Beyond Reprehensible

“Sent: Friday, May 10, 2013 11:50 AM
Subject: Rumors of a shooting . . .
Good morning faculty and staff,
Yesterday evening, it was brought to my attention that there was going to be a shooting. . . today. We immediately contacted the District and the police department. “

These are the first two sentences of a communique sent out to faculty and staff after the threatening situation was resolved.

At the end of the day on Friday, parents received a letter stating,

“I’m writing to inform you of a situation that occurred at our school this morning. Let me assure you that your child was safe, and we had a relatively normal day of school.

It came to our attention that several students were talking about rumors of a potentially violent incident taking place at our school today. While we weren’t certain how credible the story was, we always act in the interest of protecting our students.

Before students arrived this morning, police officers and District security officers were already at the school. As soon as students arrived, they were directed straight to their classrooms. The school was briefly put in lock down, while some student belongings were searched by our security team. Security officers didn’t find anything lending credibility to the rumors, and there was no need for further action. Again, please let me reassure you that your child’s safety was never in question.”

Given the violent atmosphere in Rochester, rumors of a shooting should not have be taken lightly. If the situation was serious enough to involve the police, at the very least a robo-call to parents explaining the situation, would have allowed them to decide whether or not to bring their child to school Friday morning. To be perfectly safe, the school should have been closed until the threat was resolved.

Every child’s safety came into question when they were placed in a situation they were unaware of and helpless to control.

As well, the administrator decided to place the safety of the faculty and staff into question by not informing them of the situation until after it was resolved.

Closing the school to save lives or keeping it open to make money, in a child centered system of education there would be no question.

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Suffer Not The Children

Erica Bryant’s column in the Democrat and Chronicle Chronicle exposes the devastating effects of post traumatic stress disorder on urban inner city children who witness or are primary or secondary victims of, violence.

While this is undoubtedly an extremely relevant and serious problem, it is not exclusive to children of the impoverished inner-city.

Until we realize and understand that children everywhere are subject to the PTSD of violent encounters we only continue to place band-aids on wounds requiring amputation.

Violence does not encapsulate itself within races, colors, creeds, or cultures. Violence respects no one.

It is the desensitization to relationship building that creates in our children and society a disconnection to our humanity, making the choice to commit an act of violence against another human being acceptable.

The system of education provides the most relevant solution to this problem as these children generally attend school every day to escape the violence of their home life.

The video below “What Role Do Relationships Play In Learning” explains why it is so vitally important to change the focus of education so that it concentrates on building positive experiences and relationships with our children.

What Role Do Relationships Play In Learning?

Violence is not a problem in our schools it is an indictment of our society. Our current system of education has cultivated an attitude of self-hatred and apathy in our children that is manifesting itself, within our community, as an unprecedented number of violent crimes committed by our children.

All adults in the educational environment must role model positive attitudes, positive behaviors, and positive problem solving skills. School may be the only model of positive behavior and attitude some children have.

A child centered education that concentrates on discovering, developing, and directing the gifts and talents of ALL children will not erase the violence too many children experience in their day to day lives.

Changing the system of education so that it focuses on the child will offer every child the opportunity to rise above the negative situations in their lives and become a successful positive adult.

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Our Children Are Able – Are We?

“If people are given an accurate assessment of their abilities and the likelihood of achieving certain goals given those abilities they may gravitate toward domains in which they have a realistic chance of becoming an expert through deliberate practice,” Michigan State psychology professor Zach Hambrick explained.

Our current system of education doesn’t adhere to the same belief. When we send our children to school, they are not given an accurate assessment of their abilities.

The exact opposite is true.

Too many children, who do not fit the “norm”, are given an inaccurate assessment of their disabilities and are forced to learn skills that are contrary to their gifts and talents, making them resistant to the process of education and reluctant to engage in learning for learning’s sake.

If our leaders in education truly believed that “every child can learn” our system of education would focus on the gifts and talents of every child, recognizing that each one has something wonderful to offer this world that would make it a better place in which to live.

However acknowledging and advancing the humanistic aspect of education is counterproductive to the corporate bottom line, profit.

Educating children to recognize and believe in their personal power breaks them free of the control of capitalism. Believing in themselves our children have the potential to truly change the world so that we evolve into high order thinking beings that work together to preserve the beauty and love that we were given to enjoy in our lives and our world.

Science has proven time and again that a child centered education produces educational and personal success. We now know that the Scientific community believes that discovering, developing, and directing the gifts and talents of our children will provide them with a realistic chance at being successful in life.

How can we continue to ignore the truth that will save our children’s educational lives?

Regardless of the cost, we must begin to provide all children with an excellent, child centered, experiential, education that will connect them to their families, communities, and their world.

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Reading Is Fundamental To Understanding

The reason the general public, is discouraged from reading anything but informational text is because to read fiction is to gain insight into innuendo, rhetoric, metaphors, hyperbole, analogy, logic, wisdom, and truth.

Reading, and understanding the intent of the written word is crucial to understanding the intent of the individual or individuals writing the word. The structure and word choice of every sentence becomes vital to uncovering the truth of the intent.

In a notice sent out by the New NY Education Reform Commission, it tells of a new Education Commission Symposium on education and ends its communication with,

Performance * Integrity * Pride”

It can be assumed that they brainstormed this powerful tag line and all agreed that their verbiage sent exactly the right message.

In dissecting their concluding statement to derive its meaning, leading to the truth of its intent, the capitalization of the first line sends the message that the commission is insecure in the belief of their statement. Making all the words capital shows a lack of strength through the illusion of power. “We work FOR the People!” would have sent a much more humanistic message. The truth of their statement is, they are the power, not the people.

The next sentence, Performance*Integrity*Pride, would also appear to be a strong statement until you recognize the unfortunate choice of order for the words they used. Placing performance before integrity exposes the truth that integrity will suffer when faced with meeting performance. How can anyone take pride in having a lack of integrity? This sentence also speaks to their value system.

Should our educational leaders value performance over integrity?

The truth is, until we focus education on discovering, developing, and directing the gifts and talents of every child, we will continue to fail as a community and as a nation.

There is nothing new about the Education Commission or the system of education they promote.

Reading was eased out of education because, if you do not recognize the truth, you cannot fight for the truth.

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The Proof of MisEducation

Benny Warr Video

Some may say, “What does the case of Benny Warr have to do with education?”


The police in the video were White males in an urban Black neighborhood. Had they received an excellent, child centered education, they would have recognized, immediately, that this situation must be handled delicately.

Understanding that the person they were there to speak to was a human being, they would have approached Mr. Warr with respect, asking him if they can assist him in any way since they received a call about a person in a wheel chair having trouble.

If, at that point, Mr. Warr did become resistant to their help, the common sense derived from a child centered education would have told them that blocking the wheels of the mobile chair and surrounding Mr. Warr while waiting for a chair lift bus to take him to jail would have been a much more appropriate way to handle the circumstances they were forced to address.

Arresting an individual does not have to involve the disrespect of that individual.

Our current system of education teaches and enforces a socio-economic system of justice that allows middle income White males, the bar to which we are told all should aspire, to believe that they are somehow better than any other “sub-group” which gives them the privilege of treating others disrespectfully.

Unfortunately this attitude is not exclusive to the middle income White male but is generally held by many who breach or exceed the achievement gap.

The idea that anyone is better than anyone else is non-existent in the child centered system of education. Focusing on discovering, developing, and directing the talents of all children means providing the opportunity to all children to see the gifts within themselves as well as in others. Respecting the individuality of the human and their experiences is the basis for the instruction of the curriculum, not graduation from an institution.

Public, private, or charter, until we change the system of education so that it focuses on the child, we will continue to suffer the inhumanities of capitalism.

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What’s Cultural – What’s Learned

Hoebel describes culture as an integrated system of learned behavior patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance.

“Public education is a worthy investment for state government, with immense social and economic benefits. Research shows that individuals who graduate and have access to quality education throughout primary and secondary school are more likely to find gainful employment, have stable families, and be active and productive citizens. They are also less likely to commit serious crimes, less likely to place high demands on the public health care system, and less likely to be enrolled in welfare assistance programs. A good education provides substantial benefits to individuals and, as individual benefits are aggregated throughout a community, creates broad social and economic benefits. Investing in public education is thus far more cost-effective for the state than paying for the social and economic consequences of under-funded, low quality schools.”

Monday evening Councilwoman Lovely Warren, Police Chief Sheppard, and Dr. Marvin McMickle of Colgate Rochester Divinity School met with members of the 14621 Neighborhood Association to discuss possible strategies and solutions to the excessive violent crimes in Rochester which occur primarily in their neighborhood.

If we are to agree with Hoebel, the culture of violence in Rochester is not inherent in our youth, but is a learned behavior.

Where is this violent behavior learned?

There is no question that violent behavior is experienced in the home. However, what most will not admit to is, violent behavior is experienced at home and reinforced in school.

Our current system of education belittles and bullies our children to such an extent that by the tender age of seven, too many Second grade students have already realized that school does not provide an alternative to the violence they experience at home but an opportunity to engage it, test it, refine it, and use it as a coping mechanism for solving problems.

We must stop blaming our children for trying to survive in a culture we created in which they are forced to live.

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Budget Vote Unanimous

With the exception of Commissioner Willa Powell, who was absent, all School Board Commissioners voted “yes” to approve the 2013-14 Rochester City School budget with the caveat that it can be “worked on” throughout the coming year.

Commissioner White passionately championed offering the Freedom School model at School #17, his amendment to add three support positions along with $120,000 to start the program was voted down, 4-2, White and Adams voting yes.

Commissioner Adams championed an amendment that would shift Title 1 funds from providing eleven technical assistants to teach teachers how to use white boards, which the district has been doing at Hart Street since the late nineties, to supporting our children with the counseling services they may need to transition from a community based support system to a district support system. Also voted down.

The rationale, the community organizations were there to train our staff which has been done. Unfortunately, in too many cases, there was no staff to train and the community organizations became the only counseling services our children received.

If there was any question whether the budget was going to pass or not, there shouldn’t have been. With the same individuals in the same positions, the decisions will be the same.

For too many years we have waited for our elected officials to actually speak with our voice, the voice of the community.

It is evident that the only voice of the School Board is that of corporate interests. Making sure that the grant money continues to flow at the cost of our children’s educational success should not be the vision of this district or its leaders.

It is time for the Rochester community to become active in making sure that the people we elect to represent our voice, to provide an excellent education to our children, have the educational success of our children, as their goal.

Our children deserve educational leaders who are willing to stand against the intimidation of corporate funding and vote to provide them with an excellent education.

Money is not the problem, what our leaders do with the money is.

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Evaluating RCSD Programs

The budget is too large a document to review page by page so in this blog, I will only review those sections that inspired or incited questions.

In keeping with that, the budget, under “BOARD BUDGET POLICIES’, BUDGET POLICY (6110), states, “The Superintendent’s proposed budget must include the most recent program evaluation results, which should determine continued funding for existing programs.”

What does the Board consider “recent program evaluation” since there are two programs that have offered no evaluative information, one being in its second year of operation?

Why does the language of the policy say that program evaluation results “should” determine funding for existing programs? Shouldn’t the language read, which “will” determine continued funding?

If that were the case, ArtPeace would still be a successful RCSD program and I’m Ready would have been cancelled years ago.


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RCSD In School Suspension Redesign

The “In School Suspension Redesign” states, “The In-School Suspension Program has been redesigned, enabling each school to have a dedicated teaching assistant. The teaching assistants will coordinate with classroom teachers to meet the needs of students on short-term suspensions while saving $1.2 million. This redesign will also enhance diversity of staffing in our schools.”

Will the ISS redesign have a dedicated teacher? How is the district saving $1.2 million? What does it mean when it says that the, “redesign will also enhance diversity of staffing in our schools?” Why would it? Remember, the ISS redesign is replacing the contracted professional services of The Center for Youth Services.

The “Neighborhood Schools and Transportation Plan” states, “Beginning this spring, we solicited the support of our State Legislature to help students be better connected to school with less time in transit and more time available for learning.”

A few sentences later we learn, “We currently provide transportation to all elementary students who live more than 1.5 miles from their school, but plan to begin providing transportation to those who live more than 0.5 miles from their schools.”


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