|Ray O'Connell at East Side Youth Center|
O'Connell, who is a youth sports enthusiast, was fittingly introduced by boxing announcer Mike Mittman. "He is one of us, a man of the people," said Mittman. "When he becomes Mayor, he is going to do what is best for you, the people of Allentown. He is going to do the right thing."
His main message? It's the same one he's had since he first ran for City Council. "We, as a City, are only as strong as the School District, and the School District is only as strong as the City." He said our children and their growth are "vital components" to the City's success. He claimed that 17,000 students in Allentown, or 89%, are from low income families. This is exacerbated by a transient rate of 40%. He described children who attend all four middle schools in the course of one year. "That is unacceptable, totally unacceptable," he said.
Though he believes the school district has made strides, "the city government has failed. We cannot let this continue."
|About 30 people attended O'Connell's presser|
O'Connell believes that the best way for the City and school district to turn things around is through "school-based community revitalization."His plan is to develop areas around the schools and the quality of life for people in those neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods created this City. East Side. West End. South Side. Northeast. They created this City.
He noted that the school district plans to open two schools in 2020. "We need to work with developers to ensure that these schools are built to a healthy standard of living." Corner groceries.Mentor programs."We would work with the school district to ensure these needs are met. ... We need to come together"
At a school-based community revitalization program in Baltimore, O'Connell noted that state reading standards went from 19% to 78% in five years.
"We can do it here. We do not have dumb children. We need to give them the resources.We need to be with them. We need to give the parents the resources. Every parent I met over the years - they want to do the best for their children. They love their children. They don't have the resources. We, the City and school district, need to bond to give them the resources"
He said that as important as the downtown revitalization is, "we cannot turn our backs" on the rest of the City. "We have to develop the South Side, East Side, Northeast."
"Too many children have not seen success. You grow and you learn from success."
Strong neighborhoods plus strong schools equals a strong city."