RTA Crime Victims Assistance Committee 2014  Workshop Series

All RTA members are welcome to attend.  You must register in advance using the form below.  Return your completed form to the RTA office as soon as possible.  Box lunches are provided for those who preregister.  Space is limited; registrants will be accepted in the order in which registrations are received.

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City students speak out about improving schools

Rochester school board President Van White began a town hall-style meeting yesterday with this message: the district is the lowest performing in the state. And he asked the adults in the room to give the nearly 60 students in attendance the front seats because he wanted to hear from the young people. The students, mostly from city high schools, obliged by showing they had wisdom of their own to share about the schools they attend and the teachers who instruct them.

Mayor, audits slam oversight of school renovation work

A few years ago, when 15-year-old Unique Fair helped redesign the school he'd attended since he was a first-grader, he imagined walking out of its doors and into college and the future beyond. But reality got in the way. Construction delays mean Fair and his School 58 classmates will begin senior year as they have every year of high school: in space at the Franklin high school building on Norton Street.

Report Paints Troubling Picture of Monroe High School

At 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, students streamed out of Monroe High School. Parents lined up in cars outside, waiting for their children. It looked like dismissal time. But it wasn't. This was the start of 9th period. "They're just wasting their time in there," said a parent picking up her daughter. "They're not like really doing anything productive." Monroe has 1,100 students. Nearly one-third speak English as a second language. Nearly one-quarter have special needs.

East's problems mirror an unstable district

It’s tempting to think that the pending shakeup at East High School is just the State Education Department doing its job: pushing for greater accountability. But the situation at East mirrors the serious problems permeating much of the Rochester school district. And a plan for improving the district as a whole instead of just focusing on individual schools seems more imperative than ever.

Private schools 'cure' Common Core

The Common Core curriculum has become so controversial, some local schools have begun promoting the fact they don’t teach it. Allendale Columbia School in Pittsford has used billboards and its website to tout itself as the “cure” for Common Core. Right around the corner in Brighton, the Harley School is also free from the dictated curriculum and testing so many parents and educators have complained about.

The Rochester Teachers Association would like to congratulate and welcome the newly elected NYSUT leaders: NYSUT President Karen Magee, Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta, 1st Vice President Catalina Fortino, 2nd Vice President Paul Pecorale, and Secretary-Treasurer Martin Messner.

Erica Bryant: Teacher eval system won't help students

Years ago, I visited the Kennedy Space Center and bought a coffee mug from the gift shop. It is decorated with some NASA equations, including one used to calculate the speed an object needs to escape Earth's gravity. This formula fits on one line. By contrast, the document that describes how to measure student growth for the purpose of evaluating New York's teachers and principals is 112 pages.

Erica Bryant: A school for the kids who want to learn

The last time I was at East High School, I watched a boy try to ask a question about a tornado. It was a Friday morning and there was blood on the floor, spit there by a student who'd been punched in the mouth on the way from his previous class. Another girl walked in dripping water from an ice pack she held to her eye. They both looked down or out the window as two other boys got in an argument.

Idea aims to draw suburban kids to city schools

From a public policy perspective, school choice can be useful in allowing poor children to transcend their immediate surroundings and attend a school in a more affluent area where middle-class expectations might buoy them. Unfortunately, that doesn't work when 9 children out of 10 are poor, as is the case in Rochester. There's no good way to slice such a high poverty rate.

City school budget proposal: More pre-K, no layoffs

Rochester Schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas Monday presented a 2014-15 budget proposal in line with his goals of helping young children read, expanding learning time and providing more arts, music and extracurriculars while closing a $42 million budget gap. The $784 million budget proposal, a 1.4 percent increase from last year, pays for about 28,100 students in city schools and another 4,100 in charter schools. It will need to be passed by the school board and the Rochester City Council before it becomes official.

RCSD Budget: Cutting ISS May Result In Even More Classroom Disruptions

Rochester City School District Superintendent, Bolgen Vargas, has proposed his $784 million budget for the 2014-2015 school year. The one thing that stuck out immediately in my mind was his proposal to cut In School Suspension for grades k-6 in schools with fewer than 700 kids. Lately there has been much local discussion about the problem of too many distractions in RCSD's classrooms, making it hard for the kids who want to focus on learning to actually learn. Vargas' plan to eliminate ISS is only going to make it more difficult for teachers who are overwhelmed with bulging classrooms full of distractions and unfortunately magnify the problem that much more.

If unions are the problem, why do we have so many high performing schools in Monroe County?

In a Democrat and Chronicle letter to the editor, “Address roots of school failure” (3/21),  Edwin Newton, was clear as to what he believes to be the fundamental reasons for the “dismal quality” of Rochester schools. Specifically, the root causes are the “three sins of teacher’s union policies”: tenure, ‘last in, first out,’ and paying teachers based on seniority rather than performance.

White and Vargas are Doing What's Right at East

Bolgan Vargas and Van White are right not to jump to an "easy" way out for the future of East High School. They have five options including closing, phasing in a new school, turning it over to a business or educational partner, replace it with a charter school or have a SUNY Institution take it over.

Time for an Anti-Testing Movement in Upstate New York

Dear Diane,

I was wondering if you could create a post to get the anti-testing movement that seems to be thriving downstate to garner some more support upstate. I teach in a suburb of Rochester, NY. My school is on the “west side,” where household incomes are substantially lower than they are on the “east side.” Today a colleague emailed me a link to a letter that the Superintendent of Pittsford Central Schools (one of the most affluent districts in upstate NY) had posted on the school’s website.

Hats and Rabbits

The school board has been reviewing a recent proposal to save East High. The proposal was offered by an Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) named "School Turnaround" that is promising grand and ludicrous things. They say: We promise you a 100% graduation rate! We will make every student college-ready! We have a "money-back guarantee"! Just get rid of (cough) 800 students… and we'll produce magic! That sort of magic is the kind that comes out of a hat, actually.

RCSD employees speak out against proposed

Some city school faculty members said they’re concerned about job cuts in the district’s proposed budget for the 2014-15 school year. The budget includes dropping 32 support staff positions. Opponents said it would be the third straight year the district cut clerical jobs. At a forum Tuesday night, they argued the district can’t uphold its commitment to customer service if more resources are slashed.

East’s Coach Brigandi proved the value of sports extends beyond the playing fields

After over three decades of coaching, including the last 13 years as East’s head football coach, Paul Brigandi’s players have amassed plenty of trophies, awards and accolades. Since 2001, Brigandi has coached 33 Eddie Meath all-star game participants, 15 All Greater Rochester players, 9 All State players, and won 8 City Catholic – RCAC titles and 2 Section V titles (2004 and 2005).

Teachers fear student safety after shooting

Another shooting near a school sent teachers and their union representatives to the Board of Education to ask for help to protect their students. The fatal-double shooting on Genesee Street Tuesday happened during class, right across the street from Early College High School and Wilson Foundation Academy. Located in the same building, the two schools house students from kindergarten to 12th grade.

School #2 Did a version of “Happy”


“Who Killed East High School?”

Is WHEC really using such inflammatory and inaccurate language, worthy of the era of Yellow Journalism, to secure higher ratings? That would mean your news director, station manager and whoever else was responsible for such a title is exploiting the current challenges our students face for profit. As a teacher at East High School for the past 14 years, do you expect me (and my colleagues) to sit idly by as the station uses the most poor and vulnerable students in our county, (excellent, wonderful young men and women, by the way) to secure higher ad revenue?

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In 2011, 4 year-old Avrie Sinesiou, the daughter of a SOTA teacher, was diagnosed with Leukemia. With one month to go before she was considered "cured", she relapsed. This happened over the recent Spring Break. She had just turned 7.  She has been living at Strong since Thursday, April 17th. She will need a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, they found out last Friday that her little sister is not a match. They are currently in search of a match, and hope to perform the surgery at CHOP (The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) in August.


Kate and Adam are both teachers. A fund was started to help with medical expenses and travel costs. If you are interested in donating, you can copy and paste the link below. This link also includes pictures and updates. She is the most AMAZING little girl. She is always smiling and she never complains. 


Thanks for your support. 


Race and poverty center RCSD Town Hall debate

Why do city schools struggle more than other schools in Monroe County? That was a question asked Wednesday night at the 13WHAM Town Hall, answered with several theories. Some point to disparities in race and the number of minorities in the classroom, compared to the lack of minorities teaching those students. Rochester School Board President Van White pointed to poverty as one explanation. "There is a ceiling to that and that ceiling is defined by the concentrated poverty that exists in our community,"

On Tuesday, May 6, 2014, five Interns were recognized in the CIT Annual Intern of the Year Award Ceremony.  Each year mentors and administrators have the opportunity to collaborate in the nomination of new teachers.  The ceremony took place at the NYSUT Building, where the award recipients were recognized by Dr. Adam Urbanski and Dr. Bolgen Vargas.  Read more…


Another RCSD success story. Wilson completes sterling season.

Claims 2nd place in the States. Falls just short to Brighton in Rochester Area Interscholastic Chess Playoffs.

On April 26th, the western New York school chess
world finally witnessed the long anticipated match of the year.  In the second round of the Rochester Area Interscholastic Chess playoffs, the defending champion Wilson Wildcats (12-0) faced off against the Brighton Barons, also undefeated in twelve matches.  Although the two powerhouses did not meet head to head in the States (March 1 and 2), Wilson narrowly outpointed the Barons, finishing second overall.

Social workers a staple of local education

One boy can't sleep because he's afraid his stepfather will come through the window and kill his mother. Another hoards food from the cafeteria. A young girl has a special place at home to hide when she hears gunfire: under the bed, in the corner farthest from the window. Erica Vera, a social worker at School 12 on South Avenue in Rochester, helps them.

New York State Exposed Education: Common Core

Every public school district in New York must abide by the Common Core standards. But parents and teachers are unclear where this reform movement is taking children and if it is worth the money. Common Core is a federal initiative. The government is not dictating what your children are learning in the classroom. In a week and a half, residents will vote on school budgets in every suburban district around Rochester. Some think the vote could be impacted by backlash over Common Core standards, the tests and all the money it takes to implement the program. Not only are teachers petitioning, parents are opting their kids out.

Green light on UR plan with a warning

The Rochester school district can move forward with the University of Rochester to develop a plan to turn around troubled East High School. Rochester School Board President Van White received a letter today from State Education Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz saying that the district now has until July 1, 2014, to submit a detailed plan explaining the UR’s role as an educational partner charged with reforming East. The original deadline was today, May 15. 

On East High

I walked outside to sit in the sun during my lunch yesterday. I needed a break from giving the NYS test that measures the progress of non-English speaking students. There are no benches in front of the school, but that’s where the sun was, so I sat down on the concrete sidewalk. I noticed two things as I was sitting there; a dandelion growing in the crack in the path, and a dead rat.

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Standardized testing protest mourns loss of creativity

Several dozen "mourners" held an unconventional funeral Thursday night in front of the Rochester School District offices, lamenting the death of student creativity and joy in learning as a result of increased standardized testing. "It's a day of mourning for the loss of fun and inquiry and creativity," said Vicki Robertson, a parent of two students. "(Standardized testing) is just driving all the fun out of teaching and learning for the kids."

  1. Placement Days are set:

     Special Education - Wednesday, June 25th

  1. Wilson Foundation Academy, 200 Genesee Street, in the school cafeteria

  2. 4:00-4:30 View Posted Positions   

  3. 4:30-6:30 Voluntary Transfer Process

     Click here for Placement Day Proxy Information

FBI investigating schools modernization project

Mayor Lovely Warren confirmed today that the FBI is conducting an investigation into activities involving the first phase of the $325 million Rochester schools modernization project. The nature of the investigation is unclear, as is the impact it may have on the second phase of the $1.2 billion project. "About a month ago, my corporate counsel was contacted saying there was an investigation," she said. "They were not specific about what they were looking for."

WHEC TV10 Tenure Report... the Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly... and, of course, more charter school nonsense...

This WHEC TV10 'New York State Exposed' report on tenure contains some good information, some bad information, and some downright ugly information. The ugly stuff is simply charter school myths. The charter information isn't just wrong, it's ugly wrong. Let's start with the good. The report is correct; the tenure process in New York is dysfunctional. Although, it has gotten a bit better. It still takes far too long to complete a 3020-A professional educator disciplinary proceeding. Especially for those similar to one mentioned in the report. The report is also accurate in explaining that the union represents its members throughout any disciplinary process. The union has a duty of 'fair representation' of its members. It's a mandatory obligation.


August Clarqu is the son of one of our RTA members.  He is only five years old and is battling cancer. Please consider donating to the fundraiser to assist his family.

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Rochester teachers file grievance over testing

The Rochester Teachers Association has filed a grievance against the City School District for allegedly mismanaging the implementation of local end-of-year tests. The complaint is not associated with Regents tests, but rather local end-of-year testing, RTA President Adam Urbanski said. It focuses chiefly on tests given to children in grades K-2. Teachers had to administer tests to those young children one-on-one, Urbanski said, leading to chaos and lost instructional time in the rest of the classroom. He also alleged the tests had factual errors, and that computers needed for some tests didn't work.

Students Receive 100,000 New Books

In a major effort to boost reading, curb summer learning loss and improve English language arts skills, Rochester students received 100,000 books for home libraries this week, in a collaborative effort by the Rochester City School District, the American Federation of Teachers and its Rochester affiliates, and First Book.

UR officially agrees to take over East High School

The University of Rochester will take over operations at East High School. The state had ordered the state to make changes because of things like low graduation rates and poor attendance. The President of the University of Rochester says he is confident that East High School can double its graduation rates over the next seven years. Officials say they are just beginning to develop a plan, but that plan could include a smaller East High School with more teachers.

Rochester teachers protest testing

A stream of Rochester teachers told the school board Thursday night that their students are over-tested and under-taught and pleaded for relief, locally and from Albany. The protest was organized by the Rochester Teachers Association, which filed a grievance on the topic earlier this month. The main complaint was about extensive end-of-year assessments for children in grades K-2. Several teachers said they hadn’t presented a lesson plan since the end of May because they’re so busy administering a series of one-on-one tests; they described a spike in behavior problems and melt-downs as the teaching ground to a halt.

A Letter to Vargas from Randi Weingarten

    I regret that I am not able to deliver these remarks in person.  Nonetheless, I want to add my voice to that of the many teachers and parents who are here to alert you to the realities that exist for the students. I spent today in Rochester helping launch, in partnership with the Rochester City School District, a comprehensive strategy including First Book, our union, educators, parents and Center for Youth to ensure all Rochester public school students have books to read at home this summer, and their parents use the union’s Share My Lesson website for strategies and guides to assist their children. All k-11 students will receive 100,000 books to boost your already impressive emphasis on reading and literacy.  We are doing this for the same reason that you, Rochester teachers and the Rochester community have: to heighten the prospects for better learning for all your students.

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Logan Newman,won the 2014 Air Force Teacher of the Year Award for his work with the Optics Program at East High School.  

The annual award is given to a teacher who works incorporates STEM into their teaching.  Logan was nominated by his colleague and RTA Faculty Representative Paul Jonasse. Logan's Program will be added to a larger grant program to test children and immigrants in: Rochester City Schools, City Libraries as well as Monroe County in cooperation with Rochester Downtown Host Lions Club, University of Rochester Medical Center, Emory College and Harvard University Grant.


Rochester City School District Educator Named to National “Dream Team”

Alice Lombardo, a sixth grade math teacher at Enrico Fermi School 17 in Rochester City School District, spent June 4-7 in New Orleans participating in TeachFest, a unique professional development event focused on creating high-quality Common Core curricular resources. Lombardo attended the event as part of LearnZillion’s Dream Team of 200 talented math and English language arts (ELA) teachers.

N.Y. teacher tenure law to be challenged

The family of a Rochester girl who made headlines two years ago for alleging harassment by teachers is a plaintiff in an upcoming lawsuit that challenges New York's teacher tenure law. The lawsuit, announced Tuesday before its formal filing by the Partnership for Educational Justice, comes in the aftermath of a similar, successful lawsuit in California. Six families from across the state will be the plaintiffs, including John and Clara Williams of Rochester, the parents of Jada Williams and three other children ages 10-18.

Webster superintendent to leave for city

After leading the Webster schools for eight years, Superintendent Adele Bovard will step down and take a new job with the district in Rochester — a move that will bring a pay cut, but also a chance to help city students realize their potential, she said. Bovard, 56, will become Rochester's deputy superintendent for administration.

State approves East High plan

The New York State Education Department on Wednesday formally approved the Rochester School District's partnership with the University of Rochester for East High School, according to the district. UR's Warner School of Education, in the person of professor and former Canandaigua superintendent Steve Uebbing, will serve as superintendent of the school, using district funds.

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