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Links of the Day:

– The second installment of the Democrat and Chronicle‘s look at an all-boys school rightly questions whether sex segregation is the key to the school’s initial signs of success. The assistant principal’s love for the boys seems to be a giant factor:

“We suffer when we declare victory too soon,” (Superintendent Appointee Bolgen) Vargas said. “In this district we are great at coming up with ideas, but we don’t always execute them with fidelity. You have to be careful that you understand that meaningful results will be shown over time.”

Yet while Vargas said Green’s program has potential, whether it can be replicated seems to hinge on another question: Does the model work without Burnice Green at its helm?

“There are certain skills and attitudes and behaviors that are critical in certain positions,” said school board member Melisza Campos, who does leadership training with Dale Carnegie Training. “You have to make sure that the right person is in the position.”

That’s why it’s not wise to use this series as proof the single-sex education works. (The editorial page is already declaring victory.) Correlation does not equal causation. This program has not been in existence long enough to show meaningful results. On a broader scale, studies show sex segregation is inneffective and may be harmful. While School #9 is encouraged by its experiment, other Rochester schools have adopted single-sex classrooms without much thought or planning. I know several teachers from various schools who say it’s been a disaster in their classrooms.

The stories were most powerful when discussing the heartbreaking family situations of the students. They don’t need single-sex ed. They may need psychologists – and a lot of love.

– Buffalo schools are considering funneling failing 16-year-olds into a GED program. These are the kinds of kids who are 16 years old in 8th grade. This is very controversial:

District officials say that it beats the alternative, since most are destined to become high school dropouts.

“This is an attempt to gauge if someone is about to walk out the door with nothing and to give some literacy skills and prevent a far more dire situation,” interim Superintendent Amber M. Dixon said. “What does life look like without a diploma? We’re trying to give a real alternative pathway for these students.”

Others say that these troubled students are the ones most in need of the full support of the district with traditional high school, rather than a stripped-down GED education.

As well, the skeptics think this “alternative pathway” might be a way for the district to eventually manipulate its low graduation rate, if more and more troubled students take advantage of it.


Critics also wonder whether this new policy is simply a matter of the district giving up on kids they have been unable to reach.

– Hundreds of prisoners have escaped from New Jersey’s massive halfway houses. Some went on to commit heinous crimes. No one really cared. Until now, thanks to the New York Times‘ stunning investigation.

– How to tell if your city is dying. (Rochester has some, but not all, of these characteristics.)

– Is Rochester hot sauce – the kind with meat – a Rochester thing? Many people have weighed in on my Facebook page. On a related note, I tried what could be a new invention: a garbage plate pizza. Called the Matthews Pizza, it’s available at Matthews East End Grill. You may have to ask for it if it’s not a nightly special. The hot sauce serves as the base. It’s topped with hamburger meat and fries. I think it go great with hot sauce for dipping and a scoop of mac salad.

5 Responses to Where’s the Evidence?

  1. Absolutely right Rachel! Unfortunately we live in a culture with a short attention span. Next year if there is even a little hiccup, people will be declaring the program an absolute failure. I know the knee-jerk response is to blame *that* on our every faster, increasingly ubiquitous communications technology, but the problem has been around a loooooong time.

  2. June 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm lynn e responds:

    There was plenty of reasearch before the school opened that same sex education has no bearing. There is plenty of evidence that standardized testing is not a good measure of teachers and schools as well as students. People just make up what they want in this day of education. The true goal is to get rid of public schools and take public money for private use. As for Buffalo, there is about 100 years worth of reasearch on retention of students. One year of rentention makes it more likely to drop out. Two years is much more likely and three years is a foregone

  3. June 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm lynn e responds:

    Buffalo shouldn’t have 16 year olds in 8th grade period. They will never finish school at this point and drop out in 9th grade. A Ged program is appropriate at this time but Buffalo should be barred from retaining kids in the future. Depending on their individual needs, these kids should have been referred for special education, Esol programs, or something else. The standards movement has set these kids up for failure too as they will never compare to suburban kids who are the “standard “. The Ged program doesn’t allow people to take the test younger than 18 but at least the kids won’t have to face daily humiliation every day.

  4. June 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm Reggie Henderson responds:

    1st topic: single sex classrooms: The lesson learned here might be that it’s possible that for a very effective administrator/teacher team, some flexibility can be produce good results.
    2nd topic: 16 year olds in 8th grade. I agree with Lynn E, furthermore, do you really expect to attract good parents to send their kids to schools with 16 year olds in the 8th grade?

  5. June 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    after 32 year with the RCSD this is the only time a supertenint told the truth.

    We suffer when we declare victory too soon,” (Superintendent Appointee Bolgen) Vargas said. “In this district we are great at coming up with ideas, but we don’t always execute them with fidelity.

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