Irrational fears persist
The pushback by some parents against establishing the Urban-Suburban program in Spencerport can only be explained in terms of thinly veiled racism. None of their stated arguments hold up: city kids using up suburban resources, city kids being disruptive in class, and, conversely, being so smart that they take all the schools' scholarships.
A quick look at the district website could clear up all these objections: state education dollars are allocated for this program; the Urban-Suburban program is actually a financial benefit to the suburbs, not a drain; misbehaving students are disciplined in the same manner as the suburban students; and the Urban-Suburban program has its own scholarship programs.
So why all this pushback? Perhaps an overheard conversation at a children's sporting event can shed some light. I recently overheard this bitter conversation between white parents on this very topic: "I moved out of the city for a reason; I don't want my kids going to school with those kids." Followed by this response, "Anyway, don't those kids have their own programs? Why do they need to come to ours?"
Once we eliminate the common objections to the Urban-Suburban program, all we are left with are misinformed, ignorant, knee-jerk reactions. These remarks reminded me of the separate but equal Jim Crow laws that laws, policies, and Brown v. Board of Education were intended to crush. Unfortunately, these laws and policies have done nothing to change the irrational fear of Blacks, Latinos, and other people of color felt by some of our suburban neighbors. Only education and exposure can do that.
In the 50 years since Ruby Bridges took her brave steps into an all-white school, it seems that there are still white people who are fearful of integration. Perhaps they are unable to see beyond color or to accept that our cultural and color variations are what add quality and richness to our lives.
It is a shame, however, that their children may miss out on the culturally rich experience of attending school in an environment with fellow students who may look different from them, but who share the common experience of just being children.
Rochester city school parent
New York's fracking ban
Maybe the greatest victory for the anti-fracking activists in New York State is to switch the burden of proof from the victims to the producers. A hallmark of European environmentalism is to place the burden of proof on the industries producing products—making them prove their products will do no harm to the public or to the environment before they are allowed on the markets. The reverse has been true on this side of the Atlantic.
Decades of environmental and public health abuses by polluting industries have been allowed to continue until enough time and energy and research brought the polluters to court.
This statement by acting New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker could have profound implications: "Until the science provides sufficient information to determine the level of risk to public health from [fracking] to all New Yorkers and whether the risks can be adequately managed, DOH recommends that [fracking] should not proceed in NYS."