"Learning from Raleigh"

Rev. John Wilkinson opened the meeting at Third Presbyterian Church on September 30, 2014

Presenters

John Wilkinson

John Wilkinson

Don Pryor

Don Pryor

Lynette Sparks

Lynette Sparks

Beth Laidlaw

Beth Laidlaw

Corri Labrum

Corri Labrum

 

Titled "Learning from Raleigh: a journey toward great schools for all," the fourth annual Urban Presbyterians Together education evening featured five speakers outlining the current status of the discussion.

Presenters expressed hope that meaningful improvements could occur in Rochester urban education. They based this on exchanges when eleven Rochesterians visited Raleigh NC in April 2014 and talked with over 75 school stakeholders. The group included parents, community members, tutors, educators, non-profit agency leaders, business leaders, and a journalist. They also expect significant exchanges during an invitation-only event on November 10 when Raleigh community leaders plan to visit Rochester and meet with Rochester leaders.

The Rochester travelers said they avoided returning from Raleigh with a set of solutions. Rather they summarized key principles from the visit such as:

  • Socioeconomic balance is important. Raleigh's target is that no more than 40% of students come from families at or below the poverty level
  • Raleigh achieved this through 35 magnet schools and voluntary choice
  • Urban people have some things to offer suburban children
  • Disparities are reduced without negative impacts on middle class: almost 70% Raleigh graduation rate for low-income and minority students
  • Focus on strong leaders and teachers in schools
  • Community leaders built consensus around great schools

Since their return, the visitors to Raleigh have shared their findings with leaders in schools, business, labor, politics, churches, and media.

Some presenters cautioned patience because the Raleigh effort has spanned 20 years. They said they see key principles such as:

  • Broad community collaboration and strong leadership
  • Cooperation and policy changes at local and state levels
  • Local pilots to help move toward achievement of key principles/goals
  • Faith community support to build grass roots momentum

Raleigh came into focus through the book Hope and Despair in the American City: why there are no bad schools in Raleigh, and a subsequent meeting with its author Gerald Grant, Professor Emeritus, Syracuse University.

A Rochester Area Community Foundation grant helped enable the two-way exchange of visits of Raleigh and Rochester leaders.

Other UPT education efforts include:

These are the slides from the September 30, 2014 presentation (pdf).

Here's the handout from the evening (pdf).