Bethlehem going green

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council)

Dawn Nixon, “Lehigh Valley leaders discuss efforts to go green.” WFMZ, March 12, 2019.

On March 12 our Mayor Donchez joined with representatives from Allentown and Whitehall at the Lehigh Valley Mayors’ Sustainability forum  to discuss Valley efforts to Mayor sustainability“go green.”

The Mayor talked of converting to LED lights; working with UGI and PPL to reduce the amount of gas used by local businesses; such key components as green buildings, energy efficiency and conservation, water and wastewater systems and climate friendly transportation; and plans for a consultant to assist the city in developing a climate action plan.

“Mayor Donchez closed the forum’s discussion by commenting on how any efforts made by individual cities benefit the entire Lehigh Valley. ‘The more we work together on key issues, the better the Lehigh Valley will be as a whole,’ he said.”

Here for us are the key slides from the Mayor’s presentation showing work done and on the radar:

Sustainability 1

Sustinability 2

Sustinability 3

Susatainability 4

It’s Friday, March 22, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

Make room for one more: Ashley Daubert running for Council! (14)

(14th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Just learned that Ashley Daubert is running for the two-year slot, against Grace Crampsie Smith and Will Carpenter.

Ashley Daubert

Info from a Morning Call article:

  • registered nurse
  • campaign and political initiatives would be “quality-of-life centered”
  • “I decided to run for Bethlehem City Council because I want to be the voice for vulnerable populations in our great city; namely, the homeless, mentally ill, addicted, our children, and our aging residents”

Priorities:

  • Partnering with the Bethlehem Area School District to solve the lunch debt problem
  • Opening up dialogue to de-stigmatize mental illness and fight the opioid epidemic
  • Promoting policies, such as pedestrian safety, to protect senior citizens

Occupation:

Daubert is American Nurses Credentialing Center board-certified in psychiatric-mental health nursing and the clinical manager of the Lehigh Valley Health Network Street Medicine team, which provides services to the homeless in the Lehigh Valley. Last year, she launched a business, Daubert Home Care, that provides personal care services to senior citizens.

Charter schools: need to explore what school choice really means (17)

(17th in a series on Education and Charter Schools)

Timely to our discussion is the showing of the “Backpack full of Cash” documentary this Thursday, March 21, 6:30pm – 8:00pm at NITSCHMANN MIDDLE SCHOOL, sponsored by Bethlehem Proud Parents – Free!

Anna Smith is a life-long Southside resident and Director of the Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem, a non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life in south Bethlehem by fostering economic opportunity, promoting community development, and empowering residents to actively participate in the decision-making process regarding the future of our diverse community.

Gadfly:

When discussing the concept of school choice, I think it’s important to ask “what is the role of public education in our society?” Scholars typically cite three primary goals of public education in a democratic society—1. Prepare individual students with skills necessary to succeed in our society (individual economic opportunity); 2. Prepare students to fill positions in the US job market (vocational training); and 3. Prepare students to be full participants in our democracy (education for active citizenship). Most schools try to balance these three aims as they design policies and curriculum, and throughout US history, there has been tension among the proponents of each approach. However, I doubt many would propose wholly eliminating any of these aims.

The concept of school choice allows individuals to privilege the first goal—individual pursuit of human capital for future personal gain—at the expense of the third goal (and potentially the second). Universal public education that integrates children of ALL races, ethnicities, incomes, abilities, religions, etc., in preparation for participation in a diverse society is antithetical to the concept of school choice in a society where major inequities exist in funding and resources across these demographic lines. If we allow individuals to act solely in their self-interest, many (if not most) students who already have access to more resources are going choose other options (private schools, charters) as a way to escape from underfunded public schools, creating both a vicious cycle of underfunding and a segregated system where marginalized students become further marginalized and isolated. When we center the question on the societal goals of free, universal public education, school choice just doesn’t make sense. Are we willing to give up the lofty goals of a society in which equal opportunity for success and civic participation is guaranteed to all? While we’re far from that reality, the more we expand opportunities for school choice, the more we concede that our society was set up to be unequal, and we abandon all aspirations toward meritocracy.

Many people like the idea of school choice, but I think it is worth exploring what that really means, and if it actually allows us to sustain a diverse democracy. Is making it easier to acting solely in one’s own interest good for our society as a whole?

Anna

More info on Lehigh Valley Academy (16)

(16th in a series on Education and Charter Schools)

Timely to our discussion is the showing of the “Backpack full of Cash” documentary this Thursday, March 21, 6:30pm – 8:00pm at NITSCHMANN MIDDLE SCHOOL, sponsored by Bethlehem Proud Parents – Free!

This info from Sara Satullo and Karen Beck Pooley much appreciated:

Sara:

IB is integrated into the curriculum, but not all students earn an IB degree. To do so, students must take exams akin to Advanced Placement tests. Not all do so. This is from the 2016 charter school renewal hearing for the school: “The school’s Class of 2016 included 50 graduates and 11 of the students were awarded a full IB-diploma, while a number earned some certificates but did not take all of the exams, Mauser [Susan Mauser, LVA CEO] said.”

Karen:

“Why Bethlehem school board approved charter school agreement.” Morning Call, November 29, 2016.

in 2016, when the LVA charter was up for renewal, Karen writes that the Bethlehem School Board generated “a long list of concerns and several reasons for denying the charter outright” and sought to negotiate an amended charter, but LVA “rejected all of [their] requests and offered no realistic counterproposals.”

Karen indicates that our Board was hamstrung by experience with the state Charter Appeals Board. Gadfly has read elsewhere that the Charter School lobby is among the most powerful in the state.

Provisions rejected by LVA included ceasing to cover school lunches, aligning LVA and BASD calendars to reduce transportation costs, and holding monthly public Trustee meetings.

Gadfly has an appointment with Dr. Roy next week on the questions Gadfly posed at the end of his last post.

Charter schools: What makes Lehigh Valley Academy so special for BASD students? (15)

(15th in a series on Education and Charter Schools)

Timely to our discussion is the showing of the “Backpack full of Cash” documentary this Thursday, March 21, 6:30pm – 8:00pm at NITSCHMANN MIDDLE SCHOOL, sponsored by Bethlehem Proud Parents – Free!

Half of BASD’s total charter school enrollment is in LVA, for whom BASD pays $12m/yr.

LVA is seeking $45m for a new building and may be increasing its enrollment.

“30 percent of [LVA’s] students are Hispanic, 36 percent are white and 12 percent are black. Almost 50 percent are considered economically disadvantaged. The charter school has a 95 percent graduation rate, almost 10 percentage points above the state average.” (from Morning Call)

What makes Lehigh Valley Academy charter school so special? What’s the draw?

Please bear with a long description. Remember that as taxpayers we are paying $12m/yr. for LVA.

LVA’s distinctive feature seems to be the International Baccalaureate program (IB).

IB’s distinctive feature seems to be “International Mindedness.”

“LVA is the only fully authorized International Baccalaureate World School in Pennsylvania that offers an IB continuum to all students in grades K-12. Beginning with full-day kindergarten and continuing through a student’s senior year, LVA emphasizes inquiry-based learning and critical thinking to prepare a student for higher education and the 21st century globalized environment.”

“The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who recognize their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet. Central to this aim is international-mindedness. International-mindedness is a multi-faceted and complex concept that captures a way of thinking, being and acting that is characterized by an openness to the world and a recognition of our deep interconnectedness to others.”

“To be open to the world, we need to understand it. IB programmes therefore provide students with opportunities for sustained inquiry into a range of local and global issues and ideas. This willingness to see beyond immediate situations and boundaries is essential as globalization and emerging technologies continue to blur traditional distinctions between the local, national and international.”

“An IB education fosters international-mindedness by helping students reflect on their own perspective, culture and identities, and then on those of others. By learning to appreciate different beliefs, values and experiences, and to think and collaborate across cultures and disciplines, IB learners gain the understanding necessary to make progress toward a more peaceful and sustainable world.”

“An IB education further enhances the development of international-mindedness through multilingualism. All IB programmes require the students to study, or study in, more than one language because we believe that communicating in more than one language provides excellent opportunities to develop intercultural understanding and respect. It helps the students to appreciate that his or her own language, culture and worldview is just one of many.”

“International-mindedness is also encouraged through a focus on global engagement and meaningful service with the community. These elements challenge the student to critically consider power and privilege, and to recognize that he or she holds this planet and its resources in trust for future generations. They also highlight the focus on action in all IB programmes: a focus on moving beyond awareness and understanding to engagement, action and bringing about meaningful change.”

IB learner profile
———————–
In grades 11-12, IB offers 2 tracks:

Diploma Programme: Prepares students for effective participation in a rapidly evolving world. This is a demanding two-year curriculum that meets the needs of highly motivated students,and leads to a qualification that is recognized by leading universities around the world.

Career-related Programme  is a framework of international education that incorporates the values of the IB into a unique programme addressing the needs of students engaged in career-related education. The programme leads to further/higher education, apprenticeships or employment.
————————————–
The Diploma Programme curriculum

The Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum is made up of six subject groups and the DP core, comprising theory of knowledge (TOK), creativity, activity, service (CAS) and the extended essay. Through the Diploma Programme (DP) core, students reflect on the nature of knowledge, complete independent research and undertake a project that often involves community service.

The three core elements are:

  • Theory of knowledge (TOK), in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know.
  • The extended essay, which is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.
  • Creativity, activity, service, in which students complete a project related to those three concepts.

How is TOK structured?

As a thoughtful and purposeful inquiry into different ways of knowing, and into different kinds of knowledge, TOK is composed almost entirely of questions.

The most central of these is “How do we know?”, while other questions include:

  • What counts as evidence for X?
  • How do we judge which is the best model of Y?
  • What does theory Z mean in the real world?

Through discussions of these and other questions, students gain greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions, as well as developing an appreciation of the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives.

As part of theory of knowledge (TOK), each student chooses one essay title from six issued by International Baccalaureate (IB).

The titles change in each examination session. Upcoming and past TOK questions include:

  • “To what extent are areas of knowledge shaped by their past? Consider with reference to two areas of knowledge.”
  •  “’There is no reason why we cannot link facts and theories across disciplines and create a common groundwork of explanation.’ To what extent do you agree with this statement?”
  • “There is no such thing as a neutral question. Evaluate this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.”
  • “’The task of history is the discovering of the constant and universal principles of human nature.’ To what extent are history and one other area of knowledge successful in this task?”

Some examples of the 4,000 word extended essay are:

  • “An analysis of costume as a source for understanding the inner life of the character”
  • “A study of malnourished children in Indonesia and the extent of their recovery after a period of supervised improved nutrition.”
  • “Doing versus being: language and reality in the Mimamsa school of Indian philosophy.”
  • “The effects of sugar-free chewing gum on the pH of saliva in the mouth after a meal.”
  • “To what extent has the fall in the exchange rate of the US dollar affected the tourist industry in Carmel, California?”
  •  “What level of data compression in music files is acceptable to the human ear?”

—————————————-

So the above should give us some idea of what the distinctive feature of LVA is.

Gadfly is not sure if the IB is required of all students or it is an option, a track. Need to find that out.

Gadfly also needs to know more about 1) how LVA is promoted, publicized (if at all) among BASD students, and 2) whether both BASD and LVA have done surveys on why these students are choosing to attend LVA.

So, with luck, more info later.

How are you feeling about the $12m?

Remember: timely to our discussion is the showing of the “Backpack full of Cash” documentary this Thursday, March 21, 6:30pm – 8:00pm at NITSCHMANN MIDDLE SCHOOL, sponsored by Bethlehem Proud Parents – Free!

The Gadfly at 6 months

The Gadfly is 6 months old today.

Time to reflect.

The statement of purpose on the About page begins with “God.”

Pretty pompous.  Gadfly 61

But I think I’ll leave it.

At least for another 6 months.

How else explain the “hang time” of Antalics and Scheier?

I think of gadfly as a special breed – Genus Antalicus.

Gadflying is a calling.

I think of gadflies as unofficial official representatives of the public.

Gadflies have a keen nose for inconsistency and hypocrisy.

Gadflies are institutional  memory.

And it’s not about winning.

It’s about witnessing.

I still believe in the fantasy Norman Rockwell small town.

I like to think of Bethlehem as that kind of small town.

I like to think of model democracy here.

I love the voices at public comment

whether about barking dogs or building high-rises.

The ability to speak is sacred.

Freedom of Speech
Norman Rockwell, Freedom of Speech

And good conversation makes community.

I believe that differences don’t have to divide.

Bethlehem needs a place for people to talk.

People tell me Gadfly fills a need.

Not enough people take advantage.

Not enough people initiate conversation.

Gadfly isn’t just Gadfly’s.

Gadfly needs more voices.

Gadfly wants you.

Speaking on Gadfly is empowering.

Speaking is exercising franchise.

Let there be more speakers on Gadfly.

Gadfly is grateful.

Followers are oxygen.

Onward.

A tip o’ the hat and a wave o’ the wings to Al Bernotas for the Gadfly image.