City schools leader: ‘Last chance to improve outcomes’

• February 7, 2013 • 1:40
Welcome to our blog! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and have taught writing and literature blog 1locally at MCC, RIT and St. John Fisher, and currently am at Keuka College’s Rochester and Batavia satellite campuses. I also have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters and Opinion pieces in the Democrat and Chronicle, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Open Closet, and the City. In addition, I recently became NYS certified to teach English and Social Studies through Nazareth College. I am also a Fellow at Nazareth’s Center for Public History.  In the past year or so, I have the opportunity to work in over 70 schools throughout the district, interacting with students in all grade levels and subjects. Quite an experience.  As I visit various schools, I hope to give readers an inside look at real life inside the RCSD. And, of course, I am hoping you will share your experiences, ideas, and opinions. Let our journey begin.

Today is an auspicious day—or inauspicious, depending on how you look at it—to start a blog on education in the Rochester city schools. For, today we read in the D&C an ominous sounding headline: City schools leader: ‘Last chance’ to improve outcomes.’

In his State of Our Schools address, Superintendent Bolgen Vargas offered a dire, jeremiad-like, warning: “If we fail this time, the consequences for this community will be huge.”

On the one hand, I deeply share Vargas’s concerns. It is certainly possible that the RCSD could reach some kind of negative tipping point almost impossible to reverse.

At the same time, I have great hope. If we choose, we can say instead: “If we SUCCEED this time, the consequences for this community will be huge.” In some ways, Rochester is in an educational competition with our regional neighbors in Syracuse and Buffalo, ones with similar challenges. Fundamentally, the first city to really “solve” its educational dilemmas will reap the rewards. And rewards they will be.