Conversation: The informal exchange of ideas by spoken words.
Collaboration: Working together to achieve a goal.
Throughout the school year parents, students, and community members have been invited to “coffee and conversation” with the superintendent. This seemed a great idea, especially after a very difficult two years with a superintendent who did not connect well with any of these stakeholder groups.
Parents, students, teachers, and community members attended these informal meetings with the intent of bringing important issues regarding their experiences in the process of education to the attention of the superintendent. Others attended to ask questions, resolve conflicts, get information, and gain an understanding of how the system works and what the process is.
Questions were not answered, conflicts were not resolved, information was not provided and very few left with a clearer understanding of the system or its process.
Given the circumstances of his appointment, one must wonder if Superintendent Vargas was hired as a public relations specialist rather than an educational leader.
He has worked with the union to quiet the teachers. He has met with parents to dispel their fears. He has worked with community groups to diminish their concerns. And, he has held monthly “coffee and conversation” meetings, in the morning and in the evening to accommodate everyone’s schedule.
What we have not seen from the superintendent is a clear and definite plan to create long term sustainable progress towards educational success for our children.
This community has been working for years to assemble a list of the problems we face in the Rochester City School District along with several viable solutions to those problems. The Board and the superintendent’s they have chosen to lead the district have yet to consider and appreciate the talent and work involved in the creation of those solutions.
We don’t need a public relations specialist, our children deserve a superintendent who is willing to recognize the intellectual property at his disposal and use it to secure a successful education for the population the district serves.
Collaboration is more effective than conversation.
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