Throughout this campaign season we have listen to mayoral candidates talk about public education in Rochester. By now, we have all heard the statistics about graduation rate, test scores, and dropout rates. We have heard stories about families moving out of the city as they do not believe RCSD provides a viable option for their children.
In particular my opponent has talked a lot about education even making it her top priority. Now we both agree that improving Rochester's education is imperative. However, she and I disagree on not only the solutions but the role of the mayor in these solutions.
While there is a lot the mayor can say about education presently there is only one thing the Rochester mayor can do about education and that is pay for it. Anything else requires mayoral control and I want to be clear I am opposed to mayoral control.
Yet councilwomen Warren proposes creating an economically segregated school system which separates elite students from the less fortunate.
Councilwomen Warren proposes siphoning off funds from the public schools to pay for private school vouchers,
Councilwoman Warren proposes opening new charter schools.
All these can only be done with mayoral control and mayoral control is not about education it is about control. It does not benefit students. It takes power away from the parents and citizens but most importantly there is no where in America where it has improved education for children. Rochester said No to mayoral control once, when Mayor Duffy proposed it several years ago and I believe it is still wrong for Rochester.
Further creating a two tiered education system with charter schools as proposed by Councilwoman Warren will be devastating to the poorest, most vulnerable children and I am not willing to turn my back on these children.
When it comes to education, we need to change priorities, not change governmental structure. The mayor's role in public education is clear, yet for too long City Hall has failed to do the one and only thing asked of it. So in Rochester we approach education by first determining what is we will afford for rather than starting by determining what we need. I plan to change this way of thinking.
My New Deal for Rochester's students is simple -- fully fund the public education system for all students.
In the last two years the RCSD has laid off over 100 teachers. We have seen cuts to the very programs like art, music, and electives which keep students interested and in school. We know many great programs like Teen court, Day care for the children of students, and full day pre-school for 4 year olds that have been shown to benefit student's performance. Unfortunately our leaders always claim they can not afford these.
However the problem is not about the money but simply a matter of priorities and I would argue that we can not afford to ignore fully funding public education any longer. Unfortunately my opponent continues to vote for more tax breaks for wealthy landlords. Why should millionaires get tax breaks while our schools go underfunded? Why, if education is Rochester's top priority does our council, including Lovely Warren, prefer to give money to millionaire landlords rather than to our children's education.
Now I am not talking about raising the taxes for those that already pay their fair share. What I am talking about is places like
- Capron Street Loft Apartments that is worth $98 million by paid only $1611 a mere $4 million less than they should.
- Or the apartments at Erie Harbor which were built for $32 million and only paid $7475.
- Or Alexander Park built for $89 million and paid only $5576.
- Or one of the hundreds of other projects that look just like this.
What we have done is prefer to give these tax breaks to a few very rich developers rather than fully fund our public schools which could turn around the lives of tens of thousands of students. It is just a matter of priorities and my priority will be to provide the funding we need for education.
The best answer for the families of our city is to make free, high quality, integrated, public education a real choice for all Rochester families. Our children's education needs to come before profits for millionaire landlords and, as mayor, my plan is to deliver the funds to make this possible.