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Summit Debriefing and CETF Communication with Denver

March 25, 2011

Summit Participants

March 11th and 12th proved to be a powerful weekend recently. After having built up for months, the Parent and Community Coalition for Educational Change (PCCFEC) held a Communitywide Educational Summit in Rochester, New York (The Community Education Task Force-CETF-is one organization in this Coalition). Hundreds of parents, students, teachers, organizers, and community members turned out to participate in planning for much needed progressive educational reform.

Bill Johnson

Dr. Adelaide Sanford

The keynote speakers for the event were Dr. Adelaide Sanford and Professor Bill Johnson. Dr. Sanford, the Vice Chancellor Emerita of the New York State Board of Regents  and Professor Johnson, the former mayor of Rochester and current mayoral candidate,  provided powerful context for the Summit.

The metaphor Dr. Sanford invoked on Saturday involved a description of how fires were kept going through cold nights before the advent of central heating. Ashes would be placed on top of the fire in order to prevent the flame from smoldering. In the morning, one could restart the fire by poking the logs and “unbanking the fire”. Dr. Sanford’s metaphor proved useful in calling on the various organizers, parents, students, teachers, and community to unbank the fire of passion, fury, and intensity surrounding education that has been dormant for years.

We broke into working groups for each of the Parent and Community Coalition for Educational Change’s 8 Principles for Educational Change.  The 8 Principles are as follows:

CETF Working Principles In Brief
1. Eliminate racism and establish cultural equity in schools
2. Establish relevant and broad-based parent, student and community involvement
3. Demand measurable accountability for all stakeholders
4. Increase local control and reject further attempts to privatize the public school system
5. Produce widespread, broad-based civic and political engagement of all stakeholders
6. Reform standardized testing
7. Implement effective and proven approaches, including early childhood education
8. Eliminate devastating effects of concentrated poverty

Each group was charged with developing two short term and two long term agreed-upon goals based on the Working Principles for Educational Change. The goals were to be realistic, measurable, and achievable. Throughout the two day event, it was powerful to build with parents, teachers, and community members with a desire to see true, meaningful reform happen in our district. In building a movement based on change in education, grassroots actions such as the Summit need to be part of a longer collaborative process linking like minded people together. In recognition of this all the working groups have reached out to participants who attended the Summit in order to keep people engaged in the planning of actions based around the goals produced at the Summit.

Rochester Indymedia provided excellent audio interviews throughout the Summit, compiled in mp3 form here: Rochester Indymedia-Summit Report1

(All photos of the Summit throughout this Post are Courtesy of Tillman Images. Much appreciated Bishop Tillman!)

Howard Eagle, Dr. Adelaide Sanford, and Dr. Susan Goodwin


Coalition for Justice in Education-Dr. David Hursh, Jack Langerak, William Cala, and Dan Drmacich


Howard Eagle (CETF, PCCFEC)


Summit Participants


Bill Cala in working group




Immediately following Saturday the 12th, it was also exciting to receive communication from fellow Parents Across America member and Denver School Board Commissioner Andrea Merida. She invited members of the Community Education Task Force to participate in a conference call with teachers in Denver, titled “How to build a strong teacher-community coalition, Part I”. The purpose of the conversation was to learn about and build  progressive grassroots alliances between teachers, parents, and community. The dialogue was worthwhile and productive, as we know the struggle in public education is bigger than any one city. You can listen to the first conversation here: rochester-denver.mp3. We will have more conference calls posted between CETF members in Rochester, teachers/parents in Denver, and teachers in Chicago soon.

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