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High school students in upstate New York watched as a rocket carrying one of their science experiments was launched Thursday. Its destination is the International Space Station orbiting the earth over 200 miles above us.

Vicki Aman and Cheyanne Jeffrey are in their senior year at Rochester Early College International High School (RECIHS). The team is hoping their research will contribute to our growing knowledge of life in space.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Fifth and sixth graders at Granby Elementary School in Fulton got the chance to meet and ask questions to several current and former service members Monday morning, during the school's "Take a Vet to School Day" event. Members of the Army and Navy gave students a look into their lives in the military, including what they did overseas, where they've been stationed, and in one case, what their favorite gun is to shoot.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The state attorney general is investigating disciplinary action policies within the Syracuse school district, and the school system says it's cooperating with his office.

On Friday, the school district's top administrator admitted there likely have been violations.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s civil rights office issued a subpoena to the Syracuse City School District on Oct. 16.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Almost three dozen speakers fired questions at state Education Commissioner John King and other state officials in Fayetteville Tuesday, during the latest central New York forum on the new Common Core curriculum. Most of the complaints about the more rigorous curriculum have been heard before, but the bigger question now is if anything can be changed.

The debate over common core ranges from timing...

"Why were the assessments not phased in, in a more deliberate manner?"

To the impact of poverty on education...

Courtesy SUNY-ESF

Dr. Quentin Wheeler will return to central New York in January to be SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry's first new president in more than a decade.

He comes back to New York from teaching at Arizona State University. Before that he cut his teeth as a professor at Cornell University where he stayed for a quarter century.

For a scientist, Wheeler said in an interview with WRVO, the forests of upstate New York are a good place to be.

James F Clay / Flickr

Is Gov. Andrew Cuomo backing away from his support for the new Common Core curriculum in schools? In recent days, Cuomo seems to have cooled from his initial endorsement of the rapid transition to the adoption of the national education standards.  

Everywhere Cuomo goes these days, he’s dogged by questions from reporters about what’s widely perceived as a rocky start up for New York state’s adoption of the new national Common Core standards for school children.

Cuomo was asked essentially the same question in recent days in stops from Buffalo to Lake Placid.

The state’s Education Commissioner John King faced a bi-partisan grilling by liberal and conservative  members of the Assembly at a hearing regarding growing concerns about student privacy.

As part of the conversion to the national Common Core standards, school districts in New York are required to place more student records, transcripts, and even behavioral information, like absences and suspensions, in online data bases. The data collection is in many cases run by a private vendor, not the local school or the state education department.  

Katie Keier / Flickr

A coalition of unions and government reform groups are calling for a ban on standardized testing for New York’s school children in second grade and younger.

In a teleconference, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said it’s absurd that the groups are even in the position of calling for a ban on standardized testing for children in pre-kindergarten through the second grade. Mulgrew and others say the tests are inappropriate for four to seven year olds, and should never have been implemented in the first place.

New York state’s Teacher of the Year testified at a state Senate hearing that even she could not receive high marks in her teacher evaluation process, due to what she and others say is the dysfunctional implementation of the new Common Core standards.

Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

New York state continues to have a higher percentage of children living in poverty than any other state. Experts in the field gathered in Albany recently to brainstorm ways to deal with the issue at a forum titled "Growing Up in Poverty" organized by the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy.

Children growing up in poverty are denied equal access to education according to author and keynote speaker at the Growing Up in Poverty event, Jonathan Kozol.

State Education Commissioner John King is holding a forum in Albany this evening on the new Common Core curriculum standards in New York's schools, a change that has been controversial in the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered some support to King and top state education officials, who have received much criticism for the implementation of Common Core.

Cuomo said he understands that change can be difficult, even when it’s the right choice.

Charles Lane / WRVO

New York Education Commissioner John King visited a Long Island elementary school earlier this week, where he met privately with educators to talk about the state’s new, more rigorous education standards called Common Core. 

The meeting came after King canceled several public events following a raucous PTA meeting in Poughkeepsie last week. At that meeting, parents lashed out at King using insults and curse words.

SUNY Oswego's new science building promotes STEM ideas

Oct 3, 2013
Gino Geruntino/WRVO

Science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education has become a focal point for schools throughout New York and the nation. At SUNY Oswego, the college's emphasis on STEM education has culminated in a $118 million four-story science building.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO/file photo

State senators questioned New York’s top educator and other education professionals Tuesday at a hearing in Syracuse looking at new Common Core assessments and student achievement.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, suggested some questions from the Common Core exam be removed, like ones that require students to draw shapes to represent numbers.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Last year, students suspended from the Syracuse City School District lost 23,555 days of instruction, and 55 percent of African-American students in the district have been suspended at least once. Those are some of the sobering statistics from a nationally known expert on school suspensions who reported on the state of suspensions in the district for the Board of Education last night.

Lekia Hill of the Alliance for Quality Education says the statistics are disturbing, especially when many of these suspensions are for minor infractions.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A Rochester-area native will become the 12th chancellor and president of Syracuse University in January. Incoming Chancellor Kent Syverud introduced himself to the university community at Hendricks Chapel on Thursday, after the Board of Trustees voted on his appointment.

Syverud said he is going to learn to bleed orange, and he has a good start.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

It was a tale of two distinct school districts in Onondaga County as State Education Commissioner John King visited central New York today during a new school year swing through the state. While there are big differences between the Fayetteville-Manlius and Syracuse City School Districts, he found some similarities especially when it comes to attacking the new rigorous common core standards.


The school year starts for New York children this week and next week. It comes amid concerns regarding low test scores for many of the state’s students, and harsh rhetoric from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying he wants a “death penalty” option for dealing with failing schools.  

Most of the state’s school children did not measure up in new tests administered last year. Only 31% passed the new math and English exams, according to the State Education Department. Numbers were higher in suburban schools and lower in urban and rural areas.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The head of the State University of New York welcomes the competition component of President Barack Obama's new education plan, intended to make a college education more affordable.

The president's plan would rank colleges and universities according to a number of factors, including student debt and graduation rates. It would then tie that ranking to federal student aid. SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher says the proposal will also encourage innovation and take measures to reduce student debt.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The seven worst schools in the Syracuse City School District are joining forces in an attempt to improve the performance of those schools in a short period of time. The district says the Innovation Zone schools, armed with more than $31 million in state grants, can turn things around.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history. Half a century ago, hundreds of thousands of people marched on Washington and gathered to hear Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

Fifty years later, Del Smith, director of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship in Rochester, says African-Americans have made a lot of progress, but the business community is still catching up.

School officials throughout New York state weren't surprised when students taking this year's Common Core exams received low test scores. But most school board members are optimistic that next year's results will be better. A recent poll by the New York State School Board Association reports about two-thirds of school board members expect their district's students to improve next year. Only 12 percent say they don't expect better results.

Tom Magnarelli/WRVO

About thirty women stood on the steps of city hall in Syracuse Monday with democratic leader Nancy McCarty, showing their support for Syracuse City Councilman Pat Hogan for mayor.

Led by McCarty, a former city councilwoman and school board commissioner, the women voiced their support for Hogan's educational platform which includes full-day pre-kindergarten. Joanne Batalia, a retired teacher's assistant with the Syracuse City Schools, said President Barack Obama came to Syracuse because the Say Yes to Education program has been somewhat successful.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

President Obama brought his message of affordable education for the middle class to Syracuse yesterday. It was an intimate atmosphere inside the gym at Henninger High School, with the crowd interacting with the president as he laid the groundwork for his plan.

"There aren't a lot of things that are more important than making sure people get a good education," Obama said. "That is key to upward mobility. That is key to a growing economy.  That is key to a strong middle class."

The crowd then started calling out and shouting to him.

"Love you back."

Syracuse schools superintendent discusses Obama visit

Aug 21, 2013
Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News file photo

Syracuse City School District Superintendent Sharon Contreras said the district is assisting the White House and Secret Service as they prepare for the arrival of President Obama at Henninger High School on Thursday.

Though Contreras wouldn't specifically say why Henninger High School was chosen as the location for President Obama to speak, she did say the Syracuse City School District's "Say Yes to Education" program would fit in perfectly with the president's speech on college access.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

As the sun heated up the parking lot outside Henninger High School this morning, umbrellas and other makeshift sources of shade began to replace pillows and blankets.

Some people had been in line since 7 p.m. Monday, shortly after details of President Barack Obama's visit to Syracuse were released, in hopes of getting tickets to see him give a speech at the high school Thursday evening about making education more affordable.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The study of robotics is dropping down into the middle school curriculum of the Syracuse City School District, starting with a two-week summer camp.

Bryan English, one of the high school teachers who teaches the ins and outs of making the erector set style robots, says the program - which is already employed in the high school - is a way to get students more interested in math and technology classes.

Beyond reading, writing and arithmetic, schools across Upstate New York are dealing more and more with school violence.

SUNY Upstate Medical University forensic psychiatrist James Knoll says if a person asks anyone about school violence, they'll answer Columbine or Newtown, Conn.

"Most of the lay public's attention gets focused on the rare, but sensational acts of school violence like school shootings," Knoll said. "But I think it's the more common everyday violence, physical and mental abuse, and bullying... where our efforts are best spent."

The Syracuse City School District

Only about a third of New York state's third through eighth grade students met the new tougher standards from April's round of state mandated English and math tests. That's about half as many as last year, before the new Common Core Curriculum was adopted in the state. For an urban school district like the Syracuse City School District, scores were in the single digits. Syracuse Superintendent Sharon Contreras expected the test results to be bad.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Education was on the mind of Syracuse-area Cong. Dan Maffei this week at a roundtable involving teachers, parents and administrators, and he got the sense that the current federal education policy is not working in schools in central New York.  

Maffei spoke specifically on the Race to the Top program, which pits states against each other in order to get federal funds, and he had some issues with it.