Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mark Smith on ASD Walkout

Below is my exchange with Allentown School Board candidate Mark Smith concerning the walkout. He expressed some concern I might twist his words, so I told him I would publish the actual exchange.
You really need to speak out on the walkout. Your failure to do so is irresponsible and shows a lack of leadership.

Bernie, sorry for any confusion. I made a statement on my personal Facebook page. I have included it below. Please feel free to contact me, again, with any additional questions. Regards, Mark This is a great opportunity for our leadership to engage the community. I really wish I was involved in this situation now, as one that could join that conversation. The school board and administrators need to speak with the community leaders, parents and students about what they are feeling. This is their community and school district also. Everyone should have a voice and that voice should be heard by the people directing the Government entities that effect them. Our education problems in Allentown will not be solved by ignoring those who feel disenfranchised. As I have said many times before, it is encumbent upon those in power and with influence, our school district leaders, to initiate the conversation of how WE, as members of this Allentown education community can provide access to an education. Despite of what anyone thinks of this young man organizing this demonstration and walkout, there seems to be enough people in our school district that feel they are not being treated fairly. We must take this opportunity to initiate a different approach. There is no way we can make headway in education reform when there is segment of our population that thinks no one cares about them. So, I recommend the ASD take this opportunity to engage the parents and students in a face to face discussion of their perception of what needs to be done. And the administration needs to help them understand what is actually happening. I would start with a letter to every student that left school and their parents/guardian to join in a meeting/discussion concerning their education. If they feel strongly enough about this issue to leave school, will they feel strong enough about it to come to an evening meeting? From this we will find student leaders and community leaders that an alliance can be formed to address the issues and create a strategy. When people are included in the process they take ownership. A new trust must be built at this point.
Yes, I read your statement. Do you condemn the walkout or not? Of course there are problems. My question is whether you support 1000 students walking out of classrooms for a week. I think you need to really speak out on this issue if you want to lead. Your statement tries to say something for everyone, but is not leadership.
9 hours ago

1st. You and I must have a different definition of leadership. In the development of my leadership skills, I found that it is very important to gather and understand the facts and circumstances before determining a strategy to deal with an issue. I have taken the time to speak with many involved, while reviewing all that has gone on to this point and decided today I will let everyone know my thoughts. Calling me out on my leadership skills is insulting. You don't know me. Why did you not reach out to me before your personal attack on my leadership skills? This leads me to believe your motive is confrontation not information. This is a very complex issue. A problem that has been around for 3 decades now. The answer to your question of "do agree with the walk out or not?" is not a yes or no answer. That type of bumper sticker politics is as divisive and just as counter productive as the walkout. With that being said let me give you an abridged answer, because there is noway we can cover this issue completely on facebook. I am not for the walk out. I feel it is counterproductive on several levels. There are better ways to address this problem. I do however, believe that there are people in our community that think this is the only way they will be heard. And, EVERYONE deserves to be heard. This situation is the result of lack of leadership on both sides of the discussion. I am hoping to help my school district, if elected, by bridging communities, cultures and socio-economic groups. It will take everyone in our community's participation to solve these problems. I invite you to sit down with me and have a full discussion of issues, where you can understand my positions better. That way when you involve me in your blog you can be comfortable in explaining my positions.
Look, I need a simple answer. Do you oppose the walkout or not? Do you think it;'s just fine to expose students to Nate Whips or not? Are you a leader or not? I am asking this of ALL the candidates and my motive is to see who leads and who does not. This does not rquire a sitdown. You only need answer the question. You talk about being insulted. I find it highly insulting that you think so little of the voters that you can't answer a simple question.

It's not a simple question? And who put you in charge of determining leadership skills? First, I did answer your question about the walkout. And I think the leadership of the United Youth group is not leadership at all. From the looks of things, he is surrounding himself with people of low quality and questionable character. I actually expect this walkout to fizzle out. Once again, let me be clear. I am not for this walkout and I think the leadership of the walkout is questionable in its motive and ability. With that being said, we have people in our community that believe they are not part of the process. Addressing that will take leadership.
You finally said something. Was that hard?

Don't be a wise guy. This is not simple question.

By the way. I expect this to fizzle due to lack of structure and leadership
Whether you opposed the walkout or not was a very simple question. It should not have required a root canal to get an answer. But I finally have one, and will be reporting it on my blog. I'll leave it to readers to decide how complicated this question is.

Just does us both a favor and report it accurately. I have no problem with that. And any time you would like my thoughts on anything, I am here for you, just reach out.
I will report our exchange, word-for-word. How's that?

That works. Thanks.

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