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Much to learn from Cobblestone

Cobblestone School has closed after 32 years. I was involved there from the start and want to share lessons that might be learned from Cobblestone's legacy, so different from the prevailing milieu of state-mandated teacher evaluations and standardized testing and curriculum.

Cobblestone School was founded in 1983 by three women — its co-directors as well as its first teachers — determined to create a school where teachers as well as children could thrive. Over the years, the school grew from 20 students in a rented church basement to 160 students on its own stately campus.

The school was based in its daily practice as well as in its principles on the progressive educational philosophy of John Dewey. Cobblestone encouraged learning for its own sake, for understanding and meaning, not as preparation for the next grade or the next test or some arbitrary skill set.

Cobblestone was the only local elementary school committed to having its students design their own curriculum based on their questions and interests. Cobblestone stressed that children develop at different rates, and provided time and space for each child to grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally.

Each student's growth was assessed for itself, not in comparison to other students. Evaluation was viewed as part of the learning process, conducted through teachers' careful observations, performance reviews, and students' ongoing self-assessment, rather than standardized tests.

Teacher evaluation, too, was conducted through ongoing observations, peer and parent assessments, and self-assessments, rather than by state-mandated tests. Agendas for weekly teacher meetings and professional development sessions were drawn from teachers' stated needs, rather than from management mandates. In later years, Cobblestone's teachers further empowered themselves by organizing their own union — unique among local private schools.

None of this was easy, especially in the face of relentless pressure to abandon these progressive practices for more accepted standardized curriculum and instruction. Inevitably there were internal conflicts as well, so it took arduous effort to stay the course. But Cobblestone School did indeed stay the course for 32 years — a tribute to everyone involved and an example for us all.


Co-founder and longtime teacher coordinator at Cobblestone

Stop, and you won't get a ticket

Just stop already! Seriously, I do not understand why people are against the red-light cameras. I have lived in the city since 1983 and have never gotten a ticket, before or since the cameras. My secret: I stop at stoplights.

When in doubt, stop sooner, while it's still yellow. It could save your life or someone else's life. Wake up! How could you live with yourself if you cause another person to break his bones, suffer a concussion, or die just so you could save a few seconds? You would endure mental anguish forever!

I wish there was a way to put red-light cameras on stop signs. Every single day on Meigs Street between Rockingham Street and South Clinton Avenue, I see someone racing through a stop sign, even right across from a playground full of children at Linden.

Why is it hard to give up a few seconds of your life to be safer? Just stop!


More activities needed for youth

In response to a story about whether Rochester will get a skatepark. Why does the city continually refuse to create viable positive activities for our youth? I know skating crosses generations, but it's born in the hearts of our young and practiced to an art as a teen. Aren't they the group that needs positive activities more than any? C'mon, City of Rochester, quit failing your youth!


Could've (should've) been built in the underutilized, below-grade area of MLK Jr. park a long time ago. Quite frankly, that's still where it should be built. Shameful, indeed. Get moving, City of Rochester!


About trains hauling volatile crude oil through the area. Living less than a quarter-mile from the CSX tracks, I shudder each day when I hear the oil trains go through. These trains are heavy and have quite a different sound. It's not grandpa's clickety-clack anymore!

When I drive into the city each Sunday and go under the railroad overpass on the Inner Loop near Plymouth, I sigh a big relief there is no train above me. The bridges look to be in terrible condition, and it certainly causes one to wonder, how much longer will they hold up?

Crude oil trains from the Bakken are a serious danger to every community along the transport route. For what benefit? Oh right, corporate profit.


Misguided priorities

We spent millions on a failed fast ferry, the county spends more to house animals at the zoo than it spends to help house the homeless, and we let a local theater group help fund a study to see if we need a new performing arts center. Something really stinks in all this.


School choice ruins neighborhoods

There are no neighborhood kids at Francis Parker anymore. They are all bused in from other neighborhoods. When I grew up here, there was no busing kids here and there. When my kids were going to school at 46, the RSCD told us that my daughter had a 60-percent chance of walking to school with her brothers. I don't live in that neighborhood anymore. Busing kids around is a great way to ruin neighborhoods, and burn gas.