We are only four days away from the end of 2011, and the 31st cannot come soon enough, as far as I am concerned. This year has been particularly trying for me and my family, what with a house (dryer) fire (and our subsequent four week displacement), hacked checking account, bed bug infestation as well as having to put down my beloved cat, Howie.
Yet 2011 has not been all that bad. Take, for instance, the fact that we all are in relatively good health. There are no major medical issues of which to speak; our house is back in very good working order; we still have our dog, Bailey, who is an adorable piece of work. Furthermore, our daughter (my step-daughter) has several terrific and loyal friends, and has the privilege of attending one of this area’s better suburban school districts (West Irondequoit).
How Lucky Some Of Us Really Are
Comparatively speaking, things could be a whole lot worse. For instance, we live only a few short miles away from City of Rochester neighborhoods that have been in tragic decline for several decades. Building after city building is in varying stages of decay. It is these communities that comprise the unconscionably high poverty levels prevalent throughout the entire city.
In essence, this entire region, specifically the city, has a lot of work to do. Every year, every week, every day is mission critical for Rochester and its many socioeconomically beleaguered communities. Nevertheless, if there is to be significant progress achieved within the Rochester City School District, the city’s overall functionality, and the city’s immediate (and not so immediate) environs, I believe these things must be evident in 2012:
Our local leaders need to get real: Monroe County Executive is often cited, including just last week by the Rochester Business Journal, as this region’s most powerful figure. Regrettably, she has not taken advantage of her immense local influence and directed more genuine attention toward the chronic plight of the RCSD. In addition, another marginally popular politico, City of Rochester Mayor Tom Richards, appears more concerned with, well, playing politics (case in point: the MCC downtown campus tug of war) than seeking bona fide community solutions.
Talk is cheap, and our local political and business leaders are racking up big personal savings. The problem is, though, that their collective sound bites are essentially meaningless. The ROCREAD initiative, for example, is a novel (no pun intended) idea but it has no teeth. Encouraging RCSD students to read during the long holiday breaks by offering tickets to a semi-pro basketball game is not my idea of really attacking the issues. This is the best that we can do?
The search for the next RCSD Superintendent remains a fairly open process: So far, so okay. There have been several public forums conducted by the RCSD Board of Education that provided a means by which community members of all stripes could step up to the microphone, literally, to voice their opinions and concerns regarding, among other things, the superintendent search process. That the board even sought out the assistance of a private search firm is still bothersome to me.
The survey generated by the search firm, Ray and Associates with help from the RCSD expanded search committee, is awfully generic in nature and still gives me the impression that this may very well wind up being just another dog and pony show. However, I will attempt to remain cautiously optimistic that this progression continues to resemble that of a public forum and not a “Three Men in a Room” kind of thing.
Here is to hoping that the newest addition to the RCSD board, Mary Adams, really shakes things up. The “non-traditional” Adams (in other words, she wasn’t hand-picked by a local bureaucrat) is a “says what she means and means what she says” kind of person. Adams will be a nightmare (in a good way) for those who desire to toe the company line. She is also quite knowledgeable of the issues and an articulate representative for the locally disenfranchised.
To all those who believe Rochester is a lost cause (I oftentimes think so), I suggest you all try to keep the faith. There are a lot of good people and intentions in this town; it is just a matter of continuing to spread the word and knocking some common sense into others.
Let’s all have a better 2012.
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