Point by Point: A Forum on Mayoral Control of Rochester City Schools on WXXI-TV

Point by Point: A Forum on Mayoral Control of Rochester City Schools on WXXI-TV

Thu, 04/01/2010 - 8:00pm

Pictured: Student in classroom

Credit: Christopher Futcher

Mayor Bob Duffy and Rochester City School District Board President Malik Evans will meet at WXXI studios to answer questions regarding mayorial control of city schools. Watch it online!

In conjunction with the Center for Governmental Research's (CGR) scientific poll to assess the concerns over mayoral control of the Rochester City Schools, WXXI hosts a live, televised forum to discuss CGR’s findings and examine all viewpoints. Point by Point: A Forum on Mayoral Control of Rochester City Schools airs Thursday, April 1 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11), and simulcasts on AM1370/HD-FM91.5-2 and on WXXI.org (below).

Mayor Bob Duffy and Rochester City School District Board President Malik Evans will meet at WXXI studios to answer questions from panelists: Bob Smith, host of AM 1370’s 1370 Connection; Liz Medhin, co-host of WDKX’s Wake Up Club; and Tim Louis Macaluso, education writer for City Newspaper. Duffy and Evans will also take questions from a studio audience of individuals who participated in the CGR poll.

Analysis will be provided by Joseph P. Viteritti, PhD, chair of the Hunter College Department of Urban Affairs and Planning. Dr. Viteritti specializes in education policy, state & local governance, and public law, and is editor of When Mayors Take Charge: School Governance in the City. WXXI’s News Director Julie Philipp will moderate the forum.

WXXI is partnering with City Newspaper and WDKX-FM to provide viewers with in-depth information and analysis throughout the broadcast.

See our special section for more on Mayoral Control.


The full video of the program is available below:



How about Mayoral support instead of control

We’ve heard graduation rates and finances but what about “the hundred pound gorilla in the room”? “Savage Inequalities” by Johnathan Kozal discusses the discrepancies between public suburban and urban schools similar to what Rochester is experiencing. We can’t be in denial that city schools have far more challenges than the suburbs. Focus on changing the conditions of the city so as to prevent or improve the conditions which our children are exposed and learn.
Mayoral control will remove the representation of the community and its ability to have a voice in how the schools are run. The real problem is the significant flight of educated people from the city. If the children you are serving are exposed to drugs, violence, and incarcerated parents it has a profound effect on their ability to succeed. Parents also have to take responsibility but working multiple low wage jobs makes it harder.
The Mayor’s priorities must be centered on solutions like increasing multi-income housing, parks and prevention of crime. Teachers have their cars broken into, stolen and stripped on a regular basis while they work. How can we attract teachers when they are subject to these conditions? We are moving to a militarized system of education where going to school feels more like a prison sentence than a learning environment. A start may be to reduce the number of guns on the city streets by offering incentive programs to collect guns. Place special focus around the schools that are failing the most. If we do not get to the heart of the issue there will be no end to the cycle, no matter who is in control.
Why are the suburbs able to successfully operate with a school board in place, whereas the perception being presented by the mayor is that the city school board cannot? The mayor is implying that graduation rates are directly related to school boards. I argue that this is not the case and fundamental socioeconomics are at play here. There are schools within the RCSD that have good graduation rates while other failing schools pull the overall average down. The real issue is not the school board or ineffective teachers; it all has to do with the child’s environment. There is a class and cultural issue at play here that Mayoral control alone will not solve.
Why not include the mayor in partnership with the school board by allowing him a seat at the table. Full control and privatization is extreme but a seat at the school board would be fitting no matter who the Mayor is in the future. How about “smaller schools by design”? The Harlem Children’s Zone, directed by Geoffrey Canada is a successful model with a slogan “From Cradle to College to Community Building”. Let’s start with a mandatory program for parents on raising children “Baby College” like they do in Harlem. Manage children mental health and create child-centered school zones that limit school hopping to avoid discipline issues.
When the charter schools came into town, especially the Charter School of Science and Technology, they promised much like the Mayor is. They had uniforms, bussing, good curriculum, excellent professional development and technology. It had privatization and corporate money to create a “State of the Art School”. The school failed for many reasons after five years. One might blame the principal but why did the five principals after him not fix things from the top? The charter’s corporate board similar to the one Duffy wants to place, failed. The answer is simple; it is the high number of at risk children.
Fortunately, I can send my kids to a suburban school but many of our citizens within the city do not have the opportunity to move. Isn’t it more along the line of “we are products of our environment” rather than where we are educated? The Mayor doesn’t have to control the schools in order to bridge the gap between the city, colleges, and business to create partnerships that lift up our most in need.