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ROCHESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS and REALITY

Ideas and opinions in this letter are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stance of this paper. The author of this letter has paid for its placement. Most people know me as Honest Paul, owner of Honest Bike Shop in Rochester for 36 years. One of the reasons I chose to close and retire at age 64 2 years ago was the lack of qualified young part time helpers usually employed in my industry. I have first hand knowledge of the academic decline of RPS over the past several years.

Time after time I interviewed and sometimes hired current and recently graduated RPS students for customer service requiring basic math, reading, communication and interpersonal skills. Overwhelmingly, these applicants failed in  the basic necessary skills. It got so bad that I devised a 30 question 5th grade math test with 10 word problems. I was checking their addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and percentages. With the word problems I was checking their word usage, sentence structure, punctuation and penmanship. This was important as we would hand write and calculate service and sales orders. As I interviewed these kids I checked their interpersonal and speaking skills. Could I trust them on the telephone when customers called? I found so many that could not be trusted to talk with or respond to customer concerns. Counting back change was totally foreign to them. In my day these things were taught and taken seriously in grade school. Even the slow learners had a grip on this stuff.

After confronting the inability of an applicant to perform basic skills I often asked about their grades at RPS. I was stunned to learn that many received not only passing grades but “A’s and B’s”. I have since learned that this is the result of lax RPS academic standards. A prime example is the “Grading to Learn” experiment which allows a student to retake tests unlimited times in a ten day period following the original test date. This artificially inflates grades with a resulting skewed academic record not reflecting actual proficiency.

The current RPS board is more interested in social engineering, political correctness and virtue signaling than rigorous academics and preparing them for the real world. This needs to change immediately and that will only happen with a new school board.       Vote for the “4your children” candidates. Parker, Rishavy, Niehoff and Whelan. Electing all four will give them a majority on the board and the opportunity to deliver on their pledge to restore rigorous academics and a useful education.

Interestingly, one restaurant owner that I know who ordinarily hired high school kids as waitstaff/counter people for the past 50 years has since gone to an order station where you order and pay for for your food and then food runners now bring it to you. He says the high school kids that are available to him now no longer have the interpersonal skills to address, converse and work with customers, and no longer can he trust them to write an order ticket legibly with correct addition.  Finally, trusting  them to competently run the cash register and make change makes him cringe with fear. This is serious!