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).
As you may recall, our past two issues have included a detailed analysis of the many negative impacts that high-stakes standardized testing has on the education of our young people. Building on his previous writing, CETF parent-member Howard Eagle explains some of the ways in which the recent school board resolution on standardized testing (and its accompanying hype) falls short of actually addressing the issue (p. 4). Mr. Eagle warns us not to accept symbolism as substance, posing the critical question very few seem to be asking now that the resolution has passed: what’s next?
Next, Mark Friedman describes some of the challenges we face as a community (and a nation) against the attacks on our democratic right to elect those who represent us. Relating his experience networking with Chicago-based education activists—many of whom face the same challenges we face here in Rochester—Mr. Friedman points to the ongoing effort in Chicago to move away from Mayoral Control and back to a democratically elected school board (p. 5), yet makes the critical observation that a “democratic” process alone will not solve our problems, as we know all to well here in Rochester.
Finally, while we prefer to have our newsletter consist of original, locally focused writing, sometimes we come across a piece that is just so on-point and in line with our own local efforts that we just have to include it. On October 4th, 2012, an article appeared on huffingtonpost.com written by anti-bias activist, educator, and consultant Michaela Pommells, entitled “Education Reform is Impossible Without Addressing Racism”. In it, Ms. Pommells describes in precise detail what’s so often missing from the mainstream debates about “what’s wrong” in education. We’ve included her writing here (p. 6).
We want to be crystal clear in stating that the problems within the RCSD do not exist in a bubble—that is, there is a larger context within which the RCSD is only one element. Education, however, is central to our struggle because we have seen what its failure has done (and is doing) to our young people—our future. If we are going to act, we must do it with the utmost speed and sincerity, because if we continue down the current path, we will lose another generation of young people to the streets and prisons. Our young people can’t wait, and neither can we.
We are an action-oriented organization, but we also know that one of the most important aspects of our work is keeping the Rochester community informed, for history has demonstrated time and again the “power of the pen” in liberation struggle. So please look for new editions of this newsletter in the same place you found this one; we will have them available and distributed every month. If you can’t find a copy, just let us know, and we will get one to you. We are 100% committed to this struggle, and can only hope that through our words and actions, we will move you to get involved in whatever capacity you are able.
The struggle continues…
Community Education Task Force
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