Greetings! Thank you for checking out the newest issue of Why Students Can’t Wait, the Community Education Task Force (CETF) Newsletter. This monthly publication stands to engage the Rochester community on all aspects of the Rochester City School District (RCSD) and how parents, students, educators, and engaged community members are working to build a movement for educational change and improvement.
THIS ISSUE of Why Students Can’t Wait begins with a brief report from an ongoing local effort to educate around the pervasive issue of individual and institutional racism—specifically, that which exists in our schools. CETF member Tim Adams describes some of what’s occurred over the past 20+ weeks, and invites anyone and everyone to get involved as we work to move from discussion to much-needed action (p. 3).
From Community Education Task Force:
Statement on Plans to Hold Commissioner Mary Adams Accountable for Irresponsible and Unprofessional Behavior
*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*
Greetings! Thank you for checking out the newest issue of Why Students Can’t Wait, the Community Education Task Force Newsletter. This monthly publication stands to engage the Rochester community on all aspects of the Rochester City School District (RCSD) and how parents, students, educators, and engaged community members are working to build a movement for educational change and improvement.
THIS ISSUE of Why Students Can’t Wait builds upon our last (July) issue, elaborating on some of the systemic problems within the district, and offers various ways in which we can work together to bring about authentic education reform.
As you may have heard, #16 School—John Walton Spencer Elementary on Post Ave—will be closed for the 2012-2013 school year; its students are to be relocated to Freddie Thomas. It should be noted that the Board’s resolution fails to mention a plan for reopening the school. Bonnie Cannan starts us off by sharing some thoughts about the hasty process Continue reading…
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From The Editor
Greetings! Thank you for checking out the very first issue of Why Students Can’t Wait, the Community Education Task Force Newsletter. This monthly publication stands to engage the Rochester community on all aspects of the Rochester City School District (RCSD) and how parents, students, educators, and engaged community members are working to build a movement for educational change and improvement.
THIS ISSUE of Why Students Can’t Wait introduces some of the systemic problems within the district, and offers various ways in which we can work together to bring about authentic education reform. Mark Friedman starts us off with some critical questions and reflections on his experiences both as a teacher in the classroom and a grassroots activist in the comm-unity (p. 3). In his view, if we are going to be effective at “reclaiming reform” and lever-aging power, it is critical that we connect our professional lives to our organizing efforts.
History and Background:
With regard to qualitative and quantitative participation and input into the Rochester City School District’s (RCSD) superintendent search process, various strategic actions carried out by the Community Education Task Force (CETF), Coalition for Justice in Education (CJE), and other activists and community members (including some associated with Occupy Rochester) have successfully challenged the Rochester Board of Education around the Board’s clear, original attempt to (for the most part) omit RCSD parents, guardians, educators, and tax-paying community members from the process. This is evidenced by the fact that initially (in addition to Board of Education members) the Superintendent Search Committee was composed of a group of four appointed RCSD parents—without any consultation with the thousands whom they supposedly represent (as the result of a public confrontation with Board Commissioner Willa Powell, a 5th parent was added to the Committee); one businessman; two City of Rochester officials, and a college Dean (some of whom reportedly live outside of Rochester). Amazingly, initially, no RCSD teachers, administrators, or support staff were part of the Search Committee.
The strategic actions referenced above were based on the fact that the Rochester Board of Education has a history of selecting superintendents who have been ineffective at best—and in some cases potentially negligent—relative to providing the type of leadership necessary to build effective, broad-based, valued partnerships with parents, guardians, educators, and other community members.
Delivered to The Rochester City School District’s Superintendent Search Committee on December 3, 2011
Criteria for: “evaluating candidates for the permanent Superintendent position: unique abilities, leadership qualities and experience desired in the chief executive of the District.”
History & Introduction: The criteria listed below represent vitally important abilities, leadership qualities, and experience desired in the chief executive of the Rochester City School District (RCSD). Many of the critically important attributes (see bulleted items below) were first presented publicly at a press conference, held by the Community Education Task Force (CETF), Coalition for Justice in Education, and a wide array of allies (parents, grandparents, students, educators, activists, and other community members) at the RCSD Central Office building on April 20, 2011.
Additional attributes (also contained in bulleted items) were developed under the title “people’s criteria” on November 28th, during the second public meeting of the Superintendents Search Committee (while Search Committee members—with the exception of Rochester Board of Education Commissioner-Elect Mary Adams and RCSD teacher Yolanda Montalvo—were in “recess”). Those who participated in developing the “people’s criteria” included at least 40 RCSD parents, grandparents, students, educators, activists (including many associated with the Community Education Task Force and Occupy Rochester), and other community members. The “people’s criteria” was transcribed by Mr. James Thompson, and was emailed to all Board members on 11/30/11.
Based on information and events outlined above, and on our collective knowledge, expertise, and proven commitment to help produce widespread, permanent change and improvement within the RCSD — we (CETF) are unequivocally convinced that the ideal candidate for the position of permanent Superintendent of the RCSD:
possesses demonstrated ability and skills that are necessary in order to build consensus with parents, educators, labor, and the broader Rochester community.
is accessible, with demonstrated ability and skills to work in partnership with diverse groups of urban parents. Meaningful, ongoing parent and community engagement, involvement and input must be a valuable (as measured by concrete evidence) part of a democratic partnership in decision-making within the District.
represents (equitably) the needs of all RCSD students and families, and subscribes to democrat principles, as opposed to corporate agendas and mayoral control ideologies.
recognizes that the affects of poverty is at the core of student performance-problems and issues, and addresses that issue head-on.
has demonstrated integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness.
cannot be bought by big business, as borne out by relationships in the past.
is opposed to corporate-driven, education agendas and mayoral control ideologies.
is preferably from the Greater Rochester area.
will create authentic mechanisms for parent and community engagement and involvement in decision-making at every level of the education system.
allows teachers to teach and motivate youth, rather than to be shackled by standardized testing requirements. S(he) will fight at state and federal levels for local control.
is willing to advocate and collaboratively develop alternative education programs, in order to best meet the needs of diverse, high-needs RCSD students in particular.
will explore and collaboratively create assessment tools that extend beyond the sole use of quantitative standardized test scores, in favor of qualitative, broader assessment tools.
has a history and record of recommending and successfully implementing meaningful change through concrete, demonstrable relationships with grassroots community organizations.
is comfortable with, and has a record of developing socially just and democratic learning environments, as well as advancing culturally relevant curricula.
can provide lists of grassroots, parent and community-based groups or organizations that s(he) has worked with and built long-standing, positive relationships with; can articulate the nature of such relationships, and explain/demonstrate how and why they were valued and respected.
can articulate and demonstrate clear understanding of, and commitment to addressing the historical and ongoing impact of institutionalized racism and sexism within the District — by constantly and consistently creating, promoting and/or supporting adequate and appropriate professional development, and other activities, events, policies, practices, procedures, etc., that are designed to address these issues in meaningful (to students, parents/families and educators) and measurable ways.
Since the Superintendent Search Committee claims to need “help from the community to identify unique abilities, leadership qualities, and experience desired in the chief executive of the District,” we believe that certain criteria should be non-negotiable. A concrete example is criteria captured in the first bullet above, which states:
“is an experienced master teacher, with extensive instructional knowledge and a keen understanding of instructional practice and research-based education reform practices and methodologies.”
Written by Dan Drmacich
Matt Miles, an organization health expert, explains that “power equalization” is the ability of any individual to influence anyone else in an organization and feel valued.
In a school district, it would refer to students, parents, teachers, civil service personnel, administrators, the superintendent and school board feeling positive about their ability to influence each other. This concept is extremely desirable, but often absent in many organizations, including the Rochester School District.
sIt was the reason why several school board candidates and the Parent and Community Coalition for Education Change protested the school board’s intention to authorize the hiring of a consulting firm to search for Rochester’s next superintendent. Specifically, the board:
Called the meeting without adequately notifying the Rochester community, thereby violating New York state’s open meeting policy.
Would have agreed to pay the consulting firm, Ray and Associates, $40,000 or more.
Would be using a consulting firm that is recommended by the Eli Broad Foundation, a conservative, corporate-oriented, education reform group that has supported profit-making charter schools, mayoral control of schools, standardized testing for student and teacher accountability, and “top-down” decision making.
On behalf of the Community Education Task Force Slate for Rochester Board of Education; Community Education Task Force; Parent and Community Coalition for Educational Change; United Parent/Community Organization; Coalition for Justice In Education; Green Party of Monroe County; Take Back The Land; Rochester Indymedia; Social Welfare Action Alliance; Rochester Parents Union; Metro Justice; Rochester Adequate Funding Parents Facebook Group, we would like to thank all of you who came out on October 18th and stood with us in opposing wasteful spending by the Rochester Board of Education.
As a reminder of how powerful our collective image and message are (even though mainstream media attempted to downplay and ignore it), see Indymedia’s coverage at the following links:
Our next step regarding ongoing efforts to stop the Board from wasting taxpayers money by hiring an expensive search firm to help find candidates for the position of permanent superintendent, includes attending the October 27th Rochester Board of Education meeting, and speaking out against their plan to spend anywhere between $40,000 and $140, 000 or more (in the process of needlessly employing a search firm).The Board’s October 27th meeting will be held at the RCSD’s Central Office Building (131 West Broad Street). We plan to set up a picket-line outside the building at 5:30 pm, and we’ll go inside to speak at 6:00 pm. We hope that you will be willing and able to join us, and we ask that you please help spread the word.
Written by Jose Cruz
The selection of a permanent Rochester schools superintendent is one of the most important decisions the Board of Education will make.
The school board has committed to a robust community process in the selection of a permanent superintendent and we are committed to engaging all stakeholders in the process.
The board will appoint a community-wide selection committee consisting of members of the various sectors of our community — parents, City Hall, higher education and business partners will all be at the table as we seek to name a permanent superintendent who will work in concert with the board and the community in improving academic achievement and preparing students for the 21st Century. We anticipate having this committee in place before the end of October.
To gather information on criteria for a permanent superintendent, we will also have community-wide conversations in each of the school district’s three zones. These forums will give citizens the opportunity to share their thoughts on the qualities and characteristics they would like to see in a superintendent; the information gathered will be used in the crafting of the position description and the creation of a profile. A community-wide survey will also be launched. This will serve as yet another avenue for input on the criteria that we will be using in evaluating candidates. Focus groups with stakeholders will also be an important part of the process as we seek to touch every part of the community in our deliberations.