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ROC the Future launches "Our Children. Our Future." campaign

James Brown

A local coalition is working with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren to ask for a new governance structure for the Rochester City School District. ROC the Future announced its "Our Children. Our Future."petition campaign on Monday.

In a letter sent to NYS Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, the group asked for more community involvement in the creation of  a new management strategy for the district.  Warren was the first to sign up, and emphatically talked about the need for change.

“We spend a billion dollars a year educating our children," Warren said. "A billion dollars. But our message to them: ‘Every day half of you will fail.’ Today that stops. Today we call on this entire community to work together, because it’s our children our future.”

Warren says that the time for placing blame is over, and that the time to take action is now because failing schools are breaking our children.

“We have jails filled with broken men and broken women," Warren said. "And many of it is due to us failing to act.”

Warren says she is not asking for mayoral control of schools but she says that if the NYS Education Commissioner suggests it, she will have to seriously consider it.

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Rochester School Board member Beatriz Lebron says that she is open to working with the mayor and ROC the Future but wants more parental involvement in the process.

“Parents have to be at the forefront of this conversation," LeBron said. "Even though they may not understand all the complexities of the issues of the district it’s still their children.”

The Rochester City School District responded to a critical state education department report on the district in early February.  There's been no word yet on the state’s response to that report.

Last weekend, a statement from the NYS Education Deparatment said that it is carefully review the district's response and will provide the school board and the district with feedback in the coming weeks. The state reiterated that, "all options are on the table" to ensure that Rochester children get the high quality education they deserve.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.