A correction, as I re read the Arbitrator's decision, it was DANA Eischen, not David.
Either Urbanski has a failing memory, or a severe change of heart, or most likely he thinks we have forgotten that he was the very architect of the concept of "Receivership" in the RCSD? Or has he forgotten I'm the "Last Man Standing" that was a victim of his 1989 'Franklin Receivership?" In 1989 Urbanski and then Superintendent McWalters orchestrated and implemented a race-based plan to remove the majority of "troublesome" white teachers and replace them wholesale with black teachers after the teachers revolted following two years of mismanagement, horrendous treatment, race baiting and down right bizarre behavior by Kay McClenon Royster (an uncertified, unlicensed Principal with virtually "0" teaching or administrative experience, who coincidentally was the Wife of McWalters' PhD. Advisor at the UofR). After leaving Rochester McClendon-Royster had the honor of being fired for incompetency in a series Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent jobs nationwide, earning her the #1 ranking on a now defunct website titled "Carpetbagging Administrators:Passing the trash from coast to coast." It was called the "Franklin Receivership" and white teachers (and this was McWalters' deposition testimony under oath in a Federal Civil Rights case) went through a three round farce of an interview process before being rejected, while black teachers were simply asked to "raise their hand" before replacing their white colleagues. White teachers were told by Urbanski and McWalters that if they were not chosen that they were to never reapply to return to Franklin, as they would never be allowed to return, I, of course, ignored the directive. Five of us (each an elected RTA Representative) filed several class action grievances that Urbanski promised to "expedite." Two and a half years later, and only after Urbanski ordered the racial staffing grievances removed from the list, the remaining grievances went to arbitration. Imagine our shock to hear RCSD witness after witness, from the head of the Parent group all the way up to and including McWalters himself testify that the initial plan, the time frame, all the specifics and every detail was in fact Urbanski's idea. Of course when it was time for the RTA to rebut, Mike Harren, the RTA attorney refused to put Urbanski on the stand, despite our outrage and protests, informing us that RTA lawyers "did not represent teachers", rather they represented the RTA as a union and would not put Urbanski on the stand because "it was not in the best interest of the union!" Arbitrator Daniel Eischen ruled the entire "Receivership" was illegal and non contractual and ordered every teacher "impacted" returned. Urbanski tried to avoid following this ruling and order maintaining that I was the only teacher to return, because Eischen had further ruled that the RTA and RCSD had conspired and taken additional steps to remove me and had therefore essentially violated my rights. According to the RTA, being involuntarily transferred on the basis of race did not impact a teacher! So I ask you, is it a change of heart, a failing memory, or a mistaken belief that no one was still around to remind teachers and the public of Dr. Urbanski's real bekiefs concerning "Receiverships?"
Why would he care? He avoids teachers like the plague. travels the world on our dime, has zero job responsibilities and hasn't taught in the City in over three decades. He's like a groundhog who only pops his head out of his burrow when he senses a publicity opportunity.
OOPs, caught two typos, I meant to say Kudos to Armando Ramirez and it should be 31 years and counting!
If the Board of Education were to not reward Dr. Vargas with a new contract would be a major disservice to both the RCSD and to the community we serve. I have known and worked with Dr. Vargas for decades in the past in his role as both as an educator and community leader and in the present in his role as Superintendent. I have always known him to be intelligent, charming and truly concerned with the people he both knows and serves.
Has his leadership of the RCSD been perfect? Of course not. He has made a few missteps along the way. His refusal to close the “Rubber room” serves as an embarrassment and a point of real anger among all levels of staff within the RCSD, from service employee to teachers and administrators. He has appointed some truly dreadful, incompetent and I would say down right hateful people to positions of authority. He has clearly alienated many members of ASAR to the point of open revolt (wait until next week…). And at times not sought the advice or guidance of veteran staff members (and I include myself among them), or always acted on it when given. But this is to be expected, he cannot be expected to listen to everyone every time, and he must be free to make his own decisions based on a wide range of advice. Whether he accepts and acts on the advice provided by me or any other staff or community member is not important, as long as the decisions he makes in the end prove to be made with trust and well-reasoned thought.
But let’s be clear, issues such as these are inherent in the leadership of any large organization. Dr. Vargas has been far and away the most visible Superintendent we’ve had since Peter McWalters almost three decades ago. It is not unusual to find Dr. Vargas outside your door and walking the hallways speaking with teachers, students and administrators, often without warning the building administration. This is a huge change from the last half dozen Superintendents. Now if he could just leave his entourage of RCSD Legal reps and others who often try to run interference and steer him away from people or conversations they do not want him to hear. His presence in the buildings builds confidence within the staff.
While his actions have angered many within the Administrative ranks (ranks that are by all reports include many hundreds of redundant, unnecessary staff), a great many of these Administrators are failed Principals or other high level staff who have proven to be incompetent, ineffective , vindictive and are in fact, redundant. Of course they resist his policies, in many cases they are trying to protect their jobs and “turf”, when in fact they should have been terminated years ago due to either incompetency or redundancy. Employment is the Board’s domain, and they must support Dr. Vargas by removing some of these impediments by addressing these employment issues.
Graduation rates have indeed increased, and many of the policies put in place by Dr. Vargas are directly responsible. All City HS is a case in point. It has been extremely successful due in no small part to the Administration (kudos to Mr. Vargas, Mr. Baldino and Ms. Hart) appointed by Dr. Vargas and the teaching and support staff appointed to the building. Unfortunate downsizing due to building location reassignment threatens some of that success at All City, however the separation and isolation of NorthStar and LyncX from All City is a much needed change.
The CTE changes promised and now being implemented by Dr. Vargas hold a great deal of promise for the future of our students. We finally have a Superintendent who sees the need to prepare our students for a job environment that demands greater and greater technical and vocational skills. With the caveat that Dr. Vargas hasn’t fully supported the process by allowing certain questionably certified staff to remain, potentially a huge roadblock to the success and accreditation of the programs, especially at Edison. He has been made aware of the names, and hopefully he will find a way to rectify the situation.
I do fear that the new (lack of) “Discipline Policy” in the RCSD as approved by the Board will further undermine the improvements made over the past few years under Dr. Vargas’ leadership, but again, that will be a fault of the Board, not Dr. Vargas.
Dr. Vargas has expressed his desire and commitment to remain in the RCSD and to continue to serve the community despite receiving more financially rewarding offers. We share that commitment, as both of us have reached the age of retirement (or in my case, long passed it) and have chosen to remain at our jobs. I trust Dr. Vargas’s sincerity in this commitment. He remains a true asset to the RCSD and to our community and I hope the Board recognizes his value and grants him a new contact at the expiration of the current contract.
RCSD for 21 years and counting!
One word: Poutine
The same logic that has been in place (and failing miserably) for decades. If a child fails Math, give him two Math classes at the same time, If he fails these, make him go to summer school and then assign him two additional classes. None of which addresses the root problems, and results in the inability to take classes that might better suit the child's abilities and interests, such as Art, Technology and other "elective" courses. I can't tell you how many times I have been called to the office to explain my "poor attendance keeping records" because I was showing 100% or at least regular attendance for a child that was showing in school records as absent from school or missing classes. Only to walk the administrator to class and point out the student happily present and learning. The students would simply skip the classes they were failing and attend the classes they were successful and happy in. At the same time I would constantly hear from Math and English teachers that a student couldn't do basic math or write a coherent sentence, only to show the same student using applied algebraic skills to solve a hands-on technical problem and write the required lab write up. There are solutions, and there are failed practices. Extending a school day to address the issue of truancy is ridiculous. They already, by their absence, have told you what they think about attending school at all, never mind for a longer day!
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