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During a public hearing Thursday night, East High School Principal Anibal Soler, Jr. asked the school board to exercise civil disobedience and consider saying no to the state.

The district was given a shockingly short amount of time to come up with a plan to fix East High School. All of the options include outside management coming in or shutting the place down.

East has 1,700 students in grades 7 through 12. Seventy-seven percent are low-income. Fifteen percent speak English as a second language. Twenty percent have disabilities. The graduation rate is the same as the district average – 43 percent.

“You cannot find another urban school district in the country that is performing without some kind of filter, without some kind of way to pick kids, pick staff, do something different,” Soler told the board. “The beautiful thing about East High, we don’t do that. We take what we get. We do the best we can. We work hard every day and we’re proud of it.”

Soler implored the school board to ask the state a simple question about urban school transformations, “Show me where it’s worked.”

What would happen if the district told the state to shove it? Would the state come in and take over the school? Would the state take over the district? Would the state get better results? Would it be so much different than what’s happening now?

 

Links of the Day:

 

– Cities are building on their downtown parking lots. Buildings generate life and tax revenue.

– The path to owning the Buffalo Bills is extremely complicated.

– The key paragraph in this story is about what happens if the Medley Centre mess ends up in court. Maggie Brooks could actually force a compromise.

RAPA opposes a downtown Rochester theater.

– Editorials around the state are criticizing Cuomo for disbanding his anti-corruption commission.

– Laws prosecuting women for choices they make during pregnancycould set dangerous precedents.

Weird Press Release of Day:

 

13 Responses to What If RCSD Said NO?

  1. April 12, 2014 at 11:59 am theodore kumlander responds:

    What happens when the state takes over a public school? Well, lets go to Newark New Jersey. The state took over the whole school dist. 20 years ago and guess what?

    Nothing happened! The test scores are still low, drop out rate high and crime in the school just as bad.

    So much, for the superiority of the State.

  2. “We do the best we can”? “we’re proud of it”?
    43% graduation rate? And this gentleman is the principal?
    How can he be satisified by complete failure?
    What in the current situation works? It seems that a person who has truly dedicated themselves to teaching children would recognize that current system fails them. It seems that person would welcome a new idea, or change in plan. Instead he is “proud” of graduating 43% of the students who attend his school.
    It’s about time we admit the failure of the RCSD and its current structure and try to find a real solution.

  3. April 12, 2014 at 2:09 pm Orielly responds:

    Quite a statement and dichotomy when you read the whole story.

    “You cannot find another urban school district in the country that is performing without some kind of filter,The beautiful thing about East High, we don’t do that. We take what we get. We do the best we can. We work hard every day and we’re proud of it.”

    When the paragraph before stated “East has 1,700 students in grades 7 through 12. Seventy-seven percent are low-income. Fifteen percent speak English as a second language. Twenty percent have disabilities. The graduation rate is the same as the district average – 43 percent.”

    Maybe they DO “take” the students they are given, most public schools do… but they clearly have their excuses lined up

    “Seventy-seven percent are low-income” today that’s an excuse for not learning and teaching TODAY. 40 or more years ago, it was usually the reason so many students achieved in school. Today they are victims… the poor. Still today for some “being poor” is still a driver vs this excuse used by Schools race hustlers and teachers alike.

    Fifteen percent speak English as a second language. …
    If they went to Pittsford and graduated they would be bragged about as being “multi-lingual” “they passed 4yrs of Regents Language”. When they go to college they are bragged about as an indicator of true “Diversity”. But in the CSD this is an excuse for not educating them and for them again they are a victim.

    “Twenty percent have disabilities” – Ah have to love this one. Just what is a disability in this ranking? Can’t walk, ADD, Intellectually challenged there are a lot more. The more students a school district can put into this grouping the more of an excuse they have for poor performance. School administrators and teachers work hard to get as many kids classified having a disability as possible. Thats a goal. Apparently they are doing a good job at East in pushing this excuse.

    Yep they take what students they are given, just like any other public school district, but at East the excuses are well identified. In politics they call this identification as talking points.

    If you don’t like your customers (students) East Admin, get out of the job and let some one who can do the job… .do it.

  4. April 12, 2014 at 3:39 pm Oreillysrandianfanstasy responds:

    Yup, poverty is no excuse. I don’t care when the last time you ate was or that someone shot through your living room window yesterday, little Susie, just make sure you know how to use “context clues” and bubble all the way to the edge.

  5. Again and again and again we hear the same sorry excuses. There really is no magic formula. Remove the troublemakers and allow students that want to learn and teachers who want to teach remain. If the current principal is proud of accepting students who create an obstacle for others, than HE IS the problem. I will admit I have no sympathy for RCSD. They created this mess. They created the culture that if you want to be a troublemaker, we will coddle you and make excuses for your behavior. Let it be poverty, racism, language, hunger, drugs, children having babies, and the list goes on, whatever it is, it’s OK with us. We will provide free food, daycare for your kids, counseling on how to get government assistance for the rest of your life. Don’t worry kids, its not your fault. We will continue to plead for more money ( so that teachers and administrators can get raises and great benefits )in the hope that the teachers and administrators will work harder to help you. How about taking a 10% cut and reduce class sizes by hiring more teachers. Has that ever been considered? After all, I remember back in the 90″s when teachers got a 45% increase over three years. That was suppose to IMPROVE the RCSD by having only the finest teachers. How did that work out?

    • April 16, 2014 at 10:10 am Rachel Barnhart responds:

      RCSD teachers are not the highest paid in the county. They fall about in the middle. If you cut their pay, what teachers would be left?

  6. April 12, 2014 at 4:39 pm Brad Lavisser responds:

    Quite a statement and dichotomy when you read the whole story.

    “You cannot find another urban school district in the country that is performing without some kind of filter,The beautiful thing about East High, we don’t do that. We take what we get. We do the best we can. We work hard every day and we’re proud of it.”

    “When the paragraph before stated “East has 1,700 students in grades 7 through 12. Seventy-seven percent are low-income. Fifteen percent speak English as a second language. Twenty percent have disabilities. The graduation rate is the same as the district average – 43 percent.”

    Maybe they DO “take” the students they are given, most public schools do… but they clearly have their excuses lined up.”

    No, actually, they don’t have excuses lined up, they’re just pointing out the reality they face on a daily basis. I’m sure someone like you could step right in and show them how to get it done right?

    “Seventy-seven percent are low-income” today that’s an excuse for not learning and teaching TODAY. 40 or more years ago, it was usually the reason so many students achieved in school. Today they are victims… the poor. Still today for some “being poor” is still a driver vs this excuse used by Schools race hustlers and teachers alike.”

    Thanks for identifying yourself as a common teacher-basher.You’re one of these Limbaugh disciples who believes that teachers are just sitting around, feet on desk, collecting a paycheck. You have zero idea of how hard urban teachers work ( or all teachers for that matter ). I think you should get certified and show the lazy teachers at East how to be successful. Poverty and its effects are just an excuse right? Sure.

    This isn’t 40 years ago. Society has changed, and not for the better. I’m pretty sure that in 1974 the concentration of poverty in the city wasn’t what it is today. I’m pretty sure you had more parents who were employed, had decent paying jobs, were married…the things that bring stability. It’s not 1974 and it’s harder now. Get certified, teach in the city and get a clue.

    The effects of concentrated poverty on student achievement are well documented. I could cite many studies,but I doubt you would bother to read them.

    “Fifteen percent speak English as a second language. …
    If they went to Pittsford and graduated they would be bragged about as being “multi-lingual” “they passed 4yrs of Regents Language”. When they go to college they are bragged about as an indicator of true “Diversity”. But in the CSD this is an excuse for not educating them and for them again they are a victim.”

    Right. It’s very easy for a kid who is poor and doesn’t the speak the language to just step right in and perform at a very high level…especially when surrounded by many, many other poor kids who are also struggling.I’m sure the teachers are not working hard enough to help them.Sure!

    “Twenty percent have disabilities” – Ah have to love this one. Just what is a disability in this ranking? Can’t walk, ADD, Intellectually challenged there are a lot more. The more students a school district can put into this grouping the more of an excuse they have for poor performance. School administrators and teachers work hard to get as many kids classified having a disability as possible. Thats a goal. Apparently they are doing a good job at East in pushing this excuse.”

    Yes, let’s not classify kids who have real learning deficiencies. Let’s not assist them to get accomodations that might help them.Ignoring their problems can only help them right?

    “Yep they take what students they are given, just like any other public school district, but at East the excuses are well identified. In politics they call this identification as talking points.”

    The “customers” that Pittsford gets to work with are very different from the “customers” that East gets to work with.I doubt anyone at East is making excuses, but to deny that there is a big difference is ridiculous.

    “If you don’t like your customers (students) East Admin, get out of the job and let some one who can do the job… .do it.”

    Who Oreilly? The teachers at East are just as good as any you will find anywhere!I think you should volunteer to come address the entire staff. I’m sure they would welcome someone, like yourself, who could set them straight.

    Reply

  7. RCSD needs to get its act together, we can talk all we want about revitalizing the city but it never happen with this school system. The neighborhoods around East are the perfect example of the city’s problem. Oldest child turns 3-4, beat feet for the better performing schools in the ‘burbs. It’s time to stop grandstanding and hold their feet to the fire. RCSD is the lead collar around the city’s neck.

  8. As a high school graduate (2012) of this school, I’ve got to say go Soler. The moment he stepped in as our principal things got better. He has personally helped me with problems I had while attending. He took interest in knowing every student, which is more then I can say for others. He was thrown in from the start to a school falling apart, and he has put his best into fixing it. And as for the teachers, There was not one that wasn’t willing to go all the way to help each student achieve what they could. They would stay after and encourage, keep the kids after to offer help. Heck the school had several programs including RASA to try and encourage kids to stay late for tutoring and provided many extra-curricular activities to help keep us kids well preoccupied.

    I myself participated in some of the best programs we had; NJROTC, the Firematics course, and the optics course, of which was a new addition to the school thanks to the teachers and principal who wanted to see students thrive and aquire skills that would help us with jobs out of school. Recently they started removing these programs one by one, either due to funds or other reasons. So all of the students attempting to thrive are losing the programs that were giving them skills and even certifications to get an early start on their careers.

    That was mistake one, I for one would not have cared so much to make good grades myself without the motivation the programs I was apart of. Luckily for me these lasted through my graduation, so how do we expect the current students to feel and react? As for the 57% of students not graduating on time, I can CONFIDENTLY say this is nothing on the teachers or Principal Soler. If anything the blame should be looked at by the students upbringing, or more boldly said the parents.

    With all of the options East gave the students, from caring teachers, supportive counselors, an amazing school clinic, extra curricular’s, after school work help, what left do you have to blame on the school? But again, what can we do about home situations? Only so much without crossing boundaries.

    So what are our solutions? Rename the school? It hasn’t always worked in the past, and the same students will be back the next year, or will be filling other schools having them face the same fate.

    It is my opinion to say it is UNFAIR of anyone who did not reside within the school, to make a valid argument, because they would not have full insight. If anything, why are we not turning to the students? Is this not THEIR future we are making decisions about? Why don’t we ask them what we can do to help them thrive before we make huge changes. Conduct a school survey in which EVERY student attending fills out a questionnaire, with free form answers. There will be kids who do not try, but from what I’ve experienced the student body would be readily opinionated.

    I may not have statistics, or articles to back up my argument. But I do have experiences, all of which make me completely object to any of the changes that have been proposed. What we should do is put back the programs that initially got students into loving school.

    My opinion isn’t the most organized, but it is honest. And from what I see, the Principal and the Teachers are exceeding expectations, and should not be the first to blame. Start at the root of the problem, the lack of student motivation. If its problems starting at home, we have (or had when I attended) counselors to help provide solutions to help.

  9. Pingback: Civil Disobedience – The Next Reform? » Balloon Juice

  10. May 6, 2014 at 8:58 pm Emmy T responds:

    I am completely shocked by people who criticize urban schools… What do they think the answer is? This principal is spot on. We need more leaders in education like him. What on earth would a state takeover do? It has never worked anywhere. What are the “real solutions,” people? Charter schools? Read up on them. They “skim” the students with involved parents, and students who can’t follow the strict rules and extended school day go back to…you guessed it…places like East High. Here’s an idea: let’s take the stigma away from not graduating on time. Let’s allow students who come from poverty, who have learning disabilities, who speak a different language at home, to take 5 or 5 and a half years to graduate without the public shaming their school and their teachers! How many successful people are in careers right now who maybe needed more than 4 years to get a Bachelor’s degree? Why must every young person go through high school at the exact same pace? Some young people have finished their course requirements by junior year and take college courses. What is SO TERRIBLE about other students needing a 5th year? Or even a 6th, if God forbid, they had a child when they were 15 or their parent was murdered or they were born to a mother addicted to drugs… The fact of the matter is that urban schools have significantly more students who face these conflicts in life–and we’ve made not graduating “on time” the main way we rank schools. How about we stop?

  11. East was actually given a lot more time than people are aware of. They were made aware of this situation 3 years ago, and seemed to brush it off as if it wasn’t their problem. As usual the district looks awful, as they should. Vargas is a very nice guy, but he never had the credentials for this job. Van White seems to be a nice guy as well, but nice guys or not, they are not even close to being competent enough to run a very large school district. There is a reason why statistically this is the worst district in the state, and one of the worst in the country. I feel bad for the kids who actually want a decent education.

  12. May 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm Orielly responds:

    The answer to the problems are pretty simple. Charters and vouchers. Funny how the teachers unions are so opposed.
    Once kids can get expelled from schools rather easy then things improve. Kids that don’t want to learn, don’t have to. Put them in a room till they are 16 and let them go. Have a cop in the room so they don’t kill anyone. You can’t save them all, and today we give into to those that don’t want to do the work.

    Oh and love the Teachers Union advertisement that says every school district in the state should be approved by the voters. NOT ONE that is not justified.

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