The founder of the Circle of Seasons charter school, whose proposal to establish a progressive “Waldorf Method” facility in the Parkland School District went down in flames before the school board by a 7-0 vote in February, is now trying his luck in neighboring Northwestern Lehigh School District.
On Wednesday night the Northwestern Lehigh’s board of directors had their first official dialogue about the proposal since a public hearing was held on the matter June 28th.
And if Wednesday night’s comments are any indication, Arnold may want to want to pursue Option C.
“I have concerns about the lack of community support and concerns about the curriculum,” said Board Member Todd Hernandez.
“I have reservations about a lack of technology supports and how outcomes will be measured,” added Board Member Ronald Morrison.
But board members were just getting warmed up.
Not in attendance was Board Member Willard Dellicker, whose absence did not curtail him from issuing a lengthy written rebuttal in which he slammed the proposal, at one point calling the school’s claims “elitist” and “inaccurate.”
Dellicker noted concerns about the school’s budget, building and logistics, support and sustainability, educational strategy and graduate profile, among many others.
“A curriculum is lacking,” he wrote.
Board member Christopher Ford was kinder in his remarks, noting that “I was ready to vote ‘yes’ on this proposal until the hearing,” he said, when it became apparent to him the school’s proposal was simply inadequate.
In the audience sat a poker-faced Arnold, whose first name could have been “Benedict” to school board members who believe he is betraying the mission of properly educating Northwestern Lehigh students with his charter school.
Not until Board Member LeRoy Sorensen spoke up did Arnold find an ally.
“What is wrong with people having choice?” Sorensen asked. “I strongly feel it should be up to parents.”
Arnold was then granted permission to speak and spent the next half-hour attempting to persuade the board all over again.
“Learning is a joyous thing,” he noted of the philosophy of the Waldorf Method of teaching. “You feel it.” He later added during his pitch that in the strategy of the school, there is a “real focus on knowing yourself.”
What students would “know” is an education without textbooks, computers or televisions and a school that encourages cooperation rather than competition, with limited homework assignments and no grades dispensed at the elementary level.
Still, Arnold made it a point to talk about the subject of reading.
“Reading is taught in kindergarten,” he said. “…reading is a key aspect of our school.”
The school itself is proposed for 8380 Mohr Lane, on Penn State University’s former Lehigh Valley campus, near Fogelsville.
Whether Arnold’s latest attempt at persuasion was successful will be known at the next Northwestern Lehigh school board meeting at 7:30 p.m. on August 15th, when a vote is expected to be taken.