Let’s Call It What It Is

On September 27, 2011 Tiffany Lankes wrote, 924 students have not reported to school this year. Of those, 230 were in grades K-6 with the remaining numbers from the “high school” grades. The report states categorically, “All of them were in school last year.

Nearly 700 young men and women are refusing to go to school this year and Superintendent Vargas is asking why. Maybe it is because last year they were in high school and this year they were forced, against their will, back into elementary school. The district is willing to offer these students “special” programs but is totally unwilling to rethink their decision to return 7th and 8th grades to the elementary level regardless of student, parent, and community opposition to that decision.

Is it possible that this community is looking at a massive protest by our youth against the forced regression to a level of education that did little to serve them originally? Are we seeing Rochester’s young men and women stand up against the oppressive, dictatorial, decision making of the Rochester City School District?

Whether organized or happenstance, the fact that 700 students have refused to attend school this year as opposed to last year should tell district officials that the problem is not the programs they offer but the failure they promote. In one year 700 young men and women chose to ignore the institution that has ignored them.

In the 2009-2010 school year, 135 students dropped out. In 2008-09, 123 failed to complete high school. One hundred forty-four students dropped out in 07-08, 101 in 06-07, and 230 in 05-06, for a total of 733 students in five years.

This community cannot continue to ignore the devastating effects our school leaders are having on the children of our district. The youth of this city is crying out for adult support and we are failing to stand up for them so they are standing up for themselves.

The question now becomes, “Are we going to support our young men and women or are we going to continue to support the district leaders who have failed them?”

This educational carnage must stop!

Vote for change.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

To Err Is Human, To Change Devine

On Tuesday, October 4th, 7:00PM there will be a screening of “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for “Superman” at the Cinema Theater on South Clinton Avenue. This film was produced by New York City teachers to promote real education reform in our nation’s public schools.

In a very real way, those who step up to take leading roles in our society are our superheros. They assume roles that the common man and woman would rather not tackle due to the responsibilities involved. For this they should be commended.

Superheros always have a foe and never, ever, win the battle, but are miserably beaten by their nemesis until they are once again strengthened by the support of their loved ones. With strength renewed, the superhero returns to face the villain and win the war.

The superhero genre tells us that the villains who fight against honor are not truly evil, just misguided, jaded by the inability to, themselves, break free of the feeling of ineptitude sustained by continuous failure. We are not to hate the scoundrel, but understand that he is us, unchecked by moral values.

Currently, the arch enemy of truth, justice, and the American way has taken over our system of education, made hostages of our children’s future, and threatened the success of our society. The time has come for us to work together to defeat the consciousness that has allowed us to revere the evil that seeks to destroy us and fight, once again, for our freedom.

We must realize that we are the superheros and begin to work together to defeat the foe of failure. There is no time to waste looking up to the sky and pointing fingers. We must be strengthened by the love of and for our children, return to the struggle, and win back our schools.

These are perilous times when ignorance prevails. Knowledge is the power needed to win this war. We must call upon the superhero within and defeat the failure that has been defeating us.

It is time to act.

Vote for change.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Ignorant vs Intellectual Racism

Several decades ago the Klu Klux Klan produced and marketed, in the Black community, a golden crown car air freshener. After realizing a sizable profit, they exposed their ruse as a testament to the greed and ignorance of African Americans. This is a classic example of ignorant racism.

Ignorant racism seeks to deride and disparage other cultures due to an underlying lack of confidence and pride in self. Ignorant racism is physically dangerous since bullying is the only means by which it is asserted.

Several hundred years ago wealthy Americans began to deliberately “dumb down” America under the guise of “Outcome Based Education.” Though many worked diligently to expose this ruse, the wealthy were successful in maintaining the anonymity of their plan while profiting billions. This is intellectual racism.

When speaking of institutionalized racism, we cannot be fooled into conjuring up pictures of the KKK and lynchings. The racism that our children face is no longer that overt and is much more heinous.

Intellectual racism produces the ignorance which maintains the hatred of the lessor and keeps us fighting amongst ourselves while ignoring the influence of intellectual racism on educational failure.

In 1995 CEO, the Center for Equal Opportunity was formed. While it is hard to argue with their mission statement, “those coming to America must become Americans” a closer look reveals this as the battle cry of the wealthy.

Linda Chavez, founder of CEO believes that standardized testing is “a way to level the playing field for students of ability to overcome whatever social or economic disadvantages they might have had when applying to elite schools.” She doesn’t mention that elite schools discriminate against less than wealthy students.

The only way to “level the playing field” is to ignore the “color of money” in education. Our current Board is unable to recognize this fact as it supports inequitable, inefficient, and ineffective “plans” for our district. We must take off our blinders and see that our children have been reduced to a dollar sign with failure being the profit margin.

Vote for change!

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

It Doesn’t Take A Genius

Albert Einstein said, “You can not solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must see the world anew.”

Benjamin Franklin said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Two of the greatest thinkers in history can not be wrong.

This country is struggling to survive educationally. Those who seek to control the power would maintain the ignorance of the masses so that they, the masses, remain unaware of their plight thereby succumbing to it instead of rebelling against it.

In plain English, we’re being played!

The purpose of a free education was to properly educate those who could not afford to pay to be educated. The purpose of a public education was to become an enlightened society that recognizes and eradicates the evils of ignorance.

Today, in order for a child to get a semi-decent education they have to win a lottery, or live in a “good” neighborhood, or have affluent parents, or attend a charter school? This contradicts the very concept of a free and public education.

Slavery was an institution that taught the wealthy a great deal about the human consciousness. They realized that if you meet the basic needs of an individual they will be content in their ignorance and not rebel against the system that enslaves them. The worst thing a slave owner could do was educate the slave and bring them into the understanding that they were enslaved.

We have been taught that the institution of slavery no longer exists. It does! It has existed since the dawn of man and will continue to exist until we recognize that knowledge is its only prevention.

Standardized tests have made ignorance a standard. Training children to the work force instead of educating them to their greatness has weakened us as a country. The only hope we have is to find strength in one another and together, begin to fight back against our captors. Knowledge is power!

A new Board, and new beginning!

Vote for change!

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

The Torture Never Stops – Until We Vote

Another search firm, another $100,000, another superintendent, or another Board? The November election seems to be the only way to stop the madness that has consumed the current sitting members of the Board of Education.

The Board insists on ignoring the public voice by continuing to spend tens of millions of dollars retrofitting schools to accommodate a K-8 grade structure the community has opposed. If we must spend this money, it can be utilized to create an equitable portfolio of schools in each zone giving all of our children an opportunity for success. This money can also be used to equalize technology throughout the district so that all of our children are able to reach beyond the classroom to the world through the internet.

Commissioner Campos would have us believe that we have to reduce our “footprint” due to low enrollment. Our enrollment is low because there is a mass exodus to charter schools by parents wanting a better education for their children. The solution to this problem should not be closing schools. The solution must be to create a successful system of public education so that charter schools would not be necessary.

While $100,000 out of a $7 million dollar budget might seem a mere pittance, $100,000 could pay for teachers, paraprofessionals, lunch aids, security guards, maintenance workers, or bus drivers. A search firm has nothing to do with the excellent education of our children to which every dollar this district spends should be tied.

It seems that this Board is doing everything it can to provide mayoral control proponents the fodder they need to plant the seed of discontent for an electoral process that continues to support failure.

Our only recourse is to prove to this business based band of bullies that we will vote to remove the current sitting Board and replace it with one who will listen to the people, work with the people, and make decisions that will facilitate the educational success of our children.

We must work together, as a community, and vote to end the madness that currently drives our district.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

If It Quacks Like A Duck

Less than six months ago parents, students, teachers, and community members expressed their lack of confidence in then Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard. Through a series of bizarre events, Brizard left the RCSD in May to become the CEO of Chicago’s school system.

When the community coalesced to express their lack of confidence in Superintendent Brizard, it was not the individual but his “plan” for our schools that created the fervor of discontent. It was believed that the plan left with the man.

Dr. Bolgen Vargus was appointed Interim Superintendent and parents, students, teachers, and community members began to work with him to shape a new plan. Dr. Vargus told the community that he was appointed to enforce existing contracts and policies.

It soon became evident that there was to be no new plan. The School Board had directed Vargas to carry out the “Brizard” plan regardless of what the larger school community wanted. And, therein lies the disconnect.

This community has been told, by Board members, “If you don’t like the job we’re doing, vote us out.” We have given the current Board every opportunity to listen to our voice and begin to shape a school district that will facilitate the educational success of our children. We have yet to be heard. In fact, we have been ignored so often that we have become disenfranchised from a system that would consistently fail to successfully educate our children.

This community came together and let the Board know that we do “NOT” like the job they are doing. Their response, “We’re doing it anyway!” The Board has made it very clear that they are going to do as they wish as long as they are in office. Now it is up to us to take their advise and vote them out. If they won’t do what we want, we must do what they say.

We must change our Board in order to change our results.

We’ve given them the benefit of the doubt, now it’s time to vote them out.

Vote for change!

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Those Were The Days

Not long ago teachers were able to assess the needs of their students by asking them questions about the material taught. If the student was able to answer the questions correctly most of the time, in all subject areas, the student was deemed capable to move on to the next level of learning.

Midterms and finals were administered to determine which students were “on track” and which students needed remedial attention. If a student did not master the information at his or her grade level, that grade level was repeated until proficiency was accomplished. Parents were kept abreast of their child’s progress with a simple, easy to read, report card that let them know whether they should reward or reprove that progress.

At a time when the district is “crying” broke it is spending millions on district wide, school specific assessment tools. The district sends out a list of assessments from which individual schools can “pick their poison”. These tracking tools are said to be invaluable because they provide teachers with a picture of the progress their students make throughout the year by assessing students at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year.

Teachers are being told that these assessments are “teacher friendly” since they only take minutes to administer and once the data is correlated a plethora of nifty charts and graphs are generated for each student.

Parents should be outraged that the district has adopted measures that will test instead of teach their child. Teachers should be outraged by the insulting premise that these minute assessments can tell more about a students needs than the interpersonal student/teacher relationship. Community members should be outraged that their tax dollars are being spent to increase testing company profits instead of employing vital school personnel.

It is time that this community come together and put a stop to the outrageous decisions being made by our school board leaders. We must move together to change the system of education from being profitable for testing companies to being successful for children.

Vote for change!

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!