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Feedback 7/29 

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Expand UR's role

Just finished Mary Anna Towler's article about schools, neighborhoods, and poverty (Urban Journal, July 8). Rather than torture ourselves with the pros and cons of neighborhood schools versus school choice, here's an idea to cut through all that.

Instead of putting the University of Rochester in charge of East High, let's put them in charge of all city school first grades, regardless of location. If the results are better, the next year the UR will get the contract for grades 1 and 2. And so on, as our kids move up each year.

The major problem with East High is most of its students are not ready to do the work for East High. That is on us as a community.


Business and poverty

Is gentrification good or bad? I think it would be easier to determine if the chicken or egg came first. After two years of living in D.C., I returned to Rochester to discover all sorts of new city business developments: City Gate! College Town! And bigger and better Brooks Landing! There is a new energy and new opportunities.

And Rochester is starving for opportunities. The unemployment rate for African Americans in Rochester from 2009-2013 was 19.6 percent. In 2015, 32.9 percent of the city is in poverty, and 50.1 percent of our children live in poverty. We are in desperate need for knights in shining armor such as Costco, well-known for its living wage and work benefits.

But I'm nervous. I know what that 32.9 percent of poor city residents are up against when they apply for those jobs. They are competing with better-educated, better-connected suburban applicants who look and talk like the majority of employers.

I've spent a good part of my career working with young, urban job hunters who dream about a part-time job flipping burgers. The suburban teenager's humdrum summer job represents significant income for too many urban families.

High-density poverty is a vicious cycle that impacts its victims' ability to compete in the work world. Can Rochester's gentrification lift our city's residents out of this cycle? Or will it perpetuate and strengthen the income stratification between Rochester and Monroe County? More than half of Rochester's children will be deeply impacted by the answer to these questions, so I pray our community supports new business development with integrity and intentionality.


The school board is to blame

I have lived and worked in Rochester for 10 years, and it is clear that the problem with the Rochester City School District and its board isn't movement in and out of superintendents. It appears a more likely cause is a dysfunctional school board and shameful dithering. Time after time, board members adhere to seismic fault lines of ethnicity and economics as excuses to do nothing.

To me, this behavior signifies a board that cares little about the children it is responsible for and the work necessary to prepare as many as possible for positive futures. Can it really be that some board members cannot negotiate in good faith and compromise when necessary? Do they truly want school children to learn to go for short-term gratification because there is little else for them? If the answer is yes to either question, then children are being shortchanged. Their parents ought to ask for change.


Blinking green could prevent accidents

What if you blinked two or three times? Three seconds is about the amount of time you get on a yellow-to-red light.

The DOT does not seem to want to extend the yellow-light time a few seconds to allow a driver to react and not cause a rear-end collision when the driver slams on the brakes.

Why not have the green light go into a flash/blink mode a few seconds just before changing to yellow? This would alert the driver that a change is coming, and STOP.


Inclusiveness is hip

Ban khaki from the jazz fest? (Feedback, July 15) Why? Some poor baby doesn't like it? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

I don't remember seeing rockin' Mark at this year's fest. But I remember seeing rockin' John several times, and I believe he was often wearing khaki. How can one reconcile disdain of khaki with admiration of him?

Instead, let's ban dress codes and exclusivist attitudes. Wear whatever you want: khaki, jeans, cutoffs, halter tops, sundresses, formal wear, flapper dresses, zoot suits, red-carpet gowns, what-ev-er. You can't get more hip than that, Jack.

Of course, that means we'll have to endure pork-pie hats and low-rider pants (God help us). But, hey, that's what inclusiveness is all about.

Enjoy the music. Enjoy the variety in dress, looks, and types of people. And be courteous to each other.


The wrong fight

We have been rolling over on wages for too many years, letting the 1 percent dictate what we deserve. I heard a mother angrily complain at a party recently that her daughter, an EMT, will earn less than a McDonald's worker if the minimum- wage increase goes through.

If I were that mother, I would be angry at how little my daughter is paid, not how much a burger-flipper earns. Unless we all complain, loudly, that wages have not been keeping up with costs, while companies like Walmart depend on food stamps to keep employees fed, then we will continue to fight with each other over the few scraps available.


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