Mr Sherman, Please read "Our Kids," by Harvard Education Policy professor & researcher, Robert Putnam, and/or "Class & Schools," by Richard Rothstein.
The Diane Ravitch forum is on September 10th, NOT Sept. 11th; 7:00 pm, @ East High School.
What the critics of this particular Regional School proposal fail take into consideration, is that all students and parents would be involved, voluntarily. Many of the critics also fail to read the research on "regional" or "metropolitan" or "county-wide" school districts. It would be helpful for those who are strongly concernd about the quality & safety of "regional" schools to read the research; particularly "Hope & Despair in the American City," by Gerald Grant. Grant compares the district of Syracuse (similar to Rochester) to that of Wake County, North Carolina. Though, not perfect, the Wake County Metropolitan School District, which insures a 60/40 socio-economic balance in all county schools, has a 90+% positive approval rating from all parents. Granted, any new organization will have problems. However, these problems can be minimized by preparing student and parent populations for potential inter & intra-personal conflict. Regional schools will help more students overcome the impact of concentrated poverty and help all students become more culturally sensitive. However, even more is needed to create more equitable outcomes for low socio-economic groups. An LBJ-style "War on Poverty" is also critical. The bottom-line question: "Should we help our fellow Man?"
Dan Drmacich Chairman
Coalition for Justice in Education
Contrary to Editor, Mary Anna Towler's, comment that in response to the latest low test-score fiasco, nothing new has been presented by the community on the "hard things" that need to be done, the Coalition for Justice in Education (CJE) has made several research-based, "hard proposals" to the Board of Education, which despite some Board support, have not moved forward. And, why not, given te lack of improvement based upon corporate and standardized test-based reforms over the last 15 years ? Consider the following CJE proposls:
- Given the link between low student academic engagement and the concentration of poverty, lobby the county, state and federal governments for redistribution of tax funding to lower poor, urban school student/teacher ratios to 12:1. (See Class Size research.)
- Again, given the concentration of poverty link to student engagement, lobby with county, state and federal governments for suburban district incentives to create metropolitan school districts, at which no school would have more than 40% of its students from poverty backgrounds. (See Wake County, NC, research.)
- Replicate schools based on the NYS Performance Standards Consortium model, of which Rochester's School Without Walls is a member. This Regents-approved alternative model, requires small school populations, a student-centered curriculum with standards that exceed the Regents and Common Core, performance-based assessment vs. high-stakes standardized tests, strong teacher training for inquiry-based teaching an democratic decision-making. (See Performance Standards Consortium research.)
- Focusing on personalized vs. standardized standards, thereby following the research tenants that honor individualized learning styles, student interest and needs, as well as the professional judgment of teachers. Students would also, no longer be compared to each other or to other school populations. (See Consortium and Eight Year Study research.)
These changes would not be easy to achieve, but would completely revolutionize the system, since corporate and political interests would no longer be driving education policy and practices.
Perhaps a first step for moving in this diection would be to vote for those BOE candidates in the September primary who would support these efforts, rather than "more-of-the-same." Who are they??
Dan Drmacich, Chairman
Coltion for Justice in Education, and
former School Without Walls Principal
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