On August 18, this city's School Board made history. Through its courageous action, the Rochester school district became the first large urban district in the country, so far as I know, to challenge federal policy forcing districts to release students' contact information to military recruiters, with or without parental consent.
Prior to the board's historic 6-1 vote, the district had accommodated itself to President Bush's nefarious No Child Left Behind Act. It released information to the military without a serious prior effort to notify parents of their right to "opt out" of this disclosure. Now, through the bold efforts of Willa Powell and others on the board, explicit notification of parents' "opt out" choices will be included in a letter accompanying the Emergency Contact form.
Furthermore, the district's new policy states that "all schools shall withhold all student information [from recruiters] until October 15th, at which time the District will only act on responses received." The No Child Left Behind Act requires that information be released even if overburdened parents fail to return the form, but the district's new policy states that it "does not interpret the absence of a signed form as opting in or out; rather the district commits to maintaining privacy until the family makes its wishes known."
This is a bold step, which could jeopardize the district's considerable federal funding if challenged. We should all be proud that the board voted to restore the district's integrity safeguarding student privacy and limiting the district's ties to a military enterprise that discriminates against homosexuals, preys on poor black and Latino students, and resorts to deceit and harassment for its deadly marketing.
Prior to No Child Left Behind, the district prohibited all military recruitment in schools, since it violated the district's anti-bias Values Policy. We are now preparing a broad counter-recruitment campaign in city high schools to oppose the military's discriminatory and predatory presence, and to fully restore the district's compromised integrity. We invite others to join us by contacting Metro Justice at 325-2560 or MetroJustice.org, or Rochester Against War at 256-3458 or march12RAW@yahoo.com.
Douglas D. Noble, Brunswick Street, Rochester
Regarding "Fighting Words" (Family Valued, September 7): Another reason to home-school. Since when is it OK for parents to put their school-age kids in harm's way?
Naomi Pless, Cattaragus Drive, Rochester
I've had it! When did it become socially acceptable to sit on one's lazy ass in an idling vehicle and use the car horn as a doorbell? I live in the 19th Ward, and it is commonplace, all hours of the day and night and into the wee hours of morning, to hear some moron blasting their car horn to summon someone from their house.
The other day, my boyfriend and I stood on the front steps and glared at a woman sitting in her car, honking merrily away until another woman came out of the house across the street. If our eyeballs could have fired heat-seeking missiles, she would have been like a scorched cartoon character. Instead, she saw us staring and waved.
This is just another example of how our society has grown increasingly disrespectful. From the horn-honkers to the insanely dangerous drivers to apathetic "customer service" personnel down the evolutionary chain to the criminals in our nation's capitol: Disrespect seems to have become as American as apple pie and baseball.
If we didn't have such a high murder rate in this city, I'd call the police and request some sort of noise watch in my neighborhood. As it stands, all I can do is cover my head with my pillow when yet another idiot parks on the street and lays on his or her car horn at 3 in the morning and mutter to myself: "I've had it!"
Beth Abdallah, Thurston Road, Rochester
Do I feel safe after September 11, 2001? Has President Bush shown leadership that makes our country safe?
President Bush botched up Katrina and made another Viet Nam out of Iraq. As Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak predicted, President Bush produced 100 new bin Ladens.
In invading Iraq and attacking its mosques, Bush has assaulted the holiest shrines of Islam. That error resulted from President Bush's ignorance of other cultures. Since Islam is the state religion of huge numbers of followers in many parts of the world, Bush now confronts those followers willing to die in what they conceive to be a defense of their faith.
If Bush had diverted a fraction of the cost of killing those people to understanding and improving their economically-backward nations, it's clear where we in the West would be today: on a forward-looking path to a peaceful future.
I do not feel safe after September 11, 2001, but maybe President Bush thinks I do. When the president was suburban Rochester earlier this year to make a speech about Social Security, he seemed to think making me believe him would only take repetitive exercise, kind of like, shall we say, athletics? "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in," he said, "to kind of catapult the propaganda."
"Catapult the propaganda ...."
After my election to City Council, I will press Council to send a message to the president calling for a quick end to this disastrous and worsening war.
Harry Davis, South Avenue, Rochester (Davis is a candidate for the Rochester City Council on the Red, White, & Blue Party line.)
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