Colleagues,

Here’s a brief update:

– Preparing For Tough Negotiations Ahead. While our current contract does not expire until June 30, 2022, the District is already signaling that they will seek to “right-size” the District at the expense of students and their teachers. Dr. Shelley Jallow, the state-appointed RCSD Monitor who appears to be the one to really call the shots at Central Office, recommended in her earlier reports and more recently on November 30th, that the District should hire an outside law firm to represent them in negotiations, demand a longer school day and school year, decrease our health benefits, max-out class sizes, lay off teachers, mandate more meetings, require more student testing, remove all contractual constraints on teacher evaluations and professional development, and outsourcing services, and fortify Central Office (she’s even proposing that the District hire a Charter Schools Coordinator). All this at a time that the District is swimming in money. She alleges in her reports that “Collective bargaining agreements are currently a barrier to instructional accountability.” But even though we’ve rarely encountered such an anti-union animus, I am certain that this will not succeed in undermining either our solidarity or our commitment to public education and to our students.

– PD Opportunity. This Tuesday, December 7th, the Rochester Teacher Center is offering an evening session (4:15-6:15) on “Knowing Students” – part two of the RTC Institute on Teaching and Learning Informed by Cultural Knowledge: Teaching Children of Color. Featured presenters, including Dr. Joyce King and Dr. Walter Farrell, will discuss what kind of education our students need and how we can fight off efforts to undermine it (see attached flyer below). Teachers can register on TrueNorth Logic and are encouraged to invite parents and family members of our students to register by calling the Rochester Teacher Center (585 262 8080) or by emailing RTC’s Associate Yolanda Montalvo <ymontalvo@rochesterteachers.com>.

– Fighting School Closings and Disruption. At a time that students need stability, lower class sizes, and more social-emotional support, the Superintendent is proposing closing, merging and relocating schools. All this is in the name of “right-sizing” the District – a euphemism for increasing class sizes, laying off teachers and reducing services for our students. This threatens all schools and all students, not just those directly affected by the proposed school reconfiguration. While the school board is scheduled to vote on the Superintendent’s recommendations in February, there’ll be a public hearing on this ill-advised proposal on Wednesday, December 15th, from 5:00- 6:30pm. Speakers wishing to address the Board must sign up by noon on December 15th.

– No Response Yet to RTA Proposals. As you know, RTA proposed to Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small last week that the District use its unprecedented increase in Federal and State aid to lower class sizes, add social-emotional support services for students create alternative programs to help students who are not succeeding in the regular environment, and address the debilitating shortages of staff through meaningful incentives (see attached). The nearly $285M in additional Federal money over the next three years, plus the increases in State aid through full funding in Foundation aid, make it eminently affordable for our District to finally do right by our students instead of fortifying Central Office while “right-sizing” the schools.

Adam Urbanski, RTA President

Investing in the Needs of Our Students

RTC Institute