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Schools need more help

ROC the Future’s Annual Report Card, presented Tuesday at the Rochester Business Journal’s Power Breakfast, highlighted the gains the city has made in educating its children while acknowledging the significant challenges that remain.

Those challenges are daunting, as seen in some of the report card’s statistics: only 10 percent of Rochester third-graders passed their New York state English exam in 2017; only 8 percent of fourth-graders passed their state math exam; only 21 percent of high school graduates who enrolled in Monroe Community College were deemed college ready in both math and English; and 63 percent of pre-K students and 49 percent of high school students in the city were chronically absent.

Rochester City School District Deputy Superintendent Lawrence Wright, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and RCSD school board President Van White all talked about the efforts the district, the city and the county are making to turn Rochester’s schools around.

United Way of Greater Rochester President and CEO Fran Weisberg and Rochester Area Community Foundation President and CEO Jennifer Leonard talked about efforts throughout the community to solve Rochester’s struggles.

The passion with which these community leaders talk about attacking this problem, and the enthusiasm in the room Tuesday, is encouraging.

And there are models that suggest that Rochester can solve this problem. ROC the Future chairman Ajamu Kitwana pointed to the school systems in Cincinnati and Tacoma, Washington, which faced similar issues and have made impressive improvements.

But it will not be easy, and it will require help from a wide swath of the community. We will need businesses to care about this problem and work to solve it. We will need residents without children to care about this problem and work to solve it.

And they should care—even setting aside the humane reasons—because educational levels affect us all through economic vitality, crime rates, property values and more.

Much work remains, but we can succeed if everyone pitches in.

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