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Schools and money, the war, mail talk back

Reader Feedback 3.12.03 

Money aplenty

I can't tell you how sad it makes me when you talk about the city schools ("Doing the Math," February 19). I can tell you from first-hand experience that most schools are failing not because they lack resources or money.

                  It is disheartening and tiring to hear School Board member Rob Brown, teachers-union president Adam Urbanski, and others cry about needing more. I saw schools replace perfectly good tables with computer-specific tables that costs thousands more. I had plenty of nice meals at fine restaurants and hotels listening to district trainers. I know for a fact that the school-wide reforms that are being purchased by the district cost almost $200,000 per school in some cases.

                  There is plenty of money, but it is spent foolishly. Everyone wants their own piece of the pie, and the reason the "community" is not supporting the schools is because the "community" gets shit on every time they try to help. Ask almost any parent who has left the city why they moved. It was not because of race or lack of caring. They left because they felt abused.

                  The fact is that the whole damn system is run by self-serving political types who would not dare let your paper or any other dig deep into what really goes on. The local business leaders are not mean-spirited or uncaring, but they have dealt with the Rochester school district and they know how much waste (both financial and emotional) there is. Stop blaming it on lack of resources or "equitable funding."

                  The only time these "leaders" get vocal is when there is an economic crisis that affects their constituents. This latest "school within a school" idea is old. I tried for two years to get one to happen; other than the parents, no one would openly support it. This new plan is a transparent one that will only force more parents to flee. In six or seven or 10 years, we will be looking for a new plan, blaming the failure of this one on money or commitment.

                  Get real, because no one is listening. It's over.

                  John Bliss, Nottingham Road, Rochester (Bliss is a former teacher with the Rochester school district)



All in the family

If President Bush's wife and daughters were Iraqi and lived in Baghdad, I wonder if he would be so anxious to invade. My point is that we all have family in Iraq: human family. Anywhere on earth there are fathers, mothers, and children. We are related. I cannot understand why Mr. Bush seems ready to sacrifice hundreds or maybe thousands of innocent Iraqi lives (not to mention American soldiers' lives) to get one man.

                  This is completely immoral --- and Mr. Bush is supposed to be a Christian.

                  Dan Quilty, Kosciusko Street, Rochester



Fighting the war

Why are hundreds of millions of Americans demonstrating against invading Iraq? We don't believe the Bush administration's hype on Iraq, or that the administration is concerned with democracy, human rights, or international law.

                  There are those who say that Saddam is a butcher and that we need to invade to liberate the people of Iraq. Protesters are not so naive as to think that bombing Baghdad and killing tens of thousands of civilians (again) is what the people of Iraq want. A recent UN report states that over a million Iraqi children would be at risk of starving if we bombed Iraq again and further destroyed its infrastructure.

                  For the last 12 years Iraq has been under siege, unable to repair its water-treatment plants or power grid, unable to stock hospitals with medicine.

                  Before the US bombed Iraq 12 years ago, the people of Iraq were enjoying the profits from the nationalized oil industry. They had universal health care, universal literacy, and free secondary education. Now the people of Iraq are starving to death and dying of dysentery. Our sanctions have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's.

                  Colin Powell has tried his hardest to link Iraq with Al Qaeda, but the bottom line is that Iraq does not pose a terrorist threat. Perhaps Powell should have read CIA Chief George Tenet's letter to the Senate Foreign Intelligence Committee. In it, Tenet explains that Iraq does not pose a threat and that the US is actually increasing the likelihood of retaliation by backing Hussein into a corner.

                  Hundreds of millions of protesting Americans aren't falling for the Bush administration's pretexts for invading Iraq and privatizing the oil. Please join us this Friday, March 14, 5:30 p.m. in front of the Federal Building for a massive anti-war demonstration. Let's send a message.

                  Jon Greenbaum, Metro Justice Organizer



Praising 'Gods'

To paraphrase: Jon Popicks' reviews are a God awful waste of time.

                  Perhaps Mr. Popick would do better to consider the purpose of the films he reviews rather than the outcomes that never seem to please him. The things that seem to annoy him in Gods and Generals (February 19) are the things that make the movie a powerful message against war.

                  He rails against the inconsistency of uniforms, while admitting their accuracy. If Mr. Popick had paid a little more attention in 8th grade, this would have enhanced the realism, rather than distract him. He is confused? Combat is confusing. History does not always play out accurately on the screen (witness Gangs of New York), but the points that history makes are better understood when accuracy and drama mesh.

                  He is annoyed by the lack of limbs flying about. There was plenty of violence, plenty of death and destruction, without emphasizing the gore. Perhaps he would have liked it better if the film had eliminated the smoke and dust so we could see the maiming and death.

                  Men sleeping on the Fredericksburg battlefield, using the corpses of their comrades as shelter from both bullets and the cold: That speaks eloquently to the violence of war. That it is historically correct underscores it.

                  The actors confused him. Because Stephen Lang played a different role than in the previous movie in the series? Because Robert Duvall rather than Martin Sheen played Lee? Actors are actors.

                  There was a cereal commercial line: "Mikey hates everything." So, it seems, does Mr. Popick.

                  Hermon R. Card, Syracuse



More GYN help

My thanks go out to Jennifer Loviglio for her article on the importance of regular gynecological exams for women ("For That Someone Special," February 12). It is estimated that between 60 and 80 percent of American women diagnosed with cervical cancer had not had a pap test in the last five years.

                  I would like to add another avenue for women to take to ensure their health. Planned Parenthood of the Rochester-Syracuse Region is dedicated to providing reproductive health-care services to all women, regardless of their ability to pay. Depending on income, women (including teens) may qualify for low-cost or no-cost health-care services, particularly with the new Family Planning Benefit Program that offers free services to many women who may not have qualified for other such programs.

                  For more information, or to schedule an appointment, consumers can call our Toll-Free Helpline at 1-866-600-6886 or visit our website at www.pprsr.org.

                  Bonnie Bohme, Regional Director of Clinical Operations, Planned Parenthood of the Rochester-Syracuse Region, University Avenue, Rochester



Viewing Tom

I enjoy reading This Modern World, usually because I disagree with its blatant partisanship, and find its arguments laughably weak. What are those Democrats going to whine about next?

                  But I'm curious: How much do you pay to run this? Or does the Democratic Party pay you to run it?

                  The funniest thing in a recent "comic" was the part about GW Bush being an unelected president. What's he doing in the White House if he wasn't elected? Does anyone still believe that Bush lost Florida?

                  I don't care if Bush had been elected by a one-vote margin in the House of Representatives. If it had gone that far and he was chosen in that method, he would still be the legitimate president.

                  However, I do feel that the Democrats had an illegitimate year or so in control of the Senate, thanks to that selfish grandstander, jumping Jim Jeffords.

                  Joe St. Martin, Penfield



Talking back

Why is it that when people write letters to City, your writers sometimes feel compelled to write back? As journalists, you should know better. You had your shot. Your article was a lot longer than the letter, and you got paid for it. Instead of insisting on having the last word, perhaps you should go eat worms.

                  Amy D'Amico, Rochester

                  Editor Mary Anna Towler's response: Fair question. Many newspapers do not permit their writers to respond to letters. Many magazinesdo, however. Alternative newsweeklies, in many respects, have features of both.

                  Several years ago, a longtime reader asked why our writers didn't respond to letters. "When you don't," he said, "it makes me feel as if you're ignoring me." I agreed --- in part because I realized that personally, I'm more apt to read letters in magazines that contain a writer's response. As a whole, the package seems more interesting.

                  We give all of our writers the option of responding; some want to do it. Others object to the practice, vehemently. (Coincidentally or not, the number of letters we receive increased when we started publishing responses.)

                  You're right, of course; doing this gives our writers the last shot. But I think all this continues a public dialogue on important issues.

                  And, on occasion, as this week, it permits us to explain a practice that concerns or confuses readers. Along that line: We try to let our letters keep their distinctive personality. We let them run a bit longer than many daily newspapers do, and we try not to squeeze the individuality out of them.

                  Our Mail column is designed to let readers talk to us and to one another; our goal is to provide a community forum, one that reflects the life and the concerns of the region.




Writing to City

We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: themail@rochester-citynews.com or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester 14607.

                  Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. While we don't restrict length, letters of under 350 words have a greater chance of being published. We do edit letters for clarity and brevity. And in general we don't publish letters (or longer "op-ed" pieces) from the same writer more often than once every three months.

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