News, trends, and analysis related to higher education and grade school districts.

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As part of National Walkout Day on Wednesday, high school students in Syracuse organized a rally to remember the victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting and support more gun control. Some educators hope the movement will create more politically engaged students.

Saoirse Murphy-Collins, a junior at Nottingham High School, helped organize Wednesday's protest in the school’s gym.

“The problem with gun violence is a really big issue in this nation and we’re trying to get it under control so more students don’t die and people get hurt,” Murphy-Collins said.

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High school students in Syracuse are calling for more gun control in solidarity with student walkouts across the country to honor the victims of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Ana Kreidler-Siwinski is a junior at Nottingham High School and helped organize a rally in the school’s gymnasium.

"I believe we shouldn’t stand by and be silent," Kreidler-Siwinski said. "Better late than never. Gun laws should be stricter in the future. If there were less easy ways for people with mental illnesses to grab guns, people with criminal records, then it would be better for society."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia says she supports students who plan to demonstrate today against gun violence. School walkouts are planned across the nation at 10 a.m., including in New York state. It's an attempt to pressure lawmakers to act after the shooting that left 17 students dead in Parkland, Florida, last month.

Elia says school officials and teachers should work with students to make it a learning experience about civic engagement and what it means to be an active citizen in American.

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A divided crowd got into a heated debate at a recent Syracuse school board meeting over whether the district should change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Some said changing the name takes away a part of the history of Italian-Americans.

Last year, after requests from some students, the Syracuse City School District changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day / Columbus Day. Now, Andy Mager with Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation and others are appealing to the board to drop Columbus altogether.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, local leaders are convening a task force that will create a blueprint for school safety in central New York.

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says a massive government failure played a part in the Parkland tragedy.

“Parkland was a blueprint for government disaster," FitzPatrick said. "Ineffectiveness of almost every institution in Parkland that was designed to protect children in Parkland failed."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Many school districts in central and northern New York have faced threats following the Florida high school shooting last month. It has resulted in school shutdowns and arrests of some students for making terroristic threats. As law enforcement aggressively investigates these incidents, some experts say it is a lack of emotional skills that is causing them.

Utica College

Updated at 5:30 p.m. Monday

A lockdown at Utica College was lifted around 5 p.m. Monday, after police conducted a thorough search of every building on campus. Students who live on campus were escorted back to their dorms by law enforcement, while non-resident students, staff and faculty were allowed to leave campus. 

Onondaga Community College

Onondaga Community College is working with local manufacturers on a program that will offer training that will lead to apprenticeships and jobs - and individuals will be paid while they learn.

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The Syracuse City School District is facing a $24 million deficit in it’s 2018-2019 budget. It hopes to close the gap using savings and more funds from the state.

SUNY's new chancellor Kristina Johnson delivered her first state of the university system address Monday, outlining an agenda for her time in the position. Johnson says she developed the plan after traveling to several SUNY campuses since she took office last September, but much of it is a reflection of her own diverse background.

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SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry President Quentin Wheeler addressed students last week regarding his decision to remove three department chairs from their positions. Some students said it is Wheeler who should be replaced.

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The president of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry has removed three department chairs from their positions. The professors say the change is part of a continuing feud between the president and faculty.

The Central New York Community Foundation

The Central New York Community Foundation recently awarded a $24,000 grant to the Positivity Project to expand it’s character education training programs in the Syracuse City School District. The goal of the program, which is in 44 schools throughout central New York, is teaching children how to be positive people.

Brett Woodcock, principal of Liverpool’s Morgan Road Elementary School, says if you ask any of the kids in his school, they will be able to tell you their top character strengths. So we asked fourth grader Makenna Metrick.

SUNY Oswego

For the first time in its history, SUNY Oswego will embark on a campus-wide initiative later this year. Students from multiple disciplines will collaborate to present solutions for a global issue.

With Lake Ontario as the backdrop, "fresh water for all" will be the focus of SUNY Oswego's first Grand Challenges project. Leigh Wilson, director of the college's interdisciplinary programs and activities center, says individual classes will be tasked with exploring fresh water issues and developing potential solutions to those problems that draws on their specific area of study.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The State University of New York is asking the state to help it expand a pilot program meant to get students with student loan debt who drop out of college help in finishing their degree. 

Re-Enroll to Complete is designed to reach recently withdrawn student loan borrowers to get them back on campus. A successful pilot program reached out to more than 1,000 students at 17 SUNY campuses.

“240 students out of that 1,000 in the pilot, came back. And of those, now a high percentage are actually completing their degree,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

SUNY Oswego put a tobacco ban policy in place three years ago. The intention was to stop staff and students from smoking on campus, but some continue to light up. The mixed results are now prompting some college officials to renew their efforts to end tobacco use on campus. 

On a recent fall morning at SUNY Oswego, students were making their way to class.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse University and LeMoyne College have announced a new academic partnership for graduate students at SU’s School of Information and LeMoyne’s Madden School of Business.

“Students from the Madden School can take courses from us toward their masters and either count it towards their masters at LeMoyne, or get a separate CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) and the reverse," said iSchool Dean Liz Liddy.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO News File Photo

SUNY Oswego has started the formal process of revoking the honorary degree it presented to journalist Charlie Rose in 2014. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Many students at Syracuse University protested congressional Republicans’ tax bill Wednesday. The students said they are upset with a tax increase on the tuition credits of graduate students.

Gemma Cooper-Novack is a graduate teaching and research assistant at SU. She receives tuition credit in addition to a stipend for her work. She is not paying taxes on that tuition credit, worth tens of thousands of dollars. But she might have to if the GOP tax bill is signed into law.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

New York State is pumping more money into after school programs in central and northern New York. Gov. Cuomo announced the expansion of the program at a Syracuse elementary school Tuesday.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Families with young students at five Syracuse city schools were invited to enjoy a free Thanksgiving lunch together on Tuesday. The meals were meant to engage students and parents at schools in some of the city’s poorest areas.

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Starting next year, Le Moyne College will offer a $10,000 scholarship over four years, to all New York State residents, regardless of income. This comes after the state began its Excelsior Scholarship earlier this year, which offers tuition-free college at SUNY schools for middle class residents.

Tom Magnarelli

This week, Syracuse University is asking students to remember the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people, including 35 SU students studying abroad. SU’s Remembrance Scholarships honor each of the students killed in the attack.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Bed bugs have been confirmed in ten schools in the Syracuse City School District in the past two weeks. Superintendent Jaime Alicea said the affected rooms and buildings have been sanitized and cleaned to eliminate the bugs.

“They are not dangerous," Alicea said. 'They do not carry diseases. They are a nuisance but they are not dangerous. We don’t want to have them in the school or in their houses so, they’re a nuisance."

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

To reduce childhood hunger, some elementary school students in the Syracuse City School District are getting extra food to take home with them on weekends. Multiple community partners are assisting the district through a national donation program.

Syracuse School District Director of Food and Nutrition Rachel Murphy said there is a need for food outside of school hours among some of the poorest kids.

Onondaga Community College / Facebook

It’s still unclear just how many students applied for and will be awarded the state’s new Excelsior Scholarship announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

The state Board of Regents is taking steps to make it easier for teachers to become certified in New York. But the state education commissioner denies that it’s a lessening of requirements.

Ed and Eddie / Flickr

As schools across New York welcome students back for another year, they continue to grapple with the ongoing teacher shortage. The inability to find qualified applicants for certain subjects has left many districts without certified teachers.

That doesn't mean no one is teaching those subjects. Paul Heiser, a senior research analyst with NYSSBA, says it just means that the school district had to hire a teacher for that class who isn't certified in the subject.


The State University of New York board members overseeing charter schools are in the midst of a public comment period on whether charter school teachers should be allowed to have fewer qualifications than public school teachers.

Under the controversial proposal, charter schools that already have demonstrated strong academic performance would be able to set their own qualifications, with one proposal requiring a bachelor’s degree and just 30 hours of classroom instruction in order to begin teaching students.