RCSD Superintendent responds to Gov. Cuomo's failing schools plan
Posted at: 08/31/2013 7:47 PM
| Updated at: 08/31/2013 10:51 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion | WHEC.com
Failure is not an option. That's the tough message from Governor Cuomo to districts with low-performing schools.
You may recall Friday News10NBC told you about his plan to shut down schools that are failing to make the grade.
Since the Rochester City School District has one of the lowest graduation rates in the state, News10NBC wanted to hear what educators think about the Governor's ultimatum.
Governor Cuomo says there is no excuse for failure and in the end it falls on you, the taxpayer. He says one of the reasons why taxes are so high is because New York State spends more money on education than any other state. He says our schools should be the best and that's why he's taking action.
Here is the plan. School districts across the state will be given a short window of time to change. If they don't improve, then the Governor says he will make changes. One of the options is a takeover by the state, or to put the schools under mayoral control.
Then a “death penalty” will be placed on the school, meaning it will eventually be shut down or turned into a charter school.
News10NBC spoke to the President of the Rochester Teacher's Association and he says the state should not intervene.
“Let parents and teachers make the decisions on how to best structure a school. I think we should give that a fair shot before the state rushes in with punitive actions and with threats of closure and takeovers,” said Adam Urbanski, Rochester Teacher's Association President.
Urbanski also said the Rochester Teacher's Association has partnered up with the school district to make some changes that should help the students improve. The district has expanded learning time for students in 20 different schools and it is giving parents and teachers more flexibility than ever.
Superintendent of Schools Bolgen Vargas seems to favor the Governor's plan. In fact, he says he was expecting Governor Cuomo to take action. He says he feels it's appropriate for the state to be concerned and for them to take all the measures to make sure students get the best education.
“What I do believe is the district needs to make significant improvement in the very near future. We can't wait any longer to continue just to make promises that we are going to improve and not deliver. It is my belief that you're going to see significant improvement in the district in the next three to five years. There is no question in my mind, but if my promise doesn't become a reality, then it's important to know that the state should be concerned as well as this community,” said Vargas.
Vargas also pointed out that the district cannot improve on its own. He's hoping parents and the community can get more involved this school year.
Governor Cuomo says if his plan is approved by the legislature the state may step in as soon as next year.