Mary Anna Towler's column "In the Name of Security" (May 17) is a clear display of what is wrong with the Democratic Party, not the Republican.
When will the Democrats finally realize that simply bashing Bush will not win them any elections? Has the Bush administration done a good job? Probably not, but what will Democrats do to change anything? I find it fascinating that Democrats have no other game plan than stating what everyone else knows --- Bush is bad. Democrats look like fools when they make extreme comments about Bush being some sort of dictator. Their radical behavior is only driving voters away from their party.
It is even more amazing when Democrats like Towler are quick to point out their displeasure for Hillary Clinton because she is leaning too close to the middle. Clinton is their only hope for regaining the White House in 2008, and she is wisely trying to appeal to voters who are in the middle, but Democrats refuse to get behind her.
It becomes more obvious everyday that the Democratic Party is completely incompetent. I guarantee that most Democrats reading this are pounding their fist saying, "But Bush is bad!" When will Democrats get it?
Jeff Titzler, Rochester
In response to Tim Macaluso's article Where All the Students Went (May 31):
As AudreLorde wisely said, our silence will not protect us. Thank you, Tim and City, for giving voice to important, tough issues. If students do not graduate from high school, it is only semantics to say that they did not drop out. To enter a GED program, a student must officially drop out of high school. Many students state that they are going to a GED program and never actually enter. To my knowledge, what they actually do once they leave is not tracked.
Is it typical that about 1 in 8 students leave a district to attend school in another district during high school?
It is noted that the Rochester school district's drop-out rate "is not out of line with national averages, particularly among urban school districts." Why are we only comparing ourselves to other urban school districts? Let's be frank and finally name the white elephant in the middle of the room (no pun intended).
Public urban schools serve predominantly minority students, many of whom live below the poverty level. Racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia all affect students on a daily basis.
Why do we lower expectations for urban youth? Why are they less prepared for college than their suburban counterparts who, in theory, completed the same New YorkState curriculum?
Segregation may not be legal, but it is real. If we do not participate in the solution to this problem, we are tacitly participating in classism and racism.
Why not equally distribute school taxes among area districts?
What can we do to make schools a real part of the communities they serve? Rather than have something akin to a police state every morning (scanners, sentries, and police abound), we could hire some of the amazing matriarchs and other community leaders to come in and greet students. People who live in neighborhoods have a sense of what is actually going on. You are less likely to mouth off at your grandmother than at people who represent a system that doesn't work for you. And I'd be much more likely to go to my child's school if I were greeted by my neighbor rather than by officials.
When we tell students they have equal opportunities, but everything around them tells them they will need to work harder and longer to make it, they feel we are feeding them a line.
Poverty is a huge problem, and the brand we are currently experiencing directly affects the ability of students and parents to prioritize education.
We have lots of dedicated people who are trying to make a difference every day. Working in the schools is a hard job, anywhere. I understand that there are no easy solutions, and that solving years of inequality isn't simple. However, if we aren't even willing to call a spade a spade, if we keep our language wrapped up in high theory and politics, a solution will be slow in coming.
Erica Eaton, Benton Street, Rochester
"Creativity and mental illness seem to go hand in hand" (film review, May 31). To whom?
Stereotypes continue to abound in the area of mental health, despite the fact that every year we turn out thousands of people educated in various mental-health fields. It is a contradiction that exists in no other field. When one has cancer or heart disease, whatever form each may take, one wants as much information as possible, and health professionals readily supply it; on physical illnesses we are one of the best informed cultures in the world.
About mental illnesses, one cannot make the same claim. We are not informed. For whatever reason, we, and many other societies, have accepted a contract not to know. Instead, we rely upon folk wisdom, folk knowledge, long-standing stereotypes we have come to honor and cherish in place of real knowledge.
As a result, our responses to mental illnesses in no manner mirror our responses to physical illnesses. As a society we are failing to meet our responsibility, the responsibility to be informed, fully and positively informed, so that we can respond as fully educated, fully empowered, individuals.
I suggest two remedies, a new mental health contract:
1) Demand to be informed. As citizens, any of whom might very well encounter a mental illness in ourselves, or in friends and family, we have both a right to be informed, and a responsibility to seek that information.
2) Inform. As people in mental health professions, who also might at any time encounter a mental illness in ourselves or among friends and family, we have a responsibility to inform, fully, compassionately and positively.
Harold A. Maio, Fort Myers, Florida (Maio is a retired editor of a psychiatric journal and is a person with severe depression.)
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