During the last weeks of the term, third graders at School 58-World of Inquiry School created an oil spill in a bowl. Under the guidance of teacher Alyson Ricci, they tried to clean it up. Cotton swabs worked.
The school last year won the national Excellence in Urban Education Award, with all students meeting state proficiency rates in science and social studies. It’s an exception, though, in a Rochester system where fewer than half of the 32,000 public-school students graduate on time.
Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy wants to set up more schools that produce results like World of Inquiry’s. But he says the superintendent’s efforts to close failing schools and open new ones have been hobbled by a school board mired in minutia. He is pushing to dissolve the elected board in favor of one appointed by the mayor and city council for a five-year test period. New York’s state legislature is considering the bid.
As cities come under increasing pressure to fix failing schools, more are, like Rochester, trying to take matters into their own hands–or at least those of their mayors.