Lovely Warren says city schools would be her first priority as mayor

Posted by Tim Louis Macaluso on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Rochester mayoral candidate Lovely Warren has staked out education as the centerpiece of her campaign. At a press conference earlier today, Warren said Rochester is facing many challenges, but "none of them is more important than the failure of our schools."

After citing some well-known statistics concerning the city’s grim educational outcomes, Warren put the situation in stark terms. The city will not survive if the crisis in education is not addressed, she said. And she introduced what she called her “seven-point education plan": initiatives that include expanding pre K, recruiting teachers trained to work with urban children, creating a scholarship bank to help students with college costs, and realigning city programs around the city’s educational needs.

But the thrust of Warren’s approach to improving education is offering parents more choice, largely by actively recruiting successful charter school management organizations.

Warren said she supports Rochester schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas’s efforts to increase reading proficiency and to clamp down on truancy. And she said her support for charter schools will supplement Vargas's work, not compete or conflict with it.

But she also said that parents in Rochester should not have to wait another 20 years for the city’s schools to improve.

Referring to a recent statement made by Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, president of the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation, Warren said that the next mayor’s biggest challenge will be attracting middle-income families back to the city. But that task will be impossible if those families aren’t confident in the quality of city schools, she said.

Warren went so far as to say that she supported a close friend’s decision to sell her house and move to the suburbs rather than put her children’s education at risk in city schools.

Warren reiterated that she will not pursue mayoral control, a contentious issue that divided the city under Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy’s tenure as mayor. And she said she would not lobby to change the city’s annual contribution of $119.1 million to the district.

But the city could support charter schools, she said, by assisting charters with one of their biggest expenses: making city-owned building space available.

Some of Warren’s points smack of political campaign glee, but her focus on education is an astute decision. As a parent, Warren can make a passionate appeal to other city parents who share her concerns about education. She may be able to better connect with their fears and aspirations than her opponent, Mayor Tom Richards.

Warren said she doesn't dismiss city schools, but she defended without apology the right of city parents to choose the best education option for their children. And when asked whether she would send her child, now 2, to a city school, Warren firmly aligned herself with those mothers and fathers she wants to reach.

The public will have to wait and see, she said.

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

So Ms. Warren does not want mayoral control, but besides spending $119 million dollars for education that is administered by the Superintendent, with oversight by the School Board, she now wants to have the main focus of the mayors office also being education. If education is Ms. Warren's prime focus, she should run for Commisioner for the Board of Education rather than for mayor. If we don't have mayoral control, then the mayors office has other priorities that should take precedence.

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Posted by Paul Kingsley on 04/18/2013 at 9:49 PM

I applaud the focus of Lovely! Rather than telling us what we cannot afford and what we cannot do, she, is rolling out a plan with a solution to the most pressing problem we have! I do not know enough about school issues to say this will work...but, you never find answers without trying to find solutions. I, for one, will support someone with vision, not someone who tells us what we cannot do...we have that now!

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Posted by clint on 04/19/2013 at 5:47 AM

Mrs. Lovely ought to be running for RCSD board President with those visions.

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Posted by Teraysah Barker on 04/19/2013 at 2:21 PM

So Mrs. Warren, after her dis-honest fumbling of the issue of gay marriage (the only thing on her twitter feed other than self promottion are quotes from Rick Warren, champion against gay marriage in california), now has sided with Jeb Bush and the so called education "reformers" who believe that privatization , union busting and more endless testing are the solutions to urban education. The identity politics alarm system at City newspaper must be shooting sparks! By the way, if Ms. Warren's full time job is working for David Gantt, does anyone think she is working full time in his office only in that capacity? Isn't she then basically running for Mayor full time while being paid by Gantt? So isn't David Gantt essentially paying her to run for mayor right now? I'm not accusing her of running for mayor for monetary reasons, but isn't kind of weird that David Gantt is paying her salary while she runs? Alex White is running his own business whilst running for Mayor and Richards spends about 100 hrs a week being Mayor. Weird. And no one will ever ask about it.

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Posted by goodgov on 04/19/2013 at 2:49 PM

This is going to be an awesome campaign season. Cover it all, City! Cover it all.

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Posted by Dave Atias on 04/19/2013 at 9:14 PM

.Ms. Warren has had three years as city council president to focus her attention on the city school situation and to convince her colleagues on the council that this area should be their first priority. But for some reason she neglected to do this. Nor, when one reads her biography and personal "mission statement” on the city council’s web site, does she give the condition of Rochester’s schools even a passing mention.

Such overnight conversions may be genuine if one is St. Paul on the road to Damascus. But when claimed by politicians running for higher office they tend to appear cynical and disingenuous.

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Posted by MJN on 04/20/2013 at 9:19 AM
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