Posts Tagged ‘Education’

princetonreviewRochester Institute of Technology is again being recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best universities for undergraduate education. The education-services company features RIT in the just-published 2014 edition of its annual bookThe Best 378 Colleges.

In its profile on RIT, The Princeton Review quotes extensively from students at the university who were surveyed for the book.

According to a summary of student comments, “Rochester Institute of Technology is bursting at the seams with a myriad of fantastic academic opportunities. Students here greatly value the fact that the university maintains a strong ‘focus on innovation’ and heavily encourages ‘collaboration [between] business and technology.’…Overall, an RIT education encourages students to think in new ways and challenge what seems impossible.”

The publication also cites “RIT’s fabulous co-op program which allows students to get real-world experience while still in school. And with amazing departments ranging from game design and animation to computer science and biotechnology, your academic needs and interests are guaranteed to be met.”

“RIT offers outstanding academics, which is the primary criteria for our choice of schools for the book,” says Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s senior vice president, publisher and author of the publication. “We base our selections primarily on data we obtain in our annual institutional data surveys. We also take into account input we get from our staff, our 35-member National College Counselor Advisory Board, our personal visits to schools, and the wide range of feedback we get from our surveys of students attending these schools.”

The Princeton Review is an education-services company known for its test-prep courses, tutoring, books, and other student resources. School profiles and ranking lists in “The Best 378 Colleges” are available at

The Princeton Review is just one of several national rankings received by RIT. To view other rankings, go the university’s website.

Lately, there’s been a lot of chatter about charter schools. Rochester, with some of the lowest-performing schools in the country, is a market ripe for an explosion of charters, according to some local educators.

Rochester schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas has on multiple occasions talked about the decline in student population, which is largely attributable to charter schools. The district has lost about 3,200 students to charters, and a continued decline would have a serious impact on almost every aspect of city schools, he says.

Fewer teachers and non-teaching employees would be needed. Fewer schools would be needed, which raises questions about the massive $1.2 billion schools modernization project under way.

The big question: How many students could the district potentially lose? The answer could be thousands.

Most of the charter schools that have opened here are small schools developed by local educators, some of them expatriates of the city school district. But what if Rochester attracted more attention from the larger charter management organizations like Kipp, for example?

These are companies managing a portfolio of schools with resources, methodology, and a track record — something attractive to business leaders and investors.

Joe Klein, chair of Klein Steel and former treasurer of True North Rochester Preparatory Charter School, has created E3 Rochester, a company that could radically change the education landscape in the city. E3 recruits successful charter management organizations. Klein has so far attracted the interest of at least two organizations, and each has applied to open a school in Rochester in 2014.

Klein says E3 will be driven by quality, and not growth for growth’s sake.

At a meeting last night, Vargas said he knows of seven more charter schools that will open in the district over the next two years. Rochester’s hospitals aren’t reporting a boom in the city’s birthrate, so you can see where this is going.

Let’s assume Vargas is right, and let’s also assume that none of the existing charters close; the drop in the district’s student population could be substantial over the next decade.

It’s too early to say whether that’s bad or good.

POSTED BY  ON TUE, NOV 13, 2012 AT 10:42 AM

Rochester schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas wheeled out some charts, at a meeting this morning, to help explain his proposal for modernizing city schools. His plan for the next phase of the more than $1 billion remake of the district’s buildings recommends closing five schools.

In a relatively short period of time, Vargas has become deft at explaining an extremely complex plan. But the discussion invariably gets stuck on one topic: neighborhood schools.

It’s been difficult for Vargas to get everyone on the same page. That’s partly because while many parents and community leaders frequently say they want neighborhood schools, they don’t send their children to those schools.

“We’re going to have to study this phenomenon,” Vargas said this morning.

Another problem: multiple definitions have evolved for neighborhood schools. For instance, at this morning’s meeting, Vargas talked about his recommendation to close School 16, 37, and 44, and build a new school that combines the programs of all three. The new school would also draw students from the 19th Ward neighborhood.

But some parents were not on board with the idea. They argued that too many of the closures were in the 19th Ward neighborhood. And they said, a new school housing nearly a thousand students would be too big.

Transportation is another huge concern for many parents. Even though some parents may like the idea of a neighborhood school, they are concerned about safety. And they choose schools far enough away from their homes to make busing a requirement, which drives up costs for the district.

Vargas knows there is no easy answer to the neighborhood schools issue, but he’s got to find one before spending $625 million on the next phase of remodeling city schools. Otherwise, he risks moving forward on a costly project that many parents, residents, and community leaders won’t value. And worse, it won’t stop the decline in enrollment.