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Feedback 5/11 

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The mayor's loopy idea

I read that Mayor Warren is proposing filling in more of the Inner Loop. This is an absolutely ludicrous and unnecessary expense.

The Inner Loop serves as a valuable connection to the east and west parts of the city. During morning and afternoon rush hours, it is congested and is used by schools and transit buses. Also, on occasions when other city arteries are closed either for repair or because of parades and other events, it is a valuable and connecting link.

This is really a solution looking for a problem. The metropolitan area roads and bridges are in terrible shape. Several city streets, including main arteries, resemble roads in third-world countries. Money would be much better spent on repairing our infrastructure. The northwest corner of Main Street and Clinton Avenue resembles a bombed-out section of Syria and should be demolished.

The railroad and railroad bridges separated downtown from northern residential areas long before the Inner Loop was built. I trust that the mayor is not proposing that we eliminate the railroad service.

If you want people to come downtown for various events and business reasons, a smooth flow of traffic is necessary; you don't construct roads for traffic conditions at 2 in the morning.

I urge readers to contact their local, state, and federal representatives to oppose this outlandish idea.


Schools should produce informed voters

If I had to choose the most critical role for public schools, it would be to prepare young people to function effectively as citizens in a modern democracy; we might want to introduce an hour of civics and American history every day for K-12, or at least for grades 6-12.

Is anything more important?

The one other choice I can think of is to prepare young people to function effectively as workers in a post-industrial economy; we might want to introduce four or five hours of accounting, engineering, and computer programming every day.

Anyway, today we have an uninformed, uncritical electorate who are voting for the wrong candidates and supporting the wrong causes for the wrong reasons.

A semi-literate electorate installs a hostile government which cuts funding to public schools for the purpose of keeping their constituents from thinking clearly about government. Lather, rinse, repeat.


Report on military school was distorted

Reader beware: Tim Macaluso's article "Report finds support for military school," (April 27) is dangerously misleading. According to the article, the recently released report proposing a district military academy "found that support for a military-style school is strong in both the city and the suburbs."

In fact, though, the report itself states explicitly that the opinions collected from several hundred respondents in surveys and focus groups "should not be taken as a quantitative representation of community opinions."

Furthermore, these opinions, supportive and not, are from self-selected people who know (and are told) little or nothing about public military schools, except for marginal familiarity with education and even less so with the military.

Yet to Macaluso, the report "seems to make a strong case for opening a military-style academy in the Rochester City School District." It does? In fact, beyond its invalid insinuations of "support" drawn from an unrepresentative array of uninformed opinions, the report seems not even to try to make a case for such a school.

After all, if someone were proposing a new school based on, say, Outward Bound or Head Start, we would expect to see a case built on research evidence and informed assessments of the performance, costs, and educational benefits of such a program.

But surprisingly, even though military programs have been in public schools since World War I, the report's authors don't even try to build their case from evidence and assessments found in years of research. Nor do they provide any evidence based on informed testimony, local or otherwise. In this vacuous report, no solid evidence at all is offered for the benefits of such a school.

Yet, based on the flimsiest of findings, the report recommends without explanation opening a new military school for which the district itself would bear the full cost, unlike the district's existing JROTC programs, which share costs with the Army. And this so-called "feasibility report" never even bothers to explore whether the district's strained budget could afford these new costs.

On careful examination, whatever one's views of the military, this inept report fails to make any legitimate case that a military academy might benefit district students. Its case depends only on trying to convince us, with negligible evidence and misleading publicity, that the community wants it. This is an untruth that the media seems only too ready to swallow and pass on.


Name issue isn't important

(On a letter writer's suggestion to drop the name "Rochester" given Nathaniel Rochester's history as a slave owner and trader.)

Nathaniel Rochester, one of three founders, gave our city his name, but the name predated him by centuries. Many of us assumed that we were named after Rochester, England, 30 miles from London. Its heritage goes back to 604 A.D.; it has a famous cathedral, was recognized as a city from 1211, and was a favorite of Charles Dickens.

Our Rochester is the largest, by population, of all of the American cities with the name. Let's enjoy being as great as we are, overlook Nathaniel's wrongdoing, which need not touch us, and use our energy to work on more pressing issues.


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