Transcript: Need to Know Rochester for April 2, 2010

I'M JULIE PHILIPP, THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME FOR THIS EDITION OF NEED TO KNOW.

 

THIS WEEK, WXXI PRESENTED A DEBATE BETWEEN ROCHESTER MAYOR ROBERT DUFFY - WHO IS ASKING FOR MAYORAL CONTROL OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT - AND AN OPPONENT OF MAYORAL CONTROL, SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT MALIK EVANS.  ONE OF THE JOURNALISTS QUESTIONING THE PAIR WAS LIZ MEDHIN OF WDKX.

 

77 Percent of respondants to a recent poll, commissioned by the Center for Governmental Research, indicated that they are willing to consider a big change, because current school district performance is what they call "unacceptable."  If not mayoral control, what do you see as the best way to jolt the current system, and get better results?

 

I think that the current system has been jolted, we brought -- we have brought in a superintendent who has been here two and a half years, we're hoping that he's going to stay for another three.  We have our strategic plan, that we've been working hard.  We've seen gains every single year, although the continuous, gratuitous degradation of public education, by many people in the media, kind of puts that to the side.  I'm sure our superintendent is getting very frustrated, in terms of him constantly hearing people knocking the district, and not even paying attention to some of the numbers that I mentioned.  Every year, even this year, with the small dip in graduation rates, we retained more students.  So those students are going to graduate, not in their fourth year, but in their fifth year.  So the system has been jolted.  The superintendent has brought in fresh energy into this district.  Is everyone going to agree with him all the time?  No.  But I think that we have seen that.  But you can also jolt the system, I would not be opposed to a government change in the Rochester City School District, if we were brought into line the same way that the suburban districts are governed.  I think that there's this, as the mayor said: there's frustration, that this 119 million dollars is, that the city does not have ultimate say over, but they can reject our budget at any time they want.  Could be better spent.  Well, let our folks in Rochester vote on their budget, let them vote for their school board in April or May, or -- I know we said it can't be done -- or let's look for a referendum.  So I am not opposed to any reforms, but I think that they should be in line with what goes on in other school districts around the country, and in this community. 

 

Mayor Duffy, in your estimation, there is still work to be done within the school district.  If mayoral control were successful in jolting that system back into shape, as you've said, would you then relinquish that control back to an elected school board. 

 

Well, I think we, if we tested that a goverance change, for four to five years, it was tested, it was measured, it was evaluated, and it failed or it was not successful, I think we have to go back and look at what can we do?  I think at this point, to say let's not test something different, is absolutely irresponsible and fundamentally wrong.  You cannot defend the current results, and not just, this transcends Malik and the school board, this is three decades.  And we have to look at going at this problem so incredibly differently, and I think there is so many ways to do that.  And testing the governance change is one, as Malik mentioned, if you want to have the school board levy taxes, well, you can't have a referendum for that, either, because as the doctor mentioned -- and he's absolutely right -- the city school district is a ward of the state.  So the state legislature makes that decision, either way, and the big five, I think the legislation has been in place for as long as I can remember.  But I would say that the change, I cannot imagine a change where we look at every system and we drive resources and focus in the classroom and kids, I believe we can make a difference.  I believe we can show this community we can make a difference, and let the community decide afterwards. 

 

But if mayoral control did work, could you see yourself relinquishing control to an elected board, at that time?

 

If it did work?

 

Having it serve as a jolt to the system, is what I think she is trying to say? 

 

Correct.

 

And then go back to-

 

I would say this, if we made a change, that should a dramatic difference in the lives of children and families in Rochester, and we are on a path for change, why we want to go back to the old system, I think, I would, that would be a great conversation in this community.  I think this community, overwhelmingly, and right now, as we've seen recently three to one want a change, I think that is one I would be happy to take out to this community and have them make a decision on it.

 

AND WXXI'S BOB SMITH ASKED IF MAYORAL CONTROL WERE IMPLEMENTED IN ROCHESTER, WOULD IT REALLY HELP KIDS LEARN?

 

Would you say the barometer should be graduation rates, on-time graduation rates, performance on test scores, college acceptance and entrance, employment?  What should be the criteria?  And how would you judge, based on those criteria, whether mayoral control, or any other government system, is a success?  Mayor Duffy, I'll begin with you on that. 

 

Well, Bob, I'd say all of the above.  I think graduation rates are key, it's one indicator, test scores are certainly important to get to graduation rates, but it is the success of children, when they leave school, when they go onto post-secondary education or the workplace, which is critically important.  Are kids prepared to go and compete?  My issue before, with Monroe Community College, 346 city school students got to MCC in 2006, nine percent actually graduate two plus years later.  So are we preparing children to, either be academically strong, to go out into the workplace and compete?  Or through vocational training, to go out and support themselves?  Their families?  I think that has to be the key.  When you have one, I think it's for middle school kids, they miss one day every two weeks.  Going back to Malik's question, the graduation-- or the attendance rates -- four- to six-thousand kids, that came right from the top of the school district.  And it's about 20-percent that don't come, so we have to make sure kids are in school make sure the issues that they face, and there may be a variety of those, aren't helped, addressed or have resources applied to them; prepare those kids for the future, because just graduating school, in today's economic climate and with our economy -- the worldwide economy -- is not enough.  I mean, we're talking about kids who have to share books when the world is on the web.  I mean, things are so much more advanced technologically, so it's preparing children for the future and their success.  And just one last point, how do you get better parent-parental involvement?  I think working with the parent's currently, but I do believe a parent that did not graduate school may be facing far greater challenges, preparing to read and be with their children and do summer things.  So as graduation rates and successes go up in schools, I think that we create a better environment for parents in the future.

 

President Evans, are you satisfied that graduation rates are a good barometer of how well the current system is working? 

 

Graduation rates are a part of the barometer, but you can have, I went to a prestigious university, and I can tell you that, I'm sure there's some professors there that can tell you there's probably students that graduated, and.  still did not come prepared.  So graduation rates are part of it, but you have to make sure you are graduating graduates than can read, think critically, question, understand, have a sense of history and are able to compete, just not with someone in Massachusetts, but with someone in India, with China, with Japan because the United States as a whole, even when you control for socioeconomic status, still lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to math and science, so it's just not the graduation rates, so it's what they're graduating-what skills they're graduating with.  And that's a just, that's a discussion that goes even beyond Mayoral control, and into curriculum and the structure of our school systems.  I think that we need to be more innovative in all our schools, in terms of making sure that our students are going to be able to compete.  However, I think that the data is clear, in terms of independent research, that Dr. Vitteritti mentioned, the nape just released their latest scores, and I'll tell you that Mayoral control or school board, neither one ensures that you're gonna have blockbuster success, in terms of student achievement.  So I think it's a mistake for us to think that because we switched a government system, that automatically we're going see strong academic achievement.  The data just not bear that out, and I'm waiting for someone to give me a piece of data that does show that.  I would welcome it.

 

ROCHESTER CITY NEWSPAPER PARTNERED WITH WXXI ON LAST NIGHT'S FORUM, AND TOGETHER WE INVITED DR. JOSEPH VITERITTI OF HUNTER COLLEGE TO SIT IN ON THE DEBATE AND OFFER SOME ANALYSIS.  DR. VITERITTI IS THE EDITOR OF WHEN MAYORS TAKE CHARGE - A BOOK THAT ASSESSES MAYORAL CONTROL IN ABOUT A DOZEN CITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.  HE JOINS ME NOW IN STUDIO.

N u attended did debate last night when you think about the dialogue that is going on around the issue of me oral control in comparison with other cities that have wrestled with this?

 

 I think they've done a wonderful job bringing talk issue what we see going on in Rochester is similar to what we've seen in other cities can see the frustration in the mayor's voice and frustration with the status quo is the biggest drive behind mayoral control in the country what he expressed personally is something fell within the population and when that breaches a large part of the population u begin to develop a mental momentum for change in the school board president and that's normal also because u no change will produce its uncharted territory for any city is going through with there's a lot of anxiety among the people who feel are we going to lose touch with his education system that's been that it experience in some places that had me oral controlled community people feel they're losing a voice and I think you have to move very carefully to make sure that that does not happen when you move to me oral control u can not have a successful school system without the participation of parents in the engagement of parents and so you cannot move ahead without them in u can move too far ahead of them it's what's going on now in Rochester I think it's healthy and I wouldn't venture to say where it's going to wind up

 

 its not unusual and it fits with the story I've seen in other cities

 

I in those other cities and there's no black-and-white yes it works know it doesn't it sort of very gray as to whether me oral controlled does improve student learning what is your

 

 that's my contribution to the discussion often when you arrive in a particular scene the conversation is very polarized in the confine situations where that applicants are accentuating the positive and the people who are against it are accentuating the negative and there is a large gray area the need to come to terms with there are no guarantees and education and so really comes down to whether or not you're and improving the prob ability that things will get better I think it can be said based on what we've seen in other cities that it does create the capacity for change in that's not minor because the story of urban education in this country has been a story of political paralysis that is not allowed systems to move ahead as I said in a bloke while change is not synonymous with progress it's a prerequisite to it u can have it without change and so that's what has led many cities a dozen so far this the conversation is going on in other places I keep hearing about it because reporters and people who are active in the local scene call me about as this is the conversation is taking place in many cities now and it's not going to go away

it doesn't mean it's going to be had adopted in every city but it's become a become more of a normal

 

 many of these districts do have some good schools that there are some higher performing school students within the schools has me oral control showed any indication it by that barometer is that it works beacon star to replicate some of those successes

 

 and Boston has made an effort to replicate success programmatic way that's a formula

it's not a completely negative story about urban schools but that's the reason why people ask for change is long as you have people accepting the idea that urban schools can work what's really going on in the conversation that Urban Schools students cannot perform well then you have no hope for change the when you have situations we have is school working on it under very strict similar circumstances then it points in a direction that says we can do better and that's what drives reform the understanding that when you walk into school works and under the worst of circumstances in opens dries to say why can we do this elsewhere it's an obvious question I think the more the we can make those comparisons and point to success the more there's gonna be a drive for reform and say we don't need to sell its settle for failure

 

across talking about test scores graduation rates and u brought up the point that there is another barometer for success

 

 people need to feel like they can be involved parents need to be involved in this school's to natural instinct to monitor my kids there everyday I want something to say about it

 as a system move towards me oral control u gotta keep that in mind not only by the formal structure of this system but by the style of the people in charge @$$ to do with the leadership style

 

u have to understand is cool darn extension of the community and all research shows that schools work best when parents and the community are involved in that you can look at them as an obstacle u have to look at them as an asset

 

  as you've implemented this and how much time to give it once it's been implemented in howdy check get along the way

 

ne Mayor hook its charge of the school system is under enormous pressure to show watery gonna do now with the agenda here the first year u look at that it takes time to really as be able to say that there's an improvement Performance it doesn't happen overnight immature it happens in to retrieve years cya to be a little more measured w/ that the governing system itself is something to it ss just by the level of participation and frustration

 have a sense of for the community's stance?

 

 One of the interesting things about me oral control is struck me at having worked in three school districts and superintendent's office is one of the things it we should it should do is free the superintendent up from a lot of politics

 lets the superintendent peonage Decatur part of the education mission is to engage the parents in a more meaningful way

 engaging them is full players in should allow for that the superintendent is a very important piece of this

 

the successful macro control systems include some checks and balances to make sure that the me yours power is check where some of the checks the u think are necessary for success?

 In order to call it mayo control Bill Maher has to have

some control in some cities the mayor does not appoint the superintendent I think that allows for better relationships between the mayor and the superintendent I think it's important to note that the school board have some independence itself and that the school board has fixed terms so that the board cannot be removed it will is because they disagree with the mayor wants the the thing that we recommended in York that there be independent source of data on the performance of the school system deer now reliant on City Hall and city hall has a natural incentive to present things in a positive way that's just hope political system works and to have an independent source of data is important the legislature actually adopted that as an independent budget system has become a mechanism for reporting the data

 

THANK YOU DR. VITERITTI, A PROFESSOR AT HUNTER COLLEGE IN NEW YORK CITY AND THE EDITOR OF WHEN MAYORS TAKE CHARGE, SCHOOL GOVERNANCE IN THE CITY.

 

IF YOU MISSED IT, YOU CAN WATCH THURSDAY NIGHT'S FORUM - CALLED POINT BY POINT - ON LINE.  GO TO WXXI DOT O-R-G.  YOU CAN ALSO LEAVE COMMENTS THERE, AND SEE ADDITIONAL MESSAGES ABOUT MAYORAL CONTROL FROM A NUMBER OF PROMINENT COMMUNITY LEADERS. YOU CAN ALSO ENGAGE FURTHER AT ROCHESTER CITY NEWSPAPER DOT COM.  REPORTERS THERE ARE ALSO DOING SOME FOLLOWUP COVERAGE OF THE FORUM.

 

IT'S TIME NOW FOR THE BUSINESS SECTION WITH THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.

 

And Matt Daneman, our favorite business reporter, from the Democrat and Chronicle joins us, again.  Good to see you. 

 

Julie, good to see you on this sunny, sunny day.

 

Oh, I know, very nice.  Let's talk about Kodak executive compensation, first. 

 

Well, you have a situation where in 2009 the company started to see some turnaround from the recession that hugely hammered it, particularly the second half of 2008.  And the company's top executives saw some great benefit personally out of that.  You might recall in 2008, not just Kodak CEOs, but CEOs across the nation, across many USA companies, saw cuts in their compensation, as those companies fortunes really took a big tumble, as the recession set in.  With fortunes starting to turn around at Kodak, it still posted a loss in 2009 overall, but with things, the loss not being as bad, with them making some metrics, executive compensation got quite a bit richer in 2009 for these top executives.  Antonio Perez's base salary, the actual paycheck -- the cash he takes home -- was actually down about ten-percent, but there was a, but that doesn't count the $1.7 million cash bonus he received seven million dollars with of stock and stock options.  His overall compensation, what Kodak sort of estimates, here's the value of everything Antonio Perez got in compensation, was up well over, you know, more than, close to double, more than double what it was in 2008.  And other top executives at the company saw similar big increases, and I feel safe in guestimating that a lot of companies are gonna see the same thing as well.  They set different metrics for themselves in 2009, than they did for 2008, they had some business turnaround.  I mean, the stock market has been climbing quite a bit, in 2009.  You're going to see CEOs doing better.

 

What kind of reaction is it getting, that, you know, we've seen the Wall Street executive compensation being

 

Anecdotally, I can tell you from, you know, hearing from a number of people who used to work at Kodak, particularly, it's one of those things that's perenially is going to rub people the wrong way.  You know, for years there's been this clash in this nation over what CEOs make at the top, huge amounts, versus what the rank-and-file make, and it's always gonna be, you know, a hot button issue and a populist issue, in a lot of ways.  People want CEOs to, you know, I mean, companies want CEOs to make a lot of money, because that way they can attract the best and brightest talent.  The workers, who are there and on the, you know, doing hourly work, oftentimes it seems unfair. 

 

Okay, let's move onto Care Stream, selling its headquarters.

 

Yeah, speaking of Kodak, Carestream being sort of a spinoff of Kodak in 2007, what they're doing is they're selling their corporate headquarters, which sits about 200-300 yds from where were sitting right now; selling that off to Buckingham properties, local real estate management and development company.  And they're going to lease back the space that they're in.  This is, it sounds weird, but is actually sort of a common thing in the business world.  Companies, like Carestream -- Xerox is pursuing the same strategy -- their-- what are their jobs?  Their jobs are to make healthcare imaging equipment.  Their jobs are to make photocopiers, what have you.  They aren't specialists in running a 30 story building, or seven story building, they sell it to somebody who does.  They lease the space; they have none of the headaches.  It's kind of like being a renter versus a homeowner, in a sense.  And Carestream is talking about the money that they're going to make from selling this building.  It could go back into reinvestment in the business, it could go into dividends, all sorts of business uses that-for, potentially, the money.  The question always is: what kind of commitment does this indicate Carestream has to Rochester?  They're signing a ten year, with options to renew afterwards.

 

Seem somewhat committed.

 

Presumably they're gonna stay here for the long haul, but, you know, things change. 

 

Only about 30 seconds left, but I want to touch on Anne Mulcahy resigning.

 

Really sort of an interesting end of an era.  She was CEO and chairwoman of the board for most of 2000s.  She stepped down as CEO back in 2009 to retire from that, now retiring from chairwoman.  Once again, here's a woman, and it's been said many, many times, here's a woman who's largely credited for turning that company around, in 2000 and 2001, when it was on the rocks.  But it's a mixed legacy, shrunken company, too.

 

What's next in her future here?

 

Exactly.

 

Thank-you so much, Matt. MATT DANEMAN, BUSINESS REPORTER FOR THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.  I'M JULIE PHILIPP.  THANKS FOR WATCHING NEED TO KNOW.

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