By Staff –
The Take it Down Planning Committee, Faith Community Alliance, and Movement for Anti-Racist Ministry and Action (MAMA) held a press conference Wednesday, in order to address racial disparity in the Rochester City School District as a critical component to improving academic achievement among minority students.
Following the New York State Education Department’s release of dismal, albeit slightly improved state test scores on Monday, the groups have proposed the creation of a partnership with RCSD that would address the needs of minority students, students whose scores have consistently lagged behind those of their white counterparts.
The groups have called for a “face-to-face meeting” with superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams to discuss the matter.
“Based on media reports, statements by Rochester Board of Education members, and top-level Rochester City School District administrators, Superintendent Deane-Williams is ‘aggressively pursuing a racial justice agenda,'” the groups said in a statement. “We want to help her successfully take on this immense challenge through broad-based community experience, expertise, insight, and collaboration. We are very concerned about the fact that strategies shared with us by top-level district administrators to recruit more race and class-conscious teachers of color, and advance anti-racist professional development for teachers, administrators, and support staff, show a lack of urgency and flawed implementation. Requests for a face-to-face meeting with the superintendent to address these issues have not been answered satisfactorily.”
According to representatives from the groups, MAMA and its partners have also planned to seek answers from school board members, “especially those like Ms. Willa Powell, who has been on the board for about 20 years.”
The organizations said they are not beyond calling for Deane-Williams’ resignation, although she only recently joined the district in 2016.
The school board named Deane-Williams to the position following the resignation of former superintendent Bolgen Vargas.
Prior to her appointment, she had been Greece School District superintendent, as well as senior deputy superintendent of the Boston City School District.
“The superintendent gets an “F” for failure to work cooperatively and collaboratively in partnership, especially with parents whose children are suffering and failing the most, as well as other community members,” the groups said. “And, since she has very limited urban education experience/expertise, we will consider seriously whether or not the time has arrived to call for her resignation.”
RCSD did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the matter.
The next school board meeting will take place on Aug. 24, at the district’s central office, 131. W. Broad St.
Visit https://vimeo.com/230811504, https://vimeo.com/230807468, or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFe_nQAAYS4, to view MAMA member Howard Eagle and Take it Down Steering Committee members Minister Clifford Florence and Kathryn Murano-Santos discuss the importance of addressing racial disparity in the RCSD, or click on the images below.