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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Allentown Pastor Blasts "Educational Apartheid"

Rev. Gregory Edwards
Yesterday's Allentown Pastor Slams Gentrification at Expense of Education took a few of you out of your comfort zone. After all, we are used to blaming people of color for their lack of education or decent jobs. Well, to some extent, Allentown Pastor Gregory Edwards agrees. But he also blames bad teachers and an educational system that, in his view, amounts to educational apartheid.

He is first and foremost a preacher. So what you see below is exactly what you might hear at what he calls an "After Meetin' Eatin'" Church, known to people like me as AME.

Words on a computer screen are no replacement for listening to what really is a show, but let me give you the rest of his address to the Elks on Monday. It struck a chord in me, and pissed many of you off, and that's a good thing. .

When we look at the outcomes academically, and we go to Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Allentown, we ought to be outraged that our young black and Latino men, in particular, score single digit level proficiency in math and science and reading. So we got churches that can name it and claim it, but can't spell it. Shoutin' and not sproutin'. So somehow, we have to reawaken ourselves that if in fact public education is a guaranteed right of every citizen native to the soil, that has got to be a front on which we need to stand. We've got to begin to organize locally and we've got to begin to reclaim our children's history when it comes to public education.

If our children cannot read by third grade, you know what happens academically. From Kindergarten to third grade, children are learning to read. After third grade, they are reading to learn. California already begins to forecast how many prisons they build by the reading scores of third graders.

In my social context, in Allentown, nearly 70% of our third graders are not at third grade reading levels. So now, Ray Ray and Pookie can't read. Then what happens is our children go into middle school. What happens in middle school, those transition years? They go through puberty. Some of y'all remember that, right? You survived it, they'll survive it, too. But their bodies begin to change. Their voices begin to deepen. But at the end of the day, they're our babies, our children. But they are placed in the hands of people who have some level of cultural dissonance and don't understand that just because a child is different doesn't mean he's deficient.

Now because our children have struggled - can't read - they begin to see some behavioral issues. They no longer become cute. Now they're in crisis and they begin to be labeled. But the state gives every school district extra funding for special education, which is therefore why our children end up in special education.

We are funding what I call educational apartheid in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

It is not required for a child to go to kindergarten. So you can have a 7 year old show up for school, never having been around children his or her age which means they have not been socialized to the learning environment. If we cannot socialize to the learning environment, your behavior begins to be different. But because our teachers in large part don't look like our students, there is empirical categorizing and there is the evolution of a slow, slow, slow, slow, slow, slow change.

Our children think they are dumb. I have never encountered a child who can not learn. I've encountered a whole lot of folk who can't teach, bt i have never encountered a young person who is not creative, who does not have some level of artistry residing in him, who does not want to be listened to or heard. But I have run into some incompetent people who call themselves teachers.

In his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire says that education is not just a way out of poverty, but a way to end it. If you're really educated and you have your credentials and your pedigree, you know that you didn;t get there by yourself.

Folk in public education teach head, but they very rarely touch heart. Education that is valuable and first class touches head and heart. If you educate someone's head, but you never touch their heart, that's why we have public policy looking the way it looks. That's why we have the folks running for office who are running for office. Information is not the same thing as intelligence.

One of my heroes, Marian Wright Edelman, was the president of the Children's Defense Fund and was also a Freedom Rider in 1964, took some students to Mississippi in what is called the Mississippi Freedom Summer. Mississippi was the last state to allow blacks to vote. They began to take responsibility for what public schools wouldn't do. They met in the basements of churches. They met under poplar trees. They met on the lawn. And they taught children of color, not only how to read, not only how to write, but how to think for themselves. They taught them about the Constitution. They taught them about civic engagement. They taught them that one can't truly participate in their own humanity of they're not educated. We will always be on the receiving end of someone else's wind.

We cannot send our children to school and think that's enough. There used to be a time when they were in school for a season, but the rel learning happened at home and in the church, at the park, around the corner in Big Momma's house.

We've gotta' reclaim our sense of family so that it truly does take a village. We cannot say, "Those are somebody else's children." They are either all of our children or none of our children.

I'm so glad that somebody along my way spoke to me and encouraged me when my 8th grade guidance counselor said, "You ought not to go to college. You're not college material."

I shouted all the way across the stage when I got my bachelor's degree. I danced all across the stage when i got my master's degree. And then I said "Thank Ya'" when I got my Doctoral degree. i didn't go back and curse her. i thanked her becaue she gave me a sea of resiliency and "STILL I RISE" and "STILL I RISE" and "STILL I RISE."


Langston Hughes asks,

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

Our children are brilliant! Brilliant! We have to reclaim out children.

So what am I asking you to do?

I'm asking us to be free, free to show up at the next school board meeting, and even if you don't like public speaking, write down that question. Go get yourself in some good trouble.


Anonymous said...

Still blaming everryone but the people who don't do a damn thing to improve their lives. Teachers show up and teach, kids don't want to learn, parents don't want to parent and dependence on handouts is a way of life.

So tell me again how this is everyone else's problem and these people are victims?

Anonymous said...

So are schools parents ?

Anonymous said...

Clearly, just because people have the ability to breed does not mean they have the ability to be parents.

Those infants who are trapped with parents who clearly are incapable of raising their children should be seized and placed in orphanages. Then they can be raised properly and learn the value of education, instead of how to get their next fix.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, blame everybody but themselves. Why go to school, learn, become literate; when you can collect "the welfare", smoke weed, drink forties and sell dope for a large profit.

Anonymous said...

In case you missed it this guy is a Trump guy deep down. As quoted from his speech, "citizen native to the soil"

Anonymous said...

yet another out of tune liberal race baiter

Anonymous said...

The left have done all that they can do to cleanse the nation of real religion, real community, and replace it with the religion of big government, the kids are not learning: more money to schools, there is poverty: more assistance and free housing, drug addiction: more rehab dollars. This road we are on will not be solved by more government money, more social programs, more blaming those who have, for the failure of those that have not. Only a moral revival will turn the direction of this country around, and that will not happen until the collapse of this corrupt big government system and people will need each other just to survive.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure more AFDC and Food Stamps will take care of this problem.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if you can't afford to have kids, you shouldn't get pregnant ?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"So tell me again how this is everyone else's problem and these people are victims?"

"Perhaps if you can't afford to have kids, you shouldn't get pregnant ?"

"Yeah, blame everybody but themselves. "

I see the bigots are up early today. Hope this made you uncomfortable. But to be honest, I think many of you must have those third grade reading levels as well. Dr. Edwards blasts everyone, including the churches and the parents of these children and the very same union teachers you lick to bash. Many of you are just ranting andnot even addressing his points. I understand Trump is the presumptive R nominee, but that doesn't mean bigotry is now mainstream or that we have no obligation to listen to one another.

Anonymous said...

No Bernie, we're not bigots. Just tired of hearing the same old thing. It's not just in Allentown, but any large city with a substantial minority population the schools have gone to hell in a hand basket.

Why is that, but it doesn't seem to affect the schools in the townships? After all, children are children, yes ?

Scott Armstrong said...

"We've gotta' reclaim our sense of family so that it truly does take a village. We cannot say, 'Those are somebody else's children.' They are either all of our children or none of our children."

So, reclaiming our sense of family means my kids are every one else's kids and vice a versa ? I made sure my kids behaved, were polite, did their homework, dressed properly, ate well and went to bed on time. I also set an example at home by working and behaving myself. I can only do that with my kids, no one else's. Where is that message in the pastor's words?

It isn't the community, it is mom and dad on the front lines of child rearing. If they are missing from the fight, the "community" is only a substitute of last resort.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the schools in Allentown are rotten today, but 30-40 years ago were award-winning?

Anonymous said...

Did you see the story in the Mcall about the kid from Allen that got accepted to 7 Ivy League schools.
You can get a great education at Allen, if you want to, as witnessed by thousands of Allen grads who went to
College and became successful. A generation ago, poor and middle class families lived in the very same home
That exist there today, and Allen was considered the best school in the Valley. What changed?

Anonymous said...

It doesn't "take a village" It takes PARENTS.

If parents can't instill basic values in their children, then they should be removed from that responsibility and have their offspring placed in orphanages. All we are seeing now is generation after generation of welfare witches and convicts-to-be.

THE Observer said...

They are UP because they have to GO to jobs......this is why the peeps are voting for the TRUMPSTER. PEEPS are tired of being blamed for segments of society FAILING to hold up their end if the bargain and then crying foul.it is EASIER TO blame then to actually be part of the solution. If Dr Edwards is truly interested in being part of the solution..then lead!!!blame is not leadership....it is finger pointing

Anonymous said...

How ironic that a few days after this "pastor" complains about minority kids having problems in school because the teachers don't look like the kids they teach, there is a huge article in the Morning Call about a minority kid at Allen TURNING DOWN SEVEN Ivy League schools to attend Stanford.

I don't know the specifics on that kid, but he must have either had teachers that all looked like him OR he didn't listen to the kind of crap this guy is spewing.

Anonymous said...

Bigotry is prevalent in the persistent race baiting conducted by the social justice warriors. It does not take a village to raise children. It takes parents that know the difference between right and wrong. It takes parents who invest time and energy into the education of their children.

Anonymous said...

I think that Rev. Edwards words would have much more impact if he were showing what he's doing for those in or around his church.

For instance, it would be great to hear him say something like "only 60% of children in the ASD graduate, but among our congregation that rate is 85%, and here's how we did it". Or how about something like "nearly 70% of ASD third graders are not reading at grade level, but among those residing within 3 blocks of our church we only have 25% not reading at grade level, AND HERE IS HOW EVERY CHURCH (or even the district) COULD GET THE SAME RESULTS".

Right now, his remarks come off as those of a bystander, which he doesn't have to be.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"They are UP because they have to GO to jobs..."

Using that flawless logic, I would expect to see this thread inundated with comments supporting Re. Edwards. But it isn't perhaps you've identified the wrong people who are up early bc they need to be at jobs. Many of these parents work two or three PT jobs in our Trump economy and don't have the luxury that you do to smear them anonymously.

Jamie Kelton said...

Um, Bernie, Mr Trump isn't president; Obama is. It's the Obama economy

Jamie Kelton said...

I believe Reverend Edwards has a point about the poor condition of the schools in Allentown, but he's overlooking that the role of the school is to provide instruction to children in the classes they attend.

My mom had me doing many other things growing up. I was a member of the YWCA, the Girl Scouts, and also we would go to St Stephens for church school on sunday mornings. My dad was frequently at work but he would welcome when I could go to his store and start working part time selling auto parts when I was a teenager. I never had a lack of things to do.

What many of the children in school today is lack those kind of opportunities. The parents let them run the streets and get into trouble. Homework doesn't get done and the kids don't learn. It's not all the teacher's fault, they can only present the material, they can't drill it into the kid's heads.

I noticed that the student from Allen that was in the paper participated in a lot of extra-curricular activities. I'm sure he did other things that kept him off the streets and focused on studying. Now that hard work is paying off for him.

Anonymous said...

Today's challenge to all: Correct somebody else's child's bad behavior and see what happens. I hypothesize that 90% of the parent/s standing next to the kid will berate you. The other 10% will punch you in the mouth.

Anonymous said...

@9:03 I learned that lesson a LONG time ago. You NEVER complain to a parent that their kid is acting up. They are always angels and you'll get nothing but a rash of shit from them, having the gall to tell them their kids are acting like brats.

Anonymous said...

I must be reading the Rev's words differently but i thought it was pretty good and i think he is advocating what everybody is commenting about and suggesting.

I took it as a call to action to the Allentown Community, which would include the parents, the social and religious organizations, the youth orgs etc to get involved and make a difference in some fashion in these kids lives.

You are not going to fix Allentown without fixing the ASD. You will not fix the ASD until you fix the attitudes of the students going there and you will not fix those attitudes until you fix/address the underlying conditions for those kids.

I did not take it as send me more money because of white privilege or whatever, my take away is send me your time and get involved to make a difference.

-Mitchell (and i am voting trump)

Ray Nemeth Sr said...

It is true, most people are tired of being blamed for the failures of other people, and when they talk about having a discussion it is a one way conversation, when it is pointed out that 1 parent families, children without responsible parents, poor choices are the root of the problem, then you are a bigot and a racist, these words are used as a weapon to silence anyone who will disagree, More government programs are not the answer, we have had 70 years of increasing government programs and the results have been a disaster, both socially and financially. We are now in the process of replacing what is left of a productive society with more programs, after 1 or 2 more generations, there will no longer be any work ethic or individual responsibility left.

Ray Nemeth Sr said...

One other thing, raising children is increasingly difficult for everyone, the idea that we must now sacrifice more to help raise other peoples children is ridiculous, it is also impossible and appears to be just another effort to place guilt on anyone who is managing to succeed at work and child rearing.

Anonymous said...

He's got it all wrong.

These big city schools are bad because the poor innocent kids are being unjustly suspended at disproportionate rates because of their race and ethnicity.

I know because I read it in this morning's paper.

Obviously, if the poor innocent angels were allowed to stay in school after being unjustly identified as trouble makers, things would get a lot better.

Anonymous said...

Not a Trump supporter, but there's such a double standard.

One person says he can't get a fair shake from a judge with a certain heritage, and is condemned as a racist for it.

Another says minority kids can't be effectively taught by people who don't look like those minority kids, and is praised for it.

I've heard similar arguments made as to why the ASD Superintendent must go.

Will we ever get to the point that it doesn't matter what race the person is? Or is it just something to be used for political advantage in whatever the issue-of-the-day is?

Anonymous said...

Nate Whips 4 Mayor , you heard it here first the washboard abs, car collection, hotties on his arm, respect of the hood, youthful vigor the guy is a shoe in if he runs

Bernie O'Hare said...

Fair point. The reality is that there are very few minority teachers to go around. And I don't see too many people praising Rev. Edwards.

The way I look at this is that we have an obligation to educate our children, no matter who they are. It is a matter of national security in the final analysis. If we fail with students of color, as we apparently are, that's a huge demographic that is being prevented from reaching its potential and contributing to society.

The point about teachers who do not look like the students is also fair. That is how subtle racism creeps in. Look at the tendency on this and my other thread to view persons who are black or Latino as some sort of inferior beings. It's obvious in many of the comments. There is no understanding that many of these are single parent households, and that many of these single parents work two or three jobs. There is little understanding of just how difficult it is to get help. There is a tendency to think that the government just hands out food stamps and free health care, and that too many persons of color are freeloaders.

Rev. Edwards also has to recognize that it is simply impossible to provide more minority teachers than are already out there. He has to be patient, and while he is waiting, he and other churches should do what he suggests - open up the churches to teach. Have a Mississippi summer in Allentown. I would volunteer, and I would like to see some of the readers here volunteer as well.

Let me also say that I know a great many people who do exactly what Edwards advocates. You won't see their names in the newspaper and you will not see them on these blogs or in forums. But you'll see them on the basketball courts or baseball diamonds, working with disadvantaged kids all the time, expecting nothing in return.

These guys do not teach reading and are there for sports, but they instill the discipline these kids need to better themselves. I've seen it first hand. Adult males. Black, white and Latino, working together to help kids be better persons.

There are still a lot of good people in the world.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"the idea that we must now sacrifice more to help raise other peoples children is ridiculous,"

Ray, It's the way I was brought up, and I suspect it is the way you were brought up.

Anonymous said...

The Rev is an UNclie Tom, look at all the gold jewelry, nice clothing and flashy hairdo he could be wearing a burllap sack

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I didn't make your kids. I don't have any obligation to spend my money to do what you can't do.

If you can enjoy making them, but can't afford or don't have the skills to raise them, they should be taken from you and put up for adoption.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Today's challenge to all: Correct somebody else's child's bad behavior and see what happens. I hypothesize that 90% of the parent/s standing next to the kid will berate you. The other 10% will punch you in the mouth."

Nobody has suggested that approach. Why are you attributing suggestions to Rev. Edwards that he did not make? What he does suggest is a concerted effort by everyone to take responsibility. Parents, churches, schools. Is this so different from what Republicans suggest? I think there is much more room to agree than disagree, but people aren't used to working together anymore.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" Did you see the story in the Mcall about the kid from Allen that got accepted to 7 Ivy League schools."

Of course. And for every article like that, there are 100 negative articles. Allen has work to do.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"It isn't the community, it is mom and dad on the front lines of child rearing."

Scott, I agree it starts at home. But you sell yourself short. You have been an example to the children in your community and you have been a volunteer. Despite your mistaken political beliefs, you are a role model for children. If there were more people like you out there, we would not have a problem.

Anonymous said...

I do like what he is saying, yet he totally missed one big aspect of the problem.

If these kids cannot read, then how did they get "promoted" to the next grade? If someone takes the responsibility to stop this farce, then sooner or later the problem will have to be dealt with. That is, when someone realizes that the second grade classes are empty because everyone failed first grade.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's a problem with the system, wouldn't you say?

Anonymous said...

Well, its off topic, but it has been a really bad week for judges. Here, Roscioli and Baratta came under fire for the Naz graduation walk, and the Lehigh Football player. Then we have Judge Curiel (the Mexican), and all those screaming, defending, and vilifying Trump, and Trump U...then, over to the Stanford U case of college rape, and the online petition to remove that judge (who is now receiving threats at the courthouse. )..and who was re-elected yesteray in the primary....bad week for robes!

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should take a page from the Lehigh valley catholic schools, 98% of those kids go onto college, at least that's what the billboards say. And what about them charter schools, I hear they are way ahead of the curve as well.

Anonymous said...

@11:02 Yes it is, and one of the easiest to correct I would think. Teachers/ Admin passing the buck serves no purpose and wastes resources. In addition, I would love to hear "Who" is moving these kids through the system, knowing that they cannot read.

Anonymous said...

A lot of my thoughts have already been said, but I'm going to put a different spin on things. Bernie, I'm going to focus on a single paragraph from your 10:33 post that really highlights the problem here:

"The way I look at this is that we have an obligation to educate our children, no matter who they are. It is a matter of national security in the final analysis. If we fail with students of color, as we apparently are, that's a huge demographic that is being prevented from reaching its potential and contributing to society."

While things can always be done better, I (and many others here, I suspect) would argue that the issue isn't nearly as much that "WE" have failed in meeting our obligations to this population as "THEY" have failed in taking advantage of the opportunities. When you have far too many inner city families who don't take responsibility for getting their kids to school, disciplining them properly, and demanding that they do their best, society isn't to blame, and throwing more money/resources at the problem isn't going to do a thing. When a violent environment is created in schools as a reflection of the inner city community, largely because of a lack of responsible parenting and a glorification of "thug" culture, it's not society's fault either. There are issues in our inner city schools that won't go away, no matter how much help/money/resources they receive from the outside, until the inner city communities themselves fix them.

Of course, this answer is simplifying a very complicated issue. There are certainly some bigots in the "WE" and certainly many hardworking, responsible citizens in the "THEY" that work their butts off to give their kids opportunities in a very tough environment caused by the circumstances in their community (who have my full respect!). These are just pronouns being thrown around by everyone (admittedly, including me) to generalize groups of people for the sake of this discussion. It's not a black/Hispanic/white issue, there is good and bad in every race, creed, and color. It's also not fair to make a generalization of everyone in a community. However, as these sorts of issues are replicated throughout inner cities in the US, it is fair to say that much of this situation IS an inner city community issue.

Ovem Lupo Commitere said...

Your hyperlink to the Freire book actually provides a good insight as to the oppositional rhetoric being debated amongst you and your readers. Too many of you seem to be focusing, intentionally or not, on culture alone. It is as much about ideological world-view. That author was “strongly influenced” by Karl Marx, and Marxist Frantz Fanon. The language is all Marxist between the “oppressor” and “oppressed”; between the “colonizer” and the “colonized.” That traditional western education “results in the dehumanization of both the students and the teachers… (and) stimulates oppressive attitudes and practices in society.” It is grounded in neo-Marxist “critical theory” seeking to “liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them.” The Pastor accentuates this worldview when he refers to the South African institutionalized “apartheid.” To put into its context, however, Friere was teaching illiterate Brazilians how to read in an era of political instability, and Marxism did thrive in response to many of the mid-century Latin American dictators. However, that viewpoint of being “oppressed” and “colonized”, is not comparing circumstantial apples to apples, and is anathema to other of your readers who support an equality of “opportunity” (rather than of “results”). Opportunity means removing barriers, perhaps a helping hand, but then competition and individualism.

As I said yesterday, I do agree on his point that MANY people succeed in life because they had somebody extend a “ladder” along the way (not necessarily from the government). Few are as “self-made” as they imagine themselves. However, I also agree with many of the posters who essentially are saying, if bluntly, you have to be willing to help yourself climb that ladder (Carnegie analogy) and resent the implication of being “oppressors” keeping urban youth down. As my old high school Algebra teacher used to quote, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

Anonymous said...

My kids grew up in a two-parent household. There were great, good, and poor teachers - much the same as any school, really. When one of them had a poor teacher, my wife and I took it upon ourselves to review homework, prepare for tests, and proofread required assignments. It was work. But we weren't going to leave their education solely in the hands of educators. My wife carried most of the load, as I travel extensively to pay the bills and keep it all together. Her work didn't require any travel. We didn't blame anybody. We just did what was needed to assure the best outcome we could for our kids. We were constantly up their rear-ends to know what was going on in their lives and how they were performing in school. That's what good parents do. Many of the racist comments here are as troubling as the Rev's racist use of apartheid to describe problems with schools that are really a problem with parents.

Anonymous said...

One problem that I observed at close hand was the assignment of teachers within a school. I taught in two different states and in both instances the most tenured teachers got to pick the easiest classes to teach. The newest, inexperienced, teachers were assigned to all the problem classes. So those with the least experience and closest to the age of the students were given the worst classes. Combine that with the lack of strong parental guidance, it's no wonder students feel no incentive to excel. If practice makes perfect, it goes for teachers as well as students. A more experienced teacher may be better equipped to reach these problem students. Also bring back dress codes, and forbid social promotions.

Anonymous said...

Public Education must FOREVER be in a state of change. Our knowledge base is not static, and neither are the teacher, student, nor conditions within which they interact.

The challenge is getting everyone to accept a reasonable expectation of REQUIRED standards. These include academic progress and behavioral obligations to ensure order so as not to disrupt others in their own pursuits. Public Education requires willingness on the part of teacher AND student to COMPLY as best they can. Most importantly, to acknowledge failure IS possible, and comes with negative consequences.

The two most challenging concepts here are STANDARDS and COMPLY.

In today's American society, BOTH concepts are under constant attack. The job of public education has become more difficult to manage than it has ever been. Too many components in the system are resisting. Participants fail to understand SUCCESS does require EFFORT, and PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

Individuals participants as team member of any organized sport, like basketball, football, etc. ACCEPT these same conditions from the beginning, and without reservation. Not always so with Public Education. WHY NOT?

Fred Windish

Scott Armstrong said...

" Bernie O'Hare said...

"It isn't the community, it is mom and dad on the front lines of child rearing."

Scott, I agree it starts at home. But you sell yourself short. You have been an example to the children in your community and you have been a volunteer. Despite your mistaken political beliefs, you are a role model for children. If there were more people like you out there, we would not have a problem. "

Then why didn't the the pastor say that? Instead he wants the "community" to care. What exactly is the "community" supposed to do? My guess is more of the same government mandates that don't work, more affirmative action that is way past the point of any effectiveness, and more money, always more money being thrown at the problem and the end result is just more of the same.
Did the reverend ever point to finger at those whose children are failing? Did he demand those who have come up short in life examine their own culpability in their failures and their children's failure? Did he ever say making yourself a victim just insures you stay one forever? Sorry, I remain unimpressed by his approach.

Anonymous said...

This is not just a black and Hispanic problem, while the inner city is in worse shape, there has been a general decline in results that no one wants to talk about. White families are now around 60% intact, that is were the black families were in the 1960's and was considered a crisis, Black families are now around 28% intact. We are seeing the results of the 1960's revolution that many of us took part in, many will never admit it was mostly a mistake. I am not talking about voting rights etc. but when we through out 2000 years of societal evolution, we opened up the door to what we see now. Societal Devolution.

Anonymous said...

Bernie O'Hare said:

"The way I look at this is that we have an obligation to educate our children, no matter who they are. It is a matter of national security in the final analysis."

I don't think anyone really disagrees on this point.

I would add that I think the obligation is to the child, at the school of that child's parent or guardian's choice. Not to a particular school system or system of education.

I would support vouchers for all students living in distressed school districts like Allentown's.

If the situation is broken - as the Reverend appropriately points out - why are we continuing to pay top dollar for a bad product, particularly when other, less expensive options are available? We can argue over the reasons that got us here, but the reality is that we're here. Whether it's bad parenting, expensive teacher contracts, student apathy, ghost teachers, whatever. We're here.

The same tired solutions and throwing more money at the problem won't work. We need to start thinking outside the box, and accepting that we can't stay with the status quo.

The lighter student load would give the district time to right itself. Once it does, more students can be added back to the mix. If it doesn't, what have we lost?

Anonymous said...

I blame pro-life yahoos. I know Hillary's been ripped for her admiration of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. But Sanger nailed it when she called minorities flawed, and a cancer. What Allentown needs to improve its education system is an NIZ for free women's health clinics. I support Hillary and suggest you do, as well. She supports more funding for education and cleaning the gene pool. There are no easy answers, but it's a start.

Anonymous said...

anon 4:19 is trolli8ng. Nice try. I do agree with the pro-life yahoo part. These people piss and moan about birth control or abortions , then bitch and moan about all the kids running around.

Anonymous said...

We've all heard the phrase "to ensure all children come to school READY to learn." I'm sure every government solution to the crisis of Public Education have included these words as part of their mission statement.

Frankly, the structure most responsible to create this prerequisite for success is the FAMILY!

Certainly everyone, including teachers, neighbors, governmental agencies, etc. plays a role, but having the advantage of support made possible by a properly function family unit is critical. Every child can succeed if they temporarily encounter a lousy classroom teacher here and there. As far as I'm concerned, ALL kids begin life with an equal chance for success in school to their highest potential, given variations in physical and mental health.

After a 33 year career in public education, I will tell you children of Asian descent achieve at high academic levels on a very frequent basis. Yet, these kids function in the SAME broken public school systems described here! One benefit Asian kids bring to the school is a STRONG family support system that VALUES learning. A family support system that demands EFFORT and feels shame in failure. Ready to learn? ABSOLUTELY!

Fred Windish

Scott Armstrong said...


One more thing; the ASD has lost many excellent minority teachers and administrators to richer suburban districts like Palisades and yes, Lower Merion. These mostly white and very upper middle class districts get to feel good about themselves for having minority representation. Who can blame the teachers and administrators for following the money. But people like the good reverend chose to ignore the truth and put themselves in the spotlight by crying discrimination and racism on the flimsy evidence that the ASD doesn't have enough minority teachers and staff.
By the way, the good preacher was part of the group that protested the ASD by standing at board meetings with their backs to the dais. They pointed fingers and made demands and accusations. They name called the superintendent as a racist. It was an ugly and vile performance. Hard to give anyone credibility who would engage such tactics, especially when you learn the superintendent had been meeting routinely with minority representatives for years.

Bernie O'Hare said...


I have no problem with teachers going where the money is, and as I am sure you know better than I, there just aren't that many minority teachers. As for the behavior at school board meetings, it is called the First Amendment. Under the First Amendment, people can call public officials vile names. If those words are too much to bear, then resign. I heard about your performance at those sessions as well. You apparently walked out and refused to be part of it. I would have insisted on waiting until you came back.

If you think people standing with their backs to you is insulting, you have no idea what it is to be assailed at a public meeting. That's nothing.

Having said that, I think their anger is misplaced. Things are wrong, and there needs to be a dialogue. But you don't get that by turning your backs on people or by calling people vile names.

As far as the Superintendent is concerned, I know you like the guy, but the did not impress me at all in one event I covered. I doubt he is a racist, but I saw him waste public resources to crusade on his war against charter schools.

Part of the answer is more dialogue, not less. Part of the answer is engagement, not divisiveness.

I am being critical of you here as well as at your critics, but i respect what you and other school directors do. i know you are not there anymore, but believe you were trying to make schools better, not worse.

I spoke with Doc Edwards once before this speech, and I believe he is just as sincere as you. Although I suspect you were being sarcastic, he is a good preacher.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Fred, I don't think anyone disputes that it starts at home. My grandson is half Asian and does have strong family support. Mother, grandmother, aunt, cousins, an uncle who is an honest-to-goodness rocket scientist and who works for NASA. But I remember once asking him a few years ago what country was immediately south of the US, and getting the answer New Jersey. In his defense, he can probably name every basketball player in the NBA.

Anonymous said...

My kids are successful. They are products of a hybrid suburban/urban public school system. We did not rely on anyone in that system to chart my kids path. My wife and I sacrificed for 20 years to make sure that our kids took ADVANTAGE of that school system to the maximum. We did not rely on the school staff, guidance counselors - in fact we aggressively repelled any provided guidance counselor contact and or advice. Bottom line is that this is a capitalist society and the opportunities are there for the taking. If you sit on the sidelines and expect others to lead you to the path of success, you are gambling and taking a huge risk. Unfortunately, there will be winners and losers. Many of those in the ASD are losers and its sad and frankly too bad. Government is not the answer.

Scott Armstrong said...


Bernie, after 4 years on the school board I am up to speed on what it is like to "be assailed" at a public meeting. You should know better than that. What "resources" were spent by the district to fight charter schools? Any such spending would have been the board's to decide not the superintendent.
Saying their "anger was misplaced" is sugar coating an ugly performance by people who should have(and very likely did) know better. When one is a minister is it too much to expect a modicum of decency? And if he displayed such poor judgement then wahy give any weight to his recent rants?
As to his intentions; is demagoguery a trait you believe sincere people employ?

Anonymous said...

Scott, as an elected official it is part of your job to take the good with the bad. Leaving is a poor example in your part.

Larry D.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Scott, I believe there's a fine line with preachers when it comes to demagoguery. A demagogue is a person who plays on popular desires and prejudice instead of using rational argument. Kinda' like Donald Trump, your party's standard bearer. While I suspect that Rev. Edwards is a bit of a grandstander, he is certainly not appealing to popular beliefs, as the comments on this thread show. Anything but. Is he playing on prejudices? I think he is very sincere.

And Scott, you have endured nothing but child's play from pikers. If you want to see someone who really knows how to whip up a mob, come some night with me to a meeting in the Slate Belt, and watch His Eminence Rin Angle in action from the floor. He's the only person I know who gave a solicitor a heart attack during a meeting, and he did it from the audience. I have seen people rolling around on the ground. Now that's being assailed. And that is democracy. Sloppy, ugly, a mess, and the best system we have.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I doubt Larry D is Larry D. If you want to attack Scott here, sign your name. This is not a school board meeting and he is no longer in office.

Scott Armstrong said...


We will have to agree to disagree; reverend Edwards is playing to sentiments popular within his community and whipping them up irresponsibly. Doing so is counter to the greater good of everyone except perhaps himself in the short term.

Scott Armstrong said...

And yes I refused to tolerate hate speech and walked out on several speakers as an elected official. To that I plead guilty. No regrets.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Follow Ester Lee's comments:
We need parents to raise their children," she said. "Bring them to school. Preachers tell you to bring them to church, but we don't have Sunday Schools any more. That's where you can help children to read." She challenged parents and grandparents "to get up off your seats" and "insure that our children can read. Parents, it's on us."

Anonymous said...

"Many of you are just ranting and not even addressing his points. I understand Trump is the presumptive R nominee, but that doesn't mean bigotry is now mainstream or that we have no obligation to listen to one another."

Actually, Bernie, bigotry IS mainstream now. I see it daily, but the real tragedy is that many don't. We deny racism, we tell cultures to get over their history, propaganda runs rampant on television and movies, and the list goes on and on... And while his Rev. Gregory's speech did make many uncomfortable (read the comments on this blog) he didn't say anything that was untrue. In fact, I believe most of the negativity is coming from those who are upset about WHO he is and not WHAT he said.

Alfonso Todd


Anonymous said...

Rev, get a new playbook. We have fatigue, major fatigue.

Anonymous said...


He stated that students can't be taught by people that don't look like them. That's advocating for a quota system, and as false of a statement as can be made. It might be more polite (or couched) than Trump's statement about the judge, but it's the same. And it's wrong.

A few days after the Reverend's speech the Morning Call runs a story about a kid who succeeded beyond anyone's dreams. A minority kid presumably taught be teachers who don't look like him.

Instead of following the failed notion of quotas, I'd be asking why can't all kids succeed the way that one did?

Going down the quota path gets you to where you believe that you can't be fairly policed unless the police force looks like you, that you can't be fairly governed unless your elected officials look like you, or (yes) that you can't be fairly judged unless the judge looks like you.

That path only ensures both sides see skin color first, and it's wrong. Fifty years ago someone had a great dream. We celebrate that person every year, yet we've learned nothing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"He stated that students can't be taught by people that don't look like them"

He did not say that. he said that students are taught by people who don't look like them, and they are.

Anonymous said...

Why do private and charter schools usually produce better students?
1. The students have parents who care enough to put them in a good school.
2. A student can be expelled if they are violent or disruptive in a charter or private school.
Does anyone remember the movie "Lean on Me" based on a true story of a dysfunctional high school?
The first thing the new principal did was expel the small percent of students who were the largest part of the problem. Separation of thug culture and drug dealers from students proved to be the best 1st order of business to bringing the school back on track.
The school was shown to be much worse than Allentown's schools current state and yet it was turned around by taking a hard line on behavior and attitude to help the larger percentage of the children. What to do with the displaced students? Put them in a school which will try to educate them back to a level of returning to the general student body. Thugs should not be given a chance to be admired by their peers for thug behavior which encourages the same behavior in students with potential. A larger factor is how much time is consumed by the disruptive students to the detriment of the rest of the student body.
While Allentown's students may have the same type of parenting (or lack of) as the students portrayed, it proved that the motivating factor was: get with the program or get out.

Scott Armstrong said...


Disruptive students are a major problem from K through 12 at the ASD. We put both of our sons through the district's schools, Union Terrace, Raub Middle School, and Allen. The younger one graduated two years ago.What any parent will notice on the 1st day of kindergarten is the high percentage of students in the class have no idea to act in a controlled environment. We saw this with our own eyes and spent countless hours volunteering in the classroom to help focus the students so the teacher could actually teach.Trust me, when a students decides to stand on his desk and act out, all eyes are on him/her not the teacher.
In Allentown, most children arrive into the system not knowing the basics,numbers, colors , letters...Your child is going to be in the classroom with these poor souls.Clearly, not much new is going to pass before your child's eyes in kindergarten. Now repeat this for 1st,2nd, 3rd,...In winter charitable groups donate winter clothes to the kids. In short order, on the coldest days, many children arrive at school without the new proper winter attire. It has been lost, or the parents failed to put the coats, hats and gloves on before the kids walked to school. At Union Terrace there was a program that allowed the kids to be "Santa Shoppers". This was huge when our older son went through. By the time our younger son was there, only a few of the children were given any funds to buy very low priced gifts for mom, dad, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts. Trust me, two dollars could have bought a lot. I don't think the Santa shopper exists any longer. One more thing, when I was was the board I was taking a tour of South Mountain Middle School. The principal was very pleased to show me a room filled with show boxes filled with basic toiletries. These were for the students of the school and I was told the kids were very happy to receive them. When I was in middle school we collected boxes of tooth brushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and deodorant to send overseas.
Back to the progression of dysfunctional behavior,the real tragedy is that in the elementary levels of education you see in the face of almost every child an eagerness to learn and to please. The same faces in too many cases will transform in middle school and show frustration and anger. The middle schoolers have come to understand that some of their classmates are progressing/winners and they aren't/losers. They know they aren't dumber than the kids who are succeeding, they are failing because they aren't getting the same level of support from parents and family. This realization causes even children who want to do the right thing to act out their anger issues in class and on the street.
So,in Allentown, to sum up, the children who act up in primary school do so because usually they don't know better(add to this children born with complications associated with drug addicted parents)and those acting out in middle school and high school do so because they feel predestined to lose.
This is routine in any urban school district and is the case here in Allentown. Who could possibly blame any caring parents from fleeing the situation? Now we go back to the good reverend Edwards, what exactly is he contributing to this situation/conversation?

Anonymous said...

1:55 PM hit the nail on the head. well done. thank you. we are told over and over that every one has a right to be educated . some could care less and continue to disrupt. where is the concern for those student who really want an education. quotas ..really .. nothing more racist than a so called quota system.
maybe the good rev and some in his flock should read this article and then us how the odds are against "their" people. this is one of the most amazing education stories I have read or watched the video in a long time. Now come tell us how the system sucks and is against "them".

Read the article on Nathaniel Stuart from Allen High and then come back and tell us all the problems about being taught by people who don't look like them.
The excuses are getting real old. Enough is enough !


Anonymous said...

another community agitator strikes once again and blames every one else for the problems. ever wonder why most community organizers live outside the so called areas they serve.

Anonymous said...

@7:22...he gets it ! quote "Now we go back to the good reverend Edwards, what exactly is he contributing to this situation/conversation? the answer is nothing. like all community organizers he tries to whip people in to a frenzy . this eliminates any and all conversation about the real issues. this act is old . this act resolves nothing.

btw ..many districts stopped the santa shopper program bc some on the school boards said it wasn't fair to other kids who could not participate bc they did not have a dollar. i can't make that up. in fact some local districts today are literally discussing ending the program that many kids looked forward to all in the name of being equal.
many parents who had kids participate made sure every kid had at least five bucks. a collection was taken up and the cash was distributed. today , that is not permitted.
as 7:22 did , we also made sure every single kid who was in the school had a winter coat, a hat , gloves and boots. today, that too is frowned upon.