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School answers

It's surprising to me (or maybe not) that Mary Anna Towler's "Still Seeking Solutions to City School Problems" (Urban Journal) neglects to mention one entity that has been a constant throughout the Rochester School System's demise: Rochester Teachers Association president Adam Urbanski.


For over 25 years, Mr. Urbanski has exerted strong influence over what happens in the city schools. While he has delivered enviable benefits to his teacher constituents, the district has for the same 25 years continued its slide into becoming one of the state's lowest performing and most expensive systems. While school boards and superintendents turn over periodically, Mr. Urbanski continues to work to obstruct change and to maintain the status quo.

It seems obvious to me that Mr. Urbanski and his close cadre of officers need to be replaced by a president and staff that is willing to work with all parties to implement innovative, meaningful changes in the system. No other private or public enterprise would tolerate the continuance of officers during such a prolonged period of non-performance. Replacing Mr. Urbanski, who is an artifact in a failed system, cannot possibly have negative impact on the schools.

I would hope that many concerned teachers would agree and take corrective action. If it is really about the children, how could they not?


You say that we have tried every idea around and "things have gotten worse" with the academic performance of the Rochester City School District ("Still Seeking Solutions to City School Problems," Urban Journal). You are right.


If everything has failed, what now?

We could consider an educational format like a countywide school district where we can maximize opportunity and disperse the poverty and create engagement – like the Charleston County School District today, (74 percent graduation rate, 45 percent white, 43 percent black, 12 percent other). On its 50-year anniversary of desegregation, the superintendent proclaimed, "We confirm that equity will always exist!" Can we in Monroe County and Rochester, New York, say the same?

The "countywide school district" concept was brought up at the October 13 "GradNation" Rochester community assembly (sponsored by the Rochester Area Community Foundation) and was met with positivity. Is there any follow-up?

In the meantime, we could build upon the cool things already happening that work, like expanding the successful Urban Suburban program and make it not just Urban Suburban, but also Suburban Urban. There are excellent opportunities in the city as well as the suburbs to share cross-county.

Whatever the solutions, we all countywide must share the burdens and benefits of living in this magnificent city and county. We need to break down the walls, communicate with resolve, and shoulder the problems we share collectively in our county, most notably, our city's overwhelming poverty and the effect on our children and our entire community.


Our Warren interview

Your headline is amusing when you state the mayor is trying to overcome "early bad publicity" ("Warren's Rough Honeymoon," News). The mayor has received no bad publicity; the mayor committed a major faux pas when she appointed a relative to a city job.


The mayor should know better. Is she really that naive? She's an attorney, for goodness sake! Can you really not call her careless error what it is? Gosh, what a ride we're in for these next four years!


On Mayor Lovely Warren's suggestion that a new first-run theater downtown wouldn't compete with the Little Theatres ("Warren's Rough Honeymoon"): I moved to Rochester from California via North Carolina in 1991 and have lived in the City of Rochester ever since, including 20 years in the 19th Ward. The Little is one treasure of the city and does, indeed, show blockbusters.


I'm shocked that the mayor of our great city is unaware of the diversity of entertainment at this great theater. My recollection is that in the past the Little fought to recognize Rochester as a market separate from Pittsford and Penfield and other suburbs so that they had a fair chance at such blockbusters.

More shocking is the mayor's vision of greatness for city residents. Unless I misunderstand her, she seems to suggest that being able to "see a Number 1 blockbuster" is to "be able to experience the greater parts of life"! The films I've seen at the Little and the Dryden associated with events like the High Falls Film festival have given me more experience of the greater parts of life than seeing a Batman film at the Little.

I hope our mayor dreams big for the city and for its residents. I hope she learns more about what our city already offers before pointing to what it allegedly lacks.