Keep On With The Force – Don’t Stop ‘Till We Get ‘Em Out

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it and to institute new Government . . .” This is a quote from the Declarations of Independence.

Outside of the incumbents there are five candidates for School Board, Mary Adams, Howard Eagle, Mia Hodgins, Wallace Smith, and Glenny Williams. The web addresses listed link to information about each of these candidates.

We can no longer ignore the truth staring us in the face. Our children are failing. Our country is breaking apart. There is no question that one is inextricably linked to the other. Even as the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

If we have any hope of saving our country, we must come together, join forces, unite, to push back against those who would continue to support the educational failure of our children.

Knowledge is power and for too long our children have been denied the knowledge that has made ours a powerful nation. America was, and must be again, a government of the people, not of the rich. Our aspirations must not be toward becoming one of the 1%. We must aspire to empower the 99% so that we will not fail in our responsibility to maintain the rights and freedoms guaranteed us by the Constitution of these United States.

If the message sounds urgent, it is. We are looking at a time in our history when the rich have become so arrogant that they flaunt their undeserved power in the faces of those they seek to subjugate.

Elected officials say “No” to jobs. They refuse to tax the wealthy. Universal health care is debated, disputed, and all but dismissed.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. We must, in Rochester, take that first step by exerting our Constitutional right to vote into being, a new system of education for our children.

Make your voice heard.

Vote for change.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

The Die Has Been Cast

The die has been cast” was the response of Robert Freeman, chairman of the state’s Committee on Open Government, when notified of the Board’s posting of the superintendent position by Ray and Associates Inc. This community was assured that Resolution 282 was only giving the Board the ability to hire a search firm, not to actually hire one.

It was an accident, it was an oversight, it was a mistake. These are the reasons the Board is giving for their actions. The posting couldn’t have happened unless a contract was signed. If that happened accidentally then we need to take a second look at our Legal department.

Leaving several stakeholder groups out of an integral part of an important process is more than an oversight. This was nothing more than a placating move to quiet the community, especially in light of the fact that the search firm had already been hired.

President Evans, at the Beechwood Neighborhood Association candidate forum stated, categorically, that Superintendent Vargas, according to his contract, could not apply for the superintendent position.

Once is a mistake, twice may be an oversight, but three times is just plain lying. And, since these decisions must have majority vote approval, it is questionable whether we can trust any sitting member of the Board.

This community must now demand that the current Board make no more decisions concerning the oversight of our district until New York State Education Commissioner Dr. John B. King Jr. is contacted and involved.

In the past three years the Rochester City School District has undergone a tremendous upheaval due to the unanimous decision by the Board to hire and support Jean-Claude Brizard. Every initiative was advanced, regardless of stakeholder concerns. The plans left behind are still being pushed through by Interim Superintendent Vargas.

Our efforts have slowed the process but the machine is still moving. We must stop it now. Use the link to file a complaint Write Commissioner King: New York State Education Department 89 Washington Avenue Albany, New York 12234. And, most importantly, vote for change.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Meanwhile, Back At The Schools

PTA, PTO, School Based Planning Teams, School Parent Liaisons, District Parent Council, United Parent Community Organization, Rochester Parents’ Union, Board Committee Parent Liaison, Parent and Community Coalition for Educational Change, Rochester Adequate Funding Parents Facebook Group, and the Advisory Search Committee with parent representation. These groups represent the many ways parents can take part in the system of education for their child. Parents also have the right to advocate individually and volunteer at their child’s school.

These and various other methods of advocacy have been in place for “more than a 100 years.” Parental support, family support, child support, with all these support systems in place how is it that our children continue to fail educationally?

So much emphasis is being placed on what adults must have, do, experience, know, believe, and feel that by the time the needs of adults are met, the children become lost in the fray. While adults are meeting night after night, children are failing, day after day.

Yes, the intentions are noble, but as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said, “Hell is full of good intentions” and our children are in living hell.

Nearly 700 children this year have decided that school is not their best option. This district packs 22 to 25 Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, and Second grade children in a class when research says there should be no more than 10 to 15. They’re returning 7th and 8th grades to the elementary level with no supporting research while our schools are dramatically understaffed, underfunded, and out of date.

Money is not the problem, poverty, racism, lack parental involvement are not the problem, lack of education is the problem. Unfortunately, lack of education creates all these other overwhelming situations so that the concentration of effort is on attacking the symptoms rather than curing the disease.

As a community, we have the opportunity to redirect our efforts toward solving the real problem, the mis-education of our children, by electing a new Board and hiring an effective superintendent. It’s time to focus on curing the disease so that the symptoms will recede.

Vote for change.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Another Battle Won, The War Continues

The School Board, who was adamant about hiring a search firm, has quickly and quietly, formed an “ad hoc advisory Superintendent Search Committee” comprised of parents, business leaders and politicians. Unfortunately, there was no mention of the many, many, community members who have been working tirelessly to “watchdog” the Board to make sure they are doing their due diligence in responding to the voice of the people.

However, looking at the positive side of the coin, another victory has been won by those very same concerned parents, students, and community members. The Board has conceded to the voice of the people.

Now, more than ever, it is necessary to build bridges between the Board Committee Parent Liaisons and the community so that effective communication and dissemination of information can be achieved. We cannot allow this to become a covert process that seeks to divide and conquer our power.

We have trusted parent representation on the committee and we must rely on their integrity and support them with the strength and power of our unity. The parent representatives on the committee must know and believe that this community is with them, they are not alone, so that their voice can be strong in the process.

We’ve been allowed in the room. Now we must make our presence known. We cannot afford to waste time arguing over who is in and who is not. That energy is better spent connecting to those who are in and making sure they carry the voice of their constituents into the room with them.

We must respect Ms. McKinsey-Mabry, Ms. Victoria Robertson, Mr. Giancarlo Giannini, and Mr. Jacobs and regard them as allies in our struggle to achieve our purpose, the creation of a successful system of education for our children. We must appreciate their position and support them.

Their burden is a heavy one. They will be out-manned, 5-4, and there is no doubt that the five will try to intimidate the four unless the five know that the four come with an army of thousands behind them.

This is the Movement that will Save Our Children!

Wed. (10/26/11) RCSD Parent Council Candidates’ forum @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm ___ Monroe Community College (Damon City Campus, Room 4151), 228 East Main Street, Sibley Building

Where Is The Love

The Candidates Forum, at the Third Presbyterian Church hosted School Board hopefuls Mary Adams, Howard Eagle, Willa Powell, and Wallace Smith. Commissioner White was in the audience and came to the candidates expressing concerns about their ability to work cooperatively with the remaining members of the Board once they are elected. Mr. Smith answered best stating, “If we don’t, as adults, demonstrate leadership, from the top, so that our children can model their behavior after our leadership then we have missed the boat.”

Another serious issue brought to the candidates concerned the new “Refugee School” at Jefferson High. The students and parents of the school are totally against the alienation they experience when attending the school but feel they have no voice in the matter. They contacted Board members and Interim Superintendent Vargas to speak with them about the segregation of the immigrant population at the school and received no response. These and other immigrant students throughout the district are being bullied and harassed because of their cultural differences and feel powerless in their situation.

Discipline has never been the strong suit of public schooling. Instead of correcting abhorrent behavior, public schooling has excused it and then classified it, making it acceptable and profitable. Bullying in our nation has reached epidemic proportions because we’ve equated discipline with abuse and now our children have become abusive because they are undisciplined.

One of the primary goals of early childhood education must be to to teach self-discipline, self-control, self-reliance, self-determination, and self-respect. These are not State tested goals but they are necessary to effect a safe state of humanity. The foundation of every child begins with teaching the human being to be human in their being. Without awareness of brotherhood, kindness, love, and respect for self and others, we are simply animalistic in nature.

Our children deserve Board members and a superintendent who understand that respect is a learned behavior and it is learned by example. We must elect and appoint those leaders who exhibit caring and concern for children first.

Vote for change.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

What It Is, What It Should Be

This weekend, President Bill Clinton spoke at the University of Rochester during the school’s Meliora Weekend. In his address President Clinton said that real education reform was the key to solving America’s problems.

Across the district, teachers are being required to complete a “Goals” form from which they will be evaluated. This may seem like a noble effort, giving teachers input into their evaluation, however it is merely another veil placed in front of the real issues precipitating educational failure.

“A bigger source of structural inequity [in education] is that many young people never get the skills to compete. They’re just left behind. This is where inequality starts,” said Kathleen McCartney, the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.”

Schooling after the second grade plays only a minor role in creating or reducing gaps,” Heckman argues in an important article this year in American Educator. “It is imperative to change the way we look at education. We should invest in the foundation of school readiness from birth to age 5.” (Quoted from the blog, “On the Ground” by Nicholas D. Kristof)

While the State and the district are concentrated on teacher performance, they are neglecting the most important indicator of student success, early childhood education.

Instead of lowering class size and grade configuration at the elementary level, this district proposes just the opposite. The Board’s concern is raising the graduation rate when research shows that students who are performing below grade level in second grade will likely be incarcerated as adults.

The restructuring of School #5 has placed Pre-K classes in the sub-basement of the school, while 7th and 8th grade classes are on the top floor.

We can not continue to make decisions that are contrary to our children’s educational success. It is evident that the current Board is unable to recognize and implement relevant problem solving measures that will insure the educational success of our children.

As a community, we must do our due diligence and use our vote to change our system of education.

Vote for change.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Committment to Committees

The Policy and Finance Committees met last night with full agendas. Commissioner Cruz, Chair of the Policy Committee and Commissioner Campos were in attendance with the Parent Liaison Vicki Robertson arriving late.

Items on the agenda included: Parent Involvement Policy, Gladys Pedraza-Burgos presenting, on the language and intent of the Parent Council and their governance. The measurement of parent involvement in student success; The parent forum on health education in schools; Kim Urbach, Nurse Practitioner, School Based Health Center, East High School addressed the Committee concerning condom distribution in schools; A proposal regarding the Transportation Policy; The Teacher Tenure process; The Code of Conduct, specifically, Bullying; Eligibility for extra-curricular activities; Practical services contract and policy.

Chair for the Finance Committee meeting was Commissioner Cruz with Commissioner White and Parent Liaison Mr. Giannini in attendance. The agenda for the Finance Committee included; A review of the 2011 Financial Report; The Available Funds Report; The Minority-Women’s Business Construction Project’s Report; Facilities and Informational Technology; Discussion topics – Analysis of Student Activity Funds, Fixed Asset Inventory, and the Fund Balance Policy.

The Board took an important step initiating the Parent Liaison piece into committee meetings. Now the next step, building bridges between those liaisons and the community and the District Parent Council must be taken. Once those bridges have been constructed, the voice of the liaisons must be recognized and included in the decision making process of the committees. The process need not be slow but must be well thought out.

As the new budget year arrives, many of the previous year’s pitfalls could be avoided should the community have relevant input in the beginning of the process instead of no input in the end. This is part of Mr. Giannini’s hope for his position as Parent Liaison on the Finance Committee.

In order for the community to become and remain aware of the workings of the School Board, there must be a commitment by Board members, parents, and community members to work together, respectfully and cohesively, to listen to the voices of all the stakeholders in the educational process.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!