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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, November 10, 2014

Why Families Avoid Living in The City

Urbanistas tend to look down their noses at anyone who refuses to live in out urban core s in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. They think a Bacon Fest or hockey arena should be all they need to do to persuade people to live there. Never mind the crime, noise, difficulty parking and taxes. But there's a much more basic reason why people refuse to live there - education. Pa. School Performance has released its latest report cards for public schools throughout the state. 72% of all public schools scored a 70 or higher. Here in the Lehigh Valley, the city-based high schools did horribly. If you are a parent, and want your child to go on to college, why on earth would you send him to Allen, Dieruff, Liberty, Easton or even Catasauqua?.

Here are the high school results, from poorest to best.

Allen HS - 50.8%
Dieruff High School - 54.9%
Liberty High School - 57%
Easton High School - 64.9%
Catasauqua High School - 68.2%
Northampton HS - 72.9%
Freedom High School - 73.2%
Northern Lehigh HS - 77.8%
Pen Argyl High School - 80.6%
Bangor High School - 81.5%
Northwestern Lehigh HS - 83.5%
Wilson High School - 84.9%
Salisbury HS - 86.4%
Whitehall HS - 86.9%
Southern Lehigh HS - 88.0%
Saucon Valley HS - 88.9%
Nazareth High School - 90.6%
Parkland High School - 90.9%
Emmaus High School - 92.5%

Freedom High School is the only city-based high school with a passing grade.

School administrators will tell you these test scores mean nothing. Ironically, that's what my kids used to tell me when they had a bad grade.

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some of those scores totally suck ass. You're right Bernie - who would want to send their kid to several of these schools, to take classes with Beavis and Butthead?

Anonymous said...

We need to rethink how we fund public schools. A progressive funding system would be a great start.

Anonymous said...

Yeah throw more money at crap! How about we base teacher salaries on ho well the kids learn. Now to me that is outcome based performance pay.

This current system is bullshit,. Tenure is passé and it is time to stop with paying more and more every year in massive property taxes to just continue mediocrity.

Enough.

Anonymous said...

"How about we base teacher salaries on ho[sic] well the kids learn."

Our current system already does that by paying higher salaries in the suburbs. The best teachers are able to get the cushy, high paying positions in the wealthier districts and the inexperienced and overwhelmed 20-somethings are grateful to earn $35k/year at Liberty and Easton. The entire system ignores the fact that the quality of a child's education is linked directly to their parent's socio-economic status as the more talented teachers go where the money is at. And they have families too, so who can blame them?! But we agree on one thing; this current system IS bullshit.

Anonymous said...

The inmates run the asylums and the guards threatened to strike for more money for not doing their jobs. Urban public schools are no place for Caucasians.

http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allen-high-school-bullying-video-20140430-embeddedvideo.html

Anonymous said...

Education is not a priority in this state or many others in America. You get out what you put in. The income gap is proportional to the education gap. Those with money get the best education..poor people get the left overs. The American Dream in action. Teach your children well..don't count on the system to do it for you.

Anonymous said...

throwing more money at the problem usually solves it

Anonymous said...

You can't really compare Allentown to Bethlehem and Easton. Living in Allentown is a much greater sacrifice due to the stand alone public school system. Allen & Deiruff are dysfunctional and the property taxes increasingly burden the shrinking pool of homeowners. Even your urbanistas wouldn't live in Allentown. Here we have SLUGS (suburban liberals with unresolved guilt). SLUGS abandoned Allentown for Parkland & East Penn, but they donate money to Allentown Democrats, come into the City for art shows and support many other urban causes to feel good. You'll see hundreds of SLUGS on the 700 hundred block on hockey nights.

monkey momma said...

The schools reflect the surrounding society and family values. So, yes, the schools are a HUGE reason why my family (and so many others) would never consider living in Allentown. The problem's roots are not the schools themselves - it's the people who put their kids in those schools. There are a lot of nice families and kids in the ASD, but they are surrounded by losers who could not care less about their future, their family or their city. Until the society itself changes, the schools will remain horrible. And families with means and children will remain in the suburbs. It is not fair for those children stuck in the city, but it is up to the families themselves to make things better. You can't buy a good attitude, and it all starts at home. If you can teach kids in rural India better math skills than what is being learned in downtown Allentown, then the problem is obviously not money. It's attitude.

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Allentown School District receives more than $200M annually and yet look at this scorecard. Give each child a million and let them go to school elsewhere. How can a school district with so much money perform like this? Maybe someone here will shed light on this.

Anonymous said...

SLUGS. wow that's a new word.
Anyone on 17th Street at Allen dismissal sees what's wrong in Allentown.
From the lack of respect for motorists while crossing the street to the lack of appropriate concern for neighboring properties as large groups of students destroy flowers and grass as they trample on private property. Where is the school administration?

Anonymous said...

The majority of parents have no real choice as to where their children attend school. They are prisoners of their own circumstances. Is it right to sentence their children to a sub standard education based on that? What is fair and appropriate under those conditions? Public education should be at the top of the list for all of us as the children are the future of this country. Money spent on education is money well spent.

Anonymous said...

"my family (and so many others) would never consider living in Allentown."

Well how nice for you to have access and means enough to be able to live in whatever suburban wasteland you so choose. Over here in the real world people are being paid $12 per hour and being held to 30 hours per week, so logistically, things get a little more difficult.

Anonymous said...

Anyone with a brain can see the list is DIRECTLY in-line with median incomes of the valley. Do you somehow think all the "good teachers" ended up in the suburbs and crafted some kind of magic potion that they aren't sharing with the teachers in the city schools? It's about society, stupid. What do all the schools with high test scores have in common? PARENTS that value education. Blame the parents. Blame our falling social norms. Just screaming "the schools!" is a simplistic, dense argument.

Anonymous said...

Statistics are that factors outside the school account for 60% of a child's academic performance. Given urban poverty low urban scores are unsurprising. My kids graduated from one of the lower scoring urban high schools. They were well prepared for college and graduate school.

additionally, the testing methodology is weak and PA does a poor job directing funds where they are needed.

Anonymous said...

Probably should factor in Allentown's massive cut backs in staffing, too. Class size really DOES matter.

Does anyone actually expect numbers like these to improve under current conditions?

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

"What do all the schools with high test scores have in common? PARENTS..."

...that are paid a decent living wage at their places of employment from 9-5, so that they can help little Suzie with her homework before her piano lesson. And we wonder why Suzie scores higher on standardized tests than her peers, who are too busy making their younger siblings mac & cheese for dinner so mom can pick up an extra shift, to read the history assignment. To think that PARENTS in one geographical location value education more than parents in another do is completely ridiculous. However, I will concede that parents who can afford to live in more affluent school districts have more time and resources to put toward helping to make their child's education a priority.

Anonymous said...

@3:37 AM - Your ignorance is appalling and I hope your hangover, hurts!

Tenure is in place to protect good teachers from getting the boot without cause.

Saucon Valley surprises me on that list. Nasty teacher contract stalemate. Some whacky parents yet 4th from the top.

Imagine what those teachers could do without the threat of a strike?

Anonymous said...

8:52 -

More than likely, those SAME Saucon Valley teachers would struggle in the Allentown School District, if not run off screaming.

Fred Windish

The Central Scrutunizer said...

What administrators will tell you is that those scores almost exactly mirror socio-economic factors. Students who speak fluent English and are from stable families do fine in city schools. In fact, many students from city schools go on to attend Ivy League schools. What these scores do is average students with the poorest of parental situations with the students with the best family life and try and present it as a failing when it turns out there are more students who speak another language or have poor parents.

But as usual, Americans usually take the easy way out and base conclusions on assumptions.

Anonymous said...

Anyone with a brain can see the list is DIRECTLY in-line with median incomes of the valley. Do you somehow think all the "good teachers" ended up in the suburbs and crafted some kind of magic potion that they aren't sharing with the teachers in the city schools? It's about society, stupid. What do all the schools with high test scores have in common? PARENTS that value education. Blame the parents. Blame our falling social norms. Just screaming "the schools!" is a simplistic, dense argument.

Right. All it takes is a simple mind experiment. Imagine taking ALL of the teachers from a school in Parkland and swapping them for all the teachers of a school in Allentown. Do the Parkland kids scores go down and do the Allentown scores go up? Preposterous. And people like BOH who perpetuate this garbage should just use a portion of their critical thinking skills on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Tenure is in place to protect good teachers from getting the boot without cause.

I support public ed but c'mon, tenure is total bullshit. In higher ed, tenure is based on the approval of your peers. It's not automatic. In public ed, it's automatic. Preposterous.

Anonymous said...

What's unfortunate about 'tenure' is the public's misconception that it means teacher's can not be removed. They can STILL be removed for all the right reasons. The mechanism is there.

Thankfully, great teachers can not be removed because a school director's daughter would like a position that's already filled.In other words, without proper cause.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, great teachers can not be removed because a school director's daughter would like a position that's already filled.In other words, without proper cause.

Oh please. Even if that were the case, no other person has this protection.

Anonymous said...

As has been mentioned already above, Allentown is a stand alone school district. Bethlehem has Hanover and Bethlehem Twps. to draw students and tax dollars from. East on has Palmer, Forks and other affluent townships. Allentown does not even draw students or tax dollars from their entire city limits! The wealthy Trexler Park area of the city is in the Parkland SD. We should move towards county school districts to save administrative costs and to balance out the local tax revenues.

Anonymous said...

7:41,

You call the suburbs a wasteland; then, proceed to describe the miserable plight of those stuck in Allentown. You seem unable to discern the forest from the trees of your own wasteland. There hasn't been a stabbing or shooting in my wasteland in .... ever. But we don't have a hockey arena, either. That should solve all your problems. Keep pulling that lever. It'll get better.

Bernie O'Hare said...



Agreed and that is why I think ASD should be divided among its four surrounding school districts.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Ya Bernie ,It would only count if the scores were good. Real estate agents sell houses in the Parkland School District because they use the name and bring it up as a draw against another venues.The schools in the past got wrapped around the axle with procedural criteria and not impressionable subject matter.---Gotta go, We have immigration court room one today for those who follow the rules of immigration ,they make us proud they want to be here with us in America.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"And people like BOH who perpetuate this garbage should just use a portion of their critical thinking skills on this issue."

I'm not perpetuating anything. I am reporting on the grades at every public high school in the LV. If you live in one of the cities, I dont think you'd want to send your children there.

You can blame the schools, teachers, parents or kids. I don't care. The grades are what they are. If you want your child to have a good education, you'd avoid the schools in the cities in favor of charter or private schools.

I tend to believe that the problem is because of poverty, and that is why I would divide Allentown into other districts. But I am not proposing an answer in the post, just pointing out the reality.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let me add that I know many of the kids in ASD and BASD. They are no different than the kids in the schools with the high scores.

Anonymous said...

"Agreed and that is why I think ASD should be divided among its four surrounding school districts."

The urbanistas should applaud your suggestion! Dissolving ASD and incorporating ASD students, faculty and buildings into East Penn, Parkland, Salisbury, Whitehall and Catasauqua would desegregate Lehigh County's public schools and revitalize Allentown. Imagine the rush to purchase bargain priced homes in Allentown once students can attend a regular public school that is not grossly inferior to ASD! Kids would live in the West End once again, homeowners could enjoy the benefits of living in the city and not be forced to take their kids with them into the suburbs. You should be running Renew LV.

Anonymous said...

"who would want to send their kid to several of these schools, to take classes with Beavis and Butthead?"

Dude: There are no Beavis and Buttheads at ASD, their families all moved to the suburbs already. I always wondered if the show wasn't poking fun at the suburbs in a way (disenfranchised latch key kids living in a bland suburb watching TV all day and doing stupid stuff out of boredom)

"Huh, huh, huh, hey Beavis...I have seen the top of the mountain...and it is good!


Anonymous said...

This sounds like a good start to the failing system of tenure¿ this to those caught inside the box they supposidly are thinking outside of¿

redd
patent pending

Resident of Allentown said...

Sing it with me now:
"Stand by me, Staaand by meee..."

Good movie, based on a true story, where funding did not make so much of a difference as the faculty's attitude.
(Then again, for some reason the principal in that situation was allowed to kick out the ne'er do wells.)

Anonymous said...

As the kid next door often tells me "I go to easton hs, I can get any drug I want" Maybe we should start there.

Anonymous said...

Ha! If you believe the kids that go to becca and parkland have LESS access to hardcore drugs than your neighbor, I have a bridge to sell you. I went to Easton. Weed sure, but if someone wanted to snort a line or mix binge drinking with xanax, you'd hit up your rich friend that goes to Becca. Just sayin.

Bernie O'Hare said...

From my conversations with judges and cops, I believe that kids from Catholic schools have all the problems you'll find in a public school except for one - fighting. They tend not to fight with each other as much.

Also, if a child is exceptionally gifted or exceptionally challenged, public schools have better resources.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
As has been mentioned already above, Allentown is a stand alone school district. Bethlehem has Hanover and Bethlehem Twps. to draw students and tax dollars from. East on has Palmer, Forks and other affluent townships. Allentown does not even draw students or tax dollars from their entire city limits! The wealthy Trexler Park area of the city is in the Parkland SD. We should move towards county school districts to save administrative costs and to balance out the local tax revenues.


ASD has all the way up to like 30th St in West Allentown.

Anonymous said...

You call the suburbs a wasteland; then, proceed to describe the miserable plight of those stuck in Allentown. You seem unable to discern the forest from the trees of your own wasteland. There hasn't been a stabbing or shooting in my wasteland in .... ever. But we don't have a hockey arena, either. That should solve all your problems. Keep pulling that lever. It'll get better.

What do you have against hockey, Gomer? What do you do, chew some Skoal and blow leaves around with a leaf blower?

Anonymous said...

"And people like BOH who perpetuate this garbage should just use a portion of their critical thinking skills on this issue."

I'm not perpetuating anything. I am reporting on the grades at every public high school in the LV. If you live in one of the cities, I dont think you'd want to send your children there.

You can blame the schools, teachers, parents or kids. I don't care. The grades are what they are. If you want your child to have a good education, you'd avoid the schools in the cities in favor of charter or private schools.

I tend to believe that the problem is because of poverty, and that is why I would divide Allentown into other districts. But I am not proposing an answer in the post, just pointing out the reality.


No, you are perpetuating a myth that those scores are indicative of the type of education offered. They are indicative of the average student which if you have good attentive parenting skills, your child will excel as they would in any public school system. You are casting the failed education of a poor student who probably does not speak English on the entire student body - just like the ridiculous "scorecard" does.

Anonymous said...

Tenure is a curse. Why would a great teacher be fired? It doesn't happen in the real world. Tenure is socialist tool to protect incompetence.

I see that Fred you are a situational conservative. You must be a teacher or have a teacher in your family to support the outlived idea of tenure.

Anonymous said...

2:31-

I am a retired teacher. I don't consider everything to be either black or white, conservative or liberal, etc.

I repeat, public education tenure DOES NOT protect incompetence. It does require it to be demonstrated as serious enough to warrant dismissal.

Regardless, replacing ALL teachers in a setting like Allentown will not lead to significant achievement gains. The issues are far more complicated.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

"What do you have against hockey, Gomer? What do you do, chew some Skoal and blow leaves around with a leaf blower?"

Yeah, lots of Skoal is being dipped by those in half million dollar homes. Today's Gomer deals crack in Allentown to pay for hockey tickets in hopes a fight breaks out. That's entertainment! Enjoy the arena. The Phantoms are playing to a half-filled palace and concerts are being canceled. Success!

Anonymous said...

The system isn't perfect, but when the groups in power are able to dictate what our children are taught they're able to perpetuate a revisionist's version of history that furthers their own agendas. Granting tenure to those who've proved themselves to be dedicated educators ensures that teachers and professors aren't politically pressured to continue to teach the status quo and present it as unquestionable truth.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing that Penna has 501 school districts. Lots of overhead wasted.

Districts vary in size too much. Maybe county districts are too big, but the average district should be like legislative districts with similar size required.

It is also sad that many people don't want to change because they fear losing a football team.

Anonymous said...

IMO, the grades for the schools reflect the situation in the communities they serve, nothing more. As others have pointed out, it is quite possible to get a good education in ANY of these districts - the urban districts simply have more students with unstable home situations or disadvantaged/second language backgrounds. They bring the average score of their district down. In the urban districts this population may be a majority of the student population, while in the suburbs, it's much less.

There's two conclusions you absolutely CAN NOT draw from this data:

1) More money thrown at city schools would change anything. Education doesn't happen in vacuum, and until the issues mentioned above change, it's just a wasted investment.

2) Combining districts would have any beneficial effect. The main benefit of community schools is exactly what we are seeing - they reflect the values and strengths of their communities, and can adapt as best needed to serve them. By burdening surrounding districts with problems not related to their community, you'd simply be pulling everyone down to the lowest common denominator. The high scores of the suburban districts are a sign they are doing things well, not that there is some sort of issue. Although it might assuage some liberal guilt, would it be actual progress to pull the Suburban school districts down to the Allentown level?

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is no mess lousy schools are lousy schools the fact that some children at the schools are economically disadvantaged while students another schools are not the same point of concern but that doesn't change the fact that one school sucks and the other one doesn't

Peter J.Cochran said...

The University of Chicago had once in the past ,required their professors to have a track record in the field they taught . So ; If you were a CHEMISTRY prof you had to have worked in industry prior . BUT THIS GOT DILUTED by the union or somebodies mob brother - Fact is, the academia that profess in public schools could NOT make it in industry . This is a backward litmus test and we are compensating them unjust fully greater than a peer of public education than at Johnson and Johnson or DuPont. I say ;show up at the door with your 1040 from private industry and we will work from there. I could not get one teacher in a bar a few weeks ago to tell me WHO- Alexander Hamilton was--meaning his background and being an ARTILLERY OFFICER in Gen KNOX's Army under Washington.They are obvious to why fuel costs are down and PUTIN the price of gold. They are kids that have been nowhere.

Anonymous said...

As an Easton graduate, I agree that more money thrown at city schools won't change anything. But then again, I'm a white girl who transferred to Palmer in the 7th grade, so when I had excessive tardies in my senior year the school secretary rolled her eyes and threatened that I wouldn't graduate if I continued on my current path, rather than expel me and charge my parents with contributing to the truancy of a minor. My more "urban" cousin was subjected to an entirely different experience. So, while I agree that throwing money at the situation isn't entirely effective, I'm not sure that it can't help...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Cockburn, did you even graduate from school. You sound like an imbecile

Chuck D.

Peter J.Cochran said...

I had asked; WHAT DOES THE DIRECTOR OD EDUCATION DO in the Easton School District? Math ,Science ,chemistry and music has not changed since the dark ages. This is an ambiguous title for a union pay scale only. When I had 'Kangaroo Court' with Mr. First for example they were paying him about $90,000 plus retirement, and other medical to sit on a desk to top to tell me my kid was in trouble . Fact was after I proved my kid was defending himself ,he still went his way and my Honor student got 10 days off .Well this coward of an administrator ,with no guts to do the right thing-- still to my knowledge is still ON PAYROLL and brought suit against US ,THE TAXPAYERS because he is crying for lack of a step up . By the way he lives in another venue ,does NOT pay taxes here and his 'sentenced' wife,I say that because he has to be ... IS HIS ATTORNEY?- See,, we need to vet who is going to teach are kids ,they need CHARACTER not ACTORS.--By the way Henry D.Cochran will be at PI this time next week -The U.S.Marine Corps will be sending him into harms way- for you all,to include your right to sue your own employer and still work and get a pay check . Screw You ,your a hoer! .

Peter J.Cochran said...

Anon 5;34 You can't even get my name correct?Are you drinking?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, the asshole who purposely is botching your name has given himself a false name, but his real name is Henry Schaadt. He is a coward and would shit his gay pants if he ever saw you in person.

Bernie O'Hare said...

What I would do is providing that any school that has a failing grade forfeits every game it plays until it hits 70%. The teram can still play , and may evern beat every other time, but the score won't count until the school passes. Thus 10-0 Easton would be 0-10. A rule like that might energize alum, parents and coaches to actually make the school better. Same for Liberty.I would not deprive the kids of the joy of playing, but would deprive the parents and coaches of the meaning until they realize that it is unacceptable to have illiterate high school students.

Anonymous said...

Guy sounds unhinged.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Henry Schaadt is definitely unhinged.

Anonymous said...

Liberty failed. It has Hanover Township as its primary suburban feeder. The elementary schools in Hanover Township are considered elite. Diluting Liberty with Hanover Township still did not put on enough push for Liberty to pass. I find it funny how BO thinks that ASD should be parceled out and absorbed by two of the best School Districts. If the Hanover Liberty model fails... does he really think that PSD and East Penn would want to go down the same road?

The Central Scrutinizer said...

5:21 - It is amusing to see you blast the abilities of an entire profession while simultaneously hacking English grammar so atrociously. I'd prefer Americans be able to communicate effectively than know the color of Alexander Hamilton's waistcoat.

The Central Scrutinizer said...

5:59 - You seem to think these scores are a fixable issue. I suggest you re-read some of the points brought up in this commentary. The only way to fix the scores is to break out non-English speakers, special ed students, and even then the scores would be skewed by environmental factors.

What we should be promoting is graduation rate and skills training. We are too interested in accusing teachers of malfeasance. (And no, I am not a teacher.)

Anonymous said...

The elementary schools in Hanover Township are considered elite.

Where do you get this shit? (BTW, there are two and they are quite small.)

Anonymous said...

First, I am a teacher in one of the "higher" schools. Second, I was a teacher in one of the "lower" schools. While much of what is written here is accurate, I can tell you that this myth that tenure is some magic bullet preventing good schools is ridiculous. Trust me: I have worked in all types of buildings. There is nothing truly preventing the administration from removing an awful teacher. This list is not surprising to me AT ALL: frankly, schools are a reflection of their communities... perhaps that is the real difference of this list.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The elementary schools in Hanover Township are considered elite. "

That's only become true since i was there as an elections judge.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I find it funny how BO thinks that ASD should be parceled out and absorbed by two of the best School Districts. If the Hanover Liberty model fails... does he really think that PSD and East Penn would want to go down the same road?"

Of course they would kick and scream. This is not something they would voluntarily do and i would force it on them if I were King. Since I am not King, and am only the Son of Satan, you have nothing to worry about.

My counter to your point is freedom HS. Also, it is likely Liberty would be lower without those Hanover students.

Anonymous said...

11:32 - Agreed. I don't think tenure has much to do with any perceived problems. I just think its complete bullshit and a bastardization of the concept of tenure. See any institution of higher education for details.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Anon 5;59 I apologize to you,Sir or madam .Your right, Effective communication and a grasp of writing skills are important .I 'm sure you are an effective person at your profession as you 'let me have it' and you did so with finesse! I'm a product of other arts. My kids had some real great teachers at Easton and some less impressionable on them. I do not mean to lump you all together.May I suggest a tool used in the U.S. Armed Forces ,called Peering Out -a procedure where from time to time the group is given a roster of names and each one rated the other member of that group. If the same turds keep coming up on the bottom -they get rid of them or --me!!ha- That keeps people from slacking and everybody knows the slackers at work .In the long run that's not good for a work environment.In our case slackers got people unintentionally killed. Again my apology to you.