Rochester City School District: The Path Backward



The Rochester City School District(RCSD)Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams’s silver bullet plan entitled ‘The Path Forward’ seems to be idling in neutral and remains parked where she found it in 2016.

Southwest Common Council’s (SWCC) Education Chair John Boutet describes The Path Forward as, “A bunch of consulting and staff time with the promise to deliver comprehensive data to the Board.”

To be straight forward, The Path Forward reads like a CEO's business plan for a Fortune 500 company.

The design of the Plan clearly replaces the identity and humanity of children to being integers explained through electronic data. And families are consistently disappointed with the RCSD Board’s inability to find and hire a superintendent that could change the culture of the district’s priority from data to child to child to data.

The challenges of urban public-school districts have been studied, reexamined and studied again more than a million times by consultants.

The Fortune 500 style of leadership when it comes to educating urban students is for the birds.

The RCSD doesn’t need another consultant driven central office.

It requires and needs leadership willing to devise a plan that exclusively caters to the wishes of the parents and their child. How hard is that?

The kids in the RCSD are human beings and not numbers to be paired with statistics produce by findings of consultants, who only through numbers believe they can paint an accurate profile of a child attending Rochester’s public schools. Statistical data can not mimic or accurately or fully interpret the human experience; especially that of those who resides in poverty-stricken communities.

The data to child priority must change, to child to data, if the RCSD is to ever right its ship.

According to Superintendent Williams’s biography, “Before coming to Rochester, she served most recently as the Senior Deputy Superintendent of Boston Public Schools (BPS). In Boston she was responsible for the redesign of the central office to serve schools, labor relations, safety, school operations and the Build BPS Master Facilities Plan.”

It’s obvious Superintendent Williams has a lot of experience in renovating, building and shutting down schools, which was highlighted in a SWCC’s meeting that scorn district officials for continuing to try to find ways to close public schools not only in their neighborhood but throughout the Rochester community.

Despite, Williams’s incoming rhetoric to make it a priority to engage parents and open a line of communication, the resignation of former Board Member Mary Adams clearly placed a spotlight on how her promise to do so never materialize.

During her final board meeting, Adams broke down in tears as she lambasted the district for their cold-shouldered approach towards parents. She accused the district of being stuck in their old ways and with a heavy heart, Adams proclaimed that nothing has changed in the 6 years she served.

As Adams, throughout Williams’s leadership, Malika Saloane of Parent Advisory has expressed the same shortcomings of the district.

But what if, the style used to right the district’s ship was more parent-student ‘first’ driven.

If so, the emphasis and instructions to employees of the district would be to build commune relationships with their students ‘first’ to get to know their challenges ‘first-hand’ and not wait on electronic data produce by clueless consultants.

Maybe RCSD student Trevyan Rowe would not had been just a number or letter that could easily be changed to erase the evidence of wrong doing. In a child to data driven culture the teachers and faculty employees would’ve known Trevyan and his challenges.

Today, the question we should all be asking as a community doesn’t begin at this moment with graduation rates and academic performance. But are our kids safe at school? And are we sure, when we put our kids on the bus in the morning, they will return in the afternoon?
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