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Regarding RCSD, it’s time for Malik Evans to Knock It Off (part 1)

Howard Eagle

The Rochester City School District (RCSD) and other decaying, urban schools districts like Atlanta, Chicago, and Baltimore are back in national news again.

A quote by Rochester Mayor Malik Evans in a recent article on the subject is particularly bothersome. The story was published last week in Fox 11 News (Atlanta) by Kristina Watrobskik titled Atlanta parents join national push for accountability in urban school districts. She quotes Evans as saying:

"Although I don't run the schools, I'm watching very closely what’s going on there. Very closely," Mayor Malik Evans told local outlet WHAM. "Because they need stability."

In my humble, but staunch and informed view, Mr. Evans needs to think very carefully before opening his dripping-with-virulent-hypocrisy-mouth about overall conditions in the RCSD because he definitely helped create, and/or perpetuate, reinforce, and maintain those conditions.

For example, it is mentioned in the article that: "The Rochester City School District (RCSD) is on its eighth superintendent in 10 years, a stat the city's mayor has expressed frustration with."

Well, well, well! What the city's mayor is not saying is that he "served" on the RCSD Board of Education (the local governing body) for 13 years—6 of which he was President of the Board, including 2 during the above referenced 10 years in which the RCSD had eight different Superintendents.

So, part of the bottom line becomes that Mr. Evans needs to knock it off with the crowd-pleasing, super-hyper-rhetoric. Truth be told, during the 13 years that he sat perched on the Board Dais, he and his colleagues did nothing that produced significant, fundamental, permanent change and/or improvement, period.

There's just so much hypocrisy going on, even among the current leadership. For example, when it was recently revealed that "more than 40% of Kindergarten to 8th grade RCSD students are at least three grade levels behind in reading, and that district leaders are inflating grade-point averages [which leads to students graduating with an incorrect perception of their performance"] the current Board President feigned surprise and alarm, and declared that "Somebody needs to go to jail on this. To have these kinds of scorings, where our children believe and our families are believing that our students are achieving and we’ve lied to them."

Yet, interestingly enough, she makes no mention of who (specifically) "needs to go to jail," and certainly has not initiated any action that would indicate seriousness beyond the normal spewing of empty, meaningless, crowd-pleasing, super-hyper rhetoric and noise.

There's no way in the world that someone who has been on the Board of Education for 16 years—as the current Board President has—is not aware of the fact that widespread, systematic grade inflation and social promotion has been occurring in the RCSD literally for decades. In fact, some of us have been raising the issue publicly, including at Board of Education meetings, for decades.

Back in 2018 Tim Macaluso of City Newspaper did an article called Exit interviews: reflections from four city leaders. In the article Macaluso interviewed four long-time elected officials, including Malik Evans and Jose Cruz who both had long tenures on the Rochester City School Board.

You will find the subterfuge quite interesting and my comments at the time; but I will save this for part II next week. Stay tuned!

As the saying goes, they 'take the cake,' and the mayor, in particular, really does need to knock it off! ~ 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.

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