Often, the people who need to remain anonymous are the ones we need to hear from most. For example, a person who is mentally ill and has great insight into the mental health system, but doesn't want their workplace to know of their illness. Or someone who works in a political office, but doesn't want to jeopardize their job. Or someone who was a former addict, or who was in an abusive relationship, or who live s in poverty. It's not who said it that's important, it's what's being said. If we are only to hear only from the people who sign their name, then we are potentially shutting out voices that need to be heard. To ignore them is akin to censorship, and is the very opposite of what the internet is all about.
I can't wait to once again join the gaggle of geeks tomorrow night! I love gaggling up.
I am always drawn toward comment sections to know what people are thinking and to read other points of view. Just as often I am repulsed by them when comments descend into personal attacks or wild flights of illogic or ideologue.
But experience has shown me that neither helpful discussion, nor useless rant and drivel are exclusive to either the anonymous or to the public contributor.
Therefore, and for the added reason that contributors can fear retribution, job threat, etc., I accept the annoyances (or worse) that allowing anonymous commenters poses, in trade for the great value that anonymous contributors sometimes add.
How about making parents more accountable for their children's education? I would love to know the percentage of parents in the city who actually help with their children's homework and actually read to them at night. The lack of parent involvement in the RCSD is laughable. The only time parents actually show up to my school is if there is free food. I find it absolutely appalling that the state is giving the RCSD one month to find a way to successfully restructure East High School. Please show me a school that is state run that has actually been successful.
"Gotta Say It," IT CAN'T POSSIBLY BE SAID ANY BETTER THAN THIS (BELOW):
"...this situation is not normal. Vargas comes across like a deer looking into the headlights and the board needs to either come right out and tell the public what they want him to do or they need to let him go. The disconnect is palpable and although the board members feel an allegiance to him because they hired him, the schools and the community can't be left in the dark any longer." AMEN!!!
HERE'S WHAT HAS HAPPENED SO FAR:
On the afternoon of 3/17/14, a notice was sent out announcing that Board President Van White was convening a special meeting of the full Board, the next day, (3/18/14) --- to discuss recommendations for change and improvement in the RCSD.
The Recommendations (see the following link:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/210683191/Recomm… ) had been developed by four Committees, which Commissioner White had convened at the end of January 2014. Some parents who had served on the Committees complained about the short notice regarding the 3/18 meeting. In response to the complaints --- after the meeting ended (the same night) --- Commissioner White sent out the explanation below. Also, see below --- my response to his explanation:
from: Van White firstname.lastname@example.org
Tonight's meeting was scheduled so that the Board could have an opportunity to discuss (for the first time as a group) the recommendations of the special committees in the context of our discussions regarding the 2014-2015 budget. (This of course followed two town meetings and numerous special committee meetings.)
I instructed staff to notify special committee members because I thought you might want to be at that meeting to hear the board's initial thoughts to your recommendations and presentations which you all made last week.
Please remember my goal all along was integrate the ideas of the special committees into the budget talks. Tonight was just the beginning of that process.
You all will have at least two opportunities, in the context of our budget process, to articulate your support for the ideas of the special committees. There are Public forums on the budget scheduled to take place on April 1 and 3 at 6:00 pm.
I would encourage you all to attend those public speaking forums to communicate your support for the recommendations of the special committees or any other budgetary concerns or ideas you may have.
For those of you who attended tonight's meeting, some of those conversations have already begun. For example, during a break in tonight's agenda, I witnessed members of the special committees already engaging a board member in conversation regarding the ideas which they supported.
What was also clear tonight was that Board members, understandably, have questions regarding some of the proposals which must be answered before they could be expected to support some of these ideas. I hope you all reach out to board members directly and at the take advantage of the two public budget forums and share your insights and views.
Indeed your work on behalf of this community is far from over. On this I hope we can agree. Thanks again!!!!!
Howard Eagle email@example.com
Dear Commissioner White,
With regard to your latter correspondence, thank you for the explanation, but I believe all who are included, understood (prior to your explanation) what the purpose of last night's meeting was. A major point regarding my initial correspondence was / is, as noted by Ms. Quick Coleman --- objection to "the infamous last minute invites and notices set forth by this district."
As you know, our "recommendations and presentations [were] made" on March 4, 2014, as opposed to "last week." At the time of our March 4th presentations, you announced that a "meeting [would be] scheduled so that the Board could have an opportunity to discuss (for the first time as a group) the recommendations of the special committees in the context of [your] discussions regarding the 2014-2015 budget." However, on March 4th, you did not know the date that the meeting, which took place last night, would occur. THE MAJOR POINT WAS / IS THAT, PRIOR TO THE AFTERNOON OF MARCH 17TH (THE DAY BEFORE LAST NIGHT'S MEETING, AND 12 DAYS AFTER OUR MARCH 4TH PRESENTATIONS) WE HAD NOT RECEIVED ANY COMMUNICATION CONCERNING LAST NIGHT'S MEETING. As you also know, Ms. Quick Coleman and I, along with others listed here, served on the Special Committee On Parent Engagement. I believe all would agree that the situation outlined above represents a classic example of that which Ms. Quick Coleman accurately described as "the infamous last minute invites and notices set forth by this district." IT REPRESENTS A SERIOUS, BASIC, FUNDAMENTAL, ISSUE AND PROBLEM, WHICH NEEDS TO BE REMEDIED. It also represents an issue, which has helped convince many RCSD parents that the Board and Administration are not really serious and / or sincere about desiring and welcoming widespread, ongoing, consistent, parent engagement. From my perspective, it is nearly impossible to believe that, if a basic, fundamental issue, such as timely notification can't be resolved --- that the Board would give serious consideration to Recommendations, which the Parent Engagement Committee and other Special Committees generated, especially those of a SYSTEMIC nature.
I am in total agreement that: "What was also clear was that Board members, understandably, have questions regarding some of the proposals, which must be answered before they could be expected to support some of these ideas." However, your suggested "solution" regarding this critically important issue is not realistic, nor logical, i.e., INDIVIDUALS who served on the Special Committees "reaching out to board members directly." The truth of the matter is that, especially as it relates to particular Recommendations, which are SYSTEMIC in nature, Committee members have not had adequate time, nor opportunities to fully deliberate and come to clear, consensus relative to details. Remember, this work was done over a one-month time period, which only included three or four meetings. So the recommendations, again, especially those that are SYSTEMIC in nature, ONLY represent broad agreements among Committee members. A prime example of this was clear last night (even in the initial Board discussion) regarding the Recommendation to develop an Office of Social Justice. Clearly the Committee, which advanced that particular Recommendation has not had adequate time and / or opportunity to spell out details of the purpose, nature, and / or functioning of such an Office. One Board member raised the critically important issue that part of the general content within the Office of Social Justice Recommendation, might not even be possible (due to Contractual Agreements between the RCSD and employee Bargaining Units). This is also true in the cases of other Recommendations, such as, for example, Recommendations to develop a Youth Council On Instruction; to "consolidate" Parent Liaisons and Home School Assistants (under a single job title and common job-duties), and to change the structure of the Office of Parent Engagement.
Clearly Committee members did not have adequate time to COLLECTIVELY think these Recommendations out in detail. So, what would be the purpose of INDIVIDUAL Committee members "reaching out to board members directly" --- exactly what would they say; what could they legitimately say --- other than the fact that they support the GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS? Of course individuals could offer their own perspectives regarding details, but that could easily turn into a chaotic catastrophe, and really would defeat the whole purpose of COLLECTIVE-COLLABORATION. So, as I have mentioned to you previously, the ideas outlined in this paragraph represent fundamentally-problematic flaws within the design of your process. This is in fact the reason why I had suggested to you, my belief that you should NOT have restricted the Special Ad-Hoc Committees' work exclusively to a :"45-day" period of time. I had expressed to you that it was virtually impossible to generate quality, detailed, Recommendations within 45 (actually 30) days. By empowering the Special Committees to continue working throughout the Budgetary Process, and probably beyond, would have (still could), not only ensured (ensure) opportunities to work out agreed-upon, details, but also would (could) have helped (help) with the necessary process of increasing awareness, and soliciting additional support from thousands of other RCSD parents and community members, many of whom are not even aware that your process is occurring --- much less being aware of specific Recommendations. It is not realistic or logical to expect that people will support ideas, which they know little or nothing about. In a sense, you seem to be acknowledging this need via your statement that: "Indeed your work on behalf of this community is far from over." If this is in fact the case, then, why are you not continuing to help facilitate an ongoing process relative to Committee members? Based on your latter quote vis-a-vis the manner in which you are operating, the clear dichotomy could easily be interpreted as a matter of sending a dual or mixed message, i.e., what some refer to as "talking-out-of-both-sides-of-your-mouth." I'm just saying.
So again, the manner in which you have chosen to proceed raises the reasonable question and concern (at least in my mind), and I believe in the minds of many others --- as to whether or not this whole process really boils down to more, status-quo-supporting-politics, in which tinkering-around-the-edges-type Recommendations, such as: "Re-examination of the K-8 grade configuration (model); Market research survey of businesses to determine employment needs (i.e. types of skills needed); County-wide survey of parents to determine what kinds of academic programs currently not available would be of interest to them," etc... will prevail, and will then be paraded as representing "proof" that "legitimate" efforts are being made toward much-needed, much-deserved, and way overdue change and improvement for our students and families. In my humble, but staunch view, as you should know from first-hand experience, moving in this direction will no-doubt amount to a disastrous, non-productive outcome --- with the most outstanding example being the outcome and reality of the RCSD's paper-tiger, Department of African And African American Studies.
As I mentioned during my "testimony" at last night's meeting, I believe that your potentially, ground-breaking, change-initiative, will hinge largely on whether or not you (as President of the Board, and catalyst behind the initiative) have the intestinal fortitude to "take-on" Superintendent Vargas and his numerous, powerful, allies --- whom absolutely, clearly, stand in opposition to the direction that you say you want to move in, which is largely reflected and embodied within the Recommendations put forth by the Special Committees, especially those that are SYSTEMIC in nature.
I am unequivocally convinced that, unless you secure widespread, broad-based, concrete, visible, parent and community support for your initiative, the Superintendent and his allies will succeed in continuing to bamboozle and hood-wink the community regarding their ongoing, empty promises that change and improvement is right around the corner; huge numbers of our students and families will continue to suffer, and slick, non-vested, status-quo-supporting, economic blood-suckers' bank accounts will continue to grow.
The bottom line is, in my view, that your leadership ability, skills, and resolve is being tested (perhaps as never before).
If you decide, and of course you don't have much time, to move in a direction that is clearly anti-status-quo --- you have my full support. Otherwise, you do not.
Howard J. Eagle
Newspapers should not assume that all commenters have Facebook accounts. I don't have one.
I sign comments with my real name, but if City Newspaper set up their online comments like the D&C, I would stop submitting comments. Therefore, I withdraw my earlier position to eliminate the anonymous comments.
Also, I'm now realizing that there are many different legitimate reasons for wanting anonymity. My only hope is that the increasing numbers that go anonymous unnecessarily, can be encouraged to change.
I hate this whole story! Years ago, someone floated the idea (it might have been RBTL or the Philharmonic) of forming an United Way for the arts. Instead, we get stupid magazines, crashed and burned Ren. Sq., and another failure in the making with RAPA...when will we learn?
Try this scenario...City brings together a meeting of the arts groups and tries to gain concensus about what to do before the whole house of cards tumbles!
Though she's not a performer, former Rochesterian and Bishop Kearney grad Bernie Caulfield is Executive Producer of the HBO series "Game of Thrones."
And then there's East Bloomfield's gift to the gay porn world, the legendary Casey Donovan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casey_Donovan…
I also wonder how the RTA contract has been “notorious for it's (sic) power to obstruct change.” It seems to me that you apply the fallacy of logic that correlation implies causation. In fact, the RTA contract has not even been constant over the past decades. It is a "living contract" with built-in flexibility for schools to fit certain components to that building's needs or programs.
More importantly to me are the questions of why we do not replicate those components of successful programs or schools that have a track record. I can outline three such components that were implemented at All City High (ACH) that could be replicated at East, but have not been (why I do not know).
Flexible schedule: from 7 am to 7pm allow students to construct a schedule that works for them. More of them will attend.
Employ at least 10 Social Workers and 10 School Counselors to problem solve the root causes of student difficulties in and with schools by engaging with families.
Family of 5 mentoring: Each member of the East High Community could “adopt” 5 students and be a caring stable adult for those kids in their family. Note that at ACH we often had “families of 6, 7 or 8.”
None of these initiatives are outside of the contract or couldn’t be worked out in a memorandum of agreement (MOU) as was done in the case of ACH.
I'm not sure these individuals performed before leaving Rochester, but these names quickly came to my mind:
Peter Breck - Big Valley TV show
Foster Brooks - comedian
Louise Brooks - silent film star
Renee Flemming - does opera count as theater?
Robert Forester -Medium Cool (acad. award nomination for supporting actor)
John Lithgow - 2 x supporting actor nominee; 3rd Rock From the Sun
Hugh O'Brien - Wyatt Earp tv series
Wayne Barker, a Bloomfield High School graduate (1980 maybe?) was nominated for a TONY award for composing Peter & the Starcatcher.
Reg. Arts Council move to Ridge Road: This seems to go from bad to worse! Shall we drain EVERY art business out of the downtown? THINK...what art community do you serve living on Ridge Road far from music/art/writers? Does anyone actually believe that an art gallery in the Kodak building will entice visitors from....anywhere? ARTISTS; DO NOT PAY TO EXHIBIT IN THE SPACE UNLESS YOU'RE WILLING TO BUS IN YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO SEE THE SHOW!
We have all but lost any community support for visual art in this town. I see this as only another example of "why".
Can you elaborate on how RTA has obstructed change? What concessions do you envision?
The committees gave good ideas that made common sense. The district does have the resources and money to make many of the suggestions happen but they won't. Board members at the meeting made it clear that they have essentially directed the superintendent to implement other recommendations and central office has ignored those directives. The situation is ugly. It is obvious the new board chair wants action but boards normally govern and provide oversight. They do not direct operations or tell the CEO or in this case the superintendent what do do, but this situation is not normal.
Vargas comes across like a deer looking into the headlights and the board needs to either come right out and tell the public what they want him to do or they need to let him go. The disconnect is palpable and although the board members feel an allegiance to him because they hired him, the schools and the community can't be left in the dark any longer. The ships are sinking and someone needs to take control. In this case the seven board members, three of whom are city school parents seem much more in touch with reality than the superintendent.
As some of you have do doubt noticed, I have not been a fan of Lovely Warren, but I think that she is doing the right thing in this instance, given all the factors involved. Leonard Redon is not just a valued member of her administration, he is a highly regarded public servant who brings intelligence, fairness and hard work to his position as Deputy Mayor, a fact that is underscored by his continued appointment over two administrations. Deputy Mayors function largely in the background, steering the day-to-day operations forward, so perhaps his low profile is a real detriment to him at a time like this. Did he have a lapse of judgement if the charges bear out? Yes, he did. But he has no history of anything like this over many decades of a professional life. We should be patient and let this one work itself out a bit.
Why do we do we even need a deputy mayor? Don't forget about the expired inspection sticker. That's important too.
I speak as a person who was a target of a terribly mean-spirited diatribe of completely unfounded and hateful commentary on TOPIX some years ago. At the time, I was an organizing leader opposing a big-box development proposed within an area zoned exclusively for residential development and farming. Our community was divided in a very public debate. Many of the comments were horribly offensive and it is difficult to understand how any person can stoop to such a lowly level, even when protected by the cloak of anonymity. Although consideration of the sources made it easy to disregard such behavior, I do not feel that such commentary fostered anything constructive. To the contrary, it served to detract from a worthwhile debate as emotions heightened over irrelevant drivel.
Yet, as Mary Anna points out in "Our anonymous comments," there are many instances when individuals can and will contribute constructive opinion when they do not feel that their employment, friendships or other important standings may be threatened or even harmed because their identity is protected.
Thus, I prefer that an avenue for anonymous comment be kept alive, so long an investment in prepublication editorial review is possible. A 'managed' forum will foster spontaneous participation and will permit the airing of many opinions but also provides a mechanism to snuff out personal attacks and other worthless rude, crude or just plain inappropriate content that may detract from productive discussion.
Thank you for seeking input on this timely topic.
A large part of why I visit this site and read City Newspaper articles is to read the comments. I used to visit 13wham quite often, but once they removed the ability to comment, I stopped. The quality of discourse on the D & C website took a huge dive once they required facebook login. I believe that allowing anonymous comments lets readers share information and insight that they would not feel safe/comfortable sharing if they had to disclose their identifty. There is value in this information, and it's up to me as reader to sift through and make that determination. I frequent this site, I would visit much less frequently (if at all) if the ability to comment anonymously were taken away. Frankly, I'm more concerned about sweeping generalizations and name calling that some of your courageous (named!) readers employ...
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