Recent Articles

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Statement in Support of RAP & BENTE


Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Rochester Organization of Rank-and-file Educators stands in solidarity with our RAP and BENTE union sisters and brothers in the face of the anticipated layoffs following Thursday’s announcement that the RCSD will begin the first ten weeks of school remotely. The district is projecting to cut 113 paraprofessional positions and “a number” of BENTE members. While we fully support the decision to shift to a 100 percent remote learning model for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, it is unconscionable that the RCSD would seek to eliminate these essential positions in the midst of a global pandemic which has already put unprecedented pressure on the members of our community, both personally and professionally. 

As fellow educators, paraprofessionals and non-teaching employees provide invaluable support to students, teachers, and administrators despite the fact that these positions are among the lowest-paying jobs in the RCSD. RAP members have worked alongside teachers to educate students through this pandemic, often with fewer resources and less support themselves. BENTE members were on the front lines from the beginning ensuring our children were fed and that our buildings were disinfected and secure. In the coming weeks, our students, their families, and teachers are going to need more support, not less, as we acclimate to this new model. Instead of outsourcing the work to keep students safe and engaged, the RCSD should rely on its staff that already have relationships with our students and ties to our community, as many RAP and BENTE members are city residents themselves. 

This decision to eliminate these workers is inhumane and ill-conceived. Considering the advancements made in the fight for racial and economic justice by Black Lives Matter, a movement the RCSD claims to support, it is reprehensible that the district seeks to terminate these positions which are made up of predominantly Black and Latinx union members. RORE calls on superintendent Lesli Myers-Small to honor former superintendent Terry Dade’s promise that BENTE union members be paid through the pandemic, recognize the dire need for paraprofessionals, and reverse her decision to lay off these truly essential workers. 

Your fellow workers, 


Saturday, August 15, 2020

Tell City Council: Money for Families, Not a Police Station


On Tuesday, August 18th, Rochester City Council will vote on a proposal to spend $16 million dollars ($12.5 million is construction) on a new police substation on East Main Street.  About seventy-five percent of this money will be borrowed which would cause a $12.6 million debt.

Meanwhile, the Rochester City School District made the correct decision in starting the 2020-21 school year online in order to prevent our children and their families from becoming sick.  But that means our parents need support. 

Therefore we are asking all concerned citizens to contact City Council to tell them to vote against funding this police station and instead to use the money to support families who are now scrambling to make arrangements for their children for the upcoming school year. 

Contact City Council and ask them to do the following:

1.  Vote down funding for this police substation.

2.  Use earmarked money to support families with rent/mortgage assistance, utilities assistance including internet, and food. 

3.  Consider issuing bonds for the same amount of money you were going to for the police station to support families.

4.  Enact a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures within the City of Rochester at least through June 2021.

Some talking points to may want to include are:

*There is an immediate need for support for families struggling to make arrangements for their children.

*Some parents may literally need to be paid to stay home with their kids in order to be able to pay their rent/mortgage, buy food, etc.

*Money spent on the police station could be used to help families get suitable wi-fi in order for their children to participate in online learning.

*Funding a police station while not helping Rochester families in immediate need shows a perspective in which punishment of citizens is more important than supporting them.

Speaking at this Tuesday’s City Council meeting may be too late.  That is why we are suggesting calling or emailing them BEFORE Tuesday.  There is not a lot of time so do this now, or join RORE in a Zoom meeting for help in doing this, followed by all of us taking direct action and making contact with Council members.  This Zoom meeting will take place:

Sunday, August 16th at 4pm.

The link to register for the Zoom meeting is:

The Zoom meeting will be recorded and posted online if you need help but cannot make it.  See our website after Sunday at 3pm for the video.

But of course you can contact us with questions at

City Council Members

Loretta Scott or 585-482-0407

Malik Evans or 585-428-7538

Mitch Gruber or 585-428-7538

Willie Lightfoot or 585-478-4603

Jacklyn Ortiz or 585-325-1960

LaShay Harris  or 585-235-5168

Mary Lupien or 585-406-4709

Michael Patterson or 585-451-2024

Jose Peo    or 585-690-2984


Friday, August 14, 2020

Internet For All Petition

After COVID-19 forced Rochester public schools to cancel in-person classes, thousands of students have been unable to continue their learning online. Spectrum promised low-income households two free months of its discounted “Internet Essentials” package, but many have been left unconnected due to restrictions and requirements placed on this offer. This digital divide is especially felt by Black students, nearly half of whom lack internet connectivity at home. After July 1st, our most vulnerable Rochestarians will be expected to pay for the Internet Essentials package, which is slower than 89% of connections nation-wide. Even as Black and low-income students struggle to even log on to class, Spectrum has yet to open existing higher-speed networks for free to those in need.

This callous stance appears even worse given the years of support Spectrum has received from Rochester taxpayers. Spectrum has received billions in assistance from a 20% property tax cut, city tax allowances since 2007, as well as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. In 2019, such corporate welfare enabled Spectrum to post a profit totaling $16.9 billion, 5.0% higher than in 2018, and CEO Thomas Rutledge made $8.16 million in salary and incentives in 2018, a 5% rise over his 2017 total compensation.

Despite calling Rochester its home and receiving billions in support from its neighbors, Spectrum has failed to support our most vulnerable students in this unprecedented time by refusing to provide students with the assistance they need. Though Spectrum has pledged to take action against digital disparities, the urgency of this pandemic calls for current efforts to be directed toward what is most needed—access to reliable, high quality internet.

To meet the needs of our most vulnerable students, we are petitioning Spectrum to:

1) Offer the Internet Essentials program for free to all low-income Rochester homes with students now throughout the end of the 2020-2021 school year

2) Increase the upload speed of Internet Essentials from 3 Mbps to 25 Mbps and the download speed from 25 Mbps to 100 Mbps

References and further reading:

1) Auxier, Brooke, and Monica Anderson. “As Schools Close Due to the Coronavirus, Some U.S. Students Face a Digital 'Homework Gap'.” Pew Research Center, 16 Mar. 2020, URL (petition banner image)

2) Nasr, Amir. “The Perilous Future of Internet Access for Students of Color.” New America, 12 July 2018, URL

3) Paul Ericson. "Why Digital Disparity Persists" Rochester Beacon, 31 January 2019, URL

4) Paul Ericson. "The cost of digital disparity in a pandemic" Rochester Beacon, 15 April 2020, URL

Click Here to Add Your Name

Monday, August 3, 2020

Monroe County School Reopening Proposal

Background and Context

In the same way that the state is taking a deliberate and careful approach to reopening the economy, the state must take an equally deliberate and careful approach to reopening our public schools. Having spent approximately 25 percent of the 2019-2020 school year in crisis mode and learning remotely, all of our students — regardless of socioeconomic status or race — will be coming back with social, emotional and academic needs that we don’t yet fully understand. The health and wellness of the students and staff of the Rochester City School District is intrinsically linked to that of students and staff in all of Monroe County. Any reopening plan must be uniform across the county to acknowledge the interconnectedness of our communities. Public health crises do not recognize town boundaries.

The nearly 60,000 students whose families are living in poverty will have even more acute trauma than they carried before the pandemic. The intersection of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement compels us to examine and dismantle structures of racism and classism in society and in the institution of public education. Our schools cannot go back to the conditions under which they operated before COVID-19 or we will fail our students, families, educators and communities at the time of their greatest need. This moment provides us with an exciting opportunity to transform public education to adapt to our new reality.

Educators will need to develop new skills, strategies, teaching methodologies and curricula that match the conditions we will be returning to under any of the three models (remote, in-person or hybrid). Students and their families have ongoing needs that must be met — before and upon return to school. School buildings across Monroe county are not yet equipped to meet environmental health and safety standards. To be ready to return, we need time to prepare buildings and physical settings; plan and learn new skills; and welcome and acclimate our students and families. And we need full funding and staffing to address the myriad facets of teaching and learning during a global pandemic.

Local associations and local districts should determine the plan to start the year with that best suits their context — be it remote, hybrid or full return with health and safety protections — and then determine a secondary plan for changes in context. Standing labor management committees should be established immediately to provide opportunities for regular communication and feedback to the district regarding reopening planning and implementation. MOUs should be negotiated as dictated by local governing practices. Additional stakeholders such as families, students and community members should also be given ongoing and systematic opportunities to be engaged and to give input. The local plan should be a living document, the goal of which is to provide a vehicle for ongoing partnership and collaboration with educators, families, communities and students. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Not Until It's Safe - Sign Our Open Letter

An open letter to union and district leadership: 

To the President of the Rochester Teachers Association, Adam Urbanski, the President of the Rochester Association of Paraprofessionals Angie Rivera, and Board of Education Non Teaching Professionals President Dan DiClemente and Lesli Myers-Small, RCSD Superintendent: 


We as parents, educators, staff members in the Rochester City School District are writing to express our support for the #14daysnonewcases campaign. As parents, we want nothing more than to keep our children safe and to work with teachers and the district to make the right choices for our children. As educators and staff, we are dues-paying members of RTA, RAP, and BENTE and need you to use our strength in numbers to stand up. Our unions and leaders must formally declare that we will not return to campus until our county reports no new cases of COVID-19 for at least 14 days.

While there’s nothing we want more than to see our students in-person again, and to see our children thrive in their school environment, it is far too dangerous for our children, our families, and our colleagues to resume in-person instruction this fall. Until it is safe, we must develop and implement a more robust distance learning program for the children. To allow our students to equitably access this distance learning program, we must also demand that our students be provided with all necessary technology, such as personal computers and high-speed internet access.

States and school districts are unveiling reckless, unethical school reopening plans that put our colleagues and their families, our students and their families, and ourselves in extreme danger. Even in countries that have far better controlled the pandemic, they have had to close schools soon after reopening them. Schools in China and South Korea have closed after infections flared up. Students and staff have contracted COVID-19 in schools after they reopened in Canada, France, the Netherlands, and Israel, forcing them to close again. The number of COVID-19 patients under 10 years old in Oregon has increased fivefold, matching the number of cases in patients over 80 years old. More than 17,000 children under the age of 18 have contracted COVID-19 in Florida alone. Now new research suggests that children transmit COVID-19 just as easily as adults do.

These trends and research clearly demonstrate that it is irresponsibly dangerous to reopen school campuses this fall. If elected officials and district officials want campuses to reopen, then they need to implement the public health measures that they should have implemented months ago, including, but not limited to: mass testing, contact tracing, and strict suspension of nonessential business and travel activity. Our governments also must provide the economic relief we and our students need to endure these public health measures, including, but not limited to: basic income, rent and mortgage cancellation, protection from eviction, and single-payer healthcare throughout the pandemic.

As educators and staff members, we know how impossible it will be to implement strict physical distancing, mask enforcement, constant sanitation, and hybrid learning on every campus in our district. As parents, we do not and should not expect our teachers and children to endure these harsh and harmful conditions emotionally, mentally and physically. We all would rather everyone stay healthy and alive than pressured into dangerous and emotionally damaging situations. We must refuse to return to campus until our county reports no new cases for at least 14 days.

We need our unions and leaders to stand up to protect all, not just the few.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Millionaires Tax Budget Action

RORE Members joined other school employees, parents, and community members across NYS  to get educated about Senator Robert Jackson's bill, The Millionaires Tax to fully fund education, and then joined in a collective action. 6/9/2020.

Monday, June 29, 2020

RTA & RAP Members Re-entry Survey

Let your voice be heard.

As our district makes plans for what the 2020-2021 school year might look like, make sure you share your opinions.

This survey has been adapted from the Oakland Education Association, in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year.

Plan on needing 5-10 minutes to complete the survey. Share widely. The more feedback we can share with our leadership, the better their understanding will be of the desires of their members.

This survey was created by RORE.  Only collective data will be shared with RTA, the District and the rest of the community.  No identifying information will be shared.

Click Here to Begin the Survey