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RCSD LOGOToday, all heck broke loose at Northeast College Preparatory and Northwest College Preparatory high schools, which share the old Frederick Douglass High School building. (The names of those schools, which have nothing at all to do with places on a map, have always irked me.)

These schools were started in 2006 and partnered with the College Board. They have smaller enrollment, about 500 each, and higher graduation rates of around 75 percent in 2012. They were touted as places where kids beat the odds, graduate and go onto college.

Last school year, Superintendent Bolgen Vargas announced a Wegmans executive would conduct an experiment of sorts at Northeast. The school would have an extended day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Students would eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at school. They would be able to take all kinds of classes administered by community volunteers. They would get to learn yoga, or take cooking and dance classes. This intense focus was to ensure no kid was lost and the opportunity gap would be closed.

But the project didn’t work out. Parents and kids didn’t buy in. You can’t leave volunteers alone with students. The whole thing was rushed. School now ends at 3:45 p.m., according to the district website. It also appears the College Board is no longer an integral part of Northeast or Northwest.

Now the schools are battling a chaotic environment, and reports indicate today wasn’t an isolated incident. Maybe there’s still awesome work happening in this building, but enough has happened to take the shine off. We will be watching to see if the early promise has been sustained.

Something else happened today. The district announced it studied Edison Tech’s multiple schools and found them lacking. Edison was broken up into smaller schools by former superintendent Manuel Rivera 10 years ago. Less than a decade later, Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard began phasing out schools at Edison and adding others. Today’s report found all the rejiggering made no difference. Kids are not getting ready for college or anything else. The district wants to make Edison one school, with a career and technology focus. Perhaps BOCES will take over.

No discussion of school reinventions is complete without mentioning Franklin High School. Former superintendent Clifford Janey created multiple schools on the campus. They were also deemed unsuccessful and are being phased out.

Faced with terrible results, the district is not afraid of trying new things. Vargas opened All City High School and then cut its budget in half in the space of one year. The superintendent even wants to turn over some schools to colleges.

Meantime, a whole bunch of charter schools are coming to town, ready to try their own version of something new.

All of these experiments are costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

Former Mayor Tom Richards used to lament all the new programs coming and going in our schools:

“We must be dependable and stable—like adults are supposed to be. Our children must be able to depend on us. At its most fundamental level, this need for dependability—for stability—should not be overcome by some debate over educational philosophy. Or by which group of adults gets to decide which philosophy is correct. It means that we pick some fundamental programs and approaches and that we stick to them.”

Update: Here’s what RPD said happened. Took them 24 hours to respond and it’s far more detailed than what district put out there.


Links of the Day:


– It is astounding and disturbing that the state budget director had no idea so many people live in poverty in Rochester. The state seems clueless when it comes to the plight of cities.

– COMIDA does most of its work behind the scenes. When it’s time for the board to vote, decisions have already been made.

– I did an interview today with the City of Rochester’s transportation specialist about bicycle boulevards.

– The governor created a board to look into the possibility of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. That is causing speculation over the Bills’ future.

– Did the police really need to read Philip Seymour Hoffman’s diaryand then go blabbing about it?

– I LOVE this column about the ridiculous hysteria surrounding the sleepwalking man statue.

Notice any changes in Wegmans Chinese food?


Tweet of the Day:


8 Responses to On Reinventions

  1. I went to the bike boulevards meeting and asked Frisch about the Lake Avenue Road Diet. He said they’re working on a new plan that lacks the traffic calming features but will likely remake the sidewalk into a shared bicycle-pedestrian path. Which is an improvement over what’s there now, but this needs to extend down all of Lake Avenue. Plus, the high traffic speeds are still very dangerous.

  2. February 12, 2014 at 3:04 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    what?! the great RSCD special school shuffle is not working? It was all a scam what from the start. Surprise it was all started by the Gates Foundation with the best of intentions and took off from there.

    the part I like the best is Bolgan started a new High School and than cut the budget in half the first year. that is called running government more like a business. 🙂

  3. So glad Bob Duffy left Rochester for the “opportunity” to “represent” Rochester’s interests as Lt. Gov. to Cuomo and the Cabinet. We’re (for now) NY’s 3rd-largest city and 2nd largest economy. You would think the state Budget director would know that. Sadly not a surprise he doesn’t.

  4. The full story on STEM high school hasn’t been told. This is it’s graduating year and the percentage of students who are ready to graduate in four years is high. These students are being prepared for higher education. This isn’t about the students there is a hidden agenda. Some

  5. My comments….Edison was once a GREAT school. I am going back to the 60’s and 70’s. Graduates were easily offered jobs in the trades. What happened…..I don’t know. My guess is that the academic crowd decided that COLLEGE is the only way to go to improve your chances for a successful future. They discounted trades as a viable future. This, in my opinion, is a TOTAL disservice. The trades is a wonderful opportunity for anyone to experience prosperity and a sense of worth. This is what I believe is the issue. The powers to be in the academic field don’t have a clue about the real world of work and working. There is an old saying. ” those that can, DO. Those that CANT, teach. I think the results we are seeing in our students verify that saying. Edison should be controlled by the trades. It could be BOCES, it could be Unions. ( I dislike Unions, but in this case, their interests are best served by competent, skilled mechanics ). It could be staffed by retired tradesman. Anyone of these would work. I think Vargas deserves a lot of credit for bringing this to light. Who knew??? I suspect the teachers union will fight this with everything they got. This is sooooo sad.

    • I’m sorry sir but there is more to the story then just changing this school back into a trade or vocational school. I do agree that the district should offer more then just college readiness. Some students don’t want to go to college. Although there are quite a few that want to go to college.
      The district needs to offer both options a vocational education and an education that offers students a college track. If this school is torn apart once again it creates a great deal of instability for the students and the teachers. The comment those who can’t teach. Try teaching it is the hardest job in the world next to being a parent.
      Teachers have to deal with many of the issues students bring into the school that have nothing to do with education. Our students deserve to have the stability of a school and faculty that doesn’t change every four years. This constant change isn’t healthy for anyone. The entire story isn’t being shared people are just looking at what was shown on the news. It doesn’t tell the full story of the success at Edison of STEM High School.

  6. February 13, 2014 at 12:27 am Mary Myers responds:

    I remember those days when Edison was superb at sending people out to jobs. I believe several things happened to make the wheels come off there.
    • hardware to train got more expensive and changed often
    • tech teachers are hard to find – they earn more in business
    • need to be welcoming to young women

  7. ON Edison HS.

    No better example of the RCSD downfall between the 70s and 2000’s can be seen than what has happened at Edison.

    Not widely known but Edison also had difficult HS engineering (instrumentation) and Electronics programs to name a few. Many if not most of those graduates easily went on to College. I know an area Professor, IT folks, at least one VP at one of the largest area companies, CPA’s and other various types of Engineers all graduates of Edison.

    Like as noted in the book the Greatest Generation about wide ranging skill sets in the military in WW2, Edison trained a wide range of various talents from Foundry and welding to Electronics and everything in between.

    Edisons’ gone from a shining star to a dead star. And the Supers that oversaw this and the rest of the RCSD demise … won promotions and more money.

    Really, what has the school boards association and the NYS Supers organization done for education in this state? They spent our money while preforming self promotion and organizational preservation…at the expense of the taxpayer and the students.

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