I'm actually hopeful. We are getting closer to the truth. The white elephant is finally being acknowledged. Until the real truth is exposed( thanks to City News- having the guts to shine a light whereas main stream media will NOT) this mess will stay a mess. Thank you city newspaper, Howard Eagle and Van White for not giving up. We all now must put our work in to save our valuable children. We owe them a chance to succeed.
This is the best that these so called business leaders could think of? The school district is in utter chaos and the root cause is principal salaries? Has anyone ever thought of asking educators with no business (ex: charter schools- whose intent is to collect as much money from federal funds- shameless poachers) and dubious politicians ( Vargas right hand gal patty malgieri ) ties for input. We know that Vargas cares little about input from the community. To be fair, the district started to shut down ties between the community when it abruptly ended the parent university program that was directed by the very capable and dynamic Charmaine Cohen-- long before Vargas was chosen as the super. We are obviously entering a very dysfunctional, corrupt era in education. If you really care about the future of our children, pay attention, get angry and BE HEARD!
Thank you for pointing out the hypocrisy of these writers. I thought the same thing when I read their piece. I wonder how many Principals they have shadowed? Do they not understand that extending the school days means more duties far beyond the work day. Most Principals already work routinely until 7 or eight or nine pm working 12 hours already.Do they know that teachers expect and get extra pay? The issues of no confidence is far deeper then this single one. Are they deliberately glossing over contradictory directives, poor planning and communication from Central Office? Are they aware that there is a talent drain from the District? At least four Administrators have been denied tenure and gone on to other positions in other Districts to apparent success. High level CO cabinet members are leaving as well. To imply that Principals are somehow not "letting" the Superintendent do his job is just plain wrong , misleading the public , and an insult to the many dedicated administrators in the RCSD
"But it’s also true that he’s unable to keep many of the social ills that students face every day outside the walls of city schools without more help from the community."
But it's also true that RCSD has MANY agencies & programs from this community willing to help, but Vargas just eliminated their support system within the schools (Student & Family Support Centers). They were created for exactly this purpose. He keeps talking about help from the community but what he's done is make it much harder for this community to help his students. SMH
"The District should develop and lead a multisystem collaborative
using a strength‐based, child‐centered approach that provides
consistent responses in all aspects/settings of the child’s life (school,
home, and community)".
This describes Student & Family Support Centers. But Vargas scuttled those. I'm confused.
Well said. The business and college leaders are quick to write essays pointing fingers or suggesting solutions but rarely do they put their own people or resources into the fire. Why doesn't Parker or any of the others get their powerful friends together and put a few millions behind a charter or a particular RCSD school and develop it into the "model" they describe? Beyond this, the superintendent's problems go way beyond the no confidence issue and they know it. Something is up.
How you're consistently defeated in RCSD School Board elections (no thanks to this and other newspaper's endorsements), I'll never know. If ever there was a time to take a chance on some new faces and new ideas to (hopefully) turn the district around, that time is now.
Many of the recommendations made sense and it is true that the larger community must help propel change but I don't see the district being fixed in a significant way until the person who was given the charge to lead it gets involved. Mr. Vargas has been silent around this process and it appears as though the board is attempting to force him to make changes. This is not a productive method. The board chair and superintendent are clearly at odds. The superintendent has done a good job of telling the public how bad things are but he has done little to get them to understand what needs to be done or give them hope.
If chairman White wants the board to take over then this would be easier to do with a new superintendent hired with that understanding. Without genuine participation and support from central office, any recommendation will never get off the page. Someone needs to call out the superintendent and get his response as well as his ideas about implementation. We are well aware of his issues with common core, CTE failure, his key staff leaving, lack of college help, no confidence from his own people, attendance, budget and other problems but these can't stop him from being engaged. Where is the leadership? Where is the district going? Does anyone know?
All recommendations can be viewed at the following link:
AN OPEN LETTER TO COMMISSIONER VAN WHITE REGARDING THE CHANGE-INITIATIVE, WHICH HE SPEAR-HEADED
March 5, 2014
Dear Commissioner White,
You may or may not be aware of the fact that, at times, I have been among City Newspaper Reporter Tim Macaluso's biggest critics. However, I believe in giving credit --- where credit is due. With regard to this news story, Mr. Macaluso GOT IT RIGHT.
First, he asked (via his news story Headline) the most critical question involving the change-initiative, which you spearheaded, i.e., "What now?"
He is also correct regarding his observations that:
- "the work the committees earnestly undertook deserves a better presentation to the broader community."
- "though the turnout was strong, many of the people were familiar faces. It's a shame that a broader segment of the community isn't tuning in."
Of course, that which Mr. Macaluso described as your "intentional focus on soliciting input from the community" makes complete sense, especially considering (as you and I agreed --- prior to this effort being launched) that unless and until substantial numbers of Rochester City School District (RCSD) parents and other community members get involved constantly, consistently, cooperatively, and collaboratively regarding well-organized, focused, ongoing efforts, which must revolve around, clear, concrete, agreed-upon, measurable, goals, strategies and tactics --- widespread, fundamental, permanent, systemic, change, and improvement within the RCSD --- (other than the ineffective, tinkering around the edges variety, which we have witnessed for decades) is not likely, and in fact, is highly unlikely to occur.
I must admit that it is quite disappointing to see statements such as the following attributed to you: "And the strategies for improving city schools, he says, are not the board’s promise to keep – it’s the community’s." Upon serious thought and reflection, you would have to admit that the latter quote is very shallow, unrealistic, and in fact mainly rhetorical. This is not a time for shallow rhetoric. Again, Mr.. Macaluso is absolutely correct regarding his assertion that "the kinds of changes being discussed can’t happen in a vacuum." As initiator of this effort, and one who has promised that this process will be different than many, many similar processes (in the past) --- you still have a role to play. You cannot just brush your hands off, and take a position that you've done your part. It is your responsibility to see this through until the end, and to continue with facilitating necessary steps to ensure that "the community" is not attempting to operate (without necessary support) "in a vacuum."
Also, with regard to the Board --- this is not about some type of abstract "promise." That is to say --- "strategies for improving city schools" IS ABSOLUTELY THE ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITY OF THE BOARD. With regard to the long-overdue, desperate need for widespread, fundamental change and improvement within the RCSD --- It is vitally important for us not to get caught up in hype and rhetoric --- and begin to confuse and/or distort the roles and responsibilities of various, key players.
It is also potentially problematic that, as is frequently the case in Rochester, you seem to be using the terms, "the community," in a very light, non-specific manner. Again, as Mr. Macaluso accurately pointed out, not only have we not seen widespread community involvement on the part of many-thousands of RCSD parents and tax-paying community members in general, but I'm certain that in thousands of cases --- there is not even awareness of the initiative's existence. So, there is clearly much more work to be done, and again, it would be unprincipled and disingenuous for you to back away from your leadership role at this particular point and time.
I'm not sure if you are aware of the fact that many within "the community" are already expressing beliefs that the entire initiative is, in the exact words of one city resident a "pressure-relieving, politically-inspired, publicity stunt" --- designed to give the impression that (as President of the Board) you attempted to help facilitate change, but "the community" did not support you. I must say, if you back away from the effort at this particular point and time, in my humble, but staunch view --- it would be nearly impossible to credibly and convincingly refute the above referenced belief, held by many.
I believe it is important to remind you that during last night's Town Hall Meeting, you told participants that the meeting represents "the beginning of a movement." It is also very important to note that two Town hall meetings are not (in and of themselves a movement, nor necessarily the "beginning of a movement"). A movement is literally, as noted above, constant, consistent, cooperative, and collaborative, well-organized, focused, ongoing efforts on the part of substantial numbers of people (in this particular case --- parents, students, educators, activists, Board members, other politicians, and anyone else who is serious about WORKING to produce widespread, fundamental, permanent, systemic, change, and improvement within the RCSD), which must necessarily revolve around clear, concrete, agreed-upon, measurable, goals, strategies and tactics. So indeed the critical question is "what now" or what's next. As you know this question was raised during the meeting last night, and your response was that the comprehensive "power-point presentation," which contains all of the recommendations put forward by the four Ad-Hoc Committees will be presented to the full Board for consideration during a public meeting. However, you were not prepared last night to say when the public meeting will take place.This information is needed as soon as possible --- in order to insure that there is adequate time to inform and help mobilize people to be present. In fact, just as you assumed an instrumental role in helping to turn people out for last night's Town Hall Meeting, it is, in my view, your responsibility to do the same regarding the upcoming meeting with the full Board. You see, this is an example of constant, consistent, cooperative, and collaborative, well-organized, focused, ongoing efforts. Still, it is not enough.
In the process of building any sustained, successful movement, throughout history --- a strategy-group or body has been a prerequisite. The latter point is still true today --- that is, if we are truly serious about building / sustaining a movement. As I see it, you are best positioned, and in fact responsible for helping to insure the existence of an ongoing strategy group. This is not a complex idea. It's a matter of you calling for establishment of a strategy group, and providing similar support as was provided for the Ad-Hoc Committees. The strategy group would be the body that would assume much of the responsibility for being able to clearly answer the critically important question: "What now" or what's next --- as it relates to helping convince / persuade a majority of Board members and the Superintendent that the recommendations are in fact vitally important, and worthy of support / adoption. I'm sure you remember that we agreed (upfront) that convincing / persuasion would be a necessary factor in this process. In my view, those who would serve as members of the strategy group should also be willing to help insure additional involvement and / or buy-in on the part of thousands within "the community" who have not been involved up to this point, and whom (in many cases) are not even aware of the initiative's existence. I believe that EVERYONE who served on the Ad-Hoc Committees, and possibly others, should be offered an opportunity to serve as members of the strategy-group.
With regard to my thoughts above, I'm quite certain that none of this comes as a surprise to you --- since I made it clear (during our January 3, 2014 phone conversation --- when you first contacted me regarding your invitation to serve on one of the Ad-Hoc Committees) that I was not interested in being part of events (without follow up). I explained my unequivocal belief that there will not be any fundamental change and/or significant improvement in the RCSD unless and until we build a mass-based movement --- as described above. You agreed. So, I still believe exactly what I explained during our conversation on January 3rd, and what I have been saying for decades (literally). I also believe that, as President of the Rochester Board of Education, and initiator of the above referenced actions, which you characterized at last night's meeting --- as "the start of a movement" --- you have a responsibility and obligation to continue demonstrating the type of leadership that you demonstrated in the process of initiating your change-initiative, and specifically, I am respectfully calling on you to move with all deliberate speed to establish, and to support, a strategy-group --- as outlined above.
Lastly, I agree with Mr. Macaluso wholeheartedly that "it would be a shame to see this effort wasted and wind up as another of our seasonal talks about city schools."
Due to the fact that the historical-clock is ticking very quickly, and the time is very late --- I am impatiently awaiting your response.
The Struggle Continues...
Kamakazee: We've added a link to a previous story that has the recommendations. Good call.
What were some recommendations?
A Google search (try it!) yields some interesting (but unsurprising) insights about the ideological agenda of this outfit and its "chair". It's all about left-wing "messaging" to indoctrinate the public to favor "critical progressive policies" — especially fighting against Gov. Walker's bold and successful reforms. [There's even an appearance by George Lakoff — you can't make up this stuff!]
The only true comparison would be for a charter school to take over a "failing" public school and to keep the exact same students at the school. Unless the charter school could expel students, there would be zero difference in results. Charter schools have a huge advantage of receiving higher achieving students bc parents have to take the initiative to apply. When parents apply, it generally means they are invested in their child's education which is a key factor in a child's success.
Clearly, this isn't an abstract conversation since it costs real dollars to field a police force in any of our area municipalities. That said, I'd love some conversation about regionalizing our police and fire services here. In its present state it is fragmented and creates turf issues like this. Traveling on Empire Boulevard toward Ridge Road, you have a unified commercial area that spans two municipalities. If there's a need for service I doubt that anyone looks at the logo on the side of the police car or fire truck responding.
Many New Yorkers are insulted by the proposal to reward convicts with a free college education. The simple solution is to require those who ‘graduate’ from prison with a college degree pay the state back for the cost of their education – just like they would have to pay back a student loan.
If it really only costs $5,000 a year for a degree from Convict College, it's a great deal: much cheaper than what law-biding college students pay. So don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, and don't expect a degree for free.
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