No More Sandbagging – It’s Time To Draw The Line

Though students, parents, teachers, and student teachers all have issues with some aspect of Common Core, its implementation or enactment, the problem in not in the processes of the system, the problem is the current system of education.

The information, research, personal and anecdotal evidence, and general knowledge surrounding Common Core is creating a groundswell of opposition to standardized testing, data collection, using test scores to evaluate teachers, imposing common core practices on student teachers, and the high cost of educational failure.

Changing the test won’t improve the results, any process created by a failing system of education to evaluate teachers would work against the most successful teachers and promote those most intimidated by the punitive culture of education thereby propagating and perpetuating that culture; aligning teaching practices with the Common Core is expected, while decreasing data collection and increasing funding are irrelevant to student success.

All of these things are negotiable.

This fight is about our children!

It is time parents stand up and demand an excellent, child centered, developmentally appropriate, Arts based, experiential education that discovers, develops, and directs the gifts and talents of ALL children.

It is time teachers stand up and demand that they be able to properly educate their students by engaging their passions, passionately role modeling the excitement of learning and becoming and being a life long learner.

It is time the community stand up and demand that their tax dollars be utilized to equitably fund the educational success of All children regardless of their parents socioeconomic position or residence.

It is time we change education back to its original intent, to educate and grow leaders that will make this country a strong, powerful, righteous nation.

It is time we all stand together, and draw a line the sand that says, “We will no longer stand for the educational failure of our children.”

Our children’s future depends on our efforts to change the focus of education so that it concentrates on creating confident, self-disciplined, respectful citizens and leaders of the United States and the world.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Socially Speaking

Tonight, April 29, 2014, the Office of Parent Engagement’s Parent University is hosting a Parent to Parent event at Nathaniel Rochester Community School #3, 85 Adams St., from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. The focus, Responding vs Reacting and Social and Emotional Well Being.

The final PTECH information session is Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at Central Office in Room 3A-B from 6-7:30 PN. “Students and parents must attend an information session before applying.”

On Wednesday, April 30, 2014 from 6 PM till 8 PM at Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School, 501 Genesee St., there will be a Student Talent Showcase, hosted by the Student Leadership Congress in collaboration with Rochester Police Activities League (PAL). This event was not mentioned on the district website

There are good things happening throughout the district. The “Good News from Rochester Schools” section of the district website highlights many of them, but there is no place on the website to let the public know what RCSD student are doing.

As well, there is no place on the website for students to connect with each other, the district, or the community.

A constant concern is keeping pace with technology. Students are using their phones to connect with each other through social media yet the district has not capitalized on this trend by opening its media doors to its students.

Keeping students engaged by allowing them the opportunity to create and post their own platform on the district webpage, monitored by seniors, open to all students, and available to all schools, would give them the autonomy necessary to feel trusted and competent in their world.

Giving parents and teachers the same opportunity to freely communicate with others throughout the district about child/student concerns, successful and not-so-successful lessons, and even fundraisers for student and school events, would help to create a positive social atmosphere between and among all educational stakeholders.

Communication is essential to educational success. Sharing ideas and discussing problems is key to gaining understanding and building relationships.

District leaders have said they are listening, opening the doors to positive, effective communication through district hosted social media opportunities would be an excellent beginning.

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History Is Everyones Story

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”Frantz Fanon

Recently student Isis Ohui posted a petition on Change.org requesting, “Arne Duncan: Include a Black History course in high schools around the United States!”

In his petition Mr. Ohui writes, “I strongly believe that having Black History classes in high schools will trim down the racism in our nation because every other race will understand how Blacks have contributed to the success of America. Having Black History classes will surely increase the respect level that other races have for African-Americans.

Every student of every race has to learn about U.S. History which in majority only covers the contributions of the white man and how they shaped America up to be great. The Black man did and has done a lot to make America great, too.”

America is supposed to be a country where freedom and justice for all prevails and yet we are not providing our children with a system of education that teaches the respect for all cultures necessary to obtain that equality.

The Common Core and Standardized testing are not the problem. The problem is a system of education that demoralizes and dehumanizes our children, making them believe that a test can determine their relevance to humanity.

As a society, we must concentrate on changing our current system of education so that it discovers, develops, and directs the gifts and talents of ALL children so that our entire world will benefit from the contributions of every culture and the unique perspective each group adds to the fabric of the human experience.

Our children must know and understand that they are more important than a test score or a “middle income” salary.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

It’s The System Not The Symptoms

State testing and teacher evaluations are merely symptoms of a system that means to fail the majority of our students, forcing them into a standard that prepares them for nothing more than menial labor even after college.

Last night at the RCSD monthly business meeting parents advocated for their children by speaking out about the budget cuts to their school, forcing them to abandon the expeditionary learning style of education which has been successful for many years.

Educators advocated for a School Resource Officer to be placed at Wilson in light of the recent shooting event.

Successful schools’ budgets are cut and SRO’s denied while the Division of Teaching and Learning continues to command more than $25 million of the district budget though they have shown no significant impact on student success.

The majority of the work done by this division centers around compliance with the Common Core State Standards.

Children are being denied an expeditionary learning experience and a safe learning environment so that State Common Core Standards can be followed.

This is a symptom of the disease that is Common Core.

It is not enough to fight against the symptoms alone. As with a cold or the flu, you must also fight the cause.

Parents are coming together and raising their voice. Now we must rally around removing the cause of our children’s educational failure and begin a campaign to end Federal and State Common Core legislation.

Once that has been accomplished it will be necessary to put an end to the current dehumanizing system of education whose goal is to prepare our children for their college and career path.

We must remove the “middle class, white male” bar in education that denies all of our children the opportunity to reach their full potential as confident, strong, self-disciplined, gifted and talented, respectful, productive, human beings that are involved in creating a better world for everyone.

Common Core symptoms have made us all feel sick but it is the disease that is our current system of education that is causing our children’s failure.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Reviewing Sections 6 & 7 of the Budget

Every educational tax dollar spent by every school board in every state should answer the question, “How does this expenditure lead to student success?”

Section 6 – Administration Profiles and Budgets

Board of Education –
There are 20 FTE positions and a $1,377,497 proposed budget, an increase of $3,014.

The office of the Superintendent –
16 FTE positions are proposed, an increase of 1.5 positions and a proposed budget of $6,103,056 representing a decrease of $82,929.

Chief of Staff –
There are 4 FTE positions and a proposed budget of $751,215 a decrease of $332,130.

Administration: Management Financial and Analysis –
477.45 FTE positions are proposed, a decrease of 54.70 positions with a proposed budget of $66,599,714 a decrease of $5,727,420.

Deputy Superintendent of Administration –
There are 3 FTE positions and a proposed budget of $344,809, a decrease of $3,803.

Human Capital Initiatives –
126.45 FTE positions are proposed, a decrease of 35.30 positions with a proposed budget of $15,309,560 representing a $2,658,968 decrease.

Information Management and Technology –
85 FTE positions proposed, a decrease of 8.70 positions with a proposed budget of $12,938,123, a decrease of 1,724,910.

Operations –
164.30 position proposed, a decrease of 5.50 positions with a $25,721,421 proposed budget representing a 374,265 decrease.

School Operations –
57.50 FTE positions proposed, a decrease of 4.50 with a proposed budget of 5,672,830, a 980,113 decrease.

School Safety –
There are 29.90 FTE positions with a proposed budget of $2,553,385, a $73,032 decrease.

Youth Development and Family Services –
There are 11.30 FTE position proposed, a .70 decrease with a $2,059,586 proposed budget, an increase of $87,672.

Communications –
There are 7 FTE positions with a proposed budget of $714,912, an increase of $45,794.

Finance –
63.50 FTE positions are proposed, a 4.0 increase, with $5,542,5123 proposed budget, a $506,276 increase.

General Council –
11 FTE positions and a $1,134,562 proposed budget, a $41,124 increase.

Teaching and Learning – *Specialized Services and Academic Support are combined in this budget line.
232.5 FTE positions are proposed, an increase of 10.37 positions with a proposed budget of $25,164,142 representing a decease of $2,829,835.
Academic Support –

60.30 FTE proposed positions represent a 3.60 increase with a proposed budget of $9,597,699 representing a $3,250,345 decrease.

Specialized Services –
172.05 FTE positions, an increase of 6.77 with a proposed budget of 15,566,443, an increase of $420,510.

Section 7 – District-Wide Profiles and Budgets

Debt Service shows an increase of $7,921,555.
District-Wide Non-Program Expense was decreased $1,339,122.
Employee Benefits shows an FTE decrease of 1 position and a budget increase of $3,141,218.

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Accountability – How It’s Supposed To Work

Last night at the RCSD public budget hearings, students, parents, teachers and administrators supported BENTE members who questioned the administrative decision to decrease the number of secretaries in schools when one of their primary goals is to increase customer service.

Students, parents, teachers and BENTE members supported each other in objecting to budget cuts for Rochester’s expeditionary learning schools.

Educators advocated for administrators and civil service workers. Parents advocated for administrators and civil service workers and administrators advocated for division administrators and civil service workers. All inquiring as to why budget cuts happen most frequently at the school level and not Central Office.

A veteran educator read her resume to the Board and asked why, since she passed the civil service test for a particular position, she wasn’t told about, asked to apply for, or hired for the position filled by someone less qualified.

The Federal Register is accepting “Applications for New Awards; Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities-Leadership Consortia in Sensory Disabilities and Disabilities Associated With Intensive Service Needs.”

This application and award is to grow the number of PhD’s and administrators in the field of Special Education, not teachers for students with special education needs.

Leadership is lacking at the local, state, and federal level. Growing the number of PhD’s and cutting the number of service workers speaks to the focus of education on employing adults while failing children of our current system of education.

We have leaders in place. Hold them accountable for holding their administrators accountable, for holding principals, teachers, and parents accountable for holding children accountable for doing their individual best.

We need leaders who understand that they are role models for our children and that our children are our most valuable resource.

Our children deserve leaders who respect the value of the human spirit to overcome adversity and achieve success, regardless of needs, because their gifts and talents provide the strength, courage and self-respect necessary to face and embrace the challenges of life with a positive attitude, and problem solving skills.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Data Mining Continues Under Special Education

The Federal Register has opened a comment period on a Proposed Priority which states, “The purpose of this proposed priority is to fund a cooperative agreement to establish and operate an IDEA Data Management Center (Center) to achieve, at a minimum, the following expected outcomes:
(a) Improve States’ data management procedures and data systems architecture [1] to build data files and reports to improve States’ capacity to meet the Part B reporting requirements under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA; and
(b) improve States’ capacity to utilize their statewide longitudinal data systems [2] (SLDS) to report high-quality data under IDEA Part B required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA. The Center’s work will comply with the privacy and confidentiality protections in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and IDEA and will not provide the Department with access to child-level data.”

It continues, “There is a need to assist States in restructuring their existing, often fragmented, data systems and in aligning their data collection for students with disabilities to their data collection for the general student population in the SLDS so that States can improve the validity and reliability of the data they report to the Secretary and the public as required under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA.”

Diane Ravitch recently reported, “inBloom Closes Down Due to Parental Objections to Data Mining of Students” however, data mining has not stopped it is being gathered from a alternate source.

We must change the system of education so that excellence is the standard for a child centered, developmentally appropriate, Arts based, experiential system of education that discovers, develops, and directs the gifts and talents of ALL children, making it unnecessary to “compile data” on our children.

Success will be measured by the evolution of mankind into a society where self-respect and respect for others are valued and taught within a public school system that Constitutionally guarantees the right of every child in America to an excellent education.

The only data we need to collect is that which leads to our children’s educational success and that data already exists.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!