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Those of us in the Browncroft neighborhood who are skeptical regarding the proposed fourth supermarket in the area are not anti-development, but simply opposed to the Aldi proposal, which replaces a cultural nexus (Jim's Restaurant) with a suburban-style big-box store and accompanying asphalted street frontage.
This does not constitute sound urban planning which, by definition, should reflect the wishes and needs of the nearby residents.
However, were the developer to adhere to existing zoning requirements and make the project compatible with a cityscape, perhaps incorporating a returned Jim's, a dog groomer, etc., I am sure any neighborhood opposition would be muted.
Genesee Community Charter School is located in one of the finest neighborhoods with clean, quiet streets; trees; flowers; and no one standing on the street corners. The school has no broken windows, the rooms do not lack supplies, and attendance is strong. Parents are at your beck and call.
Ms. Wing says that the 30/70 population works for the kids (News, May 12). Well, we already know that; they are called suburban schools. (About 30 percent of Genesee's students quality for free and reduced-cost meals.)
Ms. Wing's school has not done anything new or different with student development that any city school with a 30/70 ratio couldn't do.
How could a lottery always come out 30/70? What are the odds?
My challenge to you, Ms. Wing, is to follow the New York State charter guidelines on student population and show the city what you can do with the same baseline. If you have the same success, we could all learn from you, and the kids would be the real winners.
LET'S BE FAIR TO ALL
Mary Anna Towler says that the problem of poverty is still on her mind. (Urban Journal, May 19). Maybe that is the problem. Poverty is not just something on someone's mind. It is something that people feel in their hearts.
And poverty is relative. Where do we draw the line on who is in poverty and who is comfortable? Does Towler consider herself comfortable? I do not. I live on a small Social Security check and I do not have a car or even a cell phone of my own. I have advanced degrees, but I am unemployed.
Perhaps we can start an ongoing conversation about how to lift us all, economically and in spirit. If we really care about poverty, maybe we can come together with fresh ideas and energies and work on putting solutions into practice, right now.
Towler concludes, "Because the problem of Rochester's increasing poverty is beyond serious. It is a crisis. And even if we're able to keep it bottled up for generation after generation after generation, it is doing terrible damage to thousands of human beings every single year. That is a moral stain on this community."
This reminds me of a Jewish saying: "Words from the heart enter the heart." Perhaps we can make real progress, heart to heart.
It is fair to say that there are some good city schools, and living in the city if you are in the right neighborhood is also cool. There are also parents who have the means to move, but instead like and fight for city schools, but that number is very low and the specific schools they embrace are the exception and not the norm.
The same parents who claim things are fine would never send their children to School 17, or School 3, or Charlotte, or dozens of other schools where there are more tears than smiles. "Standing up for city schools (News, May 27)?" I don't think so. "What savvy parents can do to navigate the system" would have been more appropriate.
GOTTA SAY IT
I am always amazed at how angry some people get when they hear me talk about why my kids love their schools. Every time I praise our city school, the failings at another school get pointed out to me. No RCSD parent is unaware of the problems in this system, but these problems do not negate the positives.
The positives happen at the school level with resilient and beautiful children being taught by committed and generous teachers.
I am a city school district parent, and yes, it can be tough. You learn to be an advocate for your children, their peers, your school...The feeling of instability caused by changing administrations at central office is tough. Placement office is tough to deal with. Not knowing year to year if your school's programs will remain intact is tough. The pervasiveness of poverty, and its effects, is heartbreaking. These are things that drive some to the suburbs, and I understand that.
However, I also know that the amazing schools my sons attended, and now attend, have shaped them in ways a suburban school would not have — and I teach in a suburban school. They have a full spectrum, world-class view and a group of peers who are diverse and amazing. They have been given wonderful opportunities, and are succeeding in ways I would have never imagined.
To the critics, there are just too many people making good things happen to suffer a blanket condemnation. Let's build on and replicate our successes to help those who need help. But to do that we need more players on the field and fewer critics.