The following is a guest post submitted by Joel Helfrich.
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Let us save a great amount of time and money, for once. If the Rochester City School District school board truly wants a “foot soldier,” as board President Van White stated in a recent City Newspaper article , I strongly encourage the board to select Bill Cala, former superintendent of Fairport Central School District, as Rochester’s next superintendent. As a former Spanish language teacher, whose first student teaching assignment was at East High School, Cala will likely garner the support of parents and the union…
[ A petition in support of Bill Cala for RCSD Superintendent has been started at Change.org ]
Cala is a natural leader, having run school districts in the Rochester area (including a brief stint as RCSD’s interim superintendent). He also is a creative person, dynamic social entrepreneur, and ambassador for education, having established schools and other programs through his Joining Hearts and Hands organization, a not-for-profit working in Kenya. He is also an educational reformer, supporting students (and teachers and parents) in New York State through his public comments and activism about standardized testing, Common Core, Urban-Suburban program, Governor Cuomo’s education policies, and other important issues that concern our urban school district.
On WXXI’s Connections radio program , Cala made it clear that he would consider the position. He stated in a recent D&C article , “It’s just unbearable to me to watch another person come in who … doesn’t have the right motives.” Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association, supported Cala in a recent City Newspaper article. Even Mayor Lovely Warren stated on November 1, 2015, that she supports Cala. Murmurings outside of public forums also suggest broad support for Cala.
Cala is a local guy who deserves our support. Cala has lived and worked in the Rochester area for at least 45 years and therefore possesses necessary institutional and community knowledge. He graduated from Bishop Kearney High School, then earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Education and his Master’s degree in Education from St. John Fisher College. He received a PhD in Education from SUNY Buffalo. He has held administrative positions in western New York since 1978. Cala has demonstrated that he is invested in this community and is clearly here to stay.
Although I am not naïve enough to think that one person alone can turn the district around, I think that a good start would be to pick Cala as the next superintendent. Indeed, we should select a person who uniquely embodies the qualities of leadership and compassion, as well as someone who will be a gladiator, agitator, and spokesperson for children and their education. Cala is that person. Provide him with the necessary autonomy and we may begin to see not only lasting improvement in RCSD schools but also a true turnaround.
Co-Founder, Rochester River School
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Tags: Bill Cala, Bishop Kearney High School, Common Core, East High School, education, Fairport Central School District, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Joining Hearts and Hands, Kenya, Lovely Warren, Rochester City School District (RCSD), schools, William Cala
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 10th, 2015 at 9:23 pm and is filed under Opinion, Reader Submitted Stories, Rochester News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
Cala’s outside support is one reason why he likely won’t be picked by the board. The board does not want someone with broad public support who will be able to challenge their control.
I do not know Cala or much about him, and did not live in the area when he was at RCSD. But I think he’d be an excellent choice for superintendent. I also think he’d likely fail to get significant improvement in RCSD educational outcomes. After that happens, perhaps then we as a community could stop pining for a white knight to ride in and save us, and start trying to change the structures that push RCSD students towards failure – like creating a county-wide school system to fight segregated poverty, like fighting lead poisoning, like getting new young parents home nursing visits to teach them how to parent, like shifting the school day later so kids don’t have to wake up at 6am and aren’t dismissed from school while there are inviting empty homes to burglarize.
But, if we ever do seriously look at structural changes like that, it will probably happen after we try everything else and it fails.