A Little Child Shall Lead Them

13 Year Old Jada Williams Persecuted by the Rochester City School District

While this may be surprising to some, it is indicative of the ignorance that pervades the Rochester City School District. Nathanial Rochester School #3, Superintendent Vargas, and the Board of Education should have been proud that this young lady participated in the event and won such a prestigious award. All should have been proud that this district helped produce such an eloquent and thoughtful student.

With this event, it has become perfectly clear that the intent of this district and its leaders is not a successful education for our children. Critical thinking, bold, insightful, students is not the goal.

In watching the video, there is nothing more to say except: Stay strong Jada, stay true to your beliefs, we believe in you, we support you! You are an inspiration to us all!

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Rigorous or Rigor Mortis

Rigorous: Extremely thorough, exhaustive, or accurate, very strict.

Rigor mortis (Latin meaning “stiffness of death”) is one of the recognizable signs of death.

The buzz word in education today is rigor. While teacher evaluation is exhaustive and strictly administered, it is not extremely thorough or accurate when determining what students have learned.

Standardized testing is one of the recognizable signs of death in learning. Death in the interest in learning, the excitement of learning, death in the joy of learning. It is also one of the recognizable signs of death in teaching.

“Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Education Commissioner John King, and New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi today announced a groundbreaking agreement on a new statewide evaluation system that will make New York State a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement.”

– 60 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on rigorous and nationally recognized measures of teacher performance.
– 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on student academic achievement, with 20 percent from state testing and 20 percent from a list of three testing options including state tests, third party assessments/tests approved by the SED and locally developed tests that will be subject to SED review and approval.

The Scale:
Ineffective: 0 – 64
Developing: 65 – 74
Effective: 75 – 90
Highly Effective: 91 – 100

What are the “rigorous” measures of teacher performance? Who will develop the local tests? What are the consequences for a teacher receiving an ineffective score? What about the “curve” that can move an ineffective teacher to developing? What are the implications for a seasoned teacher who receives a “developing” score?

The most important question in all of this “rigor” is, “How exactly will any of this help children learn?” There is nothing in this groundbreaking agreement that translates into student achievement. Teacher evaluation is a band-aid on a gaping wound that is causing the educational death of our children.

Our children deserve a better system of education that is flexible enough to meet their individual needs and challenging enough to keep rigor mortis from setting in.

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By Any Means Necessary

Currently there are three major issues facing this community with regards to our relevant input into the decision making process, the search for superintendent, All City High School, and the most recent, Rochester’s School Construction program.

It is easy to become disconnected in trying to work to solve these problems. However, without this community working together there would be no superintendent search committee, All City High would be an adopted program, and women and minorities would be used to fill quotas without the benefit of receiving employment. The only way we will achieve success is by working together and supporting one another in whatever plan of action is proposed to bring about change in the system of education for our children.

The question was asked, if a parent wants to become involved in the fight for true systemic change in education, what group or groups could they join?

First and foremost, parents can participate in their school’s PTO/PTA as the first line of defense.

Alliance for a Quality Education (AQE) is a statewide group with a local chapter at 167 Flanders St., Community Advocates for Educational Excellence (CAFEE) meets twice a month on Saturdays at 101 S. Plymouth Ave. from 10:00Am to 12Pm, Community Education Task Force (CETF) meets Tuesday evenings, 5:30PM at St. Stephen’s Church, 350 Chili Ave., Coalition for Justice in Education (CJE) generally meets once a month, 4pm at School Without Walls, Parent and Community Coalition for Educational Change meets once a month on Mondays, 5:30PM at 30 N. Union St., in the Lilac Room, and Rochester Parents United meets Mondays, 6:30PM at 76 N. Union St. It is also important that parents and community members attend the various committee meetings of the Board whose schedules are announced on the district website.

It is crucial to remember that this community, working together, supporting one another, was able to change the dynamic of the School Board with the election of Commissioner Mary Adams. We can, working together, supporting one another, change the system of education for all of our children.

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What They Offer Is Not What You Get

Board Policy 6750 – VENDOR RELATIONS states:
The Board of Education shall not permit the unlawful discrimination against African-American, Hispanic-American and women business enterprises in relation to the procurement of goods and services by the district. The Board has established the Rochester City School District Minority/Women Business Enterprise Program for Public Works (“the Program”) which is designed to end such discrimination and remedy its effects.

Because of this policy, vendors bidding for a contract with the Rochester City School District must meet certain guidelines. Currently, any construction trade union bidding on district contracts must meet a 20% African/Hispanic American male quota and a 6.9% female quota.

The Rochester’s School Construction Jobs & Training program, funded by the Rochester School Modernization Program, will take place solely for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements necessary for those trade unions to bid on contracts for Phase I of the FMP.

There are two very important aspects of this program that must be made clear. One, this is a training program only, there are no jobs connected to it. And, while the training is free, those accepted are not paid participants. Applicants will not be able to choose their field but will be told for which training they are best suited.

The second important aspect of this program is that applicants are not guaranteed work. While the program hopes to receive five to six hundred applications, it is unclear as to the number of participants that will actually be accepted. Acceptance relies on the number of openings available in each trade. As well, once trained, though a certificate is received, this simply makes trainees eligible for apprenticeships in the trades but does not guarantee them actual work. They will however be counted as a union member thereby making the trade unions in compliance with district policy.

Without the proper measures of accountability, trade unions can bid on district contracts without actually employing women and minorities. We must make sure this does not happen.

Creating opportunities for adults is great, creating opportunities for our children would be greater.

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Conspiracy, But More Than A Theory

How can a large urban district continually fail to educate more than half of its students for nearly half a century?

Superintendents were hired, experts in their field, paid an enormous amount of money and their best plans were closing and renaming schools, shuffling students, and changing curriculum. Unfortunately, no matter how many times they tried this, schools still failed.

It was time to break away from the status quo, especially since right down the road from many failing public schools were successful private schools. It was not hard to convince the general public that this was the answer. Public school is a failure, schools must be private in order to succeed.

What do private schools have that public schools do not? Their budgets are much lower, they pay their teachers much less, their instructional materials are not as up-to-date. So, the reason for their success must be because there is no union. Once again, not difficult to convince the public that teacher unions are the reason public schools are failing.

Though this is a very simplistic overview of the educational insanity that exists, it is not total fantasy. We become convinced that a building or books or tests or grade levels educate children. We become convinced that teachers aren’t teaching because they’re holding out for more money. Year after year of failure has allowed us to believe the expert lie spun to explain the educational failure of our country until the truth has become conspiracy theory.

The truth is schools don’t fail children do. The truth is that we are failing to properly educate our children because it is profitable to do so. The more a district fails the more money it receives. Politicians have based their political careers on the education issue. Education is no longer about children and creating a better society. Mis-education has become the cash cow of the greedy and power hungry.

We must recognize the conspiracy and realize the truth. Education is about guiding children toward realizing their potential and using that potential to create a better world for everyone.

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Now Is The Time For All Good Men To Come To The Aid Of Our Children

In her book, “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt states, “Nothing positive can be accomplished, regardless of how much money and good will exist, unless we Americans learn again to stand on our own two feet, as individuals, . . . who accept their responsibility to be contributing participants in our constitutional republic instead of being observers in a so-called “participatory” democracy where only those who agree with the status quo will be allowed to have a voice.”

The district has made many statements that allude to interest in parent and community involvement however the process remains virtually unchecked since there is no accountability of true commitment in place.

The superintendent search process, All City High, and now the Rochester’s Schools Modernization Program, which will hold an outreach event tomorrow, from 6pm to 8pm at Wilson Foundation Academy, 200 Genesee St., are all examples of decisions that are made with minimal to no parent and community input.

As a community, we must recognize that our voice, while being acknowledged, is not being listened to and is certainly not being taken seriously. Public meetings are held because it is the law. Unfortunately there is nothing in the law that says they have to heed our suggestions. It is our responsibility to make sure that our government reflects, not rejects our voice.

If, as a community, we are willing to simply be heard, without making sure that our elected officials actually listen to and act upon our suggestions in a substantive way, then we have given up our right as change agents in and for our community. To do that is to commit ourselves and our children to a world of domination and control by those who would enslave the masses to ensure their profit.

There is a growing movement that extends across the country to push back against the impending evil that is upon us. It is time to stand up, not only for ourselves, but for our children. It is time to reclaim our power so that we may empower our children.

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All Things Considered

There is a story that is told about a tractor trailer that becomes wedged underneath a highway overpass. Expert engineers were brought in to figure out how to get the truck out from under the bridge in the most efficient way, causing the least amount of damage, at the least expense. After several hours a crowd began to form. The experts however, were at a loss as to how to solve the problem. A young child standing with his mother, watching the scene with a great deal of interest, called one of the engineers over and asked if he could help. The engineer smiled and thought to himself, “Isn’t that cute, this young man thinks he can solve this problem when a whole team of experts cannot.” But, not wanting to discourage the young man the expert said, “Ok young man, what would you do?” The young boy replied simply, “Let the air out of the tires.”

When considering the myriad of problems we face in the system of education in Rochester, each individual, each group, is looking for an expert on which to rely for solutions. What individuals and groups are not considering is that these experts are being trained by the same corporations that are causing many of the problems we now face in education.

In a conference call sponsored by Parents Across America, parents from as far away as Arizona and the state of Washington spoke about the problems they are having suppressing the corporate take-over of education through mayoral control and the insurgence of Broad Institute superintendents. Comments made by the primary speakers could very well have been made by any activist leader here in Rochester.

This community came together and created a list of criteria with which to determine the selection of our next superintendent. We must remain true to our vision and not allow the illusion of expertise to overshadow the reality of the characteristics, skills and knowledge of someone who can and will actually effect educational change in our district for our children.

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