. Kids are humans. They come with all kinds of variables. Each has their own measure of success.

Kids CAN NEVER BE STANDARDIZED, and why would we want that?

The true test of our success (per child) is growth from one year to the next for THAT child. How can we ignore/devaluate that kind of progress by creating a one size fits all standard?

It's like a track coach being told by the end of this season, all team members will high jump at least 6 feet, and by next season, 6feet and 2 inches.

Ain't happening!

Anonymous said...

crime in Atown has nothing to do with NCLB. Once in a while it is domestic violence, but all the rest it pure drugs and gangs... bottom line. Henry Schaadt

Bernie O'Hare said...

Henry, Nobody ever said that crime in A-town has anything to do w/ NCLB. Read the post and read the comments.

A.J. Cordi said...

Bernie,

He's still wrong. The effects of violence, drugs and gangs all have an effect on a student, which in the end is reflected upon poor results.