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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Urban Journal

Re: “A place with no vision

Fire, fire!
Another lame comparison to Detroit? Really? It might be time for an editor to retire and pass the torch to someone with vision. I completely agree with the situation with our towns, villages and splintered lack of vision. But there are incredible things taking place in Rochester these days. Downtown will be transformed in the next year. Inner Loop filled in. College Town, etc. But how did this happen? Most of it was driven by private sector investment and federal money. Detroit has no private investment.
Get a cup of coffee and take a long walk. You need a perspective shift.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Martin Edic on 02/13/2014 at 10:04 AM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems

I read the article with interest and agree that it is going to take each person in the village to take a hard look at themselves to see if they have one finger pointing out but 3 fingers pointing back at themselves. Personally, I'm glad the Charter schools have come and made an impact. The Uncommon schools have one mission-to see that more urban children get to college because education is what changes the status quo. Everything about those schools implies that the student can make it and the staff is going to ensure that they do. That's been my experience. For children that don't fit the very structured mold of a charter school, I think we as parents and grandparents are going to have to realize that we are going to have to teach our children to read ourselves. No waiting for the CSD to do it. No waiting for a reading teacher to show up in the district. Each one teach one so when our children hit the front door of their school they have the basics down pat.
On Thursday, 1/30 Dr. Karsonya W. Whitehead gave students at the U of R the Carter G. Woodson lecture. To say the least, it was inspiring. Her point was that as teachers, educators, parents, we have an obligation to "spark the genius" in each child through our own ability to maintain the vision that genius is indeed there. so the child can become empowered. There are some teachers and parents (it is a team) who are able to hold on to the vision and see the gifts in each child and are able to cultivate that gift. this to me is the challenge in teaching... can the adult take the lead in establishing rapport, stirring interest, and ultimately inspire the passion in the child to be the best student he/she can be despite poverty or any other potential road block? The answer is yes. It has been done in other urban cities, and it can be done in Rochester.
On next Thursday, Dr. Raymond Winbush will be speaking at the Baobub Cultural Center on the strategies needed to raise African American boys. Any teacher or parent even remotely connected should hear what he has to say.

5 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by GHarrion on 02/02/2014 at 4:37 PM

Re: “Warren's shaky start shows she needs help

We have too many guns in this country. Altercations that used to end with bruises and broken bones are now ending in deaths.
We can justify carrying a handgun because of all the angry people out there. Unfortunely, we are all now seeing that it is ofen the defender who kills out of his own anger.
A gun is a poor mans bodyguard. When we justify bodyguards for the rich, we endorse guns for everyone else.
A bodyguard for the mayor may be necessary. However, this tacit approval of guns for the masses can only result in more shootings and deaths.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Michael Bruton on 02/02/2014 at 2:30 PM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems

Eric Maloney: You have offered a reason for the problem, not a solution. Single-parent families do exist, many of them in the city are low-income, and the children in said families can have educational disadvantages. How do we fix that?

8 likes, 29 dislikes
Posted by Kathryn Quinn Thomas on 02/02/2014 at 12:30 PM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems

I don't know why people look for complicated solutions to easy problems. The family unit (or lack thereof) in the city is the issue. The correlation between family life (eg number of parents) and graduation rate is clear cut.……

43 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Eric Maloney on 02/01/2014 at 4:51 PM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems

"We also know that many Rochester children start school without the language skills and other basics that they need; they're behind from Day 1, and they don't catch up. We know that the community doesn't provide enough help to make up for those deficits.

We know that many Rochester children start school with serious physical and mental health problems. And we know that they aren't getting enough help."

Start with the Pre-k program. It is a colossal waste of money. Direct instruction will help kids get ready for school. Playing will not. Taught in UPK. Telling you, it is a waste of money.

5 likes, 15 dislikes
Posted by Rochesternative on 02/01/2014 at 3:48 PM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems

"To single out only concentrated poverty as an obstacle and to single out only money as a solution is a cop-out." No, actually to pretend that RCSD convoluted and dysfunctional bureaucracy is anything but the result of the crushing and distorting burden of upholding modern educational standards, with the insufficient funding and outdated methodologies inherent in a school-districting system dating at least as far back as the 1800s is the real cop-out. None of Ms. Towler's laundry list of faults, carried out by the usual list of parties at which to point the finger of blame, will be fixed without the ability of those parties to act according to their consciences, rather than within the narrow range of outdated and powerless options currently being touted by those who do not face the same challenges personally.

I'll leave out (almost) entirely that improving the neighborhoods in question, and turning them from blighted to beautiful, is a form of wealth to be desired in its own right, regardless of its lack of impact on education. A better educational system *might* have a powerful effect on those neighborhoods eventually, but that is a change that would take generations in the making. Rochester neighborhoods, students, and citizens throughout the City do not have the luxury of waiting that long, and the argument lacks the explanatory power of putting the horse before the cart: invest the slopping-over ocean of capital where it provides the best return, which is in hard-working private citizens and their children, the Strategic Force of tomorrow.

5 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Phillip Batz on 02/01/2014 at 10:36 AM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems

Mrs. Towler, this is one of the best editorials I read regarding the school issues. I began reading it expecting to find a call for yet more money to be thrown at a problem that is no longer about money. I was pleased to find that more than one problem was touched on and solutions asked for those problems. Disengaged students are the result of a mindset, not necessarily caused by schools, these usually start in the home. When parents are engaged, care and tutor (or insist to their children they will stay after for help-as we often did with our failing teenagers) their children generally succeed.

20 likes, 31 dislikes
Posted by Gini Denninger on 01/31/2014 at 10:24 AM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems



As you know, I had suggested (via the correspondence above) that Rochester Board of Education President, Van White publicize the names of individuals serving on the four (4) ad-hoc committees, which he recently established. I was not aware of the fact that he had already done so --- via the article at the link below.

OBSERVATION: In my view, it would have been good to provide contact information for the members of all committees --- in order to make it convenient for people who may want to contact committee members regarding suggestions, questions, input, etc... . I assume that some members can be contacted here on Face Book, but I'm not certain if this is true for all.

As noted above, the Parent Engagement Committee had it's first meeting earlier this evening (6-8 pm). It was generally a productive meeting. PLEASE LOOK FORWARD TO A FORTHCOMING, FULL REPORT.

Also I thought that some of you may be interested in the information below regarding potential opportunities to serve as parent / student representatives on the following Board Committees:

*Policy Development & Review Committee
*Excellence in Student Achievement Committee
*Community & Intergovernmental Relations Committee
*Finance & Resource Allocation Committee
*Audit Committee

See additional information below (TWO SEPARATE ARTICLES)……

3 likes, 36 dislikes
Posted by Howard J. Eagle on 01/30/2014 at 10:59 PM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems…



First, I would like to apologize for the lateness of this correspondence. It was my intent to communicate about this --- way before now. In any case, I will make every effort to report updates in a timely fashion.

I am writing to inform you that I have decided to participate in one of the ad-hoc advisory committees ("parent engagement") mentioned in the article at the link below.

As many of you know, I have probably been one of the biggest, and most consistent critics of the Rochester Board of Education's "leadership" and members. Thus, I assume that some would question my participation in this sort of initiative.So, I wanted to explain my reasons for doing so.

I have always maintained that I am ready, willing, and able to work cooperatively and collaboratively with anyone who is serious about actions designed to produce much-needed, and much-deserved, widespread, permanent change and improvement for Rochester City School District (RCSD) students and families. Whether this particular initiative has the potential to accomplish this --- is yet to be seen. I have also (for many years) maintained that until, and unless WE establish a well organized, and well financed / resourced, broad-based, mass movement of parents, guardians, students, educators, activists, and anyone else who is really serious about academic and general change and improvement --- it will not happen. The latter point is articulated in our 2013 Board of Education Election Platform, and has been articulated in all previous Election platforms that I have been a part of. Rochester Board of Education President Van White knows that this is my belief, which was reiterated during a phone conversation earlier this month concerning my participation in this initiative.

As noted in the article at the link below:

"White also said he has reached out to every candidate who participated in the 2013 [General] school board election to offer an opportunity to serve on one of the advisory committees."

“These people represent constituencies; had thousands of people vote for them, and spent the better part of last year listening and learning from the people of our city. It only makes sense that we would tap into that resource as we look to develop a list of solutions to address the district’s most pressing issues.”

With regard to the quotes above, I had informed Commissioner White that I take very seriously the responsibility of attempting to represent those who give me permission to do so, and that (with regard to my participation in this initiative) I would make every attempt possible to identify, and communicate with, and seek input from those who supported me in the Election and/or otherwise. Therefore, this represents my first effort to do so.WITH REGARD TO THOSE WHO SUPPORTED ME IN THE 2013 GENERAL ELECTION, OF COURSE, I DON'T KNOW WHO ALL OF YOU ARE, BUT I DO KNOW THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST 2,194 OF YOU, AND I DO KNOW THAT MANY OF YOU ARE HERE ON FACE BOOK. If you know of others who supported and/or still support me, but are not here on face book --- please share this correspondence with them.

I also articulated to Commissioner White during the above referenced phone conversation that my participation is dependent on the condition that there will be ample opportunity for what ever recommendations these ad-hoc committees come up with --- to be vetted (subjected to examination and evaluation) via the broader community --- BEFORE they are formally submitted / recommended to the full Board of Education. He agreed that this is an important step, and that it will happen.

Thus far, the parent engagement ad-hoc advisory committee has two meetings scheduled. THE FIRST ONE IS THIS EVENING, AND THE SECOND ONE IS SCHEDULED FOR FEB. 18TH. I sent Commissioner White a note expressing my belief that it is NOT realistic that any committee could come up with quality recommendations in the course of two meetings. His response was that he is leaving it up to the various committees to determine additional meeting dates. Thus, this represents one of the first issues that I will put on the table this evening, i.e., the need to schedule additional meetings. AGAIN, I SINCERELY APOLOGIZE FOR THE LATENESS OF THIS CORRESPONDENCE, BUT PLEASE KNOW THAT (FROM THIS POINT ON) --- I WILL MAKE EVERY POSSIBLE EFFORT TO KEEP YOU ALL INFORMED --- IN A TIMELY MANNER.

At this point, I am not aware of who other members of the parent engagement committee are. However, I will report this information as soon as I know. Nor am I aware of who any members are of the other three ad-hoc committees (student achievement, student and community safety, and concentration of poverty). However, in my view, as part of keeping the broader parent / family / general tax-paying community informed, and maximizing opportunities for broad-based input, support, and buy-in --- I would suggest that the names of all committee members should be made public.


The Struggle Continues...…

4 likes, 38 dislikes
Posted by Howard J. Eagle on 01/30/2014 at 4:59 PM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems

What kind of educational system will it take? One that replaces a 19th century model based on government monopoly with a 21st century model based on innovation, freedom, and choice. One that empowers families and taxpayers, and dis-empowers unions, politicians, bureaucrats, "experts", and the rest who have failed so spectacularly and miserably.

And what's keeping us from providing it? The corrupt influence of the same vested interests named above.

34 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by b.d.g. on 01/28/2014 at 9:48 PM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems

Ms. Towler,

Smugtown is not at a tipping point in regards to segregation of educational opportunity. Lines drawn for school districts mean some of the best education in the country or some of the worst is available for our regions children.
I do not hear the political will, disgust, or greater good leading the discussion. Instead infighting and finger pointing which serves those with quality educational options very well, remains the debate parameters.
Not sure what will allow difficult questions to be answered through regional change.

6 likes, 19 dislikes
Posted by Stephen Karl on 01/28/2014 at 4:40 PM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems

You are correct-well said. We have heard it before. The answers must come from the inside. Unfortunately, the "inside" can't be a few people. Everyone needs to be invited and for whatever reason, the adults on Broad Street drink the poison and instead of compromise and solutions, we get finger-pointing and desperate suggestions. I would challenge you and your paper to invite a select group to address this problem and have a very transparent and honest debate. Why not?

6 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Gotta say it on 01/28/2014 at 9:50 AM

Re: “URBAN JOURNAL: Still seeking solutions to city school problems

MA Towler, I think this is your very best summary of the problem of our failing schools that I have seen from you. But I do hope that you will open up to some more creative, off the wall, ideas, such as I have suggested to you in letters, in the past few months.

If conventional wisdom is not working, then why not some unconventional wisdom in City News?

For starters, I hope that you can print the full text of the ASAR letter on Dr.Vargas and a defense from him. THANKS Harry Pearle

3 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Harry Pearle on 01/27/2014 at 8:57 PM

Re: “Warren's shaky start shows she needs help

If Mayor Warren has received threats there has to be a police investigation. If they are racist they could be hate crimes and that becomes a federal investigation. This is not a matter for a security team. My question is, what is the status of these investigations? Do they exist? Why aren't journalists asking this question?
The most troubling aspect of her response to me is the insinuation that there is a conspiracy to 'get her'. She should flatly admit that mistakes were made and that she will clean house. And do it. Only then can she move on and govern.

38 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Martin Edic on 01/22/2014 at 9:00 AM

Re: “Our crisis of poverty, racism, and segregation

It is extremely disappointing to read that so many city and suburb dwellers of Rochester are against helping their neighbors. I would like to point out there are many ways to help (the opinions mentioned in this article are just that, opinions; one person's take on results from one study). As mentioned, Rochester residents could jump on the bandwagon that most do and "help" from afar (provide clothing, food donations, etc) that will undoubtedly become crutches community members lean on for the wrong reasons. Or we can look deeper into the problems that have caused poverty in Rochester, come alongside our neighbors, and offer resources that will build them up to become sustainable.

5 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by AG on 01/06/2014 at 1:57 PM

Re: “The Richards record

Why even praise people with "business" background or contacts. It is American business people who decided to stop manufacturing in the US in favor of shipping our jobs to Mexico and China.

Maybe without that kind of experience, Lovely will take a fresh a nd better approach to business and jobs.

2 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Tom Janowski on 01/03/2014 at 5:22 PM

Re: “The Richards record

Unfortunately, Ms.Warren has zero business world experience and zero business world "contacts" for bringing more critically needed business investment and JOBS into the City of Rochester. Without those credentials, her "focus" on "poor" neighborhoods will be an utter failure and waste of efforts. It takes a very strong financial rebuild of the city in order to providce jobs that make poor people into non-poor people!!!!

8 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Jayzee on 01/03/2014 at 6:01 AM

Re: “Our crisis of poverty, racism, and segregation

Wow! Have you got it wrong! Blacks with lots of kid's can't get jobs because of racism and they also can't find affordable housing in the suburbs? I work. I live in the city and it's darn expensive. Someone on welfare doesn't care what it costs because they aren't paying. These people, my neighbors, have a team of experts doing everything for them, and the only result is that they can do nothing for themselves. Did you expect anything else?

7 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Michael Bruton on 12/28/2013 at 5:32 AM

Re: “Our crisis of poverty, racism, and segregation

It's the same old story. "Help" from the suburbs simply means higher taxes on the suburbs. And by the way, we're not interested in your ideas. Just the money. I believe that the city schools could be a success, and for less money. The leftist ideas of "education" need to go.

It's frightening that those running our schools and teaching our children haven't even noticed the decline over the last 50 years and corrected, Instead their "solutions" make things worse.

9 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by johnny on 12/27/2013 at 7:26 PM

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