Start over from scratch. It's what the Rochester schools are being advised to do by an education investigator charged with analyzing the district's poor condition.
The New York State Education Department released Dr. Jaime Aquino's 84 recommendations for the Rochester schools.
Aquino found through interviews and assessment that the city school district puts more of an emphasis on policy and strategy, as it impacts administrators, teachers and parents, than it does children.
The report called on the school board and district leaders to develop a road map to success for the district — that plan is due in February.
The recommendations also call for improving student achievement, among a long list of actions, including having the district adopt common curricula in all subjects, with a priority on literacy and math.
In his report, Aquino said:
“While the recommendations and plan outlined in my report may seem vast in scope, I’m confident that by working together the community can create a better learning environment for all of Rochester’s students.”
The findings also include recommendations for teaching and learning, calling the district's instructional program weak and disjointed.
The Rochester Teacher's Union president agreed with the findings, saying that the lack of a standard curriculum has led to teaching staff without guidance.
"But the teachers have to face the students every day, they have to be prepared and they are, and they're doing their best," said Adam Urbaski of the Rochester Teacher's Union. "When they don't get enough support and enough direction, they have to fend on their own and I think they are doing a spectacular job."
Willa Powell, vice president of the Rochester City School District's Board of Education, responded to the finding that the board does not act as a unified body.
"We have to own that," said Powell. "We have to own that as a board, we did not provide one clear direction, we had board members you know off giving a personal opinion and we had administrators that felt compelled to follow that guidance."
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren added that the report is a "sobering assessment of our city schools. As a community, we all need to take some time to read it and fully digest its contents, recommendations and conclusions. I believe this document needs to be the basis of important community conversations on the state of our school district today, but even more importantly, on where the district needs to go tomorrow and beyond."