I must amend my most recent article regarding the pending ‘showdown’ between the Rochester City School District (RCSD) and Rochester Teachers Association (RTA) for another – person, in this case – has entered the fray. Bill Cala, who preceded Jean-Claude Brizard as RCSD Superintendent, has exchanged some testy emails with Brizard, contesting the math utilized to reflect a supposed improvement in the graduation rates of city school students over the last three years.
The email exchange between Cala and Brizard has been forwarded by an unknown source to Rachel Barnhart of 13WHAM News and can be accessed by clicking this particular site: http://www.13wham.com/content/blogs/story/Cala-Brizard-Spar-Over-Grad-Rates-in-Email/MgwCJFW1xkuIgmEoc_ZKhA.cspx. Cala, who I believe initiated the exchange, was responding to a media statement made by Brizard, who claims that, under his direction, graduation rates in the city have improved by double-digit figures. However, according to Cala, the stated gains were realized in the first year – Brizard’s first year as superintendent – only to have dipped the past two years. Brizard, responding to Cala directly via email, provided statistics asserting his initial claims are accurate and that a record number of students are earning Regents Diplomas.
In his email to Cala, Brizard provided data that I can imagine only makes sense to other school superintendents, Harvard linguists or M.I.T. mathematicians. It is hard to believe that such immediate gains could have been realized so quickly by Brizard or anybody else for that matter. Even under the best of circumstances, genuine and comprehensive reform will take several years and not months, a year or three years. What Brizard is purporting doesn’t quite add up, considering it was the New York State Department of Education that determined the RCSD realized a decrease in its graduation rate the past two years.
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