Creating a second School of the Arts?

September 6, 2013

In today’s paper school board candiates cited successfull programs they hoped could be duplicated across the District.

I was particularly intrigued by Van White’s proposal to open a second SOTA.  Right now, SOTA is the only school that can technically turn down a student application.  At SOTA, prospective students audition before the faculty who then select the incoming class.  The process is quite competitive, and certainly contributes to SOTA’s success.  All the other schools can recruit or discourage those who might not be a good fit, but no student can be denied an open spot.

I wonder how White envisions a second SOTA. Would it be like the current SOTA which is mainly arts oriented or would it blend elements of the Wilson International Baccalaureate model?

More fundamentally, would it be selective or open?  The question–open or selective–is at the heart of a broader, district wide issue as the District works to create innovative programs, one that needs ongoing debate as we move forward.  For example, when I was at Cynthia Elliot’s interview at the D & C she was adamant that schools should not be allowed to choose who can attend, whether through a testing, interview or other entrance process.

I can see both sides.  What do you think?

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About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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