RTA Demonstration: Demand Changes

- Dozens of Rochester school teachers upset about their working conditions and the learning environment of their students, demonstrated outside central offices before Thursday night's school board meeting.  They hoped for the district's ear and they got it.

Strength in numbers. Teachers, parents,  even some students put their voices together.

Demanding change in the way city schools operate.  Everything from teacher evaluations to student testing.

"Many of our K-2 students were going home in tears, many teachers calling me up, saying I don't care if I get fired.  I can't continue to do this to my students.  To test them, toddlers, for three hours in a row," said David Wurz, RTA Labor Relations Specialist.

Kathleen Schello teaches at school #45.  It houses kindergarten through 8th grade.    Schello says the middle school students don't belong in school with elementary students.

"We cannot teach right now because we are dealing with behavior problems.  It trickles into our rooms.  They disturb our classrooms.  It can't be handled," said Kathleen Schello, RCSD Teacher.

60 to 70 teachers, parents and students voiced their concerns before the school board Thursday night.

"What do you do if you have 25-30 little children in the class and you're testing them one on one.  How about the other ones?  I mean these are young children.  So they get very frustrated.  They cry.  They dislike school.  And the Board of Education needs to understand, this is not teachers sticking up just for themselves.  They're sticking up for the little children," said Adam Urbanski, RTA President.

Superintendent Bolgen Vargas assured parents he understands their problems and is working to fix them.

"There's no question when you have a district that is the lowest performing district in New York State that there is stress on the part of everyone.  I mean the future of this district is at stake.  A year ago, I said it very clearly that we were in a situation which requires all of us to work together.  We are strong.  We have a strong workforce.  I am convinced that we have great teachers," said Bolgen Vargas, RCSD Superintendent.

As for excessive testing, Vargas said the district eliminated 219,000 tests this year district wide and will work to reduce even more next school year.

The teachers say they are not only pleading for relief locally but hope Albany is listening too.

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