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Cuomo says Failing Schools Need Reform; Rochester Teachers Protest

By Staff



cuomoGov. Andrew Cuomo has released a report titled, “The State of New York’s Failing Schools,” which said 109,000 students in New York State, most of whom are minority or poor, are enrolled in 178 failing schools, according to a press release.

And, of those failing schools, 77 have been failing for at least 10 years, the report stated.

In Rochester, there are currently more than 10,400 students enrolled in 15 failing schools, and, according to the report, five have been failing for at least 10 years.

“The time is now for the State Legislature to act and do something about this problem so we no longer are condemning our children to failing schools,” said Cuomo.

According to the report, a school has been designated as “‘failing’ if they are in the bottom 5 percent of schools statewide based on combined ELA and math scores, are not showing progress in test performance, or have graduation rates that are below 60 percent for the last three years.”

The governor recently pledged to increase school aid by $1.1 billion, or a 4.8 percent increase, if state lawmakers would agree to his plan to change teacher evaluations, tenure systems and the expansion of charter schools; however, if they did not, he said, schools would only get an increase of 1.7 percent, or $377 million, instead.

Cuomo has proposed implementing a receivership model, similar to one in Massachusetts, where, when a school fails for 3 years, a nonprofit, another school district, or a turnaround expert must take over the school.

A New-York based charter school organization announced a similar proposal earlier this week.

Here are details the report provided regarding failing schools in Rochester, which includes the consecutive years failing, and the state aid increase over the past three years:

District Years Failing 2013-14 Enrollment 2012-13 Spending Per Pupil: % Above National Average ($10,608) School District Funding Increase Last 3 Years
Charlotte High School Rochester City School District 10 505 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
Dr Freddie Thomas High School Rochester City School District 8 547 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
East High School Rochester City School District 10 1,851 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
James Monroe High School Rochester City School District 10 1,141 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
Northeast College Prep High School Rochester City School District 6 499 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
Northwest College Prep High School Rochester City School District 5 573 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
School 17 – Enrico Fermi Rochester City School District 7 670 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
School 22 – Lincoln School Rochester City School District 4 485 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
School 34 – Dr Louis A Cerulli Rochester City School District 5 465 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
School 3 – Nathaniel Rochester Rochester City School District 4 655 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
School 41 – Kodak Park Rochester City School District 5 604 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
School 44 – Lincoln Park Rochester City School District 5 401 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
School 45 – Mary Mcleod Bethune Rochester City School District 10 685 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
School 8 – Roberto Clemente Rochester City School District 5 622 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680
School 9 – Dr Martin Luther King Jr Rochester City School District 10 767 $18,762 + 76.9% $77,686,680

In addition, according to the report, 27 of Buffalo’s 56 schools; 18 of Syracuse’s 34 schools; and eight of Yonkers 39 schools are also failing.

Rochester City School District Superintendent Bolgen Vargas released the following statement in response to the findings:

“The report released by Gov. Cuomo today does not contain new information, but it does remind us of the urgent need to use resources wisely, and work aggressively to improve student achievement. That is why we have asked the University of Rochester to manage East High School, recommended closure of Charlotte High School, and assigned new leaders to the three other active high schools on the list, which are executing improvement plans. Five of the seven elementary schools on the list offer students more and better learning time under a nationally proven model, and several of them are beginning to show significant growth. Our Action Plan is taking us in the right direction to remove Rochester schools from Priority lists and have them recognized instead for improved achievement.”

Educators across the state, including New York Stated United Teachers (NYSUT), have also spoken out in opposition of Cuomo’s education agenda.

According to teachers, he’s been giving them too much of the blame for students’ poor performance, and they’ve cited new systems of testing as an additional reason for students’ lower test scores.

Cuomo has also come under fire from local education officials for his criticism of teacher evaluations, and his call on the New York State Education Department to investigate whether the evaluations are accurate, after more than 95 percent of the state’s teachers were rated “effective” or “highly effective” in evaluations for the 2013-2014 school year.

Over 1,000 teachers held a rally in Fairport following the release of the report, in protest of Cuomo’s proposed education changes.

The Fairport Educator’s Association organized the event, which included a panel of speakers, including freshman state Sen. Rich Funke (R-Fairport).

“There’s no question about it. He is holding the budget hostage for these school districts,” Funke stated.

However, Cuomo’s report said it’s “incongruous” that the high number of teachers have been rated effective, when only 36 percent of students in the state are proficient in math, and 31 percent are proficient in English.

Click here to view the full report.