Typically, one might expect a state of the schools address to be a somewhat staid, data-heavy exercise designed to explain, with as little controversy as possible, such matters as test scores, building repair, taxes, jobs and programs to be instituted to solve all the problems that plague education in general and urban education in particular.
The audience of district administrators, school board members, faculty, staff and community members that attended this year's State of the Schools in Syracuse was in for a bit of a surprise. Following the greeting by Deputy Superintendent Christine Vogelsang, the singing of The Star Spangled Banner by 2009 Nottingham graduate Dan Field and the powerful invocation delivered by Akua Goodrich, an energy filled the Fowler High School auditorium that not only reflected the message of the day, but the true state of the Syracuse City School District (SCSD).
Kim Rohadfox-Ceaser, Board of Education President, and Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll praised the efforts and success of the school district.
Rohadfox-Ceaser said that in a Monday meeting, New York State Regent Lester Young said that "Only Syracuse, New York, had the vision to set as a goal post secondary completion -- they had a vision and a goal. The supports in Syracuse are what we need."
Mayor Driscoll praised the progress of the district during his tenure as mayor, and praised the community's willingness to support the Say Yes initiative. Some call Say Yes a home run -- I call it a grand slam."
Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, CEO of Say Yes to Education was enthusiastic, and accurate, in her praise for the SCSD's willingness to become the only city in the country to affiliate itself district wide with the program that this year enabled more than 600 SCSD students to receive full college tuition at a cost of some $30,000,000 that was not paid by Syracuse tax payers.