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The children at the border
The issue of immigrant children pouring across the Texas border can, and in the end, must be understood as US foreign policy coming home to roost.
Our historic good fortune and the protection on our east and west coasts by oceans has helped foster the delusion that foreign policy – boring and "out there" – and domestic policy are separate. In fact, they are not. The terrorized children from Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala are a crack in the egg of that delusion.
One country that does not send us terrorized refugee children is Nicaragua. Of these four countries, only Nicaragua does not receive large, constant infusions of US military aid. Nicaragua alone has not succumbed to US proxy military aggression. (Remember Reagan's "freedom fighters," the illegally funded Contras?) With poverty second only to Haiti's, Nicaragua has a popular leftist government that actually provides services and security to its citizens, including health care.
Children are safe there, since there are no paramilitary marauding gangs with US weapons, unlike Honduras, Columbia, and Salvador. The militarized right-wing governments in these countries are the beneficiaries of US military aid year after year. By these means, the US insures the militarization of these countries, whose children flee in terror ("foreign policy coming home to roost"). The support for right-wing militaries, paramilitaries, and dictators in these countries creates a climate of fear, deep insecurity, and lawlessness.
Regarding many of the letters to City: confusion and distortion arise from a lack of perspective about the relationship of foreign and domestic policy. This can be seen in the complaints about "costs to taxpayers." The complaints are easy to understand and sympathize with, but they completely distort meaningful perspective, since our foreign policy and militarized economy are non-productive, hugely destructive, and cost trillions, not millions or billions.
The taxpayer cost for social programs cannot be understood at all without reference to the elephant in the living room: military costs and the gross hubris of our unsustainable overreach and domination abroad. Our foreign policy of hegemony is not working, and one proof is in the pudding of fleeing, terrorized children.
Judging the border children
A new moral banner for the masses could read: "No Child Left Behind!"
The reader who spouted his litany of grievances in Feedback and prayed that the crisis at the border can get "worked out" but "not on our backs," made me wonder: whose "backs" and what "God" is the gentleman talking about?
Regarding the 43,000-plus unaccompanied kiddies now flooding Obama's oval office from Central and South Americas, shouldn't we be carefully distinguishing illegal immigrants from refugees? I was shocked when my she-roe Hillary Clinton coldly suggested the children should be sent back to their families ASAP.
So much I guess for human compassion dominating the world stage in 2016.
City staff deserves praise
The Preservation Board and the City of Rochester's economic development office deserve congratulations and thanks for working well with property owners regarding questions that arise in the development of properties. There are several defined districts where they have a say in moving forward with projects that enhance our city neighborhoods, increase business opportunities, and create jobs for our citizens.
The city's economic development office has provided information about grants and other business incentives that move the city's economic picture forward. Matt McCarthy in particular has been open and approachable, with advice and help concerning several proposals for development of neglected properties that can be returned to viable and desirable business sites.
Recently I have had to work with several city and town authorities regarding development projects of different sizes. The staff at the Preservation Board, especially Peter Siegrist, have followed up when they promised to get back to us, have freely given us contact information for other people we need to work with, and have made it easy to move ahead when deadlines are involved that impact other issues.
I can't help but contrast this level of cooperation and accessibility with what I have experienced with some of the local town building departments. Some of these departments seem to make it very difficult to get necessary approvals in place to work on construction projects.
One local town has made a recent project much more complicated than seems necessary to accomplish what we all want: safe, efficient buildings and well-managed projects that are on target for budget needs and site production schedules. What a difference people with a cooperative attitude at the City of Rochester economic development office and the Preservation Board make!
Norbut is project manager of Norbut Renovations.
Go back to neighborhood schools
I have had the opportunity to experience a childhood growing up in the town of Irondequoit, and then as a young adult raising my family in the Tenth Ward neighborhood.
It takes a village to raise a child. At one point in our city's school district history, each high school had neighborhood boundaries. Our children went to school with each other from kindergarten through high school, and families got to know one another. The school was a point of pride for the neighborhood. It was the people of the neighborhood who built a better school system, not the politicians or school boards.
By having a neighborhood high school, local businesses would get behind schools like they do in the suburbs. And that would put parents in walking distance of their schools. You could greatly reduce the cost of busing (taxpayer dollars), and put those savings back into buying the books that are so badly needed.
A neighborhood working together could eliminate much of the cost of government-funded (taxpayer dollars) breakfast and lunch programs. Local church groups working with people on welfare could supply the labor of making lunches for school kids.
Stop blaming the teachers for under-performance. Let's get our educators out of what I call the "educational arms race." We see TV commercials comparing the USA's test scores to those of other countries. We really should be teaching something relevant and obtainable that would spark the interest in a student for a possible career choice. Especially given the city's high dropout rate, should we be teaching trigonometry or trades? (This is not to say that there aren't successful students in the city school system who aspire to go to college.)
Let's produce confident students who will later become confident leaders. Let's teach our students real skills and a work ethic that they can use in their personal life and the working world.
If the city wants the success that the suburban schools seem to enjoy, then do what they are doing. Bring back the neighborhood schools that once produced a successful City of Rochester school system.
This won't fix all the problems, but could be a good start.
Loss of living-wage jobs with benefits combined with white flight, not willfully poor educators, is why the RCSD is in the shape it is. The biggest indicator of a child's success in school is his/her parent's income level – a stable job with good benefits and placement in an economically integrated school. Replace public schools with charters, break unions, and continue de-facto segregation policies and the results will continue to be on par with Kodak's demise.
Sandra Parker's free-market thinking makes it OK to give tax incentives to already successful businesses "because we are facing competition" but not to pay a living to people who are facing heating and grocery bills, paying for day care, and just trying to get by. That is the real competition.
Every time I start to get a little hope for our city, people like Parker bring me back to the reality that we are truly divided in our thinking.
I think Rochester is losing a very classy lady to retirement. She has contributed quite a lot to the area. Best of luck, Sandra.