What Can Schools Do to Improve?

Children in the Lehigh Valley are about to embark on another school year. What suggestions would you give educators for improving education for your kids or all students?

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on all Lehigh Valley Patches in which local parents, caregivers and other members of the community are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting topics.

This week’s Moms Talk question relates to suggestions from readers on how to specifically improve education locally.

Americans constantly hear about how the nation's educational system is failing our children. Critics say that U.S. students perform poorly on standardized tests compared to many developed nations.

Most parents whose kids have been in school for a few years have at least a story or two about a terrible teacher or a dumb school policy. Now is the time to do more than grumble.  

What suggestions do you have for improving K-12 education in the Lehigh Valley?

Our Moms Council members include: 

  • Lisa Amey of Upper Milford Township is a stay-at-home mom to an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. A past president of the MOMS Club of Emmaus and longtime member of MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), Lisa is an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. 
  • Lisa Drew of Emmaus is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, wellness and fitness coach with more than 17 years of experience. She is the mother of a 13-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.
  • Jennifer Elston of Emmaus has almost two decades of professional experience in child development and counseling. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. Together with her husband, Chris, she owns Christopher Elston Photography.
  • Jeanne Lombardo of Nazareth is the mother of a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. She’s new to the Lehigh Valley, having moved to Nazareth from Bergen County, NJ in January.
  • Lisa Merk of Lower Macungie is a stay-at-home mother of four boys – a 12-year-old and 6-year-old triplets. Lisa is a past president of the MOMS Club of Lower Macungie East. In her “spare” time, Lisa teaches piano to school-age children.
  • Zoila Bonilla Paul of Bethlehem is a stay-at-home mom to two girls – a 5-year-old and a 14-month-old. Zoila is a member of her local “moms’ club” and says she is “well-versed in the fun that children can bring.”
  • Beth Sharpless of Emmaus works part time in a local emergency department as a nurse and part time from home as a customer support specialist. She has two children -- a boy who is almost 2 and a 5-year-old girl. She says they love spending time outdoors and dancing.

If you would like to become a part of the Moms Council and/or have ideas for future Moms Talk questions, please email jennifer.marangos@patch.com.

Janet Persing August 27, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Did you really write "dumn" in the intro? Shame on you!
Janet Persing August 27, 2012 at 09:48 PM
How could you not have a clue that your child was in for an F and a D? Are there no report cards or homework which gave you a hint? If you're an involved parent, you shouldn't need an e-mail from the teacher to tell you what you should know already.
Margie Peterson August 27, 2012 at 09:55 PM
I did write "dumn" in the intro in a typo. Thank you for so graciously pointing out my mistake. I'll fix it now.
Lisa Amey August 28, 2012 at 01:41 PM
After receiving the same paperwork to be completed at the beginning of the year for the school for two children the fifth year in a row, I think most of this can be shifted to an on-line system to make changes only. That would save so much paper, and be consistent with the school district's effort to go more green. I also think other things should be posted on line several weeks before school begins, such as what school supplies will be needed and the BUS INFORMATION!!!!
Jennifer Elston August 28, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I agree with Lisa Amey. Put it all on-line and streamline the system. I would love to have my kids' assignments at the end of the previous school year--and not have to wait all summer for them. I know they are put together sooner than later. Also, I'd like to see the supply lists sooner. I would also like to see the classes leveled off more.
Jenae Holtzhafer August 28, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Amen to that, Lisa! No report cards for the kids to display but a zillion of the same admin papers year after year. I agree that this could be handled in a more 'green' manner! We'll get there!
k August 28, 2012 at 03:16 PM
not everyone has the internet, no matter what you think
Janet Persing August 28, 2012 at 09:34 PM
This is school where your children are supposed to be learning something. Stop obsessing about birthday parties and concentrate on your kids' education. Or is that something too stressful?
Janet Persing August 28, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Yes, the teachers don't have the time for your particular kids. They have to teach all the other kids in the class. And get them prepared to be good citizens, which is a major challenge, and to all get along. So, what are you doing as a parent to prepare your kids? Your hands are not tied at all. Quit whining and start teaching--your own kids. Raise them properly, which seems to be your problem. You can always be a parent and instruct. And that takes time out of your life. Well, you had kids and why you expect the rest of the world to revolve around them and teach them is beyond me. Yes, "Go read the book," is precisely the point. If you want to learn, you will. If you are a parent, then teach your kids. Read to them, and make them read to you. Not as a chore, just as literature and teaching. Which is what you want to hire a tutor to do. How pathetic! Remember one thing--your child's education is YOUR responsibility. No one else's. And if you want to have them achieve, the way you're doing it is not good.
Janet Persing August 28, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Hope you will pay for it, Lisa Amey! The rest of us who don't have kids are maxed out paying for those who do. Perhaps you should do some research into what new construction of a new high school really costs.
Janet Persing August 28, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Yes, not everyone has Internet capability, agreeing with the prior poster.
Janet Persing August 29, 2012 at 07:08 PM
And of course, need more cupcakes! That is the essence of education.
StGabes August 29, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Janet, perhaps you should have kids before you're so critical of others. The no snack policy really does suck because the kids deserve to celebrate their birthday with their friends from school, perhaps their little friends might not be able to come to the real birthday party. Why are you so angry or are you a troll? I'm guessing an angry troll.... lol
Ron Beitler August 29, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I've heard a wide range of estimates including up to 160 million for new high school. I'm not going to get into whether or not one is needed. I don't know..... But I do know we should have never came to this point. This is 100% solely because of out of control growth in Lower Macungie Township. Should surrounding communities have to pay the price because for decades Lower Mac had no smart growth plan and kept their individual municipal taxes artificially low by utilizing a tax policy that relied on constant growth in EIT revenue? We might be past the point where it matters anymore, but currently LMT has nearly 1000 new houses potentially in the development pipeline at various stages. It's STILL very much an issue and I wish the school district would weigh in.
Crestor Januvia August 29, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Boy... the moms have really put out some earth shattering ideas to improve education.... you should work on carbon emmissions next !!
Janet Persing August 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM
And that would be principal, as in head of the school.
Janet Persing August 29, 2012 at 10:41 PM
What does this have to do with education? And your tagline is GrowUpSaucon? Are the inmates running the asylum in your school district?
Anne Beck August 30, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Here is a suggestion to parents...stop babying your kids and hold them more accountable. You will do our society a great favor!
Ben Miller August 30, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Is it me, or does Janet Persing really come off as a bully and a jerk on here? Some of her comments are way over the line and others are just plain wrong. "Stop obsessing about birthday parties and concentrate on your kids' education. Or is that something too stressful?" - Rude and arrogant, imposing her will on everyone else as if she is the be all-end all to educating children, which is funny since she admits she has no children. No children = no clue. "And of course, need more cupcakes! That is the essence of education." - Typical bully mocking. "Did you really write "dumn" in the intro? Shame on you!" -Even bullying the author "How could you not have a clue that your child was in for an F and a D? Are there no report cards or homework which gave you a hint?" -No clue on child rearing. Homework doesn't come with grades and when you get the report card, the grade is already completed for that semester. To late to do anything about it. "Remember one thing--your child's education is YOUR responsibility. No one else's." -My dad was a teacher for 38 years and he would beg to disagree. Educating children is the responsibility of everyone involved. While there must be a strong support system in the home, there must also be one in the school. EVERY single thing this woman has said on here has been either rude, bullying or just plain wrong. How embarrassing for her.
Walter August 30, 2012 at 09:52 AM
After reading 'her' comments, I thought she was a teacher.
Crestor Januvia August 30, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Probably a union rep....
Heather Depew September 02, 2012 at 02:19 PM
I agree with Janet. Also, there are more allergies out there than just a peanut allergy. Gluten free??? There are some children that can't digest wheat properly and guess what. All of those birthday treats you would bring in ALL contain WHEAT!
Heather Depew September 02, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I completely agree with you, Lisa. You would think if they are switching everything else online, why not this? I will tell you though, in Philadelphia, this never works because families rent, and they are CONSTANTLY moving. That's one of the reasons the families send their children to charter schools (so they don't have to change schools within the city). But thankfully we are not Philly. I tell ya, if you saw what I saw as a teacher in Philly, you would think the schools in the Lehigh Valley are perfect.
Heather Depew September 02, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Amen, Anne. It really is true. Some of the issues brought up are just nit-picking things. The only real issue brought up on here so far was the "not enough time to instruct". If you have that problem then you should talk to the teachers more, but you, as a parent, need to be more involved in your child's education. Read to them, have them read to you, do math problems together, take them to the Lehigh Valley zoo to learn about animals (to enrich their science class), take them to the Da Vinci center. Take them to a classical music concert geared towards children. Enrich their lives in ways that the school may not necessarily be able to do. It is a scary time for schools. They are cutting so many of the enriching programs such as art and music. Even gym class is being cut to once a week, if that. Be aware that if things follow down the same path that is put in place you will have children who can only read, write and do math. But they will not be well-educated. You will have obese children that have no interest in anything enriching, because it wasn't put there at the elementary level. If it wasn't for my elementary music class, I would have never had an interest in music. Explore what the area has to offer with your children and enroll them in something after school whether it's karate lessons or some sort of music lessons. This area as a LOT to offer.
Heather Depew September 02, 2012 at 02:31 PM
It takes a village to raise a child. IT IS SO TRUE!!!! Yes, parents need to be involved, but what do your school taxes pay for if the teacher won't guide the way to what needs to be learned at every grade level?
GrowUpSaucon September 02, 2012 at 02:38 PM
@ StGabes. Perfectly said.
GrowUpSaucon September 02, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Absolutely...rude, bullying AND plain wrong. Leadership, it's all about the leadership. Janet- not having children, I assume you have not dealt with ANY issues within ANY district . If you would like, I can take you in this week while I walk my children to class and play show and tell with you about some of the interesting things that parents may find to be a distraction and may prohibit the education system to work in favor of our children.
Heather Depew September 02, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Yes very rude. I don't think she is a teacher or a union rep....just an angry person trolling everyone's posts and trying to start arguments. Let's all try to come up with possible solutions that we can suggest to the school boards of our children's schools. Be proactive. Not reactive.
Kim September 03, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I have a small child and I kind of like Janet. And Anne Beck.
Motherof1 October 10, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Many countries that are outperforming the U.S. have much longer school days and some countries even go all year long, with much shorter breaks worked in throughout the year. Since in the U.S., the teachers' salaries are annualized anyway, I say, keep them in the classroom June, July and August. Kids get out at 2:30 or 3:30 depending on age and there's still plenty of sunshine left to enjoy. If we were only able to make this commitment in the U.S., then we would really make education our number one priority in America. Kids are resilient, they'll adjust. I'm guessing the teachers . . . . not so much. :)


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