Attend a 30,000 Voices/Building the Path Forward listening event

Rochester City School District Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams is reportedly considering opportunities for the district’s future in a more comprehensive way. Deane-Williams, and members of her staff, will conduct a series of public engagement sessions throughout the community in October and November. The listening tour, called 30,000 Voices/Building the Path Forward is set to kick off at 2pm Thursday, October 12 at GEVA Theatre, located at 75 Woodbury Boulevard. Additional dates and locations include:

  • Oct 17, 6 PM NE Neighborhood Service Center at 500 Norton St
  • Oct 18, 6 PM, Edgerton R-Center at 41 Backus St
  • Oct 19, 6:30 PM, SW Neighborhood Service Center at 923 Genesee St
  • Oct 25, 6 PM, Ryan R-Center at 530 Webster Ave
  • Oct 26, 6 PM, Douglass R-Center at 999 South Ave

Please attend one and share your support for a future that includes diverse inter-district magnet schools in our community. 

These sessions are a great opportunity to voice concerns and present ideas directly to district representatives and help influence Deane-Williams’ future planning and priorities.  Any community member is welcome, urban or suburban, parent or non-parent.

Feel free to make any points you want. Our Great Schools for All communications team has a few thoughts that might help you organize and present your ideas. Don’t view this as a script, but simply as guidance. Use your own words. Your presence in support of diverse schools is more important than any arguments you can make.

  • Be brief and keep your message simple.
  • If you can, share a little about yourself that would help the superintendent and her staff understand why you feel strongly about diverse schools. Do you have children or grandchildren of school age? Are you hoping to have children at some point? Do you see diverse schools as tied to a better future for our community? Have you witnessed the struggles of children and families who are isolated in poor neighborhoods and schools?
  • Clearly state your support for socioeconomically diverse schools, and your reasons. Again, be simple and brief. Don’t offer statistics or quote books or research papers. The purpose here is to encourage the RCSD to act. Perhaps, just note that the evidence shows diverse schools improve academic outcomes for the poorest kids and improve critical thinking, creativity and problem solving for all.
  • Urge the RCSD to immediately begin working with other districts for the purpose of opening one or more diverse magnet schools that will open doors for students from all across our Monroe County community.
Thanks so much for your support in making the most of this unique opportunity.

Save the date – An evening with Nikole Hannah-Jones

Please join us for a community event on October 26 featuring Nikole Hannah-Jones, a nationally recognized investigative journalist who covers civil rights for The New York Times Magazine.

This event is an important milestone in an ongoing community conversation on how we can dramatically restructure education in our community so it works for all students. Hannah-Jones provides a compelling case for school diversity, and has decades of experience studying segregation in education to back it up.

Our city and suburban districts are actively moving forward with plans to form socioeconomically diverse schools. The time is now to bring more people into this movement to create long-lasting, systemic change in Monroe County schools. So please RSVP and invite a friend or colleague.

A breakthrough: RCSD to consider interdistrict schools

On Tuesday June 27, the Rochester Board of Education approved a resolution that commits the district to working with wiling suburban partners to investigate the development of regional magnet-type schools that would offer students the well-known advantages of a truly diverse education.

We see this is as an important step forward and worth celebrating by all of you who support the goal of socioeconomic diversity as a key to reversing the devastating effects of high-poverty schools on the educational achievement of the poorest children in our community.

The board approved the resolution on a 5-0 vote, with Commissioners Malik Evan and Cynthia Elliot absent. The resolution was sponsored by Commissioner Willa Powell who says this is a perfect time to begin conversations on regional schools because the Rochester City School District is assessing its long term capacity needs and magnet schools could well effect the districts’s future needs for space.

Great Schools For All applauds the city school board for this action. We have earlier reached out to suburban superintendents and found several willing to discuss with the city ways they might work together toward diverse schools.

This is just one step. We understand there is a great deal to be done. But we hope that these conversations will arrive at agreements on the types of magnet schools that could appeal to city and suburban families. We hope they will also result in a framework for interdistrict collaboration, with an emphasis on using existing buildings and funding streams wherever possible. We hope they will also identify changes in state law or regulations needed to make interdistrict collaboration possible and successful.

Adding to our momentum at the local level is increased interest from the Regents in making school diversity a statewide priority. The Regents and New York State Education Department (NYSED) are currently leading two strands of work that directly complement and align with the goals of Great Schools for All.

First, NYSED included school diversity and integration in their draft state plan required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The state ESSA Plan, which will be finalized in September, lists school integration as a potential school intervention strategy and recommends that schools be able to use their Title I school improvement funds to support integration efforts. Additionally, the plan discusses using school integration as a potential accountability indicator that schools would have to measure and report on to the public.

Second, the Regents are developing a Policy Statement in support of school diversity and have created a Working Group to facilitate that effort. The current statement specifically mentions interdistrict partnerships as a strategy to address concentrated poverty, which aligns with our efforts in Monroe County.

GS4A is actively involved in these discussions and are hopeful it will create the state-level changes necessary to create diverse schools in Rochester and across the state.

Register For May 5th Education Event

Please join participants from a broad section of the Greater Rochester community on May 5, 2015 to build consensus around action steps to reduce the concentration of poverty in the Rochester city schools. The GS4A Coalition is looking for partners in progress as we build on work begun at our November 2014 conference, and continued by six working groups formed to develop possible responses to the crisis of high poverty schools.

When:  Tuesday, May 5, 2015 from 8am-12:30pm

Where: Mt. Olivet Baptist Church

141 Adams Street

Rochester, NY  14608

Cost: None

Event Schedule:

8:00am Registration and Refreshments

8:30amWelcome and Review of Progress to Date

9:00am Working Group Reports and Recommendations

10:30am Break

10:45am Break-out Groups for Feedback and Responses

12:00pm Summary and Next Steps

12:30pm Adjourn

Register Now:

Questions:  Email or call Lynette Sparks or John Wilkinson at 585-271-6513.