Maureen--The poverty argument cuts both ways. As a mom in both the RCSD and a high-performing district, I would add that systems behave differently depending on the social capital of the families they serve. Parent calls are more likely to be returned in a district where parents have economic and political power, etc..
When Dr. Urbanski compared RCSD teachers to Webster teachers, he forgot to mention 2 very important differences in the teacher pipeline of these two districts, both of which are a result of the local collective bargaining agreements he negotiated, not state statute or regs:
(1) Like large urban districts across the country, RCSD has a complex and cumbersome seniority transfer process. While suburban districts are posting jobs and interviewing for new teachers in the spring, the RCSD is waist-high in paperwork about senior teachers bumping junior ones. By the time the RCSD finalizes the transfers and posts their new jobs, the suburban districts have had first pick at the strongest applicants in the new teacher pool.
(2) Once hired, tenure is generally a higher bar in high-performing districts. Before the new APPR, an independent audit found that 65% of first year teachers in RCSD were never observed and that the tenure panel granted tenure for time-served, without any substantive review. In contrast, high-performing districts will often coach ineffective teachers to leave or refuse tenure.
Partnerships with higher ed institutions and orgs like College Board was a central plank of the Brizard agenda. All of those partnerships have died, not because of lack of interest on the partners' part, but because of lack of will on the administration's part to actually do things differently.
Tough talk from Vargas. But at the end of the day, he's been unwilling to negotiate contracts that put students first. And to be clear, the autonomy that he claims to want is possible under the current contract. He, nor the RTA has exercised it.
No matter the rhetoric, there is just as much churn in this administration as in others, but a lot less reform.
"And Slaughter said that Richards has made great strides putting women and minorities to work."
I certainly hope that this paper does some investigative reporting on these rosy claims. So far, the Rochester media has left Richards--and now Slaughter-- off the hook for their vague claims that more women and minorities have gotten jobs under Richards. Time to verify City--voters need the truth. From my perspective AS A WOMAN, this is just campaign bluster from the old guard. Look at Richards' own cabinet for god's sake--pretty white and male, no? Of course, the grammar police commenting here would like us to ignore any substantive discussion about jobs. Perhaps next, they will lead readers in a critique of Warren's fashion and hair?
Warren, White, Jacques and even City News itself yesterday (below) have raised serious concerns about corporate welfare. $1.7 billion--that's with a 'B'--is great for the developers, but how many jobs were created for Roc residents where unemployment is the highest in the state? Surely the grammar police think that tax payers have a right to know what their grants, tax abatements and financing got them? Oh right: those mythical jobs. Any unicorns?
The "innovation" that Urbanski claims to want has been possible for more than a decade under the Living Contract provision of the RTA contract and the school-based planning team policy, no further governance change is legitimately warranted. (Unless the goal is more power for the RTA.) Under the Living Contract, teachers at any school can vote to waive provisions of the contract to make it more flexible, innovative, or student-centered, they just haven't done it. The School-based planning Policy gives schools unprecedented autonomy and teachers and parents decision-making rights . (These aren't advisory bodies, they are deliberative.) Few, if any, of these SBPTs have used this authority to build "community schools" or otherwise innovate, even though they've always had the power to do so. We should all be skeptical of Urbanski's latest "innovation" idea that is frankly, nothing more than a power grab disguised as reform. The latest in a long list of his Trojan horses.
Vargas' remedy of "conversion charters" is equally empty, but also gives the allusion of change, the latest in a long line of Superintendent "reformy" moves. The only substantive change that conversion charters will bring is to governance: the school-based planning team will be replaced with a board that may or may not include parents and teachers. Same contracts, same work rules. (Charters in name only.) The public should also be skeptical of Vargas' new calls for school autonomy given that he dismantled the student-based budgeting, the "gold standard" in practices to support school autonomy. He also appears to be unwilling to take full advantage of the new state teacher evaluation law to make staffing decisions based on effectiveness, rather than seniority, another key principle of school autonomy.
In either case, parents will be relinquishing their decision-making rights and getting very little, if anything in return. Let's hope they do their homework and don't buy the snake oil that either is peddling.
Parents should be cautious of the charter conversion option. Converted charters are not 'real' charters: they have the same contracts and work rules as the district schools. Charters in name only.
All Comments »
Website powered by Foundation