Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shouldn't Kids Learn How to Spell?

I am a product of Catholic schools, as are my children. Money in that system is very tight, and teacher salaries are very low. So when I see a public school board, I feel as though I'm on another planet. They deal with bigger sums than most municipalities, and the bureaucracy makes it next to impossible to pull the curtain back and find out what really is going on. So I can never really tell whether school boards are skimping on their obligation to provide a decent education to our most precious asset, our youth. I also can never tell for sure whether administrators are taking advantage of all that money to feather their beds.

I'll add here that I have no idea why any sane person would ever want to run for a school board. There's no pay. No matter what you do, one faction or the other will blast you. You can't really trust administrators, who flood you with paper after paper to hide their real agenda. You can't really trust the usual taxpayer and "concerned citizen" groups, either, because most of them want you to screw the kids now that theirs are out of school.

So I don't do school boards.

Ronnie DelBacco and Frank Pintabone are in a contentious race for an open seat on Easton's south side. The Express Times has an excellent article spelling out the philosophies of these candidates.

Ronnie has sent me an essay on the "lost art of good public speaking," in which he points out that elementary schools in Easton no longer grades spelling, at least after fourth grade. I don't care much for school board races, but who can argue with the importance of good spelling?

You can make the best argument in the world, but if it is full of spelling errors, it will just rurn most people off. At least those who can spell.

A program such as the PA Orators being held at Shiloh Chapel and reported on by (see link below) would be a fantastic addition to the public school curriculum. As mentioned by one reader, Chauncey Howell, public schools did have such classes and/or lessons at one time. However, like most traditional teaching methods many have been abandoned or replaced with “feel good, as long as you try, psycho-babble” type lessons. Cursive handwriting is another example of a lost art scarcely taught in schools anymore. I’m not opposed to new, tested, and proven methods of teaching but traditional skills are still very much a part of our technologically advanced society and need to be reaffirmed as standard lessons for every child. Spell Check has replaced the dictionary. 411 has replaced the phone book. Bar Code scanning has replaced the card catalog. Texting has replaced personal conversation. This very dissertation being composed by me on a PC has replaced the outline, draft, and final copy method of writing. And not to be forgotten, posting has replaced public speaking. To state the ironically obvious, this will be posted, not spoken.

I am a candidate for the EASD School Board in Region 2 and have a child currently in fifth grade. I was surprised to learn from a teacher that they “no longer formatively grade spelling”. That's correct; spelling receives no grade in our fifth grade classrooms. I am in possession of a letter from Dr. Roberts pathetically trying to explain how our school district is following the recommendations of a national Middle School Association and that traditional lessons are all in effect bundled into each story. Still, spelling receives no grade. Teachers need the support of parents to reinforce their “educational mission” of teaching our children the necessary skills, such as spelling, that they’ll need as adults.

In the EASD we have a well paid PHD administrator explaining away the need to grade spelling based on an outside entity's idea of what our children here should be learning. One must then question what other traditional skills have been sacrificed at the behest of an unknown and unseen national association? This is madness. First, we should be deciding within our own school district what is taught. Second, why do we pay our administrators such lucrative salaries to simply accept the recommendations of national or federal associations? Any citizen tax payer with NO college education can do that. Still, we continue to fork over our hard earned dollars to fund the salaries of PHD administrators who simply rely on the research of others. This alone is reason enough to re-evaluate the size and pay scale of our district’s administration. Third, how can we expect students to succeed if we don’t require the most basic skills, like spelling, to be mastered at each grade level? I suppose the next time honored tradition to go will be the Spelling Bee.

The lost art of good public speaking is sadly just another symptom of the educational deficit plaguing the Easton Area School District and proven by our consistent failure to meet state standards. If elected I plan to call for a full review of the curriculum at every grade level to ensure our children are learning what we parents, teachers, and community leaders decide is important for their success and education, NOT what a national association says. I will call for a full review of the district’s administrative positions, salaries, and supporting staff. We tax payers deserve better for our money. I will strongly encourage my peers to join me in refusing unfunded mandates (No Child Left Behind for example) and any national or federal demands for teaching standards, lessons, or curricular programs which we in the EASD have not decided upon ourselves. I’ll direct you to our constitution’s 10th Amendment for proof that this action is both correct and necessary. I will petition our state legislature to take this battle to congress on our behalf whenever such situations arise and demand our states’ rights be recognized under said 10th amendment. These three agenda items cannot be paced into any order of importance but must be addressed simultaneously with fearless and steadfast commitment by the school board on behalf of the citizen tax payers funding this educational system.

Ronnie DelBacco


Anonymous said...

The way the boobs in Harrisburg are treating education, I think we can all expect schools to not only ditch spelling but also addition, subtraction and the ABC's.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps talking to a teacher or parent in the district would have been prudent before publishing his letter to you. I volunteer in an elementary school in the Easton School District, and the teachers do stress spelling. Mr. Delbaccco is a lunatic who actually believes that health teachers are teaching "sodomy"(his word)as a safe alternative to intercourse, which is patently false. STD's aren't prevented by acts of "sodomy" and no health teacher would say any different to students. Not to mention his book- burning mentality when it comes to his children being exposed to anything he disagrees with in school. Private schools exist, or better yet, home school your children if you prefer they only be exposed to your "values"...but then again...that's not really an education, is it. I don't want the curriculum in the EASD shaped by maniacal Tea Party "activists" like Delbacco, and neither should anyone else.

Bernie O'Hare said...


As a volunteer, can you tell me whether teachers do grade spelling? I understand your fear of an ideology that differs from yours, but is it what DelBacco said inaccurate? It would seem to me that 5th graders probably should still be graded on their spelling.

I've previously written about and condemned the attempt by some tea party members to determine what books are and are not offered to students.

Consigliere said...

I am a former school board member and your impotant point about school districts being larger than some municipalities is a bit understated. In the City of Allentown, for example, the ASD is 2 1/2 times the size of City government in terms of revenues, budget, personnel and equipment.

It is not an exaggeration for the ASD to look upon City Hall as the "Junior Varsity".

Yet, concerned citizens crowd the City Council meetings while across the street, the School Board experiences comparatively little in the way of citizen involvement.

Go figure!

Anonymous said...

Ronnie thinks he's uncovered some big controversy or travesty here. The change in the curriculum he is referring to occurred five or six years ago, but the truth is, teachers still correct spelling. It may not be formally part of the curriculum, but that doesn't mean teachers aren't proactive in helping students who have trouble spelling. I know other teachers who DO grade spelling. Some don't, but still intervene to help their students when the spelling is wrong.

Ronnie had a bad experience once with one of his daughter's teachers and he's trying to make a political platform out of it. This is why it can sometimes be a detriment for a school board candidate to have a child in the district.

Alan Earnshaw said...

I don't know about Easton specifically, but spelling is usually integrated into the Language Arts curriculum and scored as part of that overall grade instead of being spiked out as a separate subject. Of course, students' writing assignments are marked down for spelling errors well beyond 4th grade, but by that time, the focus of vocabulary lessons shifts from spelling to definitions.

Yes, we are probably insane for running for school board, but seeing the accomplishments of our students is very rewarding. We just honored 11 National Merit Semifinalists from Emmaus High School--what a great group of kids!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Alan, I am happy that people like you, Ronnie and Frank Pintabone take such an interest. I also agree with the commenter who points out that people like me, who spend all of our time elsewhere, might be spinning or wheels. But I'd rather go thru root canal than sit in on a school board meeting.

Anonymous said...


Yes children should know how to spell. Ask anyone in education and they will tell you that they spend too much time teaching to the test (PSSAs) and less or none teaching other things that really matter. I would say teaching basic finances should be taught as well.

Regarding DelBacco, here is what he said at the LV Conservative blog on 10/21/2011(

"This failure did not happen overnight and it needs to be corrected in our schools now before we reach the point of no return. If history were being taught properly in schools today we might not be looking down the barrel of fiscal collapse and socialistic reordering of society. Unlike Russia Americans once believed in individualism, achievement, and reaching for the stars. America was the envy of the world, not because we thought we were better than any other country, but because they saw that our freedom to prosper, freedom to speak, and freedom to achieve catapulted The United States of America to its position of greatness among nations and they longed for what we had here. ...

I’ll take American Exceptionalism any day over socialistic slavery, mediocrity and failure. When I am elected to serve as school director I will call for a review of the curriculum at every grade level to ensure our kids are learning the skills necessary to succeed and become productive citizens. I want to make sure American History is taught, and taught correctly. Hopefully one day I’ll sit in a lecture at a prominent college and watch the youth cringe when a socialist leader speaks ill of American values, American superiority, and giving up our sovereignty to a global government. God forbid we lose this great nation for lack of proper education."

I interpret this to say that Mr. Delbacco wants to his personal worldview into the history curriculum. He takes an extreme view. He has an agenda.

As with any candidate, you need to take a look at the whole picture, not just something he/she says that may make some sense.


Anonymous said...


Hey Scarlet O'Hare, when is buddy christ going to make his election predictions???

Sister Agnes Ignatz said...

Bless you, Bernie. Accurate spelling is the core of proper discipline.

Anonymous said...

Would you help us? It's about the new federal college loan payback program highlighted today. Someone said there is now a possibility 20-year balance loans will be granted "forgiveness." Have you heard anything about this? Also, if the purpose of this program is to encourage recent college grads to have a chance to purchase a home or a new car thus stimulating the economy, how does waiting 20 years help them? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...


Did you miss my statement to the voters of Allentown in Last Friday's paper?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Proper spelling requires learning by drill. Poor spelling is a result of laziness. Failure to enforce proper spelling is the result of the lazy rising to teaching positions. It's politically incorrect to criticize one's poor spelling. Society has evolved to a point where idiocy is a protected class. God bless America.

Bill Coker said...

I attended three school board meetings in Nazareth and the lack of respect to the audience was horrible. None of these started less than 1/2 hour late and now Nazareth wants to limit comments to 30 minutes with speakers needing to sign up no sooner than 5 minutes prior to the scheduled start.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Hey Scarlet O'Hare, when is buddy christ going to make his election predictions???"

I gave Buddy a ring today. He told me he's awful busy with Occupy Wall Street and Halloween is coming up. But after that, he promised to drop by and make his predictions.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Did you miss my statement to the voters of Allentown in Last Friday's paper?"

I'll look for it Scott.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Would you help us? It's about the new federal college loan payback program highlighted today. Someone said there is now a possibility 20-year balance loans will be granted "forgiveness." Have you heard anything about this"

Will check.

Anonymous said...

School Boards Bernie- What about the scandal taking place at one Fountain Hill bus stop? Did you get to hear a mom talk about this on Gunther last week?

Anonymous said...

Actually Bernie, I don't fear ideologies that differ from my own. It is Mr. Delbacco who insists, along with his Tea Party goons, that their ideology be the only one taught in public schools. I imagine what would go on in a Tea Party public school would look something like the indoctrination that goes on in North Korea. America and unfettered capitalism good in every way...everybody and every other econmic system or incarnation of capitalism bad.
A child can only grow into an adult who is able to defend their principles, if they have been fully exposed to other points of view.
And yes, the teachers in the elementary school where I volunteer grade for spelling.
Have you spoken with a teacher about this yet?

Anonymous said...

@ 10:26 AM -
"I don't want the curriculum in the EASD shaped by maniacal Tea Party "activists" like Delbacco, and neither should anyone else."

Thank you for telling us what we should want.

I suppose the curriculum is better shaped by lazy, overpaid union garbage, lefty "anything goes" PC idiots who would rewrite history to further THEIR AGENDA, and use children as pawns to get what they want. Those who say, "I deserve to be paid like a professional because I am one" and then send home a note that reads "Thank you for your patients".

You douchebags have been running the show for several generations now and, despite all the money thrown your way, things just keep getting worse. Yes, we know, if we just invested more. . . Those tea party goons, they just refuse to properly fund us, so what do you expect?

People are concerned, and rightly so, about the possibility of county and city taxes going up. But that is chump change compared to the overspending for continued and abject failure of the public education machine. Stop pissing away money on a failed public education system and there will be plenty of room to raise revenue (when necessary) for local governments.

School board meetings do suck, the directors Mr. Coker mentions are the worst of the worst. Selfish, egomaniacal, arrogant pig-eyed sacks of shit who have saddled future generations with enormous debt.

We all should be so lucky to have a Delbacco on our school boards. After years and years of doing it the progressive way, time for a change that will hurt only the entrenched beneficiaries of failure.


Anonymous said...

You mean professional educators? Yes. Rather than racist warehouse managers, or assholes like you? Yes, please.

Anonymous said...

Did I strike a nerve, trough feeder?


ironpigpen said...

The truth hurts sometimes, Clem, it truly is as simple as that.

Progressive Liberalism IS a mental disorder.

The proof is EVERYWHERE ... please visit an Occupy Here or Occupy There and talk to some of the "learned" products of the educational system for independent confirmation.


Bernie O'Hare said...

" Did you get to hear a mom talk about this on Gunther last week?"

Don't listen to him. He's one-sided and there are just way too many commercials. It's not even fun.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" Did you get to hear a mom talk about this on Gunther last week?"

Don't listen to him. He's one-sided and there are just way too many commercials. It's not even fun.

Anonymous said...

Agree anon 7:30, the teabagger curriculum would be a free market version of North Korea. Don't forget that they would also require Creationism( God, Devil, etc.) be taught on a level field with science.

You wonder were the next generation of great scientists and thinkers will come from?

Not teabagger nation. They are so wrapped up and warped out by their ideology, they will help bring about the decline of the very nation they like to think they are defending.

When someone asks a teabagger to quote Thomas Jefferson, out of context, they will do it in a flash. When you ask them about the science behind climatology they will say, just listen to Rush or read a bible.

They are indeed a crazy group of lunatics intent on dumbing down our nation.

Hate to tell you Publius but forms of socialism have existed in this nation since before its independence. Read a book not endorsed by Fox.

Anonymous said...

DelBacco is a whacko - worse than any of the directors currently on the board. What credentialsdoes he have to "review the curriculum" in the schools? He is too eccentric to be on a board of any type. is ideas and criticism are from a fact-free zone.

Pintabone is a interesting guy. He is not your typical school board candidate. He had it rough in school and speaks openly about his own problems. He gives time to youth programs and has assisted at the Easton Academy. I think Frank would be a breath of fresh air on the board and he is definetly more approachable than DelBacco. He will do right by the students and the residents.