This news article is really weird. The author asked a very important question (via the article's Headline), but then he apparently forgot to write the correct story, that is, the content of the story does not correlate with the headline (AT ALL). It is very important to ask about logic regarding the so-called "extended-day," which Vargas has been touting as part of the "solution" for addressing very old, widespread, massive, academic failure within the RCSD, i.e., the idea of (according to Vargas) creating additional opportunities for students to have more "time-on-task," which really is an amazingly flawed idea and strategy, especially when considering that, under current school-day--schedules, hundreds upon hundreds of teachers are chronically absent. If, as Teachers' Union President Adam Urbanski was quoted as having said: "Everything being piled on teachers right now has created such an atmosphere of stress and anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed, that some teachers need the time off just to regroup" --- then what exactly does Vargas expect will happen when the school-day is extended? Also, considering that (under existing time schedules) thousand upon thousands of students, many of whom are among the most needy relative to additional time-on-task, are currently missing huge amounts of school, what exactly does Vargas believe will happen under a longer school day? It is time for [Vargas] to go back to the drawing board, either that, or it is completely predictable, and certain that lots of money and time will be spent on a fundamentally flawed idea, which cannot possibly result in significant academic improvement. Another thing, which is very weird about the article, and others by the particular author, is that he continuously quotes suburban parents, such as "Carrie Remis," and I keep asking who do these, much-quoted, white, upper-middle class, suburbanite, parents represent?
"How the survey will be used is vague."
OF COURSE IT'S "VAGUE." SUCH MEANINGLESS EFFORTS ARE ALWAYS VAGUE, TO TELL THE TRUTH, THIS REPRESENTS A MUCH-REPEATED EXERCISE IN FUTILITY, AND NEVER, EVER AMOUNTS TO ANYTHING OF SUBSTANCE. IT'S A GAME THAT DISTRICT OFFICIALS PLAY, TO PRETEND THAT THEY CARE ABOUT WHAT PARENTS THINK AND WANT, WHICH IS ONE REASON WHY THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF PARENTS ARE WISE ENOUGH NOT TO EVEN WASTE THEIR TIME PARTICIPATING.
LET'S DO OUR OWN SURVEY, I.E., PLEASE INDICATE WHETHER YOU AGREE WITH THE FOLLOWING OR NOT: HUGE NUMBERS OF "parents have complained bitterly over the years that their attempts to become involved are thwarted by school officials or teachers. The district’s interest in parental involvement has been a passive-aggressive game, they say — honest feedback isn’t welcomed."
Indeed Joe Klein helped bring former RCSD Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard to Rochester. Joe had a plan then. He has one now (although in my humble, but informed view, it's a very, very bad plan, and even dangerous in some ways), at least he has a one, which raises the critically important question: WHAT IS THE ROCHESTER BOARD OF EDUCATION AND THE CURRENT SUPERINTENDENT'S PLAN? They don't appear to have one, which is a big part of the reason why people like Joe Klein can so easily implement theirs. Bold, courageous, unbought, unbossed, committed leadership is clearly a big part of what's missing in the Rochester City School District.
I think that a recent statement made by Mr. Aaron Wicks regarding this article is critically important, and in fact classic, i.e.,
"It would be refreshing to have some discussion about precisely what kind of serious damage to our community would be done by talking about race during a campaign. We already know the damage from not talking about: clear disparities between whites and people of color in virtually ever measure of social well-being. THAT is serious damage. If one is concerned that feelings might get hurt or old wounds might be reopened -- or, heaven for fend, some yelling and naughty words get uttered -- perhaps that might be the type of damage we can endure to prevent the damage we have been perpetrating on ourselves for generations. Alas, the dark editorial supplies no indications of the serious damage that such a campaign would cause. It simply takes it as a given."
Without seeing fully-developed, complete, clear details regarding this proposed idea, I would not automatically support, nor oppose the concept of teacher-led schools. However, the article below raises a number of critically important questions.
For example, if teachers, rather than "central office administration and principals" will run schools --- then does that mean some of the very high-priced positions that "principals [and especially] central office administrators" currently hold will be eliminated? And if not, then what (exact, specific) type of "new" duties will the freed-up principals and central office administrators perform?
It is also critically important for us to categorically, unequivocally reject the notion that "we have tried everything else [to improve city schools]." In addition to the idea that's proposed here, there are many, many other things that we have NOT tried. For example, we have not tried developing systemic / systematic (as opposed to piecemeal) pedagogical mechanisms and approaches that focus (with laser like precision) on early literacy-development (reading, writing, math at or above grade level all along the K-12-way) beginning in kindergarten, which is especially important, since we know that so many of our students enter the system (right from the very beginning) lagging far, far below social and academic developmental-levels that they should be at upon entering school.
We also have not tried development and implementation of serious, effective, required, staff education / development, which also needs to be focused with laser-like precision on doing everything necessary and possible to ensure that administrators, teachers, and support staff gain in-depth knowledge, understanding, and genuine appreciation of the collective, historical experiences and cultures of the majority of those whom they teach. I want to be crystal-clear on this point. What I am saying, and what we know is that, with regard to knowledge, understanding, and certainly genuine appreciation (since people are not likely to appreciate anything that that have little or no knowledge or understanding of), there is a definite historical / cultural divide between the majority of Rochester City School District teachers and administrators in particular, and the majority of black, and other students of color, whom they teach. We also know that acquisition/ development of knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the collective-historical-experiences and cultures of one's students, is an important aspect of effective pedagogy.
Thirdly, we have not tried supporting development of serious, systematic, focused, and at least to some degree, independent mechanisms aimed at helping to organize and engage Rochester City School District parents in decision-making processes (at every level of the education system). The latter point is connected to one of the strangest parts of the article below, i.e., the article does not mention parents at all. Supposedly,according to the content, one of the outcomes of teacher-led schools is "greater collaboration between teachers and students." What about greater collaboration between teachers and those who are ultimately responsible for students, i.e., parents? We know (without any doubt what-so-ever) that when teachers, and educators in general, and parents build positive and meaningful relationships, the chances that students will be successful are significantly increased. Thus, if the idea discussed in this article represents another of those cases in which top-level RCSD administrators and union representatives plan to use a strictly (ala-All-City-High, bi-lateral approach) in the process of developing the proposed initiative, and not including parents, other than a few hand-picked "representatives" who usually have no real or concrete connections to the masses of parents --- then I would oppose the idea on those grounds alone. We are way beyond the days in which administrators and union leaders should be making bilateral decisions about the lives and futures of our children without serious, substantial, parent involvement, especially since we know (without any doubt what-so-ever) that such involvement matters greatly.
Additionally, the following quote is most interesting "After a close examination of 11 teacher-led schools, Farris-Berg and her co-author found that autonomy can lead to greater accountability, Farris-Berg said." What's so interesting about it is that there are no details offered regarding the "11 teacher-led schools," which were "examined" --- not even their names.
Also, based on what I have read and heard about her, Dr. Deborah Meier is knowledgeable about urban education. However, I'm not so sure that (if this idea comes to fruition) she should be the only one (exclusively) "working with teachers and schools interested in developing a proposal for teacher-led schools in Rochester." As far as I know, Dr. Meier does not operate in accordance with African centered perspectives and approaches, which is, as noted above, very, very important. However there are many very knowledgeable scholars in the field of urban education who do possess outstanding African centric perspectives and expertise --- such as New York Sate Regent Emeritus, Dr Adelaide Sanford, Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Dr. Molefi Asante, Dr. Maulana Karenga, and so many more.
Lastly, no matter who is hired for this task, it is vitally important to lay out (in plain public view) right from the start, the total costs, and exactly what the costs are suppose to produce (in specific, fine, details). The last thing we need is another well-intended, super-expensive experiment that produces nothing at all.
All Comments »
Website powered by Foundation