A community discussion at the University of Rochester explored the educational benefits and challenges of the Rochester schools.
The Presidential Symposium: "Revitalizing K-12 Education in Rochester" looked at local programs that are making a difference in the community as well as research on alternative approaches to improving city education.
"I am very pleased with the conversation today,” says Rochester City School Superintendent Bolgen Vargas, who sat on the panel, which included Rochester’s Mayor and several education leaders. “We are talking about how do we address summer learning loss. How do we provide Universal Pre-K for our kids. How do we provide this social and emotional academic success support that our children need every day when they are in our school and outside of school."
Vargas says the biggest issue facing the district is getting kids to read on grade level by the third grade. Another concern: ensuring that students show up to school every day. A problem, Vargas says, was missing from the day’s discussion. However, he says the district can succeed and become a national model, if the community works together.
“We have a lot of work to do, but today is the start of beautiful relationships, " says Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says. "And making sure we're doing everything possible to give our children an opportunity to succeed. Pre-K and early learning is essential to making sure that children get the right foundation.”
Warren wants to use recreation centers as a way to reverse the summer learning loss.
The mayor also announced the formation of an Early Education Commission to support Universal Pre-K. The charge is led by the city's director of special projects and the head of the department of recreation and youth services. The members will be tasked with seeking grant funding, working with community partners with pre-k experience and convening parent focus groups.
Warren will head back to Washington, D.C. in March for an invitation-only meeting held by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The conference is slated to talk about how leaders can collectively work to improve student achievement, particularly those who are disadvantaged.