top of page

Are Some Peoples' Safety More Valued than Others in the RCSD?

Howard Eagle

A ghostly press conference took place recently in the Rochester City School District (RCSD). The optics alone, not to mention some of the intentional, inflammatory language, were actually quite scary—six white men and a blonde -haired Hispanic woman talking about the need for additional safety measures in the overwhelmingly predominantly Black RCSD. My first thought was darn, didn't they even think to invite the Black President of the Rochester Board of Education, or at least one of the other three Black members? Obviously not, unless of course they did, and were turned down by all of them, which is very doubtful. (To view the entire spectacle, see the second link below.)

Those present at the press conference represent the four RCSD unions: Association of Supervisors and Administrators of Rochester (ASAR), the Board of Education Non-Teaching Employees (BENTE), the Rochester Association of Paraprofessionals (RAP), and the Rochester Teachers Association (RTA).

Of course there's no need to guess who the lead spokesperson was—none other than the four-decades-plus reigning President of the Rochester Teachers Association—mister Adam Urbanski, who some refer to as the RCSD czar, and others maintain is the "real" RCSD superintendent. I bet we can also guess who did the least amount of talking.

Urbanski is well-known for assembling the four RCSD labor unions together to take common positions and stances, particularly regarding issues that impact the overwhelmingly white-suburbanite-dwelling teachers unit, which also includes RCSD social workers, counselors, and psychiatrists. He has done this repeatedly, many times, over the life of his long standing tenure, as one of the longest serving local teachers union presidents in the nation. He is also a Vice President of the national American Federation of Teachers.

In my humble, but unequivocally-staunch and informed view, if these dues-seeking operatives would also unite like they did recently, and like they have done many times before, but for a different purpose, like helping to figure out and address academic issues and problems, including the pervasive, devastating presence and impact of the Tripartite Beast And Illness (individual, institutional, and structural racism) many of OUR students would be doing MUCH BETTER! Obviously, this is NOT one of their priority concerns.

As it relates to this very white event, one really outstanding, problematic element was the intentional, inflammatory language that Urbanski spewed. For example, he claimed that it is not their intent to "criminalize" our children, while at the same time needlessly emphasizing that "schools [are NOT] havens for criminal behavior," which is obvious. This led me to ask: Are schools havens for racist behavior? If not, why does the RCSD have a Racial Equity Advocacy Leadership (REAL) team, and why has Urbanski and his blind followers been the greatest opponents and obstacle to the dire need for authentic, ongoing, anti-racist education?

I'm fairly certain he won't argue that individual, institutional, and structural racism are not problems in the RCSD. Even though it's only been relatively recently that he has agreed (I think) to use the language "anti-racist." For years, he maintained that those two words should not be used because they are (according to his very strange, and in fact ignorant thinking) accusatory", and will "turn [white] teachers off."

Urbanski has routinely engaged in tactics that used those associated with the so-called "Rochester Teacher Center" to run interference and/or attempt to discredit any and all anti-racist RCSD initiatives that RTA is unable to control.

Regarding his intentional, inflammatory language, he continued by noting that, with "warmer weather coming, getting the word out to children and to young people that school premises and parking lots are not where they should choose to engage in this behavior is very important before the spring is in full bloom." So, does this mean it's OK for them to choose OTHER LOCATIONS "to engage in this behavior?" If not, then why is his super-hyper, potentially inflammatory rhetoric necessary?

He also claimed that "our teachers do not fear our students." Relative to the latter point, I must call him out for not telling the truth on this. Anyone who has spent a substantial amount of time in RCSD buildings and classrooms, and is honest, KNOWS doggone well that many of the white-suburbanite-dwelling RCSD teachers in particular who were born and raised in lily-white communities, and NEVER had any dealings or relationships with large numbers of poor Black folks (prior to becoming RCSD employees) ARE definitely scared as hell of our students, period. IT'S OBSERVABLE!

As part of the "safety" solution, Superintendent Peluso talked about the idea that they have added social workers and counselors to the system, to assist with so-called "social/emotional" support (the latest money-making educational fad and cash-cow that posits massive numbers of our children are psychologically sick, mainly because of the effects of COVID).

WHO (SPECIFICALLY) are these people that they claim have been "added to the system?" This is NOT a rhetorical question. It's a very, very important one. For example, Peluso said they added 30 counselors last year. How many are white? How many are people of color? What are their socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and sociocultural backgrounds? These are all vitally important questions, and the answers are absolutely related to the likelihood of their effectiveness.

Lastly, it is very important to note, after listening to the Unions, especially Adam Urbanski and RTA praise Mr. Peluso to high-heaven (while continuing to bash the former Superintendent, though she's long gone), leaves me wondering if the current superintendent is like political-putty in the Unions' hands?

~ Howard Eagle is a longtime educator and local anti-racism advocate, known for his campaigns for the Rochester school board and prolific political and social commentary. Eagle taught social studies in the RCSD for 23 years, before retiring in 2010, and taught as an adjunct professor in the Department of African American Studies at SUNY Brockport for 20 years, before retiring in 2020.



Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
May 06, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I have followed the Leadership of Mr. Eagle for over 35 years. His Prophetic teachings focused on Racism in all areas, particularly, the RCSD. Decades later, it becomes a downward spiral. Mr. Eagle’s teaching are unwavering. I call them “Eagle Briefs,“ but it should be called ”Eagle Prophecies.”May God continue to anoint and strengthen Prof. Howard J. Eagle. People have ears, can’t hear. But they must see the conditions and be willing to Unite. 5+ Star Review.

Asante Sana, my friend! RCSD Retired Tchr - cib n a vision, too!


May 04, 2023

Cotton cotton cotton, our children are the equivalent of what cotton was during slavery. History repeats itself and public education for our children is driven by the same slave paradigm that this country was built on. Capitalism trump's racism in America. Follow the money. If they actually educated our children there would not be a need for a billion dollar district.


Top Stories

bottom of page