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For RCSD, governance fix isn't the answer

Having the current Rochester school board replaced by a New York Education Department-appointed group will not improve conditions or outcomes. The schools are broken far beyond what anyone can know unless they work in them.

Besides the system, there is an inspirational loss that can't be repaired by anyone or by any change made from above. Many employees in the district have never known real excellence in urban schools or have forgotten what this looks like. Our vision is blurred and no new school board, new superintendent, or any other high-level change will improve the low expectations and satisfaction with mediocrity that permeates almost every element of the Rochester City School District.

I use this analogy to explain things to people who ask me how messed up things are: A man in Maryland in 1860 has an argument with his brother, who lives in Alabama, about slavery. The Maryland man says that slaves get treated much better in the north and that the people in the South should replicate the North. Both men walk away not even realizing there is a much bigger issue being forgotten: Slavery is wrong. When we talk about improving schools, we have to look beyond the structures and systems.

Conversations around governance, funding, productivity, or other conditions will not improve outcomes. Freedom will.

Everyone is missing the point. The only real fix for us teachers, the kids, and their families is to create a path that allows us the autonomy to start and operate our own schools. Success must be driven by a passion and commitment that is founded on pride and ownership. I am not talking about community schools or any other variation that allows Central Office to have broad control. I am talking about ground-up, internally managed schools that are held accountable by those in them. Like people who own their own homes as opposed to those who rent, people who feel responsible for a place are far more likely to care about it.

If the leaders in this city really wanted to see progress, they would openly develop, promote, and support internally operated schools like the Pilot Schools in Boston. Why hasn't this been done? I firmly believe it is because those in power know that giving schools more autonomy has a direct effect on their ability to control us. Improving conditions is safe. Unleashing us is another story. New governance, old governance, it doesn't matter. We are still beating the same drum.


John Bliss is a Rochester Rochester City School teacher and founder of the Urban Choice Charter School.

Rochester needed Police Accountability Board

Kudos to Rochester Council members for moving the Police Accountability Board from concept to reality.

I have the utmost respect and admiration for those Rochester Police Department officers who walk the righteous path. With regard to the "bad apples," I say that the foxes have guarded the henhouse for long enough. This includes those supervisors and union leaders who choose to look the other way in cases of misconduct and outright criminality.

The law must apply equally to everyone. A police uniform cannot carry immunity from the legal consequences of criminal conduct.


What stigma?

... "considering there is such a stigma in exploring mental health" – from "Lexi Weege Returns to Rochester," CITY, May 17.

Considering there are so many people instructing us to say there is, it is a wonder any of us escape the instruction.

And yet we do.

And yes, you can.


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Mothers in Need of Others Donation Drive @ Rochester Youth for Christ

Mothers in Need of Others Donation Drive @ Rochester Youth for Christ

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Little in the Lot: <br>"Hearts Beat Loud" (2018) @ Little Theatre

Little in the Lot:
"Hearts Beat Loud" (2018)
@ Little Theatre

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Perry Chalk Art Festival @ Downtown Perry

Perry Chalk Art Festival @ Downtown Perry

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