A New Year – A New Way

As we come to the end of 2013, we also see the beginning of the end of the district’s five year plan, presented in December 2009.

Strategic goals Overview
To clearly define our path and frame our agenda, we have established five goals:
We will ensure that each of our students is academically prepared to succeed in college, life, and the global economy.
We will create safe, engaging, and nurturing
school environments that enable student success.
We will recruit, develop, and retain highly effective, diverse people dedicated to student success.
We will use world-class operational standards and practices to continuously improve how we support student success.
We will create a culture in which we hold ourselves accountable for student success.

This was an admirable five year plan with excellent goals for its mission. Unfortunately, the plan met with failure and now something else must be done to effect success for our children.

We know what works. We know what an excellent education looks like for the wealthy. It doesn’t seem to cost more. In fact it is cost effective with positive returns on immediate and future investments.

Why is our Board of School Commissioners so reluctant to make the changes necessary to promote student success within the district?

It is time to stand together, parents, teachers, students, and community to demand that ALL of our children receive a child-centered, developmentally appropriate, Arts based, experiential education that prepares students to become positive, respectful, productive, and engaged citizens who can think critically and solve problems peacefully in their personal and public lives.

Our children don’t need a Common Core curriculum, they don’t need a standardized testing system, they don’t need APPR or AYP.

Our children deserve an excellent education whose focus is on discovering, developing, and directing the gifts and talents of all children.

There are only seven months before the start of another school year. We must demand that our educational leaders begin to effect the changes necessary to start the 2014-15 school year in the direction of success.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

More Un-Accountability

On January 2, 2014, there will be an “organizational meeting” held by the Board of Education.

The Items to be discussed and voted upon:

Resolution No. 2013-14:397
Gary Smith, concomitant with and distinct from his appointment as Director of Procurement & Supply…be and hereby is reappointed as Purchasing Agent…(No salary adjustment is noted)

Resolution No. 2013-14:398
Deborah Battle-Manns, be and hereby is appointed…as Claims Auditor for the Board of Education…(No salary noted)

Resolution No. 2013-14:399
William Ansbrow, concomitant with and distinct from his Superintendent’s Employee Group District appointment as Chief Financial Officer…be and hereby is appointed to certify payrolls of the Rochester City School District directly and through assistants…(2013 reported salary $83,655)

Resolution No. 2013-14:400
Cerri Cupples, concomitant with and distinct from her duty as Director of Accounting, be and hereby is reappointed…as treasurer of extracurricular activity funds…(2013 reported salary &92,480)

There are eight other resolutions.

The most interesting resolution to be introduced and voted upon is Resolution No. 2013-14:408
Resolved, that the Board of Education of the Rochester City School District hereby establishes the following as standard work days for elected officials and will report the following days worked to the New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System based on the record of activities maintained and submitted by these officials to the clerk of this body:

According to the schedule, Board Commissioners are to work 6 hours a day 14 days out of the month or 84 hours a month or 21 hours a week.

Who is keeping track of all these hours? The State who is currently not holding districts accountable for the efficient and timely submission of required paper work.

Board members are not being held responsible for their district management duties, now there is one more measure of accountability to be maintained. How does this translate into student achievement?

Our educational leaders must be held accountable at all times. Hours on the job do not translate into efficient and effective work produced.

Our children deserve educational leaders who will do whatever work needs to be done to secure their educational success, regardless of the number of hours involved.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Nothing New Under The Sun

“We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Michelle Alexander.

In her book “The New Jim Crow” Michelle Alexander describes how the wealthy use fear to control the masses and money in America.

As an institution, quite a lot was learned from the early years of slavery.
When you control an entire population of people they will, regardless of their differences, work together to free themselves from that control.

However, when you instill fear of control by an unknown foe, you can use the differences between and among people as a method of control that serves the same purpose, to keep the wealthy, wealthy and the poor, poor.

Mis-education is key in maintaining the “fear factor” that motivates the class system in America.

During slavery poor whites, in nearly the same condition as slaves, were made to fear Blacks by being told that they were in danger of losing their land, possessions and station in life should slavery end.

During the industrial revolution, Whites were convinced that Blacks would take their jobs, invade their neighborhoods, and destroy their way of life.

Today “they” (the wealthy) are saying more legislation is necessary to keep “them” (the poor) in check. In order to be safe and secure, zero tolerance laws are necessary which means more social programs, jails, rehabilitation centers, welfare. These things cost money therefore more taxes must be collected.

More taxes means either more working people or fewer working people making more money.

Fewer people making more money are more easily controlled by the fear of being poor. That is the purpose of “growing the Middle class” by reducing the ranks of the wealthy while increasing the level of poverty from the “middle class” pool.

Education is the key to equality.

When we provide ALL children with an excellent education that concentrates on the gifts and talents of every child, we will create a world where people are more important than things, where love is more valuable than money, and Jim Crow is just a name.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

The Expectation Factor

In Chapter 10 of “The Rules of Persuasion” published by Westside Toastmasters, For Public Speaking and Leadership Education, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe writes, “The Rule of expectations uses expectations to influence reality and create results. Individuals tend to make decisions based on how others expect them to perform. As a result, people fulfill those expectations whether positive or negative. Expectations have a powerful impact on those we trust and respect, but, interestingly, an even greater impact on perfect strangers. When we know someone expects something from us, we will try to satisfy him or her in order to gain respect and likability. . . “Those who believe in our ability do more than stimulate us. They create for us an atmosphere in which it becomes easier to succeed.When you create expectations, you change people’s behavior. Whenever you label specific behaviors or characteristics, the action is expected.

Currently in education we place negative labels on the actions and behaviors of children as soon as they enter the system.

We label children’s behaviors and characteristics against an artificial norm created by low expectations of children due to their parents financial and social condition.

Children who live in the inner city are considered disadvantaged because their parents are “poor” and the expected level of educational success is much lower than that of their suburban counterpart.

Conversely, children of affluent parents are expected to achieve regardless of their personal level of ability because their parents are financially successful.

Neither group of children are seen as individuals. Neither are expected to have gifts and talents of their own that give them the opportunity to overcome obstacles that might otherwise be insurmountable.

Changing education so that it concentrates on the gifts and talents of all children means changing the mindset of adults who believe in the disabilities of children rather than their abilities.

Seeing all children as gifted and talented means raising the level of expectation for educational success for all children. It means understanding that every child can achieve excellence and believe in themselves as valuable contributions to our world.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Experiential Poverty

One of the most prestigious elementary private schools in New York State is Green Vale School. Green Vale has three levels, Early Childhood: Beginnings – Young Three’s – Nursery – Pre-K – Kindergarten, Lower School: Grades 1-5, Middle School: Grades 6-9. The Early Childhood class size is capped at 8 while the Lower and Middle School classes serve 13-16 students. 90% of their graduating 9th grade students have advanced degrees.

Fifth grade students build a large, wooden sailboat that is entered in the 5th Grade Boat Race each June.

Graduating student plaques, family style lunch, Ninth Grade Trip, First Grade Tea, Class plays each year involve all students from kindergarten through ninth grade in the production of a musical, comedy or drama every single year.

“The opportunity for creativity is matched only by the sense of pride they display as they confidently perform before their peers, teachers and families. The ninth grade production is always a grand and cherished memory for students. Winter and Spring Musical Concerts and Art Shows and Community Service Projects for all ages are ongoing, each and every year of a Green Vale student’s education.”

Allendale Columbia, one of the top private schools in the Rochester area that serves students age 3 to Grade 12. It also boasts low teacher/student ratios and a wide range of experiences.

This is the child centered, experiential, developmentally appropriate, education that is offered to children whose parents can afford private education.

This is the same education that should, can, and must be provided to children in public school.

Low teacher/student ratios, not twenty-five to thirty students in a classroom.

Experiential learning, not modular, scripted lessons that are nothing more than standardized test prep.

Foundational arts programs, not “Art on a Cart” or half hour music breaks.

Opportunities to experience different aspects of life, not classroom confinement until testing is over.

Children who live in impoverished inner city areas deserve this type of education more so than the children of the elite whose parents can afford to provide positive life experiences for their children outside of school.

All children deserve an excellent education.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

The Reality Of Poverty

Poverty: The state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.

Poverty is being blamed for the educational failure of children in America.

Reducing mis-education to a problem of poverty or race is simply a distraction keeping people from realizing the real cause for the failure of our government to provide an excellent, child centered, developmentally appropriate, experiential education to all children.

The reality is, in order to maintain a class system in America there must be a socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions to be had in order to qualify for “middle class” making you better than “lower class” people while hoping to become “upper class” citizens.

The reluctance to change from a corporate based model of education where budgets determine policy is because of the inherent fear that if everyone is equal, no one is special and therefore no one is better than anyone else.

The reality is, everyone is special, no one is better than anyone else, and the corporate model is working hard to erase our human uniqueness so the gifts and talents of the human spirit can be controlled and manipulated by the wealthy and purchased by the middle class to support the lower class.

By allowing corporations to control our system of education Americans will continue to be taught that only a few people are special and the rest of us live better because of those special people who deserve to be paid an enormous amount of money for their special qualities while the rest of us eek out a middle class existence or live in poverty.

An excellent, child centered, developmentally appropriate, experiential education that concentrates on the gifts and talents of all children is the only way to be free of the oppressive notion that money should drive our society when we should be concentrating on producing well informed adults who respect themselves and others.

It is time we give all of our children the opportunity to be the best they can be regardless of poverty.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Everyone Has A Voice

Last night at the Board of Education’s monthly business meeting the choir from Pinnacle School #35 sang holiday songs before approximately thirty people which included parents, district staff, Board Members, press, and community members.

There were approximately twenty students performing.

Sadly, there was
No holiday cheer,
No cookies or punch, Santa or reindeer

No cavalcade of choirs
No decorated foyers

No drummer boys, or dancing girls
No twelve days of Christmas or dreidel twirls.

The influence of Art education was noticeably missing
The quiet in the audience heard the microphone hissing.

Four speakers approached, they spoke with conviction
As they offered their insight and learned opinion

About major concerns within the district‘s domain
Presenting solutions to the failure we maintain.

The struggle to promote a child centered, developmentally appropriate, experiential, excellent education, founded in the Arts as the inspiration of creativity and ingenuity was tested last night

Speakers, were shaken by the updated three minute recite.

We need more counselors at the elementary stage,
Understanding adults for the young adult age.

More cultural awareness for Hispanic students,
Advocating for families through Head Start recruitment.

The issue of busing was last on the list
The fact that our students are facing great risk.

But just before that
Was a speaker that asked

If we could just please
Consider the children as we proceed

They all are unique and deserve an excellent education
That discovers all of their precious gifts and talents

Don’t standardize them or you will surely find
That life is quite boring when we are all of one kind

If we just learn to respect and love one another
All of us sisters, all of us brothers

We would all succeed in enjoying life abundantly
That would be the greatest present under the tree.

As we enter the season of joy, love, and respect
Remember the children deserve, at the very least, our best

When we show them how wonderful life can be
Choosing to live with integrity

Our children are our posterity.

Let us stand up for them with pride and dignity.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!