In November of 2010 then Greece Central School District high school counselor Bolgen Vargas and RCSD Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard co-authored an article for Education Week titled, “Beating the Odds in Urban Schools.”
In their article, Vargas and Brizard agree that “regardless of children’s social and economic challenges, they all have the internal capacity to graduate from high school and will do so when the appropriate support to mitigate the risks they face are provided to them within the school and the communities in which they live.” The focus of their article was a study that found, “successful students experienced multiple protective factors such as caring relationships with an adult in multiple places – school, neighborhood, home, social services organizations.”
Once again this community must ask itself, was it the personality and character of Brizard that caused our lack of confidence or was it his process and programs that were objectionable? Did we disagree with who our leader was or where he was taking us?
The difference is important. If our concerns were with Brizard’s character and personality then yes, we have a very different person in Bolgen Vargas. However, if the stakeholders in this community were displeased with the process and programs of Brizard, then we may not have moved any further towards our collective goals than we were with Brizard.
To say that 51% of our students have failed and are failing because they did not encounter caring relationships with adults who had high expectations for their success is a simplistic view of the problems within the system of education with which our children are faced. It is also a slap in the face to every teacher, para-professional, counselor, secretary, nurse, cafeteria worker, maintenance worker, and volunteer that cares deeply for the children in their schools.
If Vargas and Brizard are on one accord in this belief, the RCSD community may be facing the same level of ineffective leadership but with a more charismatic demeanor.
Our children deserve a leader who understands the depth and breadth of the problems within the system of education.
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