The College at Brockport is rolling out a new program alongside the Brockport Central School District, and it comes with a message: understanding how to teach and live in diverse communities is not limited to urban areas. In the past several years, Brockport has seen incidents involving students or families that featured racist, sexist, or homophobic comments. At both the high school and college level, Brockport leaders want to ensure everyone has equal access to opportunities.

The college is working with the public school district to offer a new diversity certification program. This hour, we learn what the program will offer, how it’s structured, and we discuss its goals. Our guests:

With the start of the school year, we have a conversation standardized testing. Daniel Koretz is the author of "The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better." He joins us to discuss why he thinks standardized testing has negative impacts on student learning.

Our guests:

  • Daniel Koretz, professor of education at Harvard University who teaches educational measurement, and author of "The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better"
  • Dan Drmacich, coordinator for the Rochester Coalition for Public Education, and retired principal 
  • Eileen Graham, homeschooling parent  
  • Henry Padron, retired teacher in the Rochester City School District 

Should schools cultivate patriotism? It's one question among many about patriotism in schools and society addressed in a new book called “Patriotic Education in a Global Age.”

The co-author is University of Rochester professor Randy Curren. He joins us to discuss his research, the difference between patriotism and nationalism, and the role patriotism might play in civic education.

Three candidates are vying for two seats on the Rochester City School Board. Mental health expert Melanie Funchess and health worker Beatriz LeBron were appointed to the board in January, following the departure of Malik Evans and Mary Adams. Now, they must run again to fill the remainder of the terms, and they have some competition. Reverend Judith Davis is also on the primary ballot.

This hour, we hear from the three candidates about their platforms and their priorities for the Rochester City School District. We discuss teacher evaluations, testing, how to address student and parent needs, and their thoughts on a number of changes proposed for the district. It's an opportunity for you to ask them your questions before the primary on September 13. In studio:

Did you take a class in high school or college that stood above the rest? One that was more fun, interesting, or unusual than the others? Maybe it was about silent film history with a live piano accompaniment, or maybe it was a wine and beer appreciation class.

School will be back in session in just a few weeks, but this hour, we go back to class a bit early to learn about some of the most interesting classes being taught in our area, including courses on witchcraft and witch hunts, the Broken Earth series, the chemistry of indulgence, and more. In studio:

  • Tom Devaney, associate professor of history at the University of Rochester
  • Margaret Kaminsky, chair of the Chemistry and Geosciences Department at Monroe Community College
  • Beth McCoy, distinguished teaching professor of English at SUNY Geneseo

A group pushing for anti-racism training in the Rochester City School District says one of the big problems with American public schools is a Euro-centric approach to teaching history. They say it’s racist and that there’s much more beyond the borders of Europe to teach.

So what do they think a non-racist approach to teaching history looks like? We discuss it with our guests:

The New York State Education Commissioner was in Rochester this week for a cultural education visit. MaryEllen Elia toured a number of the city’s cultural attractions as part of her work to bridge cultural institutions throughout the state with childhood education. During her trip, she stopped by the Need to Know studios to discuss everything from the newly-named Distinguished Educator for Rochester, the closing and re-opening of failing schools, and more. 

When she was in Rochester last month, State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said the Rochester City School District needs to do a better job mentoring new teachers. The surprised teacher-mentors from the district, who say the RCSD Career in Teaching program has provided intense mentor support to new teachers throughout the last 30 years.

We talk to teacher-mentors and new teachers in the program about their work, teacher turnover, and teaching as a career. In studio:

  • Christopher Davis, special education teacher at Roberto Clemente School #8
  • Angela Rodriguez, first grade teacher at Nathaniel Rochester Community School #3
  • Tammy Shaw, primary school teacher and CIT lead teacher-mentor
  • Stefan Cohen, program director for the Career in Teaching program, and history teacher in the Rochester City School District

We have a conversation about the challenges of bringing the arts to rural areas. Shake on the Lake is a professional Shakespeare touring company based in Silver Lake. The founders created the organization after observing the disparity in arts and cultural opportunities in rural communities. They’re one of a few local organizations that bring theater and the arts to underserved rural groups, including the prison population.

We discuss their work and how it impacts cultural and economic development in the areas they serve. Our guests:

Local leaders in education join us to share their reactions to topics we discussed with New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. In studio:

  • Van White, Rochester City School Board President
  • Adam Urbanski, Rochester Teachers Association President
  • Christopher Albrecht, fourth grade teacher at the Fred W. Hill School in Brockport, and New York State’s Teacher of the Year