If the Miami school district can do it, can Rochester?


Though Miami-Dade is a much larger school district, there are plenty of similarities with the Rochester district in that most of Miami is African American and Latino, and the majority of students are poor. 

There was an interesting story on National Public Radio about the remarkable turnaround in that district led by Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. Miami-Dade now has an 80 percent graduation rate. But it wasn't always that way.

The district was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2008 when Carvalho took over. The state was threatening to take control of the district because most of the schools were failing, and the school board and the former superintendent were constantly battling. 

What did Carvalho do? He slashed the budget, cutting administration to the bone. He didn't fire a single classroom teacher. Instead, he moved the strongest and most dynamic teachers into the most challenging classrooms. And he made peace with the school board.

While there are still some critics in Miami that dispute the increase in the graduation rate, Carvalho says that the data has been verified by the state.