Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Charles Ballard defines and theorizes on demagogues.
Tuesday, March 26
By Charles Ballard, President, East Penn School Board Merriam-Webster defines a demagogue as a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power. The word comes from ancient Greece, where the nature of Athenian Greek politics meant that politicians, in order to secure their political power, often appealed solely to popular interests. Demagogues exploit a fundamental weakness of democracy. People have power in a democracy, but nothing stops people from giving that power to someone who appeals to the emotions, prejudices and ignorance of the less educated people of a population. These types of leaders do not appeal to reason or rationality. Instead, they appeal to class divisions, or play upon …
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
East Penn School Director Alan Earnshaw attends Monday night's reorganization meeting via Skype.
Usually, board reorganization meetings are pretty cut and dried. Dull even. Leave it to the East Penn Board of School Directors to find a way to spice up the traditional annual process by which new officers are elected to the board and deliver a little lesson in technology tools in the process. Last night, all nine board members were counted as "present," although only eight of them were actually in the room. Board member Alan Earnshaw attended the meeting from Tokyo, Japan, via Skype and voted using text messages. And he was elected vice president to boot. Highlights of the reorganization meeting include:
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
East Penn School Board President Charles Ballard and School Director Alan Earnshaw do battle with School Directors Lynn Donches and Julian Stolz over motion to curtail pay raises for administrators and non-unionized employees.
Lines in the sand were quickly drawn at Monday night’s meeting of the East Penn Board of School Directors when Director Lynn Donches made a motion to limit proposed pay raises for administrators and non-unionized employees to those making $45,000 or less. That motion ultimately failed and the raises, which totaled $74,000 and gave salary bumps to 52 administrators and non-unionized employees, were approved. Those raises are merit-based, according to the dialogue during the meeting, and as a result range from 1.4 to 7.9 percent. Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger is among the administrators who will receive a raise, with his salary jumping from from $163,415 to $166,193, effective Aug. 14. All other raises, which are coming …
Thursday, February 16, 2012
East Penn School Board President Charles Ballard explains what he calls the Governor's latest slight of hand.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
By Charles Ballard, President, East Penn School Board In confidence games, like Three Card Monte, and magic tricks, misdirection is the key to fooling the audience. If you can get people looking at the wrong place at the right time, you can slip something past them. The Governor’s latest budget for education is a case of the use of this old technique by a politician. In the past, there were several different line items of state payment to school districts that covered widely different things, like the basic education subsidy (supposedly the state’s share of the cost of education), payment of half of the social security tax on district employee wages, the state share of PSERS (the state-mandated retirement program), and state partial …
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Is there a way to streamline the process of getting rid of a bad teacher without sacrificing protections for good ones?
In 2005, Harry Drendall, a retired Easton Area music teacher, told me about being a student in a small Luzerne County school district in the 1930s when the school board met one night and fired five teachers. He said most of the firings were to open up jobs for the offspring of prominent local families, and one teacher – a much-loved coach – was fired because he was Catholic. Drendall and others organized a town meeting and got the majority of the board to rehire the teachers. Drendall died in 2010 at age 89; with the passing of his generation, it’s easy to forget the reasons teacher tenure became law in the first place. Surely we can all agree that a terrible teacher can do a lot of damage in a short time – leaving students unprepared …
Monday, December 12, 2011
East Penn School Board member says vouchers are Harrisburg's latest attempt to pull the wool over taxpayers' eyes.
Monday, December 12, 2011
To the Editor: For years, the legislature has bamboozled voters with a simple ploy. They tell you that they haven't raised taxes, then they send mandates they won't pay for down to local school boards that are forced to raise property taxes to pay for them. Even worse, legislators then turn around and blame school boards for the problem of high property taxes. The truth is, because of this ploy, districts like East Penn now get less than 20 percent of their budgets from the state, and local taxpayers are stuck for over 80 percent of the cost, when it used to be a 50-50 split. Now that taxpayer righteous anger about property taxes is making that ploy unusable, the legislature is trying a new one, vouchers. Claiming to be a solution for low-…