Op/Ed By Howard Eagle –
Another one of those amazing reports regarding decades-old, ongoing, horrendously-decrepit conditions within the Rochester City School District was released last week: https://www.pdf-archive.com/2017/06/06/rcsd-special-education-report-final/rcsd-special-education-report-final.pdf .
The only thing more amazing than the report itself is the lack of community-response, especially and particularly on the part of those most negatively, and most directly impacted, i.e., black and brown parents, families, and others who claim they are so concerned about conditions among the masses of children within the Rochester City School District. The pervasive, eerie, silence is literally deafening.
It is absolutely mind boggling why black parents and families in particular are not at 131 W. Broad St., with pitchforks — and what’s even more shocking and amazing is the fact that the same individuals keep getting re-elected — for three, four, and five terms — to so-called “lead” the school district. It’s truly mind-boggling (a form of insanity — without an iota of exaggeration). God help the children — please lord!!!
The report focuses on the well established, long-standing crisis in the Rochester City School District regarding inadequate (to say the least) Special Education programs and services. Yet, at the same time, the reported findings also (for all practical intents and purposes) thoroughly indicts the district’s General Education programs as well.
A few of the most alarming conclusions contained in the report, include, but are definitely not limited to the following:
Even after recent, so-called “focused” efforts to significantly reduce suspensions, particularly among African American students, and especially among black boys, district schools continue to put large numbers of students out of class (without providing opportunities for them to keep up academically).
It is noted in the report that programs, which are supposedly designed to support such students, “appear to warehouse students, rather than creating a (viable) educational environment.”
This takes on added importance when considering the previous superintendent, who was replaced one year ago, invested half a million dollars in an effort led by a so-called “Community Task Force on School Climate,” which produced a “new Code of Conduct” designed specifically to reduce suspensions among black and brown children, but actually amounts to nothing more than squandering a half-million dollars on a completely useless, totally ineffective, unenforceable policy which obviously has not mattered.
Many students who present behavioral problems and issues are sorted into a catch-all category called “other health impairment, where black males are disproportionately represented and suspensions are common.”
“The district continues to accelerate the placement of students into an instructional and support system that has not demonstrated the ability to improve student performance across any important educational outcome indicators, data provides a dismal picture of the educational experience these students receive … RCSD is perfectly aligned for the results it is getting.”
Chief of Special Education Sandy Simpson, who is in her first year in the district, was quoted in a local newspaper article ( http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2017/06/07/report-rcsd-perfectly-aligned-special-ed-failure/372669001/ ) as having said: “This is an opportunity to build … a system that’s integrated (with general education), … We welcome the chance to look at this, because it opens the door to talk about everything we want to do regarding instruction.”
My reaction to her statement was and is: WHAT??? ….. WHAT??? Does she really mean to tell us that (prior to this report) the “door to talk about everything [they] want [and need] to do regarding instruction — [was not] open”?
Besides, what’s the sense in “building … a system that’s integrated (with general education)” — when the report makes it clear that “the extremely broken system that, over the years, has become increasingly dysfunctional, also mirrors the general education system. …?”
It was also noted in the same article referenced above that Rochester City School District Superintendent, Barbara Deane-Williams, who has also been in her position for one year — “stressed the need for the district to partner with outside community partners to help in the common work of helping students, particularly those with disabilities.”
Our systems and relationships need improvement,” she stated. “This gives us the road maps we need to repair and restore the services we provide in the district.”
Again, I must ask WHAT — “road maps” that emanate from the report? Not only is the superintendent’s assertion baffling, if not ludicrous — it is also most interesting, in light of the fact that the report clearly states that the Rochester City School District relies on outside agencies to provide services that can be provided within the district, which sounds to me like abdicating responsibility.
The bottom line is that much of the information contained in the report literally rises to the level of criminality. It can only happen within predominantly black and brown, urban school districts. If anything even approaching this existed in lily-white, suburban school districts — people would be fired (left and right).
The only reason why the same thing does not happen in predominantly black and brown, urban districts — is because we won’t organize ourselves, and demand it, and mean it — period.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)