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Churchill on the war's carnage
The 100th anniversary of the Great War is a time for reflection. I have a different quote that sums up the Great War experience. It comes from the beginning of Winston Churchill's "The World Crisis.
"The Great War through which we have passed differed from all ancient wars in the immense power of the combatants and their fearful agencies of destruction, and from all modern wars in the ruthlessness with which it was fought. All the horrors of all the ages were brought together, and not only armies but whole populations were thrust into them. The mighty educated States involved conceived with reason that their very existence was at stake. Germany having let hell loose kept well in the van of terror; but she was followed step by step by the desperate and ultimately avenging nations she had assailed. Every outrage against humanity was repaid by reprisals often on a greater scale and of longer duration. No truce or parley mitigated the strife of the armies. The wounded died between the lines; the dead moldered into the soil. Merchant ships and neutral ships and hospital ships were sunk on the seas and all on board left to their fate, or killed as they swam. Every effort was made to starve whole nations into submission without regard to age or sex. Cities and monuments were smashed by artillery. Bombs from the air were cast down indiscriminately. Poison gas in many forms stifled or seared the soldiers. Liquid fire was projected on their bodies. Men fell from the air in flames, or were smothered, often slowly, in the dark recesses of the sea. The strength of armies was limited only by the manhood of their countries. Europe and large parts of Asia and Africa became one vast battlefield on which after years of struggle not armies but nations broke and ran. When all was over, Torture and Cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian States had been able to deny themselves; and these were of doubtful utility."
After all these years, it still seems a fitting summing up of the events.
Integration will help students
Thank you for Mark Hare's insightful article, "Lessons for Rochester from Raleigh." As a family doctor, I see the effects of poverty on health every day. Growing up in poverty affects a person's health as a child and continues to affect their health well into adulthood. Reducing poverty is critical to the health of our community and to ensuring that our children receive a quality education helps further this goal.
As Hare discusses, socioeconomic integration of schools has been proven to close achievement gaps. It's time this concept becomes a serious part of the conversation here in Rochester. The ratio of 60 percent of students from middle or upper-income families and 40 percent of students from lower-income families works in Raleigh, North Carolina. Socioeconomic integration has also been shown to work in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as many other school districts across the country. In schools with this ratio, students thrive regardless of their socioeconomic background.
There is a cycle in Rochester that needs to be broken. Parents who did not do well in school or dropped out likely do not provide good educational support at home. This environment means their children may not do as well in school, and the cycle continues. Socioeconomic integration improves achievement regardless of children's home lives. This can break the cycle by creating better-educated children who become better-educated adults and parents.
All children in Rochester deserve a great education. Whether we implement this plan one school at a time or we overhaul the system, we cannot afford to wait. The health of our community depends on it.
My husband and I were fortunate to be able to send my son to school in Wake County, North Carolina. Although he was automatically assigned to attend his neighborhood school in the suburbs, we chose to send him to one of the magnet schools in downtown Raleigh, which had 40 percent low-income students. At the magnet school fair, we could choose from schools with arts, Great Books, bilingual Spanish or French, STEM, and Montessori, among others.
We ended up applying to a school with an inquiry-based curriculum, similar to the several Expeditionary Learning schools in the Rochester school district. We were one of the lucky families; several of my friends' children were waitlisted, and they had to attend their second-choice schools (their neighborhood schools). The low-income students who lived in the inner-city neighborhood where the school was located were also lucky, because they were automatically assigned to that school without having to go through a cumbersome application process.
I know that many parents worry about sending their children to schools with large numbers of low-income students, but what we discovered was that rather than the low-income students pulling the middle-class students down, all the students were pulled up by having access to the resources and connections of the middle-class parents.
When we moved back to Monroe County, we searched for a similar environment for our children, and actually found it in the Rush-Henrietta school district, which has a similar percentage of low-income students without sacrificing a high-quality education.
I would welcome a countywide school district because it would increase my children's choices, while at the same time decreasing the flight of middle-class families to the suburbs, which is killing the City of Rochester and will eventually be the death of the whole Greater Rochester region if we stick with the status quo.
The big benefits
of clean energy
As a broad coalition dedicated to promoting clean energy and energy efficiency in New York State, we read with great interest the recent article on a local business using advanced technologies to simultaneously reduce its operating costs and environmental impacts ("Environmental Moves Make Good Business Sense"). We applaud Bob Bechtold and his company, Harbec, Inc., for prioritizing sustainability in their operations and for articulating so clearly that what's good for the environment can also be good for a bottom line.
There is an additional rebound effect also worth mentioning. Companies like Harbec that invest in clean-energy technology are creating demand for a number of new, growing industries in New York. These include the manufacturers, suppliers, and installers of renewable energy technologies like wind, solar, fuel cells, and micro-hydro systems, and the wide range of products and services related to energy efficiency.
For example, the company that installed Harbec's second wind turbine, Sustainable Energy Developments, is a wind and solar project developer that employs over a dozen people, and as a neighbor within the Wayne Industrial Sustainability Park, they're as local as it gets.
Mr. Bechtold recalled a time when "it was impossible to get funding for a wind turbine," and we're happy to confirm that is indeed no longer the case. New York's incentives for commercial and residential on-site wind-energy systems are some of the best in the country, and the state recognizes that the environmental and economic benefits of clean distributed energy, as well as their ability to reduce demand on the electricity grid, make for an excellent return on investment.
We encourage businesses and homeowners throughout the state to follow Harbec's lead and consider the number of clean-energy and energy-efficiency options available. Investing in these technologies will have a positive impact on your wallet, your community, and the environment for decades to come. We wholeheartedly agree that it's just good sense.
Lyman is director for communications and development of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York in Albany.