"Dysfunctional communities" is a pretty broad and insulting term, but it does speak to a point. Good schools are good for one reason only - they are populated by families who place a high value on education - not just in the abstract, but who will make the commitment of time, energy, and, frankly, money that a family must make to a school, and the intangible trust in the long-term benefits of education. It's not the curriculum, teachers, or administrators. It's the parents. Unfortunately, though nearly everybody would say that "education is important," our poorer communities are primarily filled with people for whom school represents failure, mostly people without high school or college degrees, and who, as a result, maintain a negative or even adversarial relationship with schools, educators, and administrators. Yes, successfull schools are all about community. The trick, for Mr. Spezio's compelling idea to work, would be to somehow defeat a powerful cultural paradigm. As a first step, I would recommend that the next plea / article be written with far less pseudo-esoteric edu-babble grad school jargon. I speak the language, but most people don't, and will not warm to it, if they read it at all.
I think this is a great idea but how would you handle schools in dysfunctional communities? That was the whole reason for school choice.
I read this editorial several times looking for the word "father" somewhere in this piece. Didn't find it anywhere. The CAUSE of these social ills is the lack of fathers, and father figures, in the lives of those that are talked about in the article. The statistics below say it all:
"In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote "The Negro Family: A Case for National Action." At the time, 25 percent of black children were born out of wedlock, a number Moynihan called alarming. Fast forward to the present, 72 percent of black children are now born out of wedlock. In fact, 36 percent of white children are born out of wedlock. Of Hispanic children, 53 percent are born outside of marriage." I would add to this number that the percentage of Asians born out of wedlock is a mere 17%. What are Asians doing right, that everyone else is doing wrong?
Until you fix the lack of fathers issue, nothing will change here. Shame on Dr. McMickle for talking around the problem, and avoiding talking about the SOURCE of poverty. A littany of new social programs will do nothing to ameliorate the poverty of values in many parts of our country that directly leads to monetary poverty.
I think that Dr. McMicle made a good point in his article about the poor being left out by our President. May we respectfully suggest that Dr. McMickle- as one responsible for the education of moral leaders has already taken a look in the mirror. That is why he can see the political, bureaucrats and Godless social engineers that some refer to in their comments about his article. Dr. McMickle inspires moral leaders to do what is right , just and kind in our world toward human beings who happen to be poor. Speaking up to help the poor is good conduct and the right advice to give President Obama.
As a one of Dr. McMickle's former students, I can say he, in fact, does practice what he preaches.
Like Dr. McMickle, I was raised in poverty. I recognize the complications of the poor life that people who have not experienced poverty often overlook.
For example, as a child I was often wirtten off as predestined for failure by middle-class teachers who understood little about my culture. They were often short tempered when it came to teaching me the things my middle-class counterpart had already been shown. I recognized their discontent. This made me reluctant to ask for help and guarded regarding what I did not know. Ignorance and the subsequent poverty that inevitably accompanies it became a self-fulfilling prophecy in my life. However, because of educators and moral leaders like Dr. McMickle, who were far and few between, I am an educated middle class contributor to society.
I believe Dr. McMickle has taken a look in the mirror. He should be commended for giving a voice to the mute, not criticized. He has charged himself to overcome poverty. he recognized all who had sacrificed for the opportunity he has been afforded: and once he had overcome poverty he was compelled to make a difference by witnesseing to the poor, a sacrifice all too often forgotten by people who were raised in poverty, but have overcome it.
Perhaps the issue of poverty is so big that we feel one man, like Dr. McMickle, can't make a difference? He has made a difference in his example, testimony, and ministry. I am a witness to it. He is asking that we not forget those without a voice, especially helpless children who had no choice in their class and may turn out to be an Ivey League school graduate and professor or the President of a University if given the opportunity.
@Barb: If you don't like 'either/or', then you should appreciate the fact that we offered layers of context that the author simply ignored.
As for the laughable canard that the "the poor & disenfranchised have been ignored", I'm afraid the facts are not your friend. Welfare spending at all levels of government (before you even COUNT the 800 pound gorillas of Social Security and Medicare) consumes THREE TIMES as much of the economy as it did during the height of the so-called "Great Society". Federal aid to education PER CAPITA has well more than doubled since the end of the Clinton regime.
If you honestly give a hoot about the poor, then go out and FIGHT the government school monopoly, the environmentalist kooks, the anti-growth drones, and the rest of the leftist ideologues who conspire to keep them poor.
j.a.m., typical 'either/or' mentality, & throwing God around like a hula hoop. Not even going to respond to the nonsense.
Dr. McMickle writes a marvelous article. I'm sure he would even agree with the idea that more fathers in every community would be great. His main point, with which I heartily agree, is that the poor & disenfranchised have been ignored & probably will be again. I'm a big fan of Pres. Obama, but it's shocking under his administration.
May we respectfully suggest that Dr. McMickle — as one responsible for the education of moral leaders — take a long, hard look in the mirror. If America needs "help in creating stronger and more stable families", that can only come from our moral leaders — it most certainly CANNOT come from politicians, bureaucrats and godless social engineers. Families don't need "nurses" — they need FATHERS. We might ask what precisely Dr. McMickle is doing to raise up a generation of zealous moral leaders, a righteous army to go forth in God's name to combat the epidemic of sexual immorality and bastardy that is the root cause of poverty, ignorance and criminality.
And as long as Dr. McMickle is inclined to offer free advice to Obama, he ought to focus his exertions on ending the administration's insane ideological war on jobs and free enterprise. Until then, all the trillions in handouts just go right down the sewer.
There is a direct correlation between the rise in the prison population and closure of the state hospital system.
Most of the discussion about improving urban areas focuses on various government "economic development" programs, whether they be tax breaks, outright grants, or periodic "master plans" drawn up by people who will never implement them because they don't have the money. All of these efforts have long track records of failure. The only way to rebuild a city is through jobs, and the only way to create jobs is to make your community attractive for job creators. Right now, New York is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to attracting business. Despite the Governor's endless self-congratulatory press conferences and catchy slogans about NY being open for business, the fact is we still have the highest taxes, most burdensome, anti-business regulations, the most confrontational unions, the highest utility costs, etc etc.
Create the conditions for business to return and grow in Rochester, and you won't be endlessly fretting about how to divide a shrinking pie. Unfortunately, encouraging business is about as attractive to the liberal Democrats who run our cities and our State as getting the hives.
There is no vision for Rochester. Residents are seen as revenue-makers (red-light cameras, parking fees, etc) while out-of-town developers and big projects are seen as our "saviors". There needs to be focus on locally and cooperatively-owned businesses throughout the city, not just in gentrified areas. There needs to be a change in direction and that opportunity is coming.
@ Ms. Powell - Your insights on the inner workings of the RCSD are much appreciated. Thank you.
I'm by no means an expert on education or on the RCSD, but I do know that (fairly or unfairly) it's generally believed that the RCSD does not do an adequate job of educating and preparing students for the future (obviously there are exceptions). The reasons behind this can be debated, but the perception is real and is a major factor (if not "the" major factor) in determining where young families choose to locate - if they have the means to choose, that is. Rochester is not alone in this regard.
Stemming the tide of young couples and families moving from the city to the 'burbs would go a long way in improving/stabilizing the City and the district. As an outsider looking in, I'd offer the following suggestions:
- Get rid of the many different "schools within schools" and simply get back to the "three R's"... at every school.
- Get rid of the "school choice" program and go back to neighborhood schools.
My suggestions may be simplistic, perhaps I don't see the bigger picture. As I stated, I'm no expert... but parents shouldn't have to be experts in order to appropriately guide their child through the school system. Why must it be so (seemingly) confusing?
Tom Richards wrote “Before we can put one book on a library shelf or one cop on a beat, the entire property-tax levy has been exhausted by the cost of pensions and the state-mandated $119.1 million payment to the City School District.”
Once again, I must admonish our colleagues at City Hall to stop misrepresenting the facts. For 95 years, the state has required that the big cities collect property taxes “on behalf of” their school districts. Why? Because the cities had already developed complete education systems, and because the cities already had a system for collecting taxes when the State mandated public education. Don’t believe me? Look at your city tax bills over the last 10 years. School Tax Levy has always been there.
Smaller school districts were on their own to figure out how to collect the taxes, and what their boundaries would be. They also had both the freedom and the responsibility to put their school tax levy to a vote.
The only thing that changed was that when Gov. Spitzer ushered in the Contract for Excellence funding for schools, which promised a phase-in of adequate funding for education, he turned to the cities and said, in essence, if the State steps up and fulfills its constitutional obligation to fund a “sound basic education”, we expect the cities to maintain their current effort, and not use this new money as an opportunity to reduce the local commitment to education.
Since then, the state has reneged on the Contract for Excellence. The phase-in of new funding was stopped, and then reversed. Even so, the City’s contribution to the Rochester City School District Budget remains only 17% of the whole. Nearly all the funding for suburban schools comes directly from local property tax base, so it hardly seems fitting for the City to bemoan their share of the burden for education.
The City and the School District have one common interest: advocating that the State address the inequities created by a tax system that allows high wealth and high poverty tax bases, but demands the same services be provided without the same resources.
Richards lumps school aid in with the cost of pensions as if these issues were two sides of the same coin. Pension Costs may equal the entire City Tax Levy. Rising pension costs are real, and the City School District is struggling under the weight of those costs as well. But it is unfair to add pension cost and education aid together to make the statement he makes. It is inappropriate to perpetuate the myth that the city has been burdened with an unfair financial obligation to the City School District.
Commissioner, Rochester Board of Education
Mayor Richards, it seems, looks at our city from a different perspective than most Mayors. In Providence, for example, their Mayor had a quality of life oriented plan for redevelopment of the urban core. I fear that the Mayor of Rochester has no plan, rather, looks at the city as a tax generator first, lifestyle second. It is a classic "chicken and egg" situation!
Red Light cameras are not an economic development plan! Economic development occurs because a city is attractive for residents to live in. It is a combination of safety, night life, attractions, excitement, and pride! Instead, in our city, we are unsafe, confuse night life with bars, chase out the attractions (with the exception of the jazz festival) and no longer have pride in our city (witness the hole in the ground of Midtown).
Stating problems is easy, vision is another thing. Dear Mayor Richards, "where's the beef""
And there is an ongoing migration of Americans (particularly Generation Y Americans) to dense urban centers, which goes to show further the particular importance of paying attention to services in the City. Cities, after all, are our future and are here to stay. Keeping them safe and continuously vitalized, may it be through public services, business investment, and transportation investment, is important for us Gen Y'ers, including myself.
Funny how this drain on property taxes is never blamed on Richards' giving a free ride to new construction leading to further abandoning of existing space (e.g. Culver Road Armory drew businesses from downtown), and how corporate chains get red-carpet treatment while local business owners are crippled by exclusively supplying tax revenue, and suffering bureaucratic abuse (e.g. the secret 24-hour permit for 7-11 on Monroe versus the aggressive, illegal restricting of hours at Obsessions Bar and Grill).
And what's that about his pet project of getting rid of the one-way Clinton and St. Paul streets downtown? One-way traffic creates additional pedestrian safety, and the parallel design affords efficient transit. Maybe Richards' future boondoggle — the proposed Mortimer Street Bus Barn — can't function without it.
I hope that one day soon the loyalists to the Democratic Party will realize their representation in this city is a corrupt bunch of opportunists. (Hint: connect the lines between which companies perform patronage jobs and which companies fund campaigns.)
We need to have a "national conversation" about nut control, not gun control.
"people wouldn't be able to kill others so easily without guns"
And drunks wouldn't be able to kill others so easily without cars. Sorry, but it's just a meaningless assertion.
If you don't approve of gun ownership, then by all means don't own one.
In the wake of the tragic events at Newtown (and in the wake of every mass shooting in the past decade) I've read countless op-ed pieces written by advocates of gun ownership, all of which carry the same basic theme- the idea that if only somebody had treated the shooter for mental illness, or prevented him from obtaining arms through "background checks, or been armed at the scene prior to the attack, etc. etc.- lives could've been saved. These points are all valid to some degree. But every excuse given to deflect criticism of our nation's culture of gun ownership sounds like just that: an excuse. The fact remains that if Adam Lanza or others like him hadn't been able to acquire deadly weapons and ammunition with such minimal effort, far fewer lives would've been lost.
Gun rights advocates are always quick to claim that our high rate of gun ownership has nothing to do with these mass killings, nothing to do with a homicide rate far above any other country with a comparative level of development. But where do they think that the guns used in these murders originated, exactly? Russia? Mexico? Secretive, illicit gun factories funded by criminals and the like? Nearly every gun used to kill an American on a street corner in the ghetto or in a school or shopping mall was at some point in time legally purchased. In fact, most of the guns used to carry out acts of unspeakable violence even in Mexico were bought at American gun stores and then smuggled south to serve in the drug war. Whether these weapons were stolen from their legitimate owner or bought and intentionally funneled to criminals, they were available thanks to this nation's tolerance of deadly firearms. All other factors aside, Adam Lanza would not have been able to steal so many precious children away from their loved ones if he didn't have a family member who legally purchased an AR-15 rifle from her local gun store.
The sentiment "guns don't kill people, people kill people" may (technically) be true. But people wouldn't be able to kill others so easily without guns. It's time to stop making excuses and restrict the sale of firearms- to everybody.
Regarding the Webster shootings, why is it that sex offenders must register with the state even and yet murderers like Spengler do not? He murdered his grandmother, served his time, completed his parole and was free to go anywhere he wanted to without answering to any authority. One use of a murderer's registry would be to check it when any 911 call is made. If a released murderer is in the area, the responding service, such as firefighters, could be met there by police, just in case.
Website powered by Foundation