Krestia DeGeorge and Mary Anna Towler's article "Rochester: Made for Murder" (April 12) was a grim yet honest view of the geographic and demographic poverty and how it relates to murder here in Rochester.
The article was a step in the right direction. It is imperative that we are all aware of the true reasons why murders are being committed: because of insults or perceived insults. The next step would be to look at the schools in the concentrated, minority-poverty sections of Rochester. These students are not being served properly, and we are not preparing them to respond appropriately to perceived insults.
School is most often the first social system children interact with, so we must provide comprehensive programs to address the issues children will face as they grow into young adults. These programs are being offered in many areas in Rochester by professional school counselors. However, counseling programs in the RochesterSchool District are not offered at the elementary level.
These professionals can provide programs to address conflict-resolution skills, anger management, peer mediation, character education, and appropriate social skills. A full-time counselor can also provide parent-child workshops addressing such topics as parenting and discipline, small group and individual counseling, and consultation with teachers.
Most importantly, a school counselor in the building every day could address the personal and social aspects of students' lives. Counselors are trained to work with a multi-disciplinary team to identify students who would benefit from academic and personal-social interventions. They are also trained to create and conduct interventions for students. Early intervention and proper services for these students can go a long way in preventing the tragedy we now see in Rochester.
Students are unable to learn when there are such strong, perpetuating barriers. School counselors can help to remove these barriers by supporting the great work that teachers and school staff members do. In turn, these students will be prepared to work productively in the economy.
The culture of these young people is infected with generations of poverty and violence. The educational system must deal with this reality if we want to keep these students connected to something positive in their community. Let's openly address the life they live in and teach them the skills they will need to reverse the cycle and erase the barriers to their success.
There can be no productive discussion without the courageous and honest view of Rochester as it is, not as we wish it would be.
Michela Peters, Rockingham Street, Rochester (Peters is a counselor with the Penfield School District.)
While I have compassion for those who seek a better life in the United States, there are legal channels for immigration. That there are jobs Americans will not do is simply not true. What is true is that many industries exploit our government's lax enforcement of labor regulations to the point that no American would be willing to accept to the wages and working conditions offered.
Subsidies are lavished upon large agribusiness, already rich from the potent combination of mechanized economies of scale and undocumented labor, while small farmers struggle, and Katrina destruction is rebuilt by Spanish-speaking "private contractors" with employers sheltered from accountability by layers of outsourcing, each middleman taking a cut.
If we do not compel our government to pursue those who profit from immigrant labor exploitation, slave-wage pioneers will continue to devalue the work in a growing spectrum of industries.
Evan Kastner, Burwell Road, Irondequoit
POLITICS AND OIL
Gas prices are on the rise again, and Democrats are on the attack.
President Bush announced recently that he would relax emissions standards and suspend deliveries to the Strategic Reserve. Democrats, including Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, saw an opportunity to sink Bush's subterranean approval rating even further and attacked. Bush has displayed a lack of leadership, they said. His plan is too little too late. It does nothing to penalize the oil companies, which are enjoying massive profits from the recent spike in crude.
Of course Bush's proposals are not enough. Of course the oil companies are flourishing while consumers are suffering. The American people are not so stupid that they need Chuck Schumer to wag his fist at a camera and tell them that. Yet the Democrats are so brain damaged by their hatred of Bush that they think a temper tantrum will somehow gain them points with the voters.
What the American people need is a leader who is brave enough to tell them the truth. They need a leader who will admit that there will be no more cheap gasoline, no matter how many taxes and standards we cut.
They need someone to tell them that we are very likely looking down from the peak of global oil production --- that very soon, supplies will begin an inexorable decline. That as less and less oil comes out of the ground, gasoline will become progressively costlier and scarcer, and no combination of ethanol, hydrogen, and hope will sustain our hundred million automobiles and high-entropy way of life.
The American people need someone to tell them that they are going to have to drastically change the way they live and use energy, and that even if they make those changes, they are still going to suffer through some very difficult times.
Not surprisingly, none of our leaders has stepped forward to address the full reality of Peak Oil. Perhaps they are not aware of the scale of the problem. More likely, they worry that knee-capping the public with such bad news would lose votes. They fear that their opponents would accuse them of being alarmist, and they know that voters are not going to reelect a doomsayer. Honestly facing up to the challenges of Peak Oil would be political suicide.
But what if they are wrong? What if people are capable of making the necessary changes and enduring the difficult transition to a post-petroleum economy?
The current charade of denial and obfuscation will do nothing but leave us more vulnerable to the inevitable difficulties ahead. Shouldn't our leaders give us a little more credit? Shouldn't we be given a chance to step up?
Matt Fox, West Elm Street, EastRochester
An April 19 letter writer sees hurdles to be leapt for us to share Donald Rumsfeld's view of our troops in Iraq another 20 years, including "convincing Americans to send fresh troops" ("The Long Haul," The Mail).
There has always been a serious shortage of troops in Iraq, and recruiting has become more and more difficult. The Army now uses "individual augmentation" to get people it needs from the Navy. For example, when the Army needs a Third Class engineer or electrician, an order goes out to the Navy to supply one.
Anyone chosen is then trained for two months and sent to Afghanistan or Iraq for a one-year deployment, for a total of 14 months away. Servicemembers who have already been in the Navy for over 15 years have volunteered, then said they are scared and have no idea of what they are doing. Captains on the carriers have now said that no training officers will be sent away from the ship for individual augmentation.
Rumsfeld must be dreaming about being in Iraq for even 20 more months, let alone 20 years. How about clearing out completely, including those "permanent bases," within the next 20 days?
Byrna Weir, Brighton
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