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School choice

The title of the August 20 Urban Journal declares neighborhood schools to be "popular" ("Neighborhood Schools: Popular but Impossible?"). The conditions that led to the Managed Choice system at RCSD were summed up quite well, but I would argue that the popularity of this idea rests among those who do not use our schools. If neighborhood schools were universally popular among parents, most of the children in our district would be walking to school today.

Acquiescing to parents' demand that they be offered something other than a failing school had its roots in the federal No Child Left Behind law. It was also a pragmatic response to the emergence of charter schools. Families will choose, and if RCSD doesn't offer choices they will look for options outside the district.

The mismatch between where children live and the capacity of the nearest school is called "structural displacement." This, more than any other factor, makes a complete return to neighborhood schools impractical if not impossible. But most elementary students of Rochester could be accommodated in schools within walking distance if that is what parents sought.

The key to shifting back to neighborhood-centric schools is creating demand among parents by striving to make every school a School of Choice – a school that parents want to send their children. How?

1) Every school must become a high-achieving school. We must raise expectations for teaching, learning, and leadership within every school.

2) Every school must have the resources to meet children where they are, whether that be to combat the effects of poverty or meet a special-education Individual Evaluation Program. School leaders must embrace special-needs students, not strive to get them assigned to another building. By the same token, parents need to recognize that when there isn't enough money to go around, the needs of all must be met before the wants of the more privileged few.

Every principal needs to walk door to door and "sell" their school to neighborhood families. Most families bypass their neighborhood school because they don't feel welcome, and school staff need convince them otherwise. If the school is struggling, they should make the case to each family that they – the families – are the key to turning things around.

These have been key tenets of school choice in Rochester since 2002. Rather than trying to make the "impossible" case to reverse Managed Choice, perhaps we should hold everyone accountable to these three elements.


(Powell is a Rochester school board member.)

He's not racist

Many of your articles are well written and entertaining. That said, you are completely one sided and irresponsibly liberal in your remarks about our president. You don't have to like him; he can be harsh and very blunt with his opinions and policy, but to call him "racist" and "hateful" is ridiculous.

Racism has existed in this country for centuries, but it has been redefined by the left. True equality has become "racism," and anything that does not represent what liberals believe is "racist" or "sexist." Firing a person who is a minority for legitimate reasons, is not racist. Using force to subdue a suspect who isn't cooperating with police procedure is not racist. Saying illegal immigrants are not welcome in this country and securing the border is not racist or hateful. Saying Baltimore is a "dump" is not racist.

In the 1980's Donald Trump, with no political thoughts in his head or heart, hired the first black woman in New York City as executive of his second hotel. When asked about it, he said, "I hired her because she was the best person for this job, and that is that." Other minorities within his organization, from entry-level positions to executives, seem to say similar things, that he sees production and not color, gender, or anything else. If you produce results and your numbers are consistently high, you move up within his organization. He won't promote you or hire you simply because you are white or black or anything in between. But because he also doesn't believe in giving minorities an "edge" over white people, he is called a "racist."

The liberal media and your publication claim that hate and racism are Trump's trademark, yet nothing he has done supports that statement. He protects and treats citizens of our country in the same manner. However, he believes that those people who are here or trying to come here illegally should not have the same rights as citizens. It has zero to do with color. Obama had the same beliefs and deported over 90,0000 illegal immigrants, while warning them to not cross our borders illegally.

Trump's job title is "the president of the United States of America." Does the CEO of Kodak try to better the lives of those who work at Cannon? Does the CEO of Wegmans pay for health benefits of those who work at Topps? Trump is supposed to put America first and protect its citizens. He wants to protect the Latinos who live here legally, near the border, from criminals who may be crossing illegally who happen to be the same color.

As for him saying it is an "invasion," what else would you call it? If someone enters your home illegally, it is called a "home invasion." The irresponsible media continue to manufacture hate and drama because it sells and creates Democratic voters.

Everyone has an opportunity in the US, even if some paths are tougher than others. The media do a great job of making minorities feel that this isn't the case and that they are all victims of the white man. The media are the ones creating hate and animosity, not Trump. The president makes mistakes, and I don't agree with all that he does, but I am intelligent enough to realize that he is far from "racist."


Repaint the wall

Kudos to the long lived Wall/Therapy project that has brightened our neighborhoods for years with glorious artwork in living color – except for one panel located on Pleasant Street at St Paul St. This features huge "rats" in black, white, and gray, certainly not reflecting the colorful life of this neighborhood.

The mural is peeling, dirty, ugly, and sadly overdue to be replaced, in full color and covering the whole wall. This section of Rochester has a long and colorful history. The mural needs to depict businesses such as Cook Iron Works, World Wide News, the Sisters Cities Bridge over the Genesee River, the bus terminal, and most importantly the faces and figures of the residents, the real living pallet of this area.

I beseech the Wall/Therapy project to act soon to correct this visual blight and give us back our neighborhood pride.


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